Sunday, March 12, 2023

 The following is my Letter to my inner little Rog.

Hey, Booger.

I have a different attitude toward that name now that I’m older. When I was you, I didn’t mind. From mom, it was a token of affection as in “Booger boo Alan Mann”. I know you loved mom. Her displeasure could always get to you. She didn’t have to get mad or spank. All she had to do was give you that look and you felt crushed and contrite. I love that about you. You were tenderhearted even back then. You wanted to please and when you hadn’t you were ashamed. You are such a sweet loveable kid. A very handsome boy with a wonderful smile.

I owe you an apology. I realize now you couldn’t help what happened to you. You didn’t even know it was bad. I know now how much you loved your dad and wanted him to like you. I think he did Rog. He just had some serious problems with what we now know was sex.

Back then you didn’t know about that stuff. Everyone else seemed to know or at least know more than you. But you were imaginative, inquisitive, and enjoyed discovering new things. You did know a few things about God and Heaven and Jesus. And you knew God loved you bunches and would always listen to you and hear your prayers. Did you know he was always with you? Even in the bad times.

I remember how you felt when after his “visit” he would just leave and not stay and talk to you. You wanted him to lay down beside you and hold you and tell you he loved and cared about you. But he didn’t did he? He just left you in the dark naked and sad. I too am sad for you now that I’m all grown up and have lived an amazing life. But God was there and helped you to sleep and forget some of the feelings.

I loved the way you could play with friends or just by yourself and be content and find the day fulfilling.  You were a smart kid too. Not that anyone noticed right away. I know you zoned out a lot in class at school. The teacher thought you were just not getting the lesson but you were escaping the loneliness and sadness by imagining other times and places that you read about. And you read a lot too. You were a good reader and read lots of books. Oh, the imagination you had. I think mom saw it in you and probably appreciated it. She thought the flying saucers and spaceport you created out of cardboard were amazing. I’m sad that after you left for college she threw it all away.

I’m sorry dad didn’t understand you or how his actions had impacted you. I mailed him a tape in my late 20s and described how I was hoping to be healed of my homosexuality issues. It made him very sick for three days and he burned it so no one else could hear it. I think he was sorry for what he did. He did try to apologize to me once.

I suspect he loved you in his own way. They must have known there was something wrong. The underwear, the firebug thing, the sleeping naked, and him catching you with other boys. I don’t think he told anyone about that.

You did have a couple of good friends who were “nice” and didn’t want to do bad stuff. I like the fact that you could really be a good friend to others when they needed one. I’m glad you’re my inner boy. I love you so much. I understand you so much better now. I wish we could really talk and I could sit and hold you and tell you how wonderful you are. If you were here today like Jack, my grandson I would love you like I do Jack. He’s a wonderful boy very loving and sweet. Just like you were back then and probably still are deep inside of me.

Well, I can’t really be there for you for real but I will love you through Jack and I will think of you and what a treasure you are to me. You saved me back then in a thousand different ways. I thank you for that.

I have to stop now my eyes are getting misty and it’s hard to see the page. Just know that I love you bunches and like you a lot.

All my love, Roger

 

 Sometimes, Father God

Sometimes in my anger and arrogance, I want to march into Your presence and just tell You how I feel about the way things seem to be handled in my life.

Sometimes You let me.

Sometimes I want to rush into Your presence and fall on my face and just cry my heart out.

Sometimes You let me.

Sometimes I approach You with all my demands, requests, and lengthy petitions.

Sometimes You let me.

Sometimes I just want to tell You I’m sorry for being such a putz and can You just hold me for a while?

And You always let me.

Then I notice that You have saved all my rants, all my tears, all my recriminations, all my demands, and lengthy petitions, all carefully there in Your lap.

I no longer wonder if You love me, just why?

I may never understand that till I see You face to face, but can I just say thank You right now?

When I grow up, I want to be just like You.

 

Roger

 I grew up in the  50s, a TV kid. I watched a lot of TV. Father Knows Best, The Donna Reed Show, The Nelsons, Leave it to Beaver. My Three Sons. These were all designed to be wholesome family shows and were of course probably totally unrealistic. Each had their own little issues solved usually in 20 to 25 minutes. Brothers for the most part were affectionate and helpful, Sisters seldom had issues with each other that couldn’t be solved with a chat from mom or dad. And moms and dads were loving and respectful. It was a little slice of heaven between five thirty and seven each evening. I loved it. I ate it up. That was the fifties.

