Monday Notes: “Mr. F*ckin’ Rogers”

About fifteen years ago, two women had befriended me. One of them had a child the same age as my oldest daughter. At the time, she’d given birth to another, by a man, whom she was no longer with. During our friendship, she’d started dating and married another person altogether. The other had five children by one man, to whom she was divorced. Having remarried, she and the last one of her children lived with her new husband, who she’d eventually divorce.

We would usually convene over one of their houses, sip alcoholic drinks, and discuss women things: sex, periods, men.

On one occasion, we sat around a dining room table, red cups in hand. They both complained about their relationships. I don’t recall the details, but I do remember chiming in with whatever was bothering me about my husband.

“You don’t get to say nothing,” friend two interjected, “not when you’re married to Mr. f*ckin’ Rogers.”

They both howled with laughter. I gulped what was left of my drink and sat speechless for the remainder of the night.

Long before I’d met these women, my grandmother had taught me to sit in silence, to ignore how I felt about my experiences. Nothing I said was important enough to add to any grown-folks’ conversation. And because I was always surrounded by adults, I’d discovered that nothing I had to say about living life was ever of value, even if it was my own.

That one moment exemplified why I was rarely vulnerable with specific people. When I was twelve, there was one best friend with whom I stifled feelings about my parents. Her mother had moved thousands of miles away from her ghetto Chicago neighborhood to be a hairstylist for celebrities in California. My friend was left to be raised by her grandmother. To her, the image of my life was perfect. What could I have to complain about with two loving parents, adopted or not?

Years later, after we’d both had children of our own, that same friend confessed, “We’ve known each other for a long time, but I don’t feel like I really know you at all.”

mask2It’s no wonder. I’d become a master at masking my true emotions about a thing, while hurt festered in the fiber of my being and manifested as inappropriate adult behavior.

This is what can happen when we devalue the voices of those around us. This is what can occur when we lack the ability to empathize. Those we claim to care about and to love may learn to either shrink their existence to make way for the largest voice in the room, or they may seek to be seen and heard in unhealthy ways.

I’d learned to do both, depending on the situation.

Today, however, I function in healthier ways with people whom I choose to interact.

With my children, I give them the space to give words to their emotions. If you talk to either one of them, you’ll notice they begin with the phrase “I feel like…” quite a bit. I believe it’s because I’ve always encouraged them to reflect and feel, whether I want to hear it or not.

With my friends and family, I listen to what people have to say. I never compare pain. If you’re upset by something I don’t understand or that isn’t of value to me, then okay. I’m not the emotion police. All feelings are important and have the right to be heard, no matter their size or subject.

With myself, I refuse to be silenced simply because my life is different than those around me. I know that different doesn’t mean less important. I don’t allow friends or family to guilt me for having things they do not. For example, just because you cannot find a happy healthy relationship, doesn’t mean I cannot discuss how being married has affected me.

Finally, I’m more discerning about the people with whom I’m aligned. This act alone has helped to create relationships that are more satisfying and symbiotic. In this way, I know that I’m participating in partnerships that are both valuable and valued, and by extension, so am I and what I have to say.

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54 thoughts on “Monday Notes: “Mr. F*ckin’ Rogers”

  1. Amen. What is for you is for YOU and it doesn’t take away from anybody else’s anything. I was married once, single much longer, and I remember all our friends’ thinking we were such an ideal couple. The role models. Jealousy followed. I cut people who don’t lift me up like sport and I am glad you are choosing to speak your truths and distance yourself from haters. It’s just bad chi that you don’t need or deserve.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I can tell you felt this in your being! But yes, girl. I honestly wish we would stop doing this to one another. No person is perfect, and by extension, no relationship is perfect, no matter what we romanticize in our minds.

