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Pandora's Box – Starting Over, 11/1/04

11/1/04

THE EPISODE NO ONE SHOULD MISS!!!! is what we are told today. We pick up where we left off Friday, with the women advancing into a room in a line. We hear Jen say “The trauma is that the bat is here again.” It’s a baseball bat and a cushion on a platform, similar to what she and Towanda used in their fist anger session. Iyanla’s in charge. (Based on what I have seen in the previews and knowing this equipment is used to make the women scream and swing a bat, I am horrified to see that Chloe is there.) Jen is to go first. She picks up the bat and is made to repeat a pledge that she will not harm herself or others. There’s a recap, reminding us that Jennifer feels abandoned and rejected, and that until she gives herself permission to express her anger, she won’t be able to express joy either.

Cut to Rhonda and Dr. Stan talking for the camera. They note that anger often comes up as something else like frustration, then turns inward, then back out as frustration, and over and over in a circle. On the plasma screen, Jen doesn’t want to swing the bat. Rhonda says she’s scared to look stupid, or to admit she has the ability to hit something in rage. She turns it into embarrassment.

All the women take turns saying what makes them angry, to try and inspire Jen. Josie says she doesn’t like being ignored and that Chloe’s father has so much power over her life. Kim says it’s when you make yourself vulnerable and people stab you in the back for it. Towanda says she gets mad at ” a liar and a cheater and an adulterer and an adulteress.” Then they are all talking at once while Jen continues to whine and pound halfheartedly. (Did I mention she is swinging a baseball bat?! And there’s a baby sitting right behind her in a high chair?!) She still can’t get into it and Iyanla gets up to give her pointers. Rhonda and Dr. Stan observe that Jen is just not connected to the seriousness of what has happened to her, that at least she’s mad about doing the exercise and that all the women are afraid of their anger. Dr. Stan says that at some point they have all tried to express anger in a healthy way to “unsophisticated” people, namely men, and it backfired.

Meanwhile Iyanla is accusing Jen of only staying with Jack so she can have someone to vent on. Jen’s just pounding softly and rhythmically and trying not to give in. Iyanla taunts her, telling her she picks and chooses whom to be angry at. She points out the crap Jack has done to her and wonders why it’s not a problem. “I don’t let it ruin my life,” Jen explains and Iyanla shouts, “You don’t HAVE a life, baby!” She tells Jen to “bring the bitch out” and Jen stops pounding altogether. Iyanla, disappointed, gives the others a turn. Iyanla gets up (and now I’m even madder because we have already seen how Towanda gets with a baseball bat, and the baby is STILL THERE PEOPLE!) Iyanla narrates that things that would make a normal person wail like a baby, have no effect on Towanda. Rhonda observes that Towanda has two parents, yet feels abandoned. Towanda starts wailing on the cushion, screaming about “The daddy”. Sommer breaks down, saying she’s afraid of anger. Dr. Stan says she feels threatened and something traumatic must have happened to her. (I’m sorry, but she reminds me of when I was a kid about to get walloped by my mother – I would always cry pre-emptively, hoping she’d go easy on me. I think Sommer’s feigning hysteria because she does not want to be seen sticking her butt out and waving that bat.) Rhonda observes Sommer has a lot to be afraid of, what with no drinking, and trying to quit smoking. Iyanla tries to get her to take a turn (Don’t the Bitch have somebody she’d like to whack a time or two?) Sommer complains that her arms are itching and narrates that maybe she’s just one of those weird people who have pain but not anger.

Iyanla encourages all the women to summon their inner bitch, whatever her name may be – Shaquanda, Nay-Nay… “she will CUT you.”

Kim takes a turn and wails about having to raise herself (I thought she said her mother was always there for her?) and that she was robbed of a childhood. Iyanla narrates that Kim projects her emotions onto other people and refuses to take responsibility for her anger, making up stories in her head to keep being the angry victim. “If people are afraid you’ll blow up, they will not tell you the truth.” Kim whacks til she’s breathless, and we go back up to the loft for the play-by-play from Dr. Stan and Rhonda, who talk about the importance of having a physical release and the getting counseling to talk about anger.

Josie’s next. She starts in right away screaming about Chloe’s father and whacking with the bat while the baby sits right behind her, watching. We hear Dr. Stan say that if the baby was older, this would be traumatic, but right now she thinks it’s a game. (Oh yeah, a funny game in which a baby could get whacked with a baseball bat! And are we to believe that when Chloe reaches a certain age, Josie’s habitual screaming and swearing will suddenly stop?) He’s happy because Josie’s is the purest form of raw anger we’ve seen so far. Finally, mercifully, Iyanla signals Towanda to take the baby out of the room as Josie, oblivious, gets wild with the bat and really loses herself in whacking. “She’s mine! Not yours!” (Gee, I could swear they were trying to get her to include him in Chloe’s life last week.) When she’s finished she stands there crying and Iyanla holds her. (I feel like a lot of dangerous attitudes just got reinforced here.) Sommer comes in and joins the hug. Josie narrates that she relates to Sommer being scared of other peoples’ anger because when her dad was raging, she never knew if she would get hurt.

Iyanla explains to Jen that just below her anger is the hurt, and the way to the hurt is through the anger. We can ignore the hurt but it sucks the life out of us. What hurts Jen the most is being humiliated, like when kids picked on her about her family situation. She gets up to try whacking again, this time with her favorite mantra “It’s not fair.” This seems to work, and she manages to get pretty worked up. Kim is weeping on the sidelines and Iyanla is crying too by the time Jen’s done. She apologizes to Jen, saying “You’ve done really well with nothing and nobody.” Iyanla says there’s no way to make it any different and now Maureen is crying, with Towanda rubbing her back. Iyanla holds Jen and they cry together. Jennifer narrates that it’s hard to admit she has some anger, but she does feel she has let something go. Iyanla asks the group how they feel and they tell her it was draining. No, she corrects them, it was uplifting. “Get a new language.” They do a group hug and Iyanla makes up a funny “Starting Over” song.

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