Then the sixties came along. Sitcoms were getting a little grittier. They were dealing albeit carefully with more social issues. There was Rowen and Martin’s Laugh-in. I loved it and all the little innuendos they managed to slip it now and then. It was my guilty pleasure.

But I was becoming more aware that my father sometimes didn’t know best and that I was not the Beaver Cleaver of the family.

The facade was slipping and I was really clueless about how to handle what was under it. There were contradictions and confusion on many levels that were becoming overwhelming not just in my family but in the societal environment I was in. My escapism was becoming a bigger part of my daily life.

As I look back I think what really got me the most was the disconnect between those fifties shows and my own family life. I wanted a dad I could come home and talk to about what I was being exposed to in school and with my peers. I wanted a dad that would sit with me and ask me how my day was and impart wisdom and affection to me. I wanted a dad I could look up to and brag about. I wanted to come home to Fred MacMurray from My Three Sons. But the reality was quite different.

I don’t think I’ve ever really grieved that loss. I came home to a quiet house where we all kind of did our own thing. Where being around dad was uncomfortable. He looked at me in odd ways sometimes and really didn’t want to talk about anything. I was given directions instead of affection. What affection I did get was usually in the middle of the night and with few or no words. Sometimes when he was near me I got a weird kind of quivering in my stomach and I’d leave the room. I didn’t want to talk about my dad to my friends. I didn’t want them to meet him. I remember feeling uncomfortable with the way he sometimes looked at my friends.

It was a tremendous letdown and no matter how I tried I could not make excuses for him. He was not Fred MacMurray. I don’t know what or who he was and eventually, I decided around 15 years old that I didn’t want to know. I would continue to envy all the other dads of my friends and change the subject when a question about mine came up. And I hated that. I have never enjoyed Father’s Day and was always glad when it was over.

Even after all these years, it still hurts. And I’ve hated myself for all the lying to myself about him and making excuses and trying to please someone who couldn’t have cared less. I didn’t know that at the time. When you’re young you always hope. When I finally was forced to accept it at his death, a part of me died.

To this day I can’t help but still feel robbed. I can’t watch those shows anymore and don’t want to. My wife loves all of those and especially Little House on the Prairie. I just can’t watch. My dad loved The Rifleman. I’d watch it with him and wish I could be the kid in that show. He had a great dad. I loved the dad but I suspect dad loved the boy and that still hurts.

And so, I grieve I guess in my own way, and trust that my Heavenly Father will be all that I’ve missed when I see Him.

 

Saturday, December 3, 2022

 Life Is Messy

by Roger Mann


Life is messy. Messier than I ever imagined. I grew up in a house that celebrated truth and honesty. At the same time, I was told/taught to keep secrets and lie. I was just a kid but there was something about it that didn’t sit well with me. But being 9 or 10 years old, what did I know.? “Father knows best, I was told.

Even as a kid I got an uncomfortable feeling in my stomach about what was going on, but I was conditioned to override that and obey my parents. 

 But stuff like that won’t stay silent for long. As a teenager, I began to see that dad was not as all-knowing and perfect as I had been led to believe and that made me mad. I had been lied to, betrayed, and eventually set aside. He hadn’t given me much attention throughout my childhood but what he did give changed to less and less as I got older. I think he began to worry about what I might say or do.

I let it go. There was nothing I could do that would not cause even more problems, so I left home as soon as I could. I think he was relieved. I thought I’d managed to get away and put all that behind me. I was wrong. All the secret abuse and lies didn’t stay buried. The older I got, the more problems I seemed to have until finally, I had to deal with it all. 

The anger didn’t go away. The flashbacks and the bad dreams that scared my wife led to my trying to deal with it on my own. That only made it worse. I was a lost soul and the foundation I had so carefully laid began to crumble beneath me at around 45 years old. I needed help and I searched to find it.  

When we reach a certain age, we often look back on things. That’s when the fa├žade shows its cracks. For me, it was 45 and I have talked to many others around that age with similar stories. 

Whatever your age, get help.

You can’t do it alone.

The results are so worth it.


Sunday, April 10, 2022

 The Father Wound Discussion

I've been quiet and doing a lot of pondering lately. This thing about my loneliness and feeling like I need some guy around my age that I can relate to and form a deep friendship with is still doing gymnastics in my head. The last men's bible study I attended was very interesting. (I don't know why they call it a bible study because hardly anyone brings a bible and it is usually just a video and Q and A after which can turn into a chit-chat session.)


