In Spite of Everything, I’m Still Here

Music is influential. Just ask a group of overwhelmed parents after a long day with their kids. It conveys their feelings when they cannot.

That’s what Alanis Morissette’s “Everything” did for me more than a decade ago.

Late one night I stumbled upon her music video and its subtle images. I instantly related to its powerful message – which ironically seemed trauma-informed. I felt validated. So much so, I played the video at least a dozen times.

A comforting peace filled my exhausted body.

Interestingly, she appeared to be singing for my children – as she sang about their innermost thoughts. Complex. Hard to understand. Dichotomy.

I can be an asshole of the grandest kind.

I can withhold like it’s going out of style.

I have the bravest heart that you’ve ever seen

And you’ve never met anyone

Who is as positive as I am sometimes.

Not all the time but sometimes. Easy for me to miss the positive when my children are away. Easy to miss at home, if I fail to pay close attention – and assume the worst.

Not surprisingly, “Everything” became a personal anthem. It gave me incredible insight into my children’s private world. It took me to special place that I previously had witnessed only from the outside.

As expected from a Grammy-winning artist, Morissette’s lyrics are raw yet real. She sings the truth about bumpy – sometimes chaotic and dysfunctional – relationships that are rooted in unconditional love. No doubt, I wasn’t alone in my challenges.

Days later I kept asking myself one simple question over and over. Am I the parent I believe myself to be? Am I the father I wish my children to see?

You see everything. You see every part.

You see all my light and you love my dark.

You dig everything of which I’m ashamed.

There’s not anything to which you can’t relate.

And you’re still here.

One day I hoped my children would speak with the same perspective, the same sincerity. I wanted them to see all of themselves, not just the negative. I wanted them to see all of me as their parent, not just a convenient part.

I blame everyone else and not my own partaking.

My passive aggressive can be devastating.

I’m terrified and mistrusting

And you’ve never met anyone

Who is as closed down as I am sometimes.

That single verse said so much about my children – and thousands just like them – who come from hard places. Who experience early trauma in and out of the womb. Who desperately want to attach to their new parents but need more time to feel completely safe.

As young adults my children finally met me halfway.


In the meantime, I saw everything – the light and the dark, nothing that I ever expected to experience as a parent. Not just the outward lies and manipulation. But more importantly, the obvious lack of self-worth, the perpetual loss of self-confidence and the decreasing sense of hope.

No quick fix available. Would I still be here to nurture my children through their teens years and into adulthood?

Running away from my responsibilities was tempting. Too easy to think, much less consider. But I always remembered the obligations that I voluntarily took upon myself.

You see everything. You see every part.

You see all my light and you love my dark.

You dig everything of which I’m ashamed.

There’s not anything to which you can’t relate.

And you’re still here.

 Strong arms around my children. Always. Even when they spurn my embrace.

What I resist persists and speaks louder than I know.

What I resist you love no matter how low or high I go.

In spite of everything, I’m still here. And always will be.

You’ve now heard my anthem. What’s yours? Do you play it everyday.  DCP


Craig Peterson publishes EACH Child every Tuesday. To subscribe, open this link and “Like” the page. EACH Child is Special: Working Smarter Not Harder to Raise Every ONE

To learn more about Adopting Faith: A Father’s Unconditional Love, Craig’s soon-to-published memoir about raising six children with special needs, click here: Adopting Faith: A Father’s Unconditional Love

To follow my son Andrew’s inspiring story, “Like” his special Facebook page Andrew Peterson Goes for the Gold

2 thoughts on “In Spite of Everything, I’m Still Here

  1. I’ve had several over the years. In the worst it was Worn by TenthAvenueNorth or Hold You Up by Shane McDonald. But these were more my anthems, not my secret anthems for the kids. I don’t have one for them. I’m too broken from those worst years.

  2. For me it is most songs JJ Heller. Most of all JJ Heller – If You Fall….
    When I am tempted to give up
    Even when my heart turns black and blue I will love you
    You are a house that is burning…
    If you fall I fall with YOU
    If you hurt I feel it too

    Also like Times – Tenth Avenue North

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