When new women enter the Starting Over house, the plasma screen will show an empty staircase, and at the top, their goal is stated. I think it’s unfair to have their steps be totally empty. If they are in the house, if these women have even crossed the threshold, this means they have really filled their first step. They have admitted to themselves that they have a problem that needs to be addressed.
A new woman, a very bold new woman, enters the house the morning after Josie & Chloe have graduated. This is a house she has never been to before, and she does not know any of the people residing in it. Yet, there are cameras all about. She makes the choice to not knock on the door first, but just waltz right in and begin shaking hands, and introducing herself as Denise. The five housemates look at her with blank stares not knowing who she is or where she came from. Eventually she does share w/ them that she is their new housemate.
All of Denise’s roommates have learned enough during their own stays in the house to know that the multitude of luggage she has entered their home with means she has a lot of internal baggage she needs to clear from her life as well. The last woman to enter this house dragging as many suitcases was Deborah. She had so much baggage, she couldn’t admit the truth to her life coaches and left the house instead.
Rhonda and Iyanla enter to begin the first group session with Denise. As the women introduce themselves formally, adding their goals to their names, Cassie admits she is there to get her G.E.D. and hopefully reconnect to the son she gave up for adoption eighteen years before. When it is Denis’s turn to introduce herself, pictures of her life are being shown on the plasma screen. A picture of her tiny dog is shown, and she explains they “adopted” him from an animal shelter. She quickly adds a quip that maybe she should search for his real parents as well and motions towards Cassie.
God love Rhonda! She calls Denise out on this right away, calls her remarks flippant, and asks why Denis didn’t realize this would hurt Cassie. We can see the fire burning below in Iyanla as well. Denise is upfront and admits she speaks without thinking often, and that is a problem of hers.
Denise shows more pictures of her life and tells her story more fully. We learn that she has been married one year to her “Italian Stallion.” She was the baby of the family, and she, her mother and siblings endured beatings from her father. Hers wasn’t as bad as the others, she speculates, since she was the youngest. All jaws are dropping as a video clip of the inside of Denise’s apartment is shown. There is old food, garbage and clutter strewn about. Her goal will be to “clean up” her life.
Her first appointment in the house will be a meeting with Rhonda, and Denise is late. Anyone that watched the first season with Kimberlyn knows Rhonda doesn’t accept tardiness. Once at her meeting, Denise learns her very first assignment will be to clean and organize the refrigerator in the Starting Over house. By the time she is done, Cassie says that Denise cleaned it so hard she broke it.
Sommer heads to the health cub for a workout with her personal trainer, Marcus. He records her weight and charts her progress, showing her loss to have slowed a great deal. He gets Sommer to admit she doesn’t work out as much as he asks her to. Marcus is questioning her commitment. When she returns home, she is met by Rhonda, a muumuu and a one-hundred pound fat suit.
Rhonda helps Sommer into the fat suit and large dress. Rhonda wants Sommer to realize how far she has come with her weight and her self-image, since Sommer has now lost nearly one-hundred pounds. They go outside amongst the masses and Sommer has to interview people and ask for dating tips. She has a hare time approaching people wearing this suit. Once she changes out of the suit and back into her regular clothes, she realizes it’s somewhat easier for her to approach people. She now sees what Rhonda is trying to show her – how much she has progressed and learned.
It’s Cassie’s turn now to meet with Rhonda. They continue to discuss the quilt of feelings Cassie is making to deal with her fears of reconnecting with the son she gave up for adoption. Rhonda gets Cassie to see all the negative things she fears her son will think about her are the things she feels about herself. When she is worried he will be disappointed in her, that is really because she is disappointed in herself. When she fears he will be angry with her, it is really because she is angry with herself. Rhonda thinks that because of Cassie’s sobriety, she’s spent so much time focusing on the good, she hasn’t dealt with the bad. Rhonda instructs her to make a chart – one space for each of Cassie’s son’s eighteen years. Cassie will write down what she did that year, and the milestones she missed in her son’s life. She goes to Kim for help on what kids go through at different stages in their lives.
Kim answers the phone that evening, and she knows the voice on the other end, even though they haven’t spoken in five years. It’s her sister, Kelly. Kim has been trying to get ahold of Kelly to let her know she is going to visit Denver in a few days, and wants to get together. Kelly asks why she wants to see her, and Kim tells her it is because she is her sister, and she loves her. By this point, Towanda and Jennifer have joined Kim for moral support. Iyanla comes in as well, overjoyed with Kim’s news.
The next morning, Denise’s second day in the house, and she is late for Rhonda again. She’s not starting off on the right foot. Rhonda takes her to an apartment that is similar to Denise’s, but is clean. Rhonda asks if Denise feels at home, and as she relaxes, lying back on a stranger’s bed, she realizes she feels more comfortable here than in her own home. She also reveals her husband finds it difficult to be intimate with her amongst the mess. Rhonda brings in several bags of garbage and asks where Denise would like it so that the apartment resembles her own. They are dumped on the floor and spread around the tables and floors. Denise is disgusted and ashamed, and admits the mess is her way of hiding.
Denise realizes it must be very hard on her husband, and is instructed by Rhonda to call and get his exact feelings on it. As Cassie is showing Denise around the Starting Over kitchen later, Cassie points out the booze and Denise brings up how she told Rhonda she would need lots of booze to make that phone call home. Rhonda asked Denise if she self-medicates, and Denise came back with, “No, but Cassie does.” Cassie clearly doesn’t appreciate Denise making yet another flippant remark at her expense. Denise calls her husband, and finds it very difficult, as she had expected. Asked how long he would stick around living in her mess, he says, “As long as I still love you.”
The sisterhood meets again and discusses the next day’s trip to Denver for Jennifer to talk to her dad and Kim to talk with her sister. Jennifer and Kim begin to “awfulize,” and Iyanla instructs them to make lists of the ten worst things that could happen on their trip, knowing full well Kim is the queen of awfulizing. Jennifer’s list is of mundane things such as, “He might hang up on me” and “He might refuse to talk to me ever again.” Kim’s list is filled with people spontaneously combusting, being left without a limo and Iyanla and having to walk to the airport, and Kelly killing both Kim and Iyanla in a pool of blood.
Later, a new problem has popped up for Kim, one she hadn’t brought up before. She and her husband were scheduled to leave soon for a European cruise. She tells Towanda it’s non-refundable, and if she stays around, she’ll miss the cruise. Caught in a quandry, she finally talks to Iyanla, who is flabbergasted that Kim wants to chuck all her hard work for a cruise. For a person who talks of having “fierce” conversations, she was definitely giving it to Kim with both barrels.
Iyanla tells Kim she loves her, but Kim appears caught between healing and letting it all go and running away. Iyanla knows this is more about the Denver trip than the cruise. Iyanla gives Kim fifteen minutes to make up her mind. Leave now or stay. At the end of the fifteen, a weary Kim tells Iyanla you probably want to go to bed. Iyanla won’t allow her the escape, and wants an answer. This, of course, is when the show ends.
Just as Denise knew what needed help with and wanted to change when she entered the house, so did Kim. Kim entered the house knowing the cruise date, and also wishing to repair her family ties with her sister. I hope she realizes this and stays.
I welcome questions and comment at LauraBelle@realityshack.com