      I’m glad this resonated with you ❤ I'm living and loving others from a totally different place now ❤

      Liked by 2 people

  2. This is such a good post. I like you mentioned that you don’t compare pain and that all feelings aren’t important. I think it’s rude when people undermine another persons experience just because it doesn’t look like theirs. I have similar experiences with a “friend” who id talk to about my challenges in my relationship but they wouldn’t take it seriously because their relationship is in breakdown. My natural response is to shut down and not tell people anything once I feel like I’m not heard. You just reminded me that there’s healthier ways of dealing with this & to cultivate that healthy relationship with myself & those that matter. Thanks for sharing this 🌷

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks Ash! I still have a similar response, but I’m just not as blatant about it. A lot of times, I’ll back away slowly from the relationship and how I share my self and my life with that person.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Yes, this is good.

    I have also stopped giving advice to my friends. When I did, I made it seem like I had all the answers and/or was holier than thou. It made me harder to know or want to be around.

    I also let my daughter express her feelings, even (and especially?) her anger–probably for the same reasons you do.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I can SO relate to learning early on not to voice unpopular opinions, and how hard it is as an adult to find our inner voice and learn to listen to it and actually speak it out loud. Friends who belittle your emotions, problems, dreams, whatever aren’t really friends at all, and I’m glad you have people in your life now who don’t do that to you.
    Comparing our lives does no good at all, I think, because we so rarely know the truth about anyone else’s life. But what we do know is that everyone is entitled to their genuine emotions and they don’t need anyone else telling them what they are allowed to feel. Great post!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I don’t know why I couldn’t think of that word Ann…belittling. That’s what it is. It’s belittling your emotions, etc. and if you internalize it, then you end up slightly resentful and really quiet about things that matter. And yes! No one needs to tell someone else how to feel. Ever.

      Like

  5. Beautiful post, Katherin! Somehow, comparing your hubby to Mr. Rodgers sounds almost complimentary in this anecdote, even if it didn’t sound like it at the time. It sounds like your friends’ relationships with men were lousy, and you were the exemplary example of having a husband who was sensitive and caring (like Mr. Rodgers). 🙂
    However, all of your insights to follow were fabulous. So often, when i’ve opened up to share my pain – the other person likes to bring up examples of their own pain for comparison. I’ve never found that to be helpful. I’ve discovered that listening and lending understanding is all that is needed, so I rein in any desire to share my own experiences at those moments.
    Thanks again for brightening my morning with your wisdom.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks so much Judy! Oh, it was complimentary to my husband, but I suppose my point is, we’re all flawed. Even Mr. Rogers might’ve gotten on his wife’s nerves some days lol, and even she would have the right to express that.

      I totally agree about listening. Many times that’s all we want someone to do, not compare pain. I wonder if there’s some psychological rationale for why people do this (just thinking out loud).

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh my goodness, Kathy! You’ve hit the nail. I could have written this post. It speaks of my experiences, excerpt for children, and because right now I’m still shocked by an attack from someone I considered close. I actually touched on this briefly in one of my recent posts, and my crime is what she perceives as my “perfect” life.

    So, I especially love this, “I don’t allow friends or family to guilt me for having things they do not. For example, just because you cannot find a happy healthy relationship, doesn’t mean I cannot discuss how being married has affected me.”

    Well said, and a brilliant post we can all learn from. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Agreed on post. Sometimes I think maybe it is because we r the older generation (things were different back then) & new generation has more “freedom” to speak up & think & like & so on. But still, I guess, it’s often depends on a family & where we grew up…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ray, I agree. The older generation was definitely different, which has made me do things a little differently with this younger generation. I also agree that it’s cultural. A lot of my daughter’s (black American) friends are amazed by how much she can speak openly with us.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I think the part that resonated the most with me was about not comparing pain. Lots of people think my life is perfect, mostly because I’ve hidden the imperfect stuff from their view. So it’s both our faults, mine for perpetuating the fairy tale and theirs for believing it. When I go out on a limb, make myself vulnerable, and share how I’m really feeling, I expect a little empathy, not somebody telling me I am overreacting and have no right to feel hurt because they have it so much worse. REAL friends would not behave that way.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Now that I do agree with Joan. A lot of times we don’t share the realities of life with people and they are left to assume our lives are perfect…even though, I’m not quite sure why. Seems we would all know by now that no one’s life is perfect.