The vid was a guy talking about his relationship with his father which was complicated as usual and how God used it to give him insight and healing. The follow-up Q and A, of course, were the dreaded "How were you and your dad's relationship and what have you learned". 


I HATE having to go there but every group I've ever been to always ends up with the "father" session. I kept my mouth shut hoping we'd run out of time. It didn't work. I think I handled it well alluding to some unspoken issues that deeply affected me but that God helped me through. Later one of the men who does know my story said he was wondering how I was going to handle that. 


I admit I came really close to just vomiting it all out right then and there because I was angry. I just knew though if I did I'd regret it. The thing that made me so angry is being put on the spot again. I don't want to be the poster child for incest abuse and the token ex-gay guy in the church. Also, I was angry that I WAS that guy and full of shame to be completely honest. Having confessed that I struggled with P they would all then go "Ahhh, THAT kind of P" and then I'm watched to see if I'm checking out guys in the church. Which of course is only reasonable I suppose.


I don't want to share my story! I don't want to be that guy. I did it before and it always felt like poop after whenever we'd meet. These were two different churches and we eventually left. I just never felt the same acceptance after that. (Although one guy did slip me a small note saying you are not alone. He was killed in an accident soon after that.) Being friends, associating with "that guy" seemed to make them uncomfortable and me too.


But, the longing is still there to be accepted for who I am and completely comfortable around each other. Not having to watch everything I say and do for fear it would be misinterpreted.


And, then of course there's the effect it'd have on my wife and extended family. "That guy's family, you know, that guy" Arrrgh!


Well, my life is what it is. My history, what is known or would be known, would all be out there. Unless it's someone who has some similar history or struggles most men, especially Christian men would find it tedious and problematic. So, anyone who did reach out well would certainly raise the eyebrows of the more pious. 


Life is messy. The church is messy. Christ's body is messy just like our natural bodies are messy and require constant Hygenic cleansing in order not to offend the sensibilities. I wish we could all accept that and just love each other, history and all. 


God, I can be such a whiner. Forgive the rant. I apologize.


Just my thoughts. 



I need ice cream. 

Saturday, March 12, 2022

 We live in a world that is very hectic. We are inundated with news, requests for weird "How did we do?" surveys, not to mention all the usual work and responsibilities we must take care of on a daily basis. We hardly have time to keep up with our binge-watching. 


A hundred years ago life was much simpler. If something momentous or traumatic happened in our life, we had time to process it, accept it, and move on. But today, we have very little time to do anything with such things because there's a line of stuff waiting for us to deal with as soon as we turn around. 


I suspect this is why men in their 45 to 55 range are now suddenly overcome with feelings, memories, and confusion about their lives and who they really are. The life that has been stuffed down deep so they can keep moving, around this time in their life begins to surface and demand attention. I've experienced it myself and I've talked and read about so many other men to whom this has happened also.


It's unnerving, confusing, and can leave one feeling a bit lost. My own childhood traumas seemed all well taken care of for so long that when my own life began to unravel from the most unexpected places, I was ill-prepared and lost my second marriage over it. 


Lesson: Slow down. Give me a break and let me feel whatever I feel. It could be God trying to heal some wound whose bandaid has started slipping a bit and needs some air.


Just my thoughts

Friday, August 27, 2021

 Not sure if this qualifies as healing but...

I've noticed this past year that I'm much more comfortable in my own skin. I had an occasion not too long ago to have to tell my story once again. It had been a while and I approached it with no real nervousness. I made my introduction to the Zoom attendees and began with the account of my abuse in a vague general way. I'm not sure why I was reluctant to admit certain detail but I found myself skirting details. That's when I realized I was feeling the shame all over again when I'd convinced myself it was gone. That not only shocked me but made me a little angry with myself. At that point, I stopped and told them I need to be honest here and really opened up with at least the PG version as I call it. 

I became emotional as I waded into it and I just let the tears flow. I didn't care. It happened, it was bad, I didn't handle it well and it messed me up badly. That said, I'm ok now and I'm working on being better, at a lot of things. 

Life happens, but it's not all bad. I've worked hard to address and repair as much as was within me what was broken and I've had a lot of help from some really great people. I thank God for that often. I thank God for this site and I know I should be here more. It helps. 

I realize I couldn't do this alone. God knows for a while I did try. It was awful. But the support I've had has pushed me to keep reaching for this elusive thing called wellness. People tell me I've come a long way. I'm just glad it shows. I'm too close to the trees sometimes to tell if the forest is still there. 

Thanks for reading this.

R