The sisterly bond is something so important, but we don’t always realize its importance until we lose it, or almost lose it and get it back. Three of the six Starting Over women and one life coach had failed relationships with their sisters. It took the life coach talking of how her own sister died before the relationship was patched up for the other women to realize this was something they needed to fix, no matter how hard it was.
Kim’s relationship with her sister since healed, she is still in Denver, and along with Iyanla, supporting Jennifer as she makes a difficult phone conversation to her father who is locked up in a penitentiary, sentenced to life in prison for dealing drugs. When the show had left off the last time, Jennifer had tearfully told her dad she just wanted to know he loved her. He told her she already knew that. She shouted, and told him no, she did not.
As she asks why he didn’t respond to her letters, he tells her she doesn’t know how hard it is in there, to be locked up, and knowing you’ll never see the light of day again. She tells him he doesn’t know how hard it was for her at home. She had to do it all, take care of her mom and Krista and the house, all while growing up. Jennifer asks an even more difficult question; she wants to know why he sold drugs, getting him arrested. He tells her he did his best and did it for the family. He was taking care of Jennifer, her mom, Krista and the house, and working sixty-eighty hours a week, just trying to get by. He saw the easy road and took it, tired of the long hours, but had he known he would have gotten a life sentence, he never would have done it. She asks if he would like her to visit when she is done with the show, and he agrees to this. Ironically, just as with Kim’s relationship with her sister, both people involved were hurt and angry over the same thing.
Back at the Starting Over house, Towanda is growing increasingly annoyed with Denise. This is not how she had hoped to spend her birthday. While Towanda is cleaning her ears with a Q-tip, she is doing vocal warmups with a CD. Denise tells her she sounds like she’s choking, and that Denise keeps wanting to give her the Heimlich. Later, Denise watches astonished as Towanda irons her jeans with starch. Denise says she never once thought of ironing jeans, and that starch was anything other than a carb you eat. Towanda has been showing Denise little housecleaning tips every day, and today she shows her how to make a bed correctly. Denise hadn’t known to put the pillows on the top.
Rhonda wants Cassie to see that she really isn’t a bad person, and takes her to a shelter to talk with some of the people staying there. Cassie shares she has stayed at a shelter a few times herself. Talking to recovering addicts, and explaining her story, they tell her she isn’t a bad person. She made bad choices, but made the right choice in the end for herself and her biological son. Rhonda takes Cassie to one more place, a cemetery to remind her of how well she has changed. If she stayed “bad” she or her son could have possibly ended up there.
Soon, Towanda and Denise are sitting out on the balcony eating lunch and discussing Sommer’s date with Ed that night. Sommer eats too much and has to lie on the floor while the other two finish. Denise wants to know what Sommer’s going to wear that night, and she says she can’t talk about it because she doesn’t feel well, but will when she feels better.
Rhonda holds a group meeting with Sommer, Towanda, Denise and Cassie. Rhonda wants to discuss humanity today, and asks the women for a definition. They say things that you like and don’t like and pain make you human. Telling them that’s what they all have in common, she asks Sommer and Towanda what they have in common that makes them human. They say the both have a need have everything in order. Denise and Cassie know they are alike because of their difficult childhoods and how they both dealt with it be having out of control behavior.
After the meeting, Rhonda meets alone with Cassie. She asks if she’d like to lose the devil’s horns, tail and pitchfork. Cassie jumps on it. She doesn’t feel bad anymore. Rhonda then produces an angel’s halo and wings, and asks if she would like that instead. Cassie jumps on this as well, saying that Rhonda surely knows she wants that. Then Rhonda produces a third option – being human. Does Cassie want to be bad, perfect or human. The light bulb goes off, and Cassie understands. She wants to be human, to make mistakes and then get over them.
Ed arrives at the house for his date with Sommer. She introduces him to Denise, and soon Denise infiltrates herself into their date. The three of them are sitting around the table talking, and the talk moves to the hot tub. As she is asked if she wants to join them, she originally says no, that she doesn’t want to cramp their style, but eventually agrees to go out there with them. Just as Sommer and Ed are getting cozy in the hot tub, Denise with her in-shape body in a bikini hops into the mix, and makes Sommer a little more uncomfortable. Denise keeps saying pretend like I’m not here, but there’s only so much of that you can pretend when she’s a mere few feet away. She then asks them to make out a little so she can test their attraction level for each other, and Sommer is steaming and very embarrassed.
