Upcycling Raggedy Ann and Other Such Stories

Raggedy Ann

When I was a little girl, I had a Raggedy Ann doll. She went everywhere with me. No doubt the fact that she went everywhere with me is why my Grandmother convinced me to let her take Raggedy Ann to the doll hospital so she could be made “good as new,” with the promise that Raggedy would return on my birthday.

I still remember opening the box with the big red bow, excited to be reunited with my friend, only to find a stranger looking back at me. This was not MY Raggedy! The adults in the room showed me her special Raggedy heart and assured me she was. (Hey, I was four but I wasn’t stupid.) I cried and cried and begged to have MY Raggedy back. My head was spinning. I was heartbroken.

I shared this story with a dear friend, recently, as the first memorable contribution to my sideswiped stories. The telling had just the right touch of drama, or so I thought, when I heard my friend take a deep breath on the other end of the line. (I knew that breath.) “Here it comes,” I thought, as my friend kindly shared their “take” on the adults who loved that little girl enough to replace what was probably a toxic germ-infested doll with a new one. Adults who had no way of knowing that the little girl would know the difference – or that she would use that event as fodder for future “you can’t trust life” sideswiped stories.

Fast forward to now; as the sun sets on the day that would have marked thirty-seven years of marriage. I watch it set, a recently divorced woman.

For the past couple days I have felt grief.

But not for the marriage. I mean, after the first 18 years (with time out for a separation and another woman; Bernadette’s Pages: An Intimate Crossroad) and the second 18 years of reconciliation, in the form of forgiveness and accepting the things we cannot change, there is nothing to grieve but a lot to be grateful for in the amicable nature expressed through this second separation and divorce process.

And not for my ex-husband. We are still in each other’s lives. Just now in a more honest form as we look forward to living our separate lives.

I find I am grieving a metaphorical 36-year-old woman who lived within the body of experience called a 36-year marriage. She is my Raggedy Ann. There are pieces of her I still love and want to take with me. But there are also pieces of her that are toxic and dirty. Pieces that want to whisper of sideswiped stories and reasons not to trust life. Pieces that do not need to go with me as I enter this next chapter of my life. So, now I stand between those adults who recognized the need to help that little girl let go but weren’t quite clear on how to do it and the little girl who saw what there was still to love in that Raggedy Ann.

What to do? There is no doll hospital for this one but this much I know; if she gets replaced, I will “upcycle” her myself. And if she remains with me – well, she will have to stop telling me those stories or get used to me hitting the mute button.

Anyone else with a Raggedy Ann?


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12 thoughts on “Upcycling Raggedy Ann and Other Such Stories

  • June 15, 2012 at 6:55 am

    Stories are simply stories, nothing more. Our stories needn’t define us — to be defined by our stories is too self-limiting. Each story teaches us a lesson, the greatest of which just might be to let go of the stories…no need to “mute” them. When they pop up, as they will from time-to-time, we might do well to welcome them like an old friend, acknowledge their existence without judgment, thank them for their teachings, and release them. Letting go … it’s a good thing! IMHO, only then can we control the effects of the experiences on us rather than letting them control us. We can’t change the past, but we can control our reaction to memories of the past. Just a thought… xoxox

    • June 15, 2012 at 8:33 am

      Sharron! I love it when you share here. 🙂 And I love this especially … “When they pop up, as they will from time-to-time, we might do well to welcome them like an old friend, acknowledge their existence without judgment, thank them for their teachings, and release them. ” You are a “doll” … in all the best ways. 🙂 xo

  • June 15, 2012 at 9:46 am

    with the years going by life turns out so very different from what we ever expected, wished or wanted, be it for us or the kids, friends or close or not so close relatives …
    and then, one day, we all watch a sunset or sundown somewhere and somehow begin to realize, the times of plans and dreams are over, passed a long time ago. some of us get sad, some really angry or depressed, some just sigh and push the thoughts far away and keep on doing

    and some of us decide, in that very moment, to really begin a kind of “new circle”, new area in their living. decide, what they still want, deep in the core of the heart or soul or wherever they believe something still lingers for being felt and expressed; with all emotion, with all power of mind or soul and heart.

