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A Mean Hook – Starting Over, 9/30/04

9/30/04

We are still in the loft where Sommer has just been given a big red “A” to wear. Rhonda narrates that hopefully the women will begin to see a little bit of themselves in her and have compassion. Jen narrates that it isn’t fair for Sommer to have to be branded like that, while Kim reminds the group that they are all products of the Other Woman (still not true). She observes that she does not feel better now that Sommer is branded. Sommer is crying because her affair is not something she had meant to share with the world, only the housemates. (And the rest of us watching on network TV. But nobody else.) In confessional, Sommer cries that wearing a scarlet letter will not help her get past what she has done. Rhonda has everyone else choose a letter or two to represent something shameful they have done. Sinae chooses DT for “didn’t tell”- she made fun of her Aunt’s husband when really she liked him, and her Aunt died before Sinae could ever tell her. Towanda is TN for Tracy-Not sign, remembering when Tracy was asked to opt out of a singing contract deal with the Braxtons-minus-Toni, because she was pregnant. Towanda believes she should have stood by her sister and not signed. Kim chose A to represent all her “acting out” tantrums as a teenager. Jen narrates that Kim has not stopped acting out. She is wearing the letter C but declines to tell what it stands for because she hasn’t even admitted it to herself yet. Rhonda narrates that Jen does not want to expose herself and be ostracized. Kim says Jen has probably cheated on someone. Josie has chose SA for slept around. She also feels guilty that she had no feelings for Chloe until she saw her and saw the innocence in her. She says she refuses to allow true intimacy with a man and calls herself all kinds of bad names, and Kim speaks up and tells her that they have all had active sex lives and she should stop beating herself up. Towanda says her sister was an unwed mother at 18 and nobody hates her for it. Rhonda has them share their methods for beating themselves up. Sommer says by not allowing herself to have her own healthy relationship. Towanda does not believe she deserves a singing career. Jen does not deserve the trust of anyone, including herself. Rhonda tells them to learn to separate the actions from the person.

Later, Kim and Sinae are looking at photos and the website of Towanda and admiring her glamour shots. Towanda leaves for a meeting with Iyanla at a recording studio. Towanda narrates that she’s really excited but trying to act cool. This will be her first recording session alone. The sisters always felt equal even when singing backup for Toni, and all respect Toni’s leadership. (This makes me sad. How many performers have had to be stripped of their families and identities before hitting the big time?) Given their close relationship, Iyanla wonders then, why it hurts Towanda so much to be known only as Toni’s sister.

Cut to Rhonda and Sinae talking about blindness. Sinae is hurt whenever someone observes that she’s not very blind. She says she only gets around as well as she does because she had seen things before she went blind, and she has practiced the house for a couple of weeks. She is still afraid to go out. She mourns because if she wanted to walk her dog or take Chloe somewhere, she would get them hit by a car. Rhonda tells her she will be spending some more time with Vince, the mobility specialist, to practice being “out THERE”.

A bouquet of roses arrives from Jack to Jen. She narrates that part of her still loves him but she wants to focus on herself now. She says she’s never gotten flowers “from a boy.”

Vince is teaching Sinae how to cross a busy street. He shows her how to take an assertive stance so drivers can tell what she is planning to do. She’s reluctant but soon realizes she can do it. Next they ride a bus and she is quite sure people are staring at her scarlet letters and her cane.

Now back to Towanda for the big answer. She tells Iyanla she wants to be acknowledged as an individual and if she ends up singing professionally, she will not use her last name. She will use her middle name which is Chloe. (!) She believes the public will not accept to many artists from the same family Iyanla tells her she should ignore that and go for what she wants. She’s been set up with a producer and musician for the day and she can record something she’s written. Towanda has a hook that she believes they can work with.

Rhonda meets one-on-one with Sommer, who is having a bad day since having to listen to how everyone feels about her choices. Rhonda asks her what kind of toll her shame has taken on her life and Sommer says it hasn’t cost her anything yet that she can think of, but she doesn’t let herself think about it too much. Rhonda gives her a journal so she can have a safe place to explore her past and her feelings.

Towanda sings her hook and Iyanla is horrified because it’s full of anger and hatred and Towanda sings it so beautifully. Iyanla asks if it ever gets resolved and Towanda says no.

Vince and Sinae buy snacks at a bakery and then he leaves her to go home on the bus alone. She gets home and feels good about her success. (Not as good as Rhonda, who tries to get her to dance a jig. “No jiggin’”, Sinae replies.) She tells Rhonda her confidence level is 9.5 out of 10 and will go even higher when she can go to the mall.

Jen is on the phone thanking Jack for the flowers. The inner baby is out and drooling all over the receiver.

Towanda’s hook is turning into a verse. Iyanla is doing her best Myrna (Meeeerna) Carter impression to help her get the words on paper. The song is now becoming less about anger and more about learning to express it. Towanda narrates that instead of writing words to fit a melody, suddenly she’s talking about what’s going on inside. She realizes she hasn’t moved forward because of the guilt and shame about her past decisions, and fear of going it alone. She leaves with a CD recording of her session and Iyanla gives her a player to go with it. Back at the house, she tortures the women by making them wait until she has called her husband. She tells him the producer never knew she was a Braxton and she had a great time. In confessional she says that morning’s group session on shame influenced her song.

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