Kim and Jennifer arrive home, and Towanda is the first to run out and hug them, welcoming them home. Kim feels bad for missing Towanda’s birthday and gives her a little card to let her know how much she appreciates her. Ed spends the night in the guest room with Sommer, but we all know nothing was going to happen in there. The next morning, Sommer hugs Ed good-bye, but feels she got a little closer to him, and hopes next time he might even kiss her.
Towanda has written the last chapter in her autobiography and shares it with Iyanla. She is wearing a t-shirt that originally read “Save the drama for your mama” and Denise had added onto it, “or life coach.” Towanda has entitled it, “I’ve Changed My Mind.” Originally feeling like she needed to hide all of her emotions, she now feels her heart is open to everything, and wants to share herself. Iyanla feels she has found her voice, and wants her to do so professionally now as well. Iyanla has set up a meeting with her and a potentional manager. Towanda is very excited to take this next step.
Dr. Stan opens group this day and wants to discuss success, mainly how they will gauge success after they leave the Starting Over house. While Towanda feels success after completing a personal goal, Kim now feels successful about her own self-confidence. Sommer says it seems selfish to her to feel successful about herself. He then informs them there is a Board of Review that night, and they need to dress for success. Okay, Dr. Stan, that was kind of cheesy.
Rhonda meets with Denise and wants to discuss her pattern of lateness. Denise says she has never been on time for anything, and was even late for her grandfather’s funeral, but doesn’t know why she is like that. To help her, Rhonda has decided Denise will be Towanda’s personal assistant today. Towanda, with a busy day of meeting with a new potential manager, will have many things that need to be done in a timely fashion. Towanda joins the discussion and gives Denise a list of the things she will need done like getting her outfit together for the meeting, driving her to the meeting, etc.
Rhonda holds a special meeting with just Iyanla and Dr. Stan and wants to discuss her concerns with Sommer. She doesn’t feel Sommer is progressing quickly enough, and shows clips of her such as when she refused to let loose and yell “Whoo” and when she refused to put on a swimsuit and go in the pool with Marcus. Wondering if she just isn’t ready to commit to this full process yet, Rhonda shows yet another set of tapes. This set has Sommer talking about wanting to be behind the scenes of televsion someday, perhaps becoming a producer. She is seen pointing out to the other women what is going on with the cameras, and always pointing out how they are being watched, where, when and how. They don’t understand how Sommer can place a greater importance on this behind the scenes stuff than her own growing, and feel she is creating unsafe circumstances for the other women as well by making them aware of it.
Denise isn’t doing everything perfect as she helps Towanda all day, but is doing her best. Towanda actually needs the other women’s help to get her outfit ready, as Denise is gone. She’s even afraid she’ll have to drive herself to her meeting. Just in time, Denise shows up with lunch for Towanda and herself. She tells Towanda to eat on the way to the meeting. The meeting goes well, as Towanda feels an immediate connection to the manager. Denise dutifully sits by and takes notes. Back at the house, while Towanda is telling Iyanla how much she liked the manager, Denise is eating her lunch cold. It’s the first time she has had to do it. After, she and Towanda meet with Rhonda, who asks if Denise was a good assistant today. Towanda says she did pretty good. Denise thinks she did well, too, as she did things Towanda hadn’t even asked her to do, like her laundry. Although, she had asked her to do that, she specifically said to wash the whites and darks separate. Rhonda asks Denise why she can’t be her own personal assistant. She immediately understands. Rhonda feels Denise was placing more value on Towanda’s life than her own, so it was easier for her to make Towanda’s life go smoothly.
The time for Board of Review comes, and Sommer is called up first. The roommates and Rhonda and Iyanla all share their worries about Sommer in the house, that she isn’t quite getting it, and is resisting everyone’s help. All of her roommates think she should stay, but Iyanla tells her to just go. She doesn’t think Sommer realizes how bad that situation is yet, and isn’t ready for it. Rhonda gives her a C and tells her she will not allow Sommer to float through anymore. She is not allowed to say, “I don’t know”, “I don’t understand”, “That’s stupid” any longer. It appears it’s put up or shut up time for her.
Next up is Jennifer. Iyanla reminds Jennifer how far she has come from the last Board of Review, when she, too, was told she wasn’t progressing. Iyanla tells her how proud she is of Jennifer facing her fears and calling her dad in Denver. She also tells her she’s proud to say she is graduating. The happiest of all is Kim. Rhonda and Iyanla start to end the Board of Review, and then decide to do one more, even though they usually only review two women each time. Kim is called up and knows it’s her time. Iyanla tells her that moment she chose the trip to Denver over the Mediterranean cruise was the pivotal point for her in healing. She finally chose herself. She is proud of the healing Kim did with her sister in Denver and is proud to tell her that she, too, is graduating.
