Watching Dolly’s movie about her life called Coat of Many colors reminded me of many things. There was a line in the movie that hit me most and it was Dolly saying that growing up was not only some of her hardest times but best times as well. I wish I remembered the quote exactly, as it was more eloquent.
I have to agree. I can look back at my life and see all the wonderful things. There was a time that all I could see was the bad. Like little Dolly when she lost her soon to be brother to heaven, my heart hasn’t sung in a very long time. I’ve been angry at God… angry at Mama. I’ve tried to do it alone because I didn’t want to hurt anymore but that doesn’t work either. God is like love, without it the world becomes a very dark place.
I was raised in a very similar background as Dolly. My family was quite religious, Southern Baptist as a matter of fact. Many of my Sundays were spent in a similar church as shown in the movie. I don’t remember the fire and brimstone but I do remember all the singing. For a moment I was transported to my Mama and grandmother singing. I’ve tucked away my spirituality because of the fire and brimstone not realizing I was giving up the singing.
I think the moral of the movie and the testament of Dolly’s life is letting your heart sing. I can’t remember the last time those melodies plucked at my heart strings. My heart stopped singing long before Mama died.
While my childhood wasn’t quite like Dolly’s in regards to be poor we certainly didn’t have it easy. While I was watching Dolly’s Mother portrayed in the movie it was like my Mom was on the screen. My Mom did what she had to do to provide for us including making crafts for extra money to get my sister and I the things we needed.
My Mama did grow up in a family much like Dolly’s as they were very poor. To help the family my Mom had to work in the muck fields which meant picking onions in the sweltering summer sun. When kids were out playing she was out in the muck. The house she grew up in was the size of a small apartment with an outhouse for a bathroom. There were nine children in the family as well. So it was a full house.
I don’t know when but my Mom also stopped singing as well. We were both very codependent. She grew up with a father who was an alcoholic. From a very early age she learned how to walk on eggshells and was groomed to expect it out of life. Her adult life only mirrored that just like mine has.
When you grow up in dysfunctional family you learn how to survive, not to live. Chaos becomes the norm and it transforms you into an altered being. One where you tolerate other bad situations because you feel that’s what you deserved.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cycled through these moments where I’ve questioned what will happen next… as in when the ground will fall apart underneath my feet. So many times it’d fill up a book.
I’ve been beat down before but I’ve always gotten my voice back within a considerable time. While I’m further from that bad place (where I tried to kill myself two years ago) my voice is still soft. I don’t know how to get it back. It’s the exact feeling when I was being abused. I wanted to yell but nothing came out.
It’s been three years since my Mom has died. What keeps me from singing??? My therapist recently asked me if my father was a wise man. At first I thought why the heck she was asking me but after a few moments I said no… that he was foolish. She then asks me what I believed such an idiot and to which I replied I don’t know…
Ever since I’ve been scratching my head wondering why all these years I’ve listened to foolish people. I’ve let them keep me from singing for far too long. I’m just not sure how to create the life I deserve.
I’ve built a world around all the wrong things. Life (a happy one) seems so far away. No matter what I refuse to give in to the hopelessness. At times those voices are so loud they’re painful but I’m just angry enough to say fuck it. The good thing about getting kicked to the ground, you can’t go any further.
I would just like to use all that junk (the bad feelings, people not believing in me, the pain, the grief, abuse) as fuel to fight. To just say fuck it to the world and push through. Up until this point it’s dragged me down.
There is great resiliency in taking a stand and saying you’re fed up. No one has control over me but me. I don’t know how or when but I will move forward from it all.
So I’m going to put back on my coat of many colors as I’ve earned it. I’m going to hold onto my songbook and wait for the day I have something to sing about again. The notes are still there deep inside of me. I just have to discover them and I will…