Dolly Parton On Her Traumatic Upbringing: ‘There Is A Lot Of Heartache And Stuff That Goes On With That’

Dolly Parton is one of the most positive beacons of light in the music industry. But did you know she struggled growing up in more ways than one?

Before she was a household name, Parton grew up with 11 siblings in the Smoky Mountains. Her family was so poor that both she and her family struggled to keep clean, she revealed in a 1978 interview with Larry Grobel.

“We bathed once a week once a week whether we needed it or not, as the saying goes,” she recalled.

“Finding a way to put everything to good use, that was a way of life in the Smokies,” she wrote. “It wasn’t just about taking care of what we’d been given. It was about survival, about trying every day, every minute, to make things a little bit better.” 

As Parton wrote in an essay for Guideposts, “It was so cold the day I came into the world that when the kitchen in our one-room cabin was mopped, the water left a film of ice on the floor.”

And in an interview with Larry Grobel, shared that when her siblings wet the bed, she savored it.

“That was the only warm thing we knew in the wintertime,” she shared after Grobel asked if she got up to wash herself. “That was almost a pleasure to get peed on because it was so cold. Lord.”

RELATED: Dolly Parton Admits She Cringes At Being Idolized: ‘I Don’t Want To Be Worshipped’

Parton also suffered from tragic physical trauma as well. In an interview with Dr. Mehmet Oz, Parton shared that when she was a kid, she almost lost some of her toes.

“I was probably about six or seven,” she explained per People. “I had jumped across the fence onto a broken mason jar and cut three of my toes, just my little toes on my right foot, almost off and they were just kind of hanging there.” 

But thankfully, Parton’s mother was able to sew her toes back on using kerosene as an anesthetic. “But they worked and they healed and I’m still walking on them,” Parton added.

In addition, Dolly did not grow up with much money and only had a few special cherished items as a child, like a Martin guitar she was obsessed with.

RELATED: This Is Actually Why Dolly Parton Always Wears Long Sleeves

In an interview with YourTango, Parton shared that one of her uncles had the brand guitar that she loved some much, that he eventually gave her.

“That was my treasure,” she said. “When I left it home when I was 18 years old, I put it in the loft because it was beat up, and when I got money — when I got rich and famous [laughs] — I was going to have it fixed up,” but unfortunately her loft burned down along with her beloved guitar.

Dolly Parton has tragically contemplated taking her own life.

Lastly, Parton contemplated taking her life in the 80s when she struggled with depression over heartache as well as weight. At one point, she picked up a gun she owned and considered taking her life. But then her do, Popeye interrupted her.

“The tap-tap-tap of his paws jolted me back to reality [and] I suddenly froze,” Parton said. “I put the gun down. Then I prayed. I kinda believe Popeye was a spiritual messenger from God.” 

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