      And most definitely…REAL friends do no behave that way. That’s something I’ve had to continue to learn repeatedly.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. When I read the Title and the incident behind it I was reminded of Job’s friends in the Bible. Those were some brutal females. I think that I would have excused myself left and never spoke to them heifers again. But I understand your shock. Like an unexpected slap in the face.
    I used to be very cautious, quiet and reserved when I was younger. Now I kinda wear my feelings on my sleeve. As the kids say, I clapback. I also have a bad temper so I try to stay away from People who upset me. I can’t hide my anger. Too much water has passed under the bridge so hiding is not an option.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. They were, but I was too. There was a reason we all hung out together lol But I do remember my stomach literally sinking to the bottom when they said it.

      I hear you D. There’s no sense in hiding how you feel anyway.

      Like

  10. Powerful post Katie, and absolutely superb!
    I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, and I could relate e so much with you.
    It’s so easy to dismiss anyones’ else opinion and focus only on ourselves, our problems, worries, concerns!
    I know so many people that only know one word for their conversation:I! Everything and everyone else is irrelevant, unimportant! But it comes to a point that it is our prerogative to accept it or to put a full stop and move on!
    With age I’ve learned a few things, mainly that some called ‘friends’ are our worst foes making us feel very small indeed! And that we are partly responsible by allowing it to happen, by allowing other’s to silrnce our voices. I don’t allow it anymore!
    Great example and gift you’re giving to your childten!
    Be able to express themselves and be what one is is precious.
    💕

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much!

      You’re right. And I agree that we are always co-creating a situation/experience, so we’re always partially responsible, especially if these things continue. At this point, if I feel someone is attempting to silence my voice, then I either let them know, or slowly back away from the relationship. No one needs that type of negativity in their lives 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  11. What a powerful post. Well done!
    I think a lot of people dismiss anyone who has experiences that differ from their own. Rather than “hearing” what you have to say, they ignore your experiences just because it isn’t the same as their own. Which devalues your right to have feelings and share your thoughts.
    I have a friend who will say things like”Your family was crazy.” Or “Nobody but your family thinks like that”. I finally had had enough and got angry. I told her that actually many Jewish girls grew up like I did in the 1950’s- just look at all the ridiculous stereotypes written in the show The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel- . I explained to my friend that her experiences were uniquely different in that her mom was a single mother. (A widow) But in either case, it didn’t matter because we both had experiences that shaped us. Some good and some bad. And BTW I don’t find the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel show particularly funny. I find it bordering on anti Semitic with intense over acting, not at all realistic. However, there is enough realism in the expectations of women at that time for it to be painful for me to watch. Something my friend and I both felt while watching the first season. (We grew up in the 50’s in different types of Jewish homes and both found the show offensive). However, I had to explain to my friend that the fact that her mother was progressive and mine overly protective changed our experiences. It didn’t negate one or the other. Just like you having two adoptive parents didn’t give you a life without flaws or insecurities. We must accept one another and take the time to hear what our friends have to say. Without judging or criticizing them because of different experiences.

    How brave you are to have learned to find your voice and speak your truth. Being a middle child who was a free spirit in a family of conservative Jews I found my voice early on. I spent a lot of time being sent to my room for speaking out, but I learned early on “To thine own self be true.” My siblings listened, I questioned everything. We are who we are!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. First of all, I love it when you comment Leslie! It’s always so thoughtful and thorough. I’ve never heard of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, but it sounds like a TV show that oversimplified ethnicity :-/

      I also have to say that I used to call things “crazy” when really they were just different, and now I’m sensitive to those types of judgments. But you’re right. It’s what we do and it’s hard and the consequences end up being super non-empathetic.

