Gossipmongers have done a lot of irresponsible things under the guise of entertainment, but making false reports about family deaths is the biggest mistake. Neffeteria "Neffe" Pugh, the eldest sister of R&B princess Keyshia Cole and costar of BET's docuseries "The Way It Is," received news that their mother Frankie had passed. Before riniging the alarm, Neffe found out that her mom was safe and sound. ESSENCE.com caught up with Neffe to set the record straight about those crazy rumors, wedding plans, and why she's not freeloading on her sister.
ESSENCE.COM: A rumor began that you mother Frankie had passed away. Is that true?
NEFFE: No. I haven't the slightest idea where the rumor began, but Wendy Williams reported on her radio show that my mother had been in a car accident and died. I was at home in Atlanta and had just dropped my mom off the night before, so I knew it wasn't true. Even my mom said, "Why would someone say that? I don't know where Wendy got her information, but my mom's probably at home sleeping right now. We spoke and she's fine.
ESSENCE.COM: Wow, how do you cope with all this gossip?
NEFFE: We take the good with the bad. I've been dealing with it probably more than my mom; like the rumor that I was pregnant again, which I am not. I don't make up rumors because it's putting out bad karma. My mom doesn't even want to leave the house now until this passes over. You have to take it for what it's worth, pray and just deal with it.
ESSENCE.COM: The blogosphere loves your mom Frankie and every chance they get they are documenting her and criticizing her actions. Do you ever try to talk to your mom about her actions or does she just shut you down and let you know she's grown?
NEFFE: Most definitely, I've talked to her about her behavior and did have those concerns and questions, but she doesn't really care. She tells me that she's grown and my mother. I just wish sometimes she'd remember that she's a grandmother so she can learn to sit down and slow down, then I wouldn't have nothing to say to her. Eventually, she'll slow down and figure it out.
ESSENCE.COM: We all are trying to figure it out, but some of us need more time than others. Your mom criticized your fiancé on the radio. Does she not approve of Soullow?
NEFFE: I don't know if she approves, but for her to go on the radio and say that he doesn't do anything when she doesn't live in my house to know what he does is crazy. That's just how Frankie is. Unfortunately, her comments made the rumors worst: he's jobless and not taking care of home. Everyone thinks he's trying to be this aspiring rapper, but nobody knows him for who he is other than God, him and me. Now, how he feels about what she said I can't say, you'd have to ask him. He's the man of the house and can vouch and answer for himself.
ESSENCE.COM: We love how you stick by your man and congrats, we hear you two are getting married. When is the special day?
NEFFE: I don't know. That's something I'll let him decide. I was caught by surprise with his [proposal]. After being married for nine years and my recent divorce, I'm still in a healing process, so I don't want to rush myself into anything. Not that me and Soullow aren't in love, but it's also the first time he's ever been married. I want to give him the opportunity to make that decision. I do know that he wants to get married on a farm or ranch.
ESSENCE.COM: We love that you've flipped the script to allow your man to take charge on the wedding plans. We witnessed your ride on an emotional rollercoaster with your family on "The Way It Is" because of issues that surfaced from your childhood. Was documenting your life story on television and your new book "My Happiness Is My Sanity" therapeutic?
NEFFE: Yes, it was my closure and going through the things I went through [such as rape and molestation] got me to the point where I am now. For the longest time, I couldn't figure out what God wanted me to do, but then [my mission] started revealing itself. It took a good year to reach this point in my life. I no longer regret nor want to change what happened to me. I can't complain. I'm happy I went through that because it has made me stronger and able to stand on my own two feet and take care of my kids. I am a better woman because of it and this book is just a part of my journey. I believe my story will touch people in a way that most will relate to it personally or because they know of someone who went through the same thing. Again, I'm very proud of it and the feedback I've received so far.
ESSENCE.COM: The Neffe we were introduced to on "The Way It Is" is the total antithesis of the spiritually grounded woman who's talking now. What inspired your new attitude?
NEFFE: Well, I've always kept God in my life no matter what because He is my source. As far as me being humble and calm, that I learned to grow into. I was very angry then for so many reasons. I was just coming out of a divorce and dealing with the fact that he was with my cousin, having to move and start over and just dealing with drama after drama I was angry at myself and everyone else because I just wanted to get out of it all.
ESSENCE.COM: Hey, you've won half the battle by acknowledging your issues and trying to handle them. How would you measure your progress?
NEFFE: Honestly, I still have a lot of growing to do and I know that God will help me through. I can't say that I'm totally healed or over all that has happened in my life. I can't predict the future and can only live life and learn the best part of me. I believe that people don't find out who they are until they look inside themselves because no one can tell you who they are. People can suggest, comment or judge but it's up to you to open up your eyes and take an [introspection]. When you fail to do that that's when you become stuck in their 30s. I can't see myself being [stagnant in life] because I have children (four that I birthed, my ex-husband's son and my fiancé Soullow's son) to take care of. Again, who knows what my future holds. I don't try to figure it out and I just live life.
ESSENCE.COM: That's understandable when you feel you have your back up against a wall. Has therapy helped improve your relationship with your sister and mother?
NEFFE: Prior to the show, I had done therapy twice. Family therapy with my sister and mother I had never done before and didn't' know what kind of relationship we would have. We had to learn on our own and learn to let Frankie be a mother. We are definitely closer and still working on some things like any other family. I believe that we'll overcome the differences that we might have it will pass on. Keyshia and I haven't talked but we communicate but probably not regularly like normal sisters but we didn't grow up together.
ESSENCE.COM: Many bloggers criticized your sister Keyshia for not supporting you and your mom when you were struggling financially. Is that true?
NEFFE: I want people to understand that a family is going to be a family and we're all grown and no one is entitled to take care of nobody. I think people felt like because me and Frankie are related to Keyshia Cole we should be living just like her. She worked hard to get to where she is. She's not entitled to spend her hard-earned money when we have all our limbs and can do what we need to do to provide for ourselves and do what we need to do. My sister doesn't take care of me. If I need help, 9 times out of 10 I don't ask. If it's really serious I know that the option is there to ask for her help, but I don't. Again, no family is perfect. No one said we were supposed to get along every day, because if we did then how would you learn one another? We are human and have issues like any other family that we are working on ever yday.
Check out Neffe's book "My Happiness Is My Sanity" on amazon.com or http://www.neffeteria.com.