Familial bonds are worth holding onto, and worth every bit of effort needed to succeed. It can be difficult to submit ourselves to the emotions of the work involved, but the result is always worth it.
As the show opens, we are still waiting on Kim’s decision – whether she will stay for the hard work, or take the easy way out and quit the show, joining her husband on a fourteen-day Mediterranean cruise. Iyanla has given her an ultimatum– stay and commit to the process or go home immediately, and the fifteen minutes Iyanla had given her to decide has just expired. Kim doesn’t want to let her husband down. Iyanla urges her to fight for herself.
Through her tears, Kim says she wants to stay. Before they can go any further, Iyanla wants a commitment. from Kim. She wants her to agree to stick around until the work is done. Taking every ounce of energy she has left, Kim makes the commitment. The only problem is even though she has made the right choice, she has compounded her problem. Instead of having one fierce conversation with her sister, now she has added another one with her husband to the mix. Kim feels she will be letting him down if she doesn’t go on this cruise with him. She feels selfish.
The next morning, a very tense Kim, Jennifer and Iyanla leave to catch their flight to Denver. Iyanla notices Kim has packed everything she owns, and brought it with her, seemingly in case she changes her mind at the airport. Iyanla isn’t going to let up on her though; she’s making her drag the heavy suitcase along through the airport until Kim decides to adjust her packing and take some things out.
Back at the Starting Over house, Rhonda shows up for her and Sommer’s meeting with some real crazy hair. She has her hair pulled into at least six different ponytails. No one is quite sure what to think, and everyone tells her she looks cute. Once outside alone with Sommer, Rhonda asks her if she likes her hair or if it looks stupid. Sommer doesn’t know what to say, so she just says it’s cute. Rhonda admits to making her hair look stupid on purpose.
The point, Rhonda says, is for Sommer to learn the importance of taking a risk, and not being afraid to look stupid. Too often, out of fear, Sommer will refuse to do something, and just call the situation stupid. Rhonda starts jumping all around and acting goofy, and tries to get Sommer to do the same. She can’t and nearly goes into a panic attack at the thought. Finally, Rhonda manages to force her into saying one thing, “Whoo.” Rhonda instructs Sommer to write a “Dear Stupid” letter, meant as a good-bye to her “stupid” excuse.
Landing in Denver, Iyanla takes Jennifer and Kim to a “safe” house. This is a neutral farmhouse just outside Denver in Niwot, Colorado, meant as a meeting place for them to have their “fierce” conversations with their family members. First up, Jennifer will meet with her mother and Iyanla to address their relationship, and Kim will join them for dinner later.
Marcus, Sommer’s personal trainer, has brought pool toys with him for his workout session with Sommer, fresh off her realization with Rhonda of realizing she needs to be more open to taking risks. She does fine until he tells her to get her swimsuit on, and she freaks out. She tells him that’s not going to happen. He instructs her to at least put a t-shirt and shorts on. She still refuses, which is confusing, as during every workout in the health club, she is seen in a t-shirt and shorts. Eventually, she gives in, and goes to her bedroom to change, and says she’ll be right back. When she doesn’t return after quite some time, Marcus enlists Towanda’s help to find Sommer. They find her locked in her bathroom. Eventually Sommer comes out, but Marcus still can’t talk her into the swim.
Back in Niwot, Jennifer’s mom has arrived, her wheelchair being pushed by Jennifer’s sister, Krista. Iyanla, Jennnifer and her mother sit down for their chat, and Jennifer apologizes to her mom for being so angry while growing up. Her mom understands and agrees, saying it was interesting that Jennifer wpuld get so angry at Krista, and Krista was so young, just a baby at three years younger. Her mom knew Jennifer would have done those same things at her age.
This brings up another point for Jennifer. She wants to know why her mom babied Krista so much, yet this is something her mom doesn’t have a ready answer for. Lastly, Jennifer asks her mom why she never divorced her dad, explaining it was so embarrassing to have to tell people they were still married, even though he had been carted off to jail. Her mom explains she didn’t want to take the marriage away from him. It was all he had left, since he has a life sentence. Jennifer understands her mom’s position now, and thinks it will make it that much easier to talk to her father the next day.
Sommer has apparently done some extreme soul-searching. She calls her friend, Ed, and asks him to come visit her again at the Starting Over house. He asks how he should dress, and she tells him casual, just like last time. She finds the courage in her somewhere, and risks acting stupid, and tells him to bring his swim trunks, “just in case” they decide to get in the hot tub.
Jennifer and her mother’s conversation now finished, they sit down with Krista and Iyanla to break bread. Kim enters late, introduces herself to Jennifer’s mom and gifts her with some flowers. Kim sits down to eat, looks at Iyanla, and says, “Get this.” Iyanla is worried, even though she knows Kim can be a drama queen. Kim says she took a stand for herself, and talked to her husband. She explained to him that she wants to stay in the house and finish what she has started. She hoped that he would understand, and to her surprise, he told her he did understand, and he wanted her to stay and get better and work things out. He will go on the cruise without her. Kim continues to be bewildered by that, but it seems Iyanla knew all along that if Kim would just commit, everything would work out.
