Barbies

When I was a little girl my Grandma worked at a Veterans of America thrift shop in Southeast Portland. The store was walking distance to my Grandparent’s house (the one where I would garden with my Grandpa John on warm summer days). Grandma Elsie had a cute little tan miniature poodle named Tina that she would carry in her purse on her walk to work, long before wealthy celebutantes made it oh so chic. Tina would wander the store, or sleep in her little doggie bed at the check out counter. Whenever any Barbie Doll donations came in, Grandma would set them aside for me and my sister. I had THE most amazing collection of Barbie paraphernalia. Dolls and clothing from the 50’s, 60’s & 70’s plus wigs and other accessories that were available back then for Barbie, Skipper, and Ken. My best friend at the time, Kelly, lived across the street. The heyday of our Barbie days was when we were about 9-11 years old. I kept all my Barbie stuff in a big bag. During the lazy days of summer, when we had plenty of time on our hands, we would dump out the bag on the floor of my room, or the lawn, or the porch–Kelly’s house had a great big front porch–and start picking. One by one we each chose our favorite dolls, dresses, skirts, purses, gloves, sweaters, shoes… Barbie even had a fur stole. Grandma Elsie also grabbed up all the handmade Barbie clothes people discarded. If it was created for Barbie, I owned it!

Barbie and her friends and her clothes and accessories and all the time I spent organizing her belongings and role playing life with her represents a very innocent and blissful time in my childhood. The skies were so blue. The sun shone so brightly back then. The summer winds blew so gently on our long brown hair as we played so innocently with our Barbie Dolls.

When I listened to Pink’s Beautiful Trauma album for the first time, while I was power walking my way to a healthier body in North Carolina a few weeks ago, I stopped by the side of the road, in a neighborhood where literally no one knows me, and just listened. The words of her song, Barbies, washed over me as if I had written them, and I was hearing them for the first time from a stranger’s mouth, so beautiful, so poignant.

I sat down on the curb and hit repeat. I got that emptiness in the pit of my stomach. That feeling that someone else knew my truth, my pain and I realized this is a pretty universal pain. Life is hard sometimes. Sometimes we want something simpler. I had a great childhood. I cherish my memories. When the trauma therapist tried to convince me that I had been neglected by my parents, left to fend for myself too much, put in a position of responsibility too often, I balked. Yeah, I grew up quick, and was independent, and mature, and I was a good good girl, and I’m fucking proud of that. I fucking loved my childhood and that’s why I want to go back there.

I remember vividly every stage of my life so far. The innocent stages and the not so innocent ones. The days before I met Blue Eyes, and every single day since. The day I found out about his secret life, and every excruciating day of my trauma recovery. I do remember what it was like before, and I do remember every single day spent feeling like somehow I wasn’t good enough. Somehow I had done something wrong. Many days I crumbled to my knees, emotionally spent, destroyed by the betrayal and all I wanted to do was go to a safe place. I wrote a post way back when about wanting to go home. Playing Barbies in my room is that place I want to retreat to.

Another day, another sin

Another day I’m late again

Oh, just like that my money’s spent

Where did it all go?

When I was first truly out on my own, off to University as a somewhat naive and yet mature in many ways 19 year old, I abandoned some of my good girl ways. I wanted a different experience. I partied, I fooled around, I drank, I tried a few recreational drugs. These were things I had never experienced before. I had also never before experienced having zero money. It was a huge adjustment. After one semester on a very tight budget, I was gainfully employed, again, two jobs actually.

Another night, another heart

Another one leaves in the dark

And I’m searching for my counterpart

Where did it all go?

I never did get to that point in life where I wanted to be in a relationship. It just happened. My bedroom never had a revolving door, but I had enough experience to know when I had met someone I wanted to be exclusive with. I was 20 years old. I didn’t feel it then, but now I know, I was too young to commit for the rest of my life. I don’t regret my decision to create a world with Blue Eyes, but I can see clearly now, bumps in my journey were inevitable. Ultimately they all stem from Blue Eyes’ childhood. I’m letting myself off the hook. I couldn’t have known.

And I lock every single door

And I look behind me even more

Now turned into someone that I swore I would never be

Before discovery, before the dreadful phone call, before the stalking, I never worried about whether the doors were secure, and certainly I did not worry about being followed, or my life potentially being in danger. Of course I didn’t worry about such ridiculous things. Nothing bad would ever happen to me because I was a good girl. But after discovery, I was afraid to leave the house. I was temporarily agoraphobic. I hid in my closet. I collapsed from fear, at a huge professional basketball arena. I did not recognize myself.

I wish I could go back to playing barbies in my room

They never say that you gotta grow up, quite this soon

How fast things change, and now I’m here

And all I wanna do is go back to playing Barbies in my room

I would curl up in a ball and go to my safe place. I would dream of driving to my parent’s house. I wanted to curl up on their sofa with my Mom brushing the hair back from my face and my Dad wiping away my tears and giving me a big bear hug.

I see it on my father’s face

Another line that comes with age

I know that time will have its way

Where did it all go?

