Have you ever felt the need to put up a plastic, pretentious appearance like everything is fantastic in your life? There have definitely been times when I felt like I had to become someone I was not in an effort to disguise the truth of what was really going on behind closed doors. I absolutely hated that phony feeling! Here is a part of John’s and my journey that describes a taboo subject most normal married couples wouldn’t dare talk about publicly. But, as you know by now, we’re not normal.
Before we had kids, John and I lived in Los Angeles for several years. John pursued an acting career while I taught preschool at a church in Bel Air. We came across as a happy all-American couple, who drove luxury cars, lived in a beautiful condo, and, of course, owned the quintessential white fluffy lap dog – all which are necessary to pull off a Hollywoodesque lifestyle, right? We played the part for a time while indulging in parties at the Playboy mansion and hanging out with people who were considered a “big deal.”
Many people referred to us as a real life Malibu Ken and Barbie. I’d like to point out that I’m not using the Ken and Barbie analogy to say, “hey, look at us,” but to show the extreme contrast of what people saw of us on the outside when we were really tormented by inner demons on the inside.
Yes, I admit that our plastic, doll-like smiles put off an amiable persona. But the reality was that life within the walls of our home resembled more of a cross between the outrageous Osbournes and the crazy Kardashians. So, basically complete chaos. John was in the midst of an intense battle of addictions – one which was fueled by living in the San Fernando Valley, which is the adult entertainment capital of the world. This taboo addiction almost wrecked our true love fantasy. He admits that his addictions controlled his life. And I’ll admit that they stole all of my trust and security in him and our marriage to the point that I almost left on several occasions.
The Ken Doll of a husband that everyone else saw on the outside would transform at home into a hollow soul whom I didn’t even recognize. My heart, and all my hope, was completely shattered as I observed my husband’s life quickly come unhinged and slip into a downward spiral of selfishness and immorality. Our relationship crumbled as I was left emotionally abandoned.
John’s addictions made me feel forced into trying to live up to unattainable LA-LA Land expectations that were in complete opposition of who I truly am. At my core I am a simple conservative girl with a lot of self-respect. When you take this kind of person and force them into the life I described above, you can begin to see the depths of my struggles. No longer did inner self-respect matter. Life was about outward appearance and materialistic belongings. Confusion consumed me.
Living in the City of Angels was more like living in the City of Devils. Temptations were everywhere. There were several years there where, as hard as I tried, I never felt pretty enough, skinny enough, or trendy enough for my husband. I tried my best to compete with the smut-filled industry but it was too much to handle for this innocent girl from the Midwest. There was no way I could ever live up to the huge chested bleach blond girls that spent their days at the gym while their feminine body parts bounced around like kittens desperately seeking an escape. Contrary to the classic Barbie song, trying to keep up a Malibu Barbie charade is NOT fantastic. It’s complete hell! It still hurts my heart as I recall all of these thoughts and emotions.
This subject is difficult for John and me to expose publicly. But we know that countless people, maybe even you or someone you live with might have similar struggles. If you feel forced to portray a Barbie or Ken-like façade to cover up any kind of addiction, you’re not alone. Our hope is that anyone reading this that is struggling with addiction or suppressed emotions would find comfort in knowing that you don’t have to remain consumed by it. Overcoming for us required that we reach out for help from family, counselors, a 12 step program and ongoing therapy. In a crazy way, writing this blog is therapeutic for both of us.
Everyone is on their own journey. John and I will tell you that our journey is never finished, but we feel blessed to be at a point today where we can speak our truth. We encourage you to express your truth and let people know the real you and what’s really going on in your life. It’s like they say, the truth will set you free.
So when you see us smiling today you know the truth that our life is not always fantastic, but our smiles are not plastic.
Please share if this strikes a chord with you in any way. Thanks – John & Sarah