The next morning, Kim and Jennifer wake, ready for their fierce conversations. After talking to her mom, Jennifer knows she can better face her phone conversation with her dad. After taking a stand the day before with her husband and making a commitment to stay and work on herself, Kim says she has never been more ready to face her sister, Kelly.
Towanda is not having a good day. It’s her birthday, and her husband’s birthday is the very next day. They always have celebrated them together like a holiday. This will be the first time in six years they are separated for these two days.
Iyanla and Kim wait for Kim’s sister, Kelly, to show up. Iyanla knows Kim is scared of the possible confrontation, and wants her to know she “has her back.” Iyanla and Kim stand back-to-back, linking their arms. Iyanla tells her to let it go, Iyanla can support her, she has her back. She then sits Kim down in the chair and tells her to remember she and Jennifer and Towanda are all with her, as is Rhonda, Dr. Stan, and all the other women that have ever been in the Starting Over house.
Rhonda meets with Sommer, and they go over Sommer’s Dear Stupid letter. Sommer says in the letter she is done with Stupid. It is only a convenient excuse. She also admits through tears she may have had a better relationship with her dad, had she not been so afraid of looking stupid to him. She tells Rhonda she will make an effort to replace “That’s stupid.” in her vocabulary with “That’s a risk.” Rhonda is delighted. She is so glad to hear of Sommer possibly getting in the hot tub with Ed, that she sends her out with Towanda and Denise to find a new swimsuit. Towanda and Denise realize Sommer still thinks of herself as being heavy, and doesn’t realize how fantastic she looks. She finds a cute little brown one-piece that they all agree on.
Iyanla answers the door when Kelly arrives, and is shocked to see how much Kim and Kelly look alike. The only difference is Kim’s haircolor. They find their looks aren’t the only thing they have in common. Iyanla presents the tools they will use for their conversation. There is a talking feather, and only the person holding it is allowed to talk. Iyanla, as facilitator, will hold a red flag, and if she extends it, the person talking has to stop. All take a deep breath and begin.
Kelly speaks first, and amazingly says she wants the same things out of Kim that she has been working on in the Starting Over house – to not be so materialistic and to recognize her family instead of pushing them away. Kim takes the talking feather and immediately starts blaming Kelly for all the same things, yet Iyanla puts a quick stop to this. Kim then says she wants Kelly to stop blaming her for her childhood. Kelly replies she never did blame Kim. As Kelly takes the talking feather back, Kim is astonished to find that Kelly has been in intense therapy for ten weeks, which just happens to be the same length of time Kim has been in the Starting over house. Ironically, though estranged, they have lived identical lives.
Kim moves on to talking about what made them estranged five years ago. Kelly had asked her to join therapy with her, and Kim says when Kelly lied and was found out, she quit going. Kelly thinks it was the other way around. Kim lied, and then blocked Kelly from her phone calls. Kim emphatically denies this. Iyanla gets them to realize once again they were living identical and were mirroring each other. They both had the same problem with their experience in counseling, and handled it the same way. Finally, Kim gets it. As Kelly takes her hands, Kim says, “I am not my sister’s keeper. I am my sister. ” The sisters admit to loving each other, and wanting to spend the holidays together this year.
Rhonda meets with Cassie who shows her the chart she has made with what she was doing during every year of her son’s life, and what milestone he was going through that she missed. Cassie completes it, but it’s evident to Rhonda that Cassie is still guilt-ridden. Cassie tells Rhonda she is eighty percent bad, twenty percent good. Rhonda makes Cassie wear devil’s horns and tail and carry a pitch fork for the rest of the day to show how bad she is. When Cassies says it’s too cutsie, Rhonda says like you, cute on the outside, bad on the inside, and tells her to dirty it up until it seems bad enough. Cassie comes back with black covering the horns and pitchfork, and says it’s not bad enough still. Rhonda wants to know what is so bad about her. Cassie says it’s her drinking and giving up her son. She doesn’t understand these are things she did in the past, and she has to come to terms with it and stop blaming herself. She needs to forgive herself.
Kim and Iyanla sit near Jennifer as she prepares to make her phone call to her father in prison. What no one has explained is why Jennifer had to be in the same state to call her dad. Does the prison not accept long distance calls? The phoneset is on speakerphone, and there is so much static, Jennifer can’t hear. She pick up the handset, and it’s still full of static. She has some very fierce questions for her dad. She wants to know why he wouldn’t respond to her letters, saying it made her wonder if he wanted to have a relationship or not. Her father responds, “You know I love you.” through tears, Jennifer shouts back, “No, I don’t!” Only a little more of the conversation is shown before the show ends, but it seems Jennifer’s dad is on his way to explaining he doesn’t feel worth of her love.
Three of the four familial bonds have been repaired or strengthened, and the fourth is still being worked on. All would agree it has been worth it. Kim’s relationship with her husband is stronger now that she knows he’ll back her up when she feels strongly about something. She and Kelly now see that they have wasted five years on a misunderstanding, because they are too much alike. They lived the same life growing up, of course they will handle problems similarly. Even if Jennifer isn’t able to repair her relationship with her dad, at least she will know where she stands, and she will be stronger just for being able to state her intentions. All of Jennifer’s and Kim’s hard work is finally paying off.
I welcome questions and comments at LauraBelle@realityshack.com