Shania Twain’s personal struggles are already country music legend: Her poverty-stricken family, her struggle to support her younger relatives after the death of her parents, her recent divorce from Mutt Lange. But the 45-year-old singer’s new autobiography, From This Moment On (on sale today), is packed with intimate details that may surprise even her most dedicated fans. Here are a few of the most shocking:
Twain says her family was physically and emotionally abused for years by Jerry Twain, her mother’s husband. (Twain is estranged from her biological father.) In one chilling passage, Twain recalls watching Jerry plunge her mother’s head into the toilet repeatedly after knocking her out cold. Years later, 11-year-old Shania (then called Eilleen) would summon the courage to fight back against her father. “I ran up behind my dad with a chair in both hands and smashed it across his back… Before I could get away, he punched me in the jaw. Adrenaline pumping, I punched him back!”
Twain also says she was sexually abused by Jerry, who muttered obscene slurs at her while she was in bed and once fondled her when she was a teenager. She eventually convinced her mother to run away with the family to a shelter in Toronto.
Living in poverty in rural Canada often forced the family to make do with little. Twain recalls days on end when the family had nothing to eat but “goulash”: dry bread with boiled milk and brown sugar. She also mentions wearing bread bags on her feet when her family couldn’t afford proper boots for keeping warm in the winter.
Twain says she was devastated when her husband, Mutt Lange, left her for Marie-Anne Thiébaud in 2008. “I’ll be honest: when your husband leaves you, and falls into the arms of your close friend, your self-esteem can really suffer.”
Twain begged Marie-Anne Thiébaud to leave Lange in an email: “I don’t want life or love anymore… Why are you torturing me? Let it go. Pleeeeeaaaaaaasssseee!!!!!”
During the split, Twain cried constantly and took five baths a day. At one point, she helped herself recover from the pain of the split by allowing herself to call Marie-Anne Thiébaud an female anatomical epithet . “It was kind of cathartic. (Harsh, I know, but after all, it is only a word.) My emotions were so balled up inside me that it felt good to release.”
Now 45 and remarried to Marie-Anne’s ex-husband, Frédéric Thiébaud, Twain deals with constant anxiety about her appearance and the effects of age. “I’m pretty insecure about my changing body… I’m letting ‘the girls’ hang loose under my sweat clothes around the house and when someone comes to the door, I cross my arms under them for support.”