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Don't Touch That Button – Starting Over, 10/19/04

by LauraBelle

Every single one of us has buttons that we push on others, and on ourselves that we allow to be pushed. The burning question is why we allow ourselves to be treated this way, and burden others with the same treatment.

Towanda’s husband, André is still visiting, and they are sharing the guest room. André is in the bathroom, and tells Towanda that he has a surprise for her, and she’ll have to wait for it. He adds in a few sexual innuendos, and finally opens the door and throws the wet towel at her. They both laugh at his play, but the only person I know that would be amused by this is my eleven-year-old son, and I think that says volumes.

Josie and Jennifer are watching Sinae play with Chloe, and Sinae keeps repeating over and over that Chloe will be a Super Model and every other label that is synonymous with being a successful woman. Jose and Jennifer are besides themselves with frustration. Josie proclaims that Sinae is pushing her buttons, and Jennifer writes on a note shown to Josie, “I can’t take it anymore!”

Shortly after, everyone is in the kitchen, and Sommer announces she is leaving to go work out. As Sommer leaves, Andre makes a rude comment that she must not work out that hard. He knows why she is in the house as Towanda talks frequently to him on the phone about her roommates. this makes his comment even more rude. Even more rude is the fact that Towanda again finds him amusing, and doesn’t tell him not to insult her housemate, only mentioning that without her at home he has lost his audience. Me thinks this is why he threatened her with divorce papers if she didn’t come home.

Rhonda walks in and asks André what he thinks of Towanda being in the house. He just says, “it’s different” and adds that he thinks she has lost weight. Does he ever think about anything other than someone’s looks? When Rhonda asks for any insider information on Towanda, he says she is stubborn, and that you have to break her. Rhonda, and probably most of the viewing audience, identifies this right away as controlling.

Rhonda and Josie have a chat about Josie’s commitment to the house. Rhonda says Josie is good at getting it intellectually, but not good at getting it “here,” as she thumps her chest. She tacks on a warning that if Josie doesn’t get it soon, she will have to leave the Starting Over house. After Rhonda shows her tapes of her dealing with two experts assigned to help Josie – the animal trainer and image consultant – Rhonda asks her if she is proud of her behavior on the tapes. Josie, seeing her own rudeness, begins to make excuses about her fears, etc. Rhonda helps her realize she should have shared her fears instead of acting this way. She also tells Josie, “No wonder you feel so alone; you won’t let anyone else in!” Josie is then instructed to call these experts and ask how she could have behaved better or been more open.

The others are still in the kitchen, and André has Towanda perform a sexy move for the other women. They must be a hoot at parties. Kim tries to immitate the move. Sommer, the woman who had an affair with a married man, says that Andre is a lot of fun. I don’t think she’d say that had she heard his nasty comment about her weight. Sinae tries to do the sexy move as well, but can’t put herself into it as much, so instead says she’s being Kim. Kim is upset that she always seems to be Sinae’s scapegoat. She knows Sinae is angry at Josie and Jennier, but can’t vent to them since she is worried they won’t like her anymore.

Iyanla takes Andrew for a private chat. She had earlier given him a questionnaire to fill out about how he feels about Towanda being in the Starting Over house. Iyanla tells him that Towanda being there will make her a better wife/person/friend. She then asks André why she won’t share herself fully with others. He explains it has a lot to do with her family’s celebrity status, and they both agree she is controlling. When asked how Towanda controls him, André says she withholds information from him, something Iyanla has experienced herself. Both Towanda and André grew up in controllling households, but André can’t see that he himself controls, he only sees that Towanda still does it. When Iyanla asks what he does when he feels controlled, he says he walks out instead of yelling. Iyanla gets him to realize this is the same thing Towanda’s father used to do, and that she revisits that pain every time he does it. If he truly wants to help her, he should make sure she knows he is coming back once he cools off. Iyanla believes that André isn’t being entirely open, and if she had been given to the chance to see his behavior in the house with the other women, I think she would see another whole different side to him, one that wold explain even further Towanda’s and his relationship difficulties.

Meanwhile Towanda and Kim are in Towanda’s room, playing with Chloe, and to Towanda is keeping an eagle eye on Iyanla and André’s conversation on the balcony, despite saying she trusts him to be honest. Holding Chloe, she mentions how badly she wants a baby after watching André hold her. I hope someone there tells her to get her relationship straightened out before she has a baby.

Rhonda holds a group session, and puts Sinae in the love seat right away. She asks Sinae how her relationship changed with her mom after their visit a few days earlier. Sinae admits that her mom now sees Sinae doesn’t need her help anymore. Rhonda notes that it’s interesting that Sinae’s mom had said the change was that Sinae didn’t want as much. Rhonda reveals that Sinae has earned her second step, “Redefine Mom’s role.” Asked if she feels like celebrating, she says she needs a new outfit. Rhonda, being a little snide today, tells her to take care of that herself.