I waited months to tell my Mom and Step Dad about Blue Eyes (I never did tell my Father and Step Mother), about his secret life, about his addiction, about my pain, my self harm, my concerns about staying in my marriage, which at that point was nearly 25 years long, 30 years with this one man/child. I didn’t want them to carry any of the burden, but the truth was inevitable. They could tell things were different–we were different. If there is one thing my mother taught me, divorced woman with two small girls by the time she was 26, was that truth always wins. I always tried to live my truth.

They say that things were simple then

Although I don’t remember when

I wanna know what happens next

Where do we all go?

I can absolutely see that things were simple then, but when I was living them, they didn’t seem so simple… the day Blue Eyes had to be rushed to the hospital, when we were 21, due to severe stomach cramping and dehydration, just the beginning of a very long story. The day we found out we were pregnant, while Blue Eyes was still in Law School. The day our first son was born and was life flighted to the NICU of the local trauma hospital at barely six hours old… and so many other days spent building a life, building a family.

As a child, life wasn’t perfect but it was mine and it was real. Then as a young wife and mother, it was real, I was real. MY life was real. We didn’t have a lot of money, but things were so much simpler when I didn’t know my husband’s truth. So, what happens next for me? I know now that I don’t need anyone else to be or act a certain way for me to be happy. It’s just me now; me that I must think about. I can be married to an addict and still be happy and content, because I know intimately, now, what I need, to be me. Now I have healed and I know the truth. I believe in me. I am a survivor. I can survive anything mere mortals throw at me, or at least anything my husband throws at me.

And I lock every single door

And I look behind me even more

And now turned into someone that I swore I would never be

oh I wish I could go back to playing barbies in my room

They never say that you gotta grow up quite this soon

How fast things change, and now I’m here

And all I wanna do

Is go back to playing barbies in my room

 

Pink canopies and grass-stained knees

Putting fireflies in a jar

Getting home before it’s dark

Scotch-taping posters on my wall

Rolling pixie sticks to smoke

Couldn’t wait ’til I was older

 

And I wish I could go back to playing barbies in my room

They never say that you gotta grow up, quite this soon

How fast things change, and now I’m here

And all I wanna do

Is go back to playing barbies in my room

Back to playing barbies uh

I wish that I could go back

I wish that I could go back

I wish that I could go back

Back to playing barbies in my room

So, whatever happened to that awesome Barbie Doll collection? While I was off to University my Mom gave the whole lot to charity. I couldn’t go back to playing Barbies in my room even if I wanted to. That house is gone, my room is gone, those Barbies are gone.

We can never go back.

18 thoughts on “Barbies

  1. I love this song:
    Songs were made to sing
    While we’re young
    Every day is Spring
    While we’re young
    So blue the skies
    All sweet surprise
    Shines before our eyes
    While we’re young.
    A very beloved person in my family is an addict. Why? That is the question that has no answer. What good does an addiction do? In our evolution why did this show up in our brains? It makes no sense. It certainly does not support family stability, the very thing we need for our children.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Song lyrics can be so powerful. Music is a wonderful thing. And yes, addiction is a powerfully destructive force if not acknowledged and dealt with. Before diagnosis and even during the process of recognizing and dealing with it, addiction is often devastating to relationships. Stopping the cycle is half the battle.

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  2. I’m in tears, too. I, too, have the Barbie doll childhood memories. Interesting that after D-day, I have purchased two Barbie dolls, the 2016 and 2017 Christmas collector Barbies and use them as part of my Christmas decor. I never made the connection until reading your post, but I too, wanted to go back. In the last year, i found myself listening to oldies when I work out, very, very old oldies. Songs I heard and loved in middle school, long before I knew my husband. Even being taken back there temporarily in a song has felt so good, so safe. But you’re right. We can never go back. It just doesn’t work that way. I have grown, and I know now that I can be without him. My boundaries are clear to him and most of all to me. I know what I want. No more confusion about sex addiction, his mental health, his childhood, his pain, his needs, etc., etc. I know what I want, what I need. Bottom line- I will not live with active sex addiction, in any form. No acting out of any kind. No prostitutes, no chat lines, no “crushes,” no flirting, and no “obsessions.” It’s up to him to get help with that, if that’s what he needs to do to not have that in his life, and if he wants me in his life. It was never about him. I see that now. This is all about me. Thank you, dear friend, for a beautiful post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The minute I heard the song, so many memories came flooding in. So many really good, happy, innocent memories. Healing is getting to that place where we are not afraid to do what we need to do for ourselves, for our safety, for our comfort, for our sanity. ❤

      Like

  3. Darling you are the Barbie now, but you are real. That’s what I always loved most about you. You are so unafraid to speak your truth— love from another Barbie girl who also had her moments actually hiding in the closet crying. It gets better. It has gotten better, but there is no going back. Innocence is so fleeting. But what you have gained is that you are smarter, braver, and more amazing than ever ♥️♥️♥️

    Liked by 2 people

    • I could feel the bond from the beginning. In your written words you spoke to me. We’re an ocean apart and from very different countries, and yet, kindred spirits. I truly believe that no matter what the end result with our partners, we’re stronger for having each other. I’m thinking of you every single day and hoping your last week of treatment brings about a kind of closure. It was never about them, it was always about us, as women, as precious human beings. Our past experience doesn’t define us, but it shapes us. You are amazing! ❤️❤️❤️

      Liked by 1 person

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