Posts Tagged ‘anger’

Marty and I just finished watching A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, where Tom Hanks stars as Fred Rogers. (If you don’t know who Mr. Rogers is, Google him. He’s an American icon.) In the movie, Mr. Rogers is being interviewed by a reporter for Esquire magazine named Lloyd Vogel, a man who had a very difficult childhood and hasn’t processed things well, to make a long story short. At first, he is convinced that Mr. Rogers can’t possibly be the person that he portrays on television, but slowly learns that he truly does care about people and their feelings, children especially. He also learns that while Mr. Rogers isn’t a “saint”, he continually works on ways to express his negative emotions in a healthy way. Through the film, Lloyd is able to resolve his anger.

There’s a lot more to the movie than that, but I took that message to heart. There are so many ways that I can change my reaction to things to be a better person. I don’t have to make the comment I feel like making, I can stop and think more before I react to someone or somebody. Just last night, I could have responded in a better way to someone online. I didn’t insult the person, someone who gets under my skin and deliberately baits me from time to time, but I definitely could have done a better job with what I did say. I was defensive, which doesn’t work and just makes a person look desperate. Mr. Rogers would have known how to respond in a loving way, not in a defensive way.

A few weeks ago, Marty and I got into an argument because I overreacted to something he said. I can see it now, in hindsight, and I own it but I’m still upset with myself that I didn’t handle it well. It upsets me that I wasn’t a terribly patient mom when my boys were growing up. That’s a big regret. I know that after ten years, I’m not a terribly patient teacher when it comes to behavior, especially with I’m faced with deliberate defiance and blatant disrespect. Mr. Rogers (Tom Hanks, actually) just reminded me that I can choose how I handle my anger and frustration instead of taking the easy way out and unleashing those negative emotions on someone else.

Do some people deserve our anger? Sure. I don’t think Mr. Rogers’ message was that we shouldn’t be angry, or that being angry wasn’t healthy, but not to be destructive in our anger. I still need to work on that lesson. I have a lot of things to be angry about, a lot of unresolved issues, especially from my childhood, but I can choose my response to that. I can be kinder, I can be more understanding about what someone is is feeling or going through. It’s really, really, hard sometimes because we want to hurt the person who hurt us, or put them in their place, but what does that achieve?

Something to think about.

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I just realized that I haven’t posted anything in almost a month. I have some catching up to do! March can be a tough month for me, though. Bittersweet. The sweet part is my Middle Child’s birthday, smack dab in the middle of the month, balancing out the bitterness with joy. I’ve blogged about one of the bitter parts before (https://juliabbb.wordpress.com/2014/03/08/march-8/) so I won’t revisit that right now. Today I want to focus on the other part of March that I think about on a regular basis: My father and his death on March 22, many years ago.

He’s been on my mind a lot lately. I never knew him, at least in life. Those of you who know me personally already knew that. He tragically died in a car accident seven months before I was born, the night before he was going to apply for a factory job so that he and my mother could get married and give their family a good start. That never happened. The circumstances of that night aren’t especially clear to me, but the fact is that he died, leaving us behind.

Do I think he wanted to leave us? No, absolutely not. From what my family tells me and from a poem that one of my cousins wrote for his funeral, I know that he was excited about being a dad, that he was planning everything out. It took a bit for him to get used to the idea of being a father, though. When my mom told him about me, he went to his grandparents house for three days to process it all. When he came back, he was ready to go forward with a family. I hold that little scrap of information dear and tight.

I’m not writing about him to elicit sympathy or to rehash sad old feelings. I guess I just still want to know him better and this blog is a great place to express that. I want to know if he felt the way I do at times, what he would think of the world today, how our family dynamics would be different if he were still around. I want him to know his grandsons. I think he would have been a cool grandpa. My boys are lucky: they had another grandpa, Marty Man’s dad, for a few years. They have my uncle-dad, my brothers, and cousins who have all stepped up to give them extended family closeness. I don’t think they know what they’re missing, but I had two wonderful grandfathers until I was an adult. I wish they could have had the same experience as I did.

I used to be a hot mess about him. When my mother told me about my dad, I was around seven years old and at first I was elated. I already knew that the step-monster wasn’t my real dad and all of the other kids had dads, so I asked my mom about it. I had also just learned the facts of life, so I knew with all of my seven-year-old wisdom that there was a missing piece. When she explained that I indeed had a dad, the big question in the back of my head was finally resolved, but then the realization that he would never be there crushed me, especially as my life got worse. All through my very roughest years, I used to pray for God to say that his death was a mistake, that he wasn’t really dead, sobbing in my bed for him to come back, thinking he would rescue me. My grandma had given me a lens from his glasses and I took it everywhere I went, wanting a piece of him to be with me all the time.

I had a lot of anger toward him for a while, too. I was mad, so mad at him for dying and leaving me. After all, if he hadn’t died, my mother would never have married the step-monster. Of course, none of that was his fault, but as a very angry and confused teenager, it made sense to me to place the blame on him. I wondered about him all the time. Did he crash on purpose because he didn’t want me? Did he not try hard enough to survive? Had he been on drugs? Was he drinking? Like I said, even today, I don’t know all the details. I don’t know if anyone does, but that’s not important anymore. I’ve worked through the whys and made peace with that. I’ve made my peace with him.

I really truly think that he is still here, still around me. Things happen. I’ve had dreams where he’s there for very short periods of time and in them, he’s told me things about himself that I didn’t know, things that later checked out to be true, such as the fact that he played guitar. A song will come on the radio, that I’ve heard thousands of times, but for some reason, I’m overwhelmingly moved to tears for no reason at all. Later, I find out that it was one he liked. I feel him around me. He may be gone physically, but I believe that his spirit is here.

My anger is long gone. My pain is much fainter. Talking about him, learning more about the person he was from my family and his friends helps. I wish I could talk to him, to have one short hour with him. I still have that frustration sometimes that I can’t pick up my phone and call him to tell him what his grandsons did or to invite him to Thanksgiving, but it doesn’t happen nearly as often as it did when I was younger. I am a part of him, I have his hair, his eyes. Half of my very DNA is his and that’s saying something. I have a father. I am his daughter.

I don’t have a rhyme or reason to this post. Again, my dad has been on my mind a lot lately and I just needed to write about him. If you have a dad, hug him tight. Hold him close, tell him you love him. If you are a dad, do the same for your kids. They need you more than you’ll ever know.


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