    and the accepted amount of all the years before, have they been whatsoever, help to form and create, almost generate the next chapter. maybe not to overloaded with high expectations, maybe not so shiny and glorious as our old plans ~ but in one way more authentic, straight. and we still smile. and we still are happy.
    and finally, all real good hearttouching art is kind of in need of the lives before, which turned out so different than the happilyeverafter kind of live we expected …

    I never had a doll like Raggedy Ann or anyhow similar doll at all. I had a little horse, red with black tail and crest and white blaze which I adored and called Firefox. And a dog, a little puppy, as far as I remember, a king charles spaniel, which I wanted to give a funny name, but my grandma told me to name her properly. Some name which I remember as Chi Chu or something like that. Very proper name, indeed ;)) We often travelled to GB, and by that time dogs had to be for about half a year in quarantine, which made it almost impossible for dog owners to bring their beloved ones to GB for some holidays but I wanted a dog sooo badly. So she bought me a real expensive cuddly toy, made a big deal of it, as she tried to convince me, how real, how really real and almost alive the puppy was. I saw the toy, looked at it very carefully. She was such a fake, not at all the real dog I wanted, but I decided to play the game … as my grandma was so full of hope and trying to make the impossible possible. Just for me. Just because.
    Anyway, neither of my childhood friends is with me, they had been lost or given away for some reasons I never understood, years ago when I was still growing up. Maybe cause I often shifted home between a loving grandma and a not deeply caring mother.

    I am my own Raggedy Ann, have and had always been, fallen into the depth of life’s dirty corners, gotten hurt and cried out tears of anger and shame. Soulhunger not fed with any nourishing stuff but more trouble and violations.
    Yet I have and had been too at the top of wonderful realities and dreams, all by myself and alone, gazing at stars, wonders of children of my own, see them smiling, look at their eyes full of trust, or landscapes of such beauty that I just cried out, tears of overflowing emotions. So, what else would I do than just carry on?

    And then, one day I got it. My inner dolls are music and their lyrics, my inner toys are words. And then, one other day, I decided to create own words, own lyrics, no matter what the “outside” would know or think about.
    Rise. Shake off the dust, and sigh. Walk step by step and mile by mile through the rites of passage~ be it as Raggedy Ann, Barbie or Miss Piggy, Firefox or ChiChu or just~ ME. The mighty I Am, the multifarious tiny diamond, once a common peace of coal, formed by the pressure of life … what else could one, should we, would I wish to be?
    Life is neither lived in subjunctive, conjunctive nor conditional. Life is. Present tense. Simple grammar. Simple as life sometimes works out. Just be. Just live. Step by step, mile for mile.

    • June 15, 2012 at 8:26 pm

      “And then, one day I got it. My inner dolls are music and their lyrics, my inner toys are words. And then, one other day, I decided to create my own words, own lyrics, no matter what the “outside” would know or think about.” 🙂 Nadja, abSOULutely beautiful ! THANK YOU for sharing … this not only speaks to me but to many others!

  • June 15, 2012 at 12:47 pm

    Boy can I relate. I didn’t have an answer when I read this because I can relate so well. But the responses here have helped me understand. Thank you to everyone!

    • June 15, 2012 at 8:27 pm


  • June 15, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    Sharing this on my Facebook Page. We wrote about the same topic today. Serendipity? You are a lovely woman. xoxo

    • June 15, 2012 at 8:27 pm

      I am amazed we don’t trip over each other. The feeling is mutual, El. xoxo

  • June 15, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    Thank you for your honesty. I can relate to the pieces that do not need to move forward with me.

    • June 15, 2012 at 8:28 pm

      Thank you for taking the time to share, Linda. Together we grow. 🙂

  • June 15, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    This is wonderfully written. We all have that little bit our former selves, dirty and diseased that we carry with us as we try to move on and create a new self. I don’t think we ever completely lose the doll, we just put her somewhere safe.

    • June 15, 2012 at 8:30 pm

      Thanks, Charlene. Somewhere safe is good, I think. To embrace with compassion ALL facets of ourselves. I am so glad you stopped by and shared.

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