Rhonda points out one of the changes was that Sinae’s mom used to push her buttons and Sinae chimes in that she doens’t anymore. Opening the discussion up to the others in the group, Kim says her sister pushed her buttons, and towanda said her sister, Tamar did as well, with little things like insults. Asked to name a roommate that pushes their buttons, Sommer names Josie for when she’s upset. Towanda says Sommer because of when she shuts down. Sinae puts it to Kim, saying she pushes buttons when she’s in a bad mood and takes it out on others. Sinae gets singled out by three as a button pusher – Kim says it is when she gets mad about stuff I didn’t do, and both Josie and Jennifer pinpoint their buttons were pushed by Sinae the night before when she ratted them out to Towanda and André for trying to pull a prank on them.

Rhonda gives them all buttons, and instructs them to write on them what makes their buttons get pushed by others. They will wear them all day. The purpose of this is so they will see that they allow their buttons to be pushed, and don’t take responsibility for it, blaming others instead. Good luck with that one, Rhonda. I expect some roommates to understand it much better than others. I don’t think Sinae, Sommer or Josie will have an easy time with this lesson.

André’s brother, Perry, who lives nearby in LA, comes for a visit. When introducing him, the first thing André does is lead him to Kim, and instructs Perry to check her ring out. Perry responds that even “Stevie Wonder could see that!” Kim notes it’s odd that André had said the exact same thing about her ring.

While Towanda is complaining to Perry that she hasn’t gotten enough time to spend with André, André and Kim are secretly shopping. Kim is helping him with his plan to surprise Towanda with a romantic evening including a dinner, flowers and a special letter he’ll write for her. He picks out cornish hens to make, saying that’s one of her favorites. On the way home, Kim tells him she thinks this will help her.

Sinae and Rhonda are having a one-on-one. Rhonda asks if she is suprised to be named by three different people as their button-pusher. Sinae points out that it is all over the prank the others tried to pull the night before, and says it is because she stands her ground if she believes in something. Taking the prank a little too seriously, Sinae? Rhonda asks why she tattled, and she isn’t sure. She then asks Sinae why she likes it in the Starting Over house. Sinae sites it is because of the amazing women she has met, facing her fears, and overcoming challenges. Rhetorically, Rhonda then proceeds further and asks, “Then why did you push those buttons?”

The other women are in the kitchen with Perry, while Towanda, unbeknownst to her surprise is preparing a dinner of fried chicken. Coincidentally, they are talking about André cooking, and Towanda says rarely cooks, and only knows how to cook one thing, cornish hens. We now know why he believes that to be her favorite. Walking in and seeing Towanda cooking dinner already, André hides the food he bought, thinking he’ll just make it the next day to surprise her, and instead just gives her the flowers. Perry then immediately needs to go home to his house to pick something up and wants André to come with. Towanda doesn’t want him to go, since dinner will be done soon, and she doesn’t want to miss out on any more time with him. She reluctantly lets him go, after he promises to be right back.

Josie calls the animal trainer and apologizes for acting that way the day before. She follows her instructions and asks what she could have done, noting she was scared and didn’t know what to say or do. He tells her to just be honest, and don’t blame others like the animals. Josie and Rhonda meet for ice cream, with Rhonda letting Chloe have her first taste of flavored ice cream. Telling Rhonda about the phone call, Josie says, “the experts had more to say than I cared to hear.” Rhonda, not believing that Josie understands fully, asks her what she learned. Josie says she learned that if she wants to stay, she should give herself and others more credit. Rhonda lays it on the line and says she wants effort. Josie will continue to be mediocre, be a C student, will never earn more than minimum wage, and won’t get the home she desire if she doesn’t believe in herself. I think it’s going to take a lot more than that, Rhonda. She needs a huge metaphoric slap in the face. Rhonda asks if mediocre is enough. Josie says no, and then the lightbulb goes off. She now realizies she has been acting blasé, and when arriving at the show, she named that as her worst nightmare. She is going through her life acting like her worst nightmare. Let’s hope this was enough of a slap.

Perry calls Towanda and tells her his car is broken down at his house with a hole in the radiator hose. She tells him dinner is at six o’clock. Perry says they’ll be there in time. When they still don’t show, she is growing more and more pissed. She says they have wasted two hours of her time. The women decide to eat without the two brothers. The phone rings again, and it’s André this time. He is still stuck. Towanda hangs up with him, calls a cab, and then informs him a cab will be there to pick him up. After dinner the women wait outside for André to arrive in the cab. Towanda has big plans for how she’ll confront him when he gets there. Instead, she just coddles him, they spend time in the hot tub, and later hang a DO NOT DISTURB sign on their door. Both of these two need that metaphoric slap.

Towanda has done nothing to show André the new side to her. All she has done is fall under old habits. He controlled her by leaving when she was preparing him dinner, and she controlled right back by calling him a cab and demanding he come back. They spent the whole day pushing each other’s buttons. They both act this way as that’s what they know. Towanda has learned a new side to herself, but hasn’t learned how to express herself to others yet. This one has a lot of work to do still, Iyanla.

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