Grammy-winning artist Melissa Etheridge has been rocking out for more than 20 years. Nine of those years were spent with her wife, Tammy Lynn Michaels. Recently, Melissa and Tammy announced they were breaking up, and Melissa says she's ready to talk about it. "People really want that sound bite of this happened and that happened and he said and she said and something like that, but it's not that simple," she says. "It's about growth, and it's certainly not even fair of me to stand here and tell my story when Tammy doesn't have an opportunity."
Melissa says the breakup was mutual. "As mutual as those things can be. It's sad, and we share two children and she will always be in my life," she says. "She's a wonderful woman and an incredible mother."
Despite their differences, Melissa says she and Tammy both agree that the children come first. "We want to do all the things that are best to keep our children healthy and secure," she says.
With every life experience, like a breakup, Melissa says she learns more about personal growth. "As I've gone through this life, having gone through breast cancer almost six years ago now, [I've learned] that it's about evolving," she says. "I feel like now I'm walking my life. I'm realizing that I'm no good to anyone else unless I'm completely in love with myself and good with myself."
Melissa says cancer was a eye-opener for her. "That's what [my new] album is about. It's about every day our choice between love and fear. And cancer was the first real huge one for me," she says. "I can look at cancer as a disease that picks me out and 'why me,' or I can look at it through love and say 'This is a wake-up call. This is my body telling me: Hey, you're out of balance here. It's time to get in line with yourself.'"
Life really is what you make of it, Melissa says. "You have to make a choice to perceive life as: 'Is this the most horrible thing that ever happened to me? Or is this the greatest opportunity for me?'"
At 48, Melissa says she's finally realized that life is about the journey. "Especially in our sort of work where we think that there's a 'there.' There's a place that we can be the most successful or something. It doesn't exist," she says. "I don't have a bucket list because it is my dedication to live every day of my life there. I don't have a bucket list because I'm doing it that day. I don't want to go to bed and say, 'Oh, I wish I had done this.'"
Printed from Oprah.com on Thursday, December 5, 2013