      Anywho, I’m glad you were able to share how you felt with your friend. That’s the part I’m still slowly learning how to do (with love).

      And lol about your free spirit! It’s great to learn how to speak up when you’re young, I think ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Thanks for the post! It reminded me of a certain friend around whom I always felt, well, maybe not guilty, but certainly akward for having “too perfect” life. Maybe it was her who didn’t want to hear me out, never showing interest, or maybe it was me who was too insecure who couldn’t express myself around her, putting on me what I believed to be the social norms. Like it seemed totally improper to complain about my parents, while her father was dying of cancer etc.
    Anyway I didn’t feel my insight was welcomed and our a- good-few-years-long friendship ended with her being fed up with me not letting her in to my world, and me being fed up with her never wanting to be let into my world.

    So I just wonder if it possible to maintain a long-term friendship / or any kind of closer relationship with somebody with completely different social backbround? At the begining it can work as it is a phase of mutual discovery, but later on? What I want from a meaningful relationship is to be heard out and understood.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for sharing this Draha! I’m no expert, but I’m learning that any friendship can last (no matter the people’s backgrounds) if the two people WANT it to work and WANT to be hear and understood. So, it becomes more about the energy of the two people and what they both want, rather than the background.

      I hope this makes sense.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Good post. I know the feeling of wearing a mask and being silenced. I’ve internalized so many things for most of my life which hasn’t helped. Getting back into blogging has remedied some of that when I create something and when I talk about uncomfortable things going on that are true.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s the worst. I’m glad you’ve also found blogging. This has helped me too for a few reasons. First, no one is here to argue that my feelings aren’t my feelings lol Also, people are a lot nicer in this space and usually willing to read, empathize and say something meaningful ❤

      Best of luck as you begin to speak your truth.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Of course and thank you. I’m glad you feel that way. The people on WordPress are certainly more civil compared to other platforms. There have been times where I thought I would be attacked for some of my opinions on lighter things such as movies or heavier issues like systemic racism, but it’s great that I can express myself through my blogs.

        Thanks, and you, too!

        Liked by 2 people

  14. No one really ever knows what kind of a life someone has in private. I know this for a fact, you can’t make assumptions just because something appears to be good or bad. It’s difficult, isn’t it.

    As always a thought provoking post. 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  15. Your way to handle different situations is great. The comparing/contrasting one life to another has gotten ridiculous. People forget that we’re all individuals, we all have pain, and there is no rubric to determine whose pain is actually greater. We all need to be understanding and tolerant of everyone we meet, because you just don’t know what lies in their head, their heart, or their memory bank. Great post

    Liked by 3 people

    1. No…rubric…whatsoever! I agree Anne. All any of us know is what someone tells us and even that (as you’ve said) is based on a bunch of things. Just as I’ve wanted to be heard, I’ve also learned to listen a little bit more too. We all do need to do better.

      Thanks for these kind words.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. This came right on time this morning and I am glad that I was able to have the time to read it and sit with it and appreciate this:

    “I don’t allow friends or family to guilt me for having things they do not. For example, just because you cannot find a happy healthy relationship, doesn’t mean I cannot discuss how being married has affected me.”

    I do not think people really take the time to think about what it is they want to say before they say it. I do not think they truly understand the power of words. Maybe it’s a Southern thing, but I was partially raised by my Grandmother and Great-Grandmother as my parents were teenagers and I was always taught to “be seen and not heard” and was mostly around adults too. I am soft-spoken, but as I get older, I am becoming more outspoken. I admire you for how you’re gifting your children the power to express themselves and how you, as a parent, are willing to hear them out. Peace.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank YOU for reading and sitting with this and thanks for the kind words. I think it’s an older generation thing. My parents weren’t necessarily like this, but my grandmother and them were definitely like, “children are seen and not heard.”

      I do hope you’ll find your full voice and learn not to dim your light no matter who’s around ❤

      Liked by 1 person

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