Music legend Dolly Parton always wears a smile on stage along with her signature blonde locks, mile-long nails, and colorful ensembles, but behind closed doors her life has not always been so joyful. In a new interview with Closer Weekly, the 72-year-old singer/songwriter shared she “hurts like everybody else” but her strong faith has kept her going.
“I hurt like everybody else. I’m not always happy,” Parton said. “A belief in God is essential.”
Instilled in her at a young age by her grandfather who was a minister, Parton’s faith has always been the centerpiece of her life. She was the fourth of twelve children, and, while her parents did their best to provide for her and her siblings, life was not always easy in the poverty-stricken Appalachian hills of Tennessee.
“It shaped Dolly into who she is today, inside and out,” her sister Stella told the magazine of their religious upbringing. “Growing up with very little except our family connection and God meant everything. Our faith is the most important thing to all of us. It was the key to our survival.”
It was also the key to her success. “I would sing hymns to God,” Dolly recalled of learning to find her voice. And when times got especially tough, like a 1982 medical scare that resulted in her needing a partial hysterectomy and learning she and her husband Carl would never be able to have children, she relied on that faith even more. She sunk into a two year depression that she described as a “really bad time,” but she treated it as a learning experience.
“Sometimes God just has to smack you down,” she said. “He was almost saying, ‘Sit your pretty little ass down because we have to deal with some stuff!'”
Around the same time, Dolly admitted she had an emotional affair with a man who was not her husband, and the dalliance left her doubting herself and who she had become. She contemplated taking her own life with a gun, but she credits divine intervention in the form of her dog Popeye for saving her life.
“I looked at [the gun] a long time. Then, just as I picked it up, just to hold it, and look at it for a moment, our little dog, Popeye, came running up the stairs,” Dolly told Closer. “The tap-tap of his paws jolted me back to reality, I suddenly froze and I put the gun down … I kinda believe Popeye was a spiritual messenger from God.”
Though Carl has largely stayed out of the limelight throughout his wife’s illustrious career, the two are about to celebrate their 52nd wedding anniversary, and it’s their faith that binds and grounds them. They built a small chapel on the grounds of their Tennessee home and pray in it daily.
“She spends time there most every day she’s home,” a friend told Closer. “She not only prays there, but she often goes there to write spiritual songs. Carl goes as well, and it’s their quiet place to reflect, pray, and give thanks.”
Ultimately, the icon believes God has always had a plan for her and Carl. “She always lets God’s hand guide her through life,” another pal said, “and she’s always come to the realization that God believes her place is with Carl.”
(H/T: Southern Living)