The next day, Iyanla holds the group meeting, and both Kim and Jennifer take “the love seat” and see their goals displayed on the plasma, with all of their steps now filled. As is a semi-tradition at the Starting Over house, Andy Paige arrives and announces makeovers for the two graduates. Iyanla is first to say she wants to see Jennifer burn the jeans.
Towanda’s sister, Tamar, arrives to spend some time with her. First they fry up chicken together and fight each other every step of the way. Towanda says they used to be so close, but are now so different. Iyanla comes in for a chat with the two of them, as she wants Tamar’s views on the family discord. Tamar isn’t pointing everything at her father and stepmother. She is pointing a lot at Towanda’s husband, Andre. She says he doesn’t get along with many people in the family, and feels Towanda has distanced herself either because of how Andre feels or how the others feel about Andre. Iyanla is very surprised she has never heard any of this from Towanda. You can bet they’ll be discussing it in their next meeting!
For their makeovers, Jennifer is taken to a clothing shop owned by Lauralee Bell from Young and the Restless. Everyone wants to see Jennifer in a dress, because she has been hiding a cute little figure behind those t-shirts and jeans. Jennifer clearly doesn’t feel comfortable in any of this. Kim is taken to yet another store. Everyone wants to see Kim a little less flashy, a little more subdued and classic. Kim, as is her style, resists it every step of the way. They both go just slightly different than their original hair style. Jennifer goes closer to her chin to highlight her jawline, and Kim goes a little shorter on top for some height.
Towanda and Tamar spend some alone time together, and discuss their problems with each other. Towanda is open, and tells Tamar how hurt she was when Tamar split from their singing group, and didn’t tell them. Tamar says she didn’t do it to hurt Towanda or anyone else, and didn’t tell her because she thought she would be hurt. She really didn’t know how to go about telling her that she had been offered a solo contract. They exchange I love yous, and it appears this issue is better, but the Andre issue is obviously one that needs some work.
Just in time for the double graduation, the first Starting Over graduate of the second season arrives, Sinae. Everyone goes out to the pool to set the candles afloat representing their hopes for Kim and Jennifer. Jennifer is first to walk out, to many oohs and aahs over how beautiful she looks in a stunning red dress. Kim follows in an obvious compromise with Andy. A subdued suit, with flashes of black for color.
Iyanla speaks first about Jennifer and talks about everything she helped Jennifer get through there. Identifying her own prison of walls she’d built, releasing her pain for the first time, and healing her relationships with her sister, mother and father. Dr. Stan steps up and offers a similar thing to Jennifer that he offered Josie. He point out he knows she has a father and is healing that relationship, but knowing he’s incarcerated without chance of parole, if Jennifer ever needs a surrogate father, he will gladly be there for her. Oddly, the only Starting Over roommate they show that speaks is Sinae who speaks to Jennifer of how much she enjoyed their time together in the house.
Iyanla turns her attention to Kim, and addresses how they went through so many things together, Kim fighting it all along, but the turning point, again, was when she chose herself over the cruise. She knew then Kim would be okay. She hopes she will continue to work on these things herself.
For her Starting Over gifts, Jennifer is given money from an anonymous donor to finish her last semester at college. She also receives pink luggage, and Rhonda tells her to look inside and read what it says. What she reveals is that Starting Over is sending her and her sister on a trip to Sedona together. Kim receives luggage as well, and her note inside says they are sending her and her sister to a spa. There is one more thing. Iyanla tells her that when she commited to stay in the house and miss the cruise, Iyanla told her that if she honored herself everything would work out. Starting Over is sending her to Barcelona to hook up with her husband on the remainder of the trip.
Jennifer thanks everyone for being there for her when she needed it. On the show to repair her broken relationships, Kim never thought she could form so many bonds with so many different women. To Iyanla she said, “When you looked into my eyes, you saw my soul and it was scary, harsh and amazing.” Iyanla doesn’t hide the tears that are coming down her cheeks.
As Jenninfer and Kim get into the limo, Towanda joins them for a bit and sings Wind Beneath My Wings. It wasn’t altogether clear until that moment that Towanda has surely found her voice. When it means something to her, that voice is there. She says goodbye to their sisterhood and they drive away.
It’s not easy to start over in relationships, especially with family. They will never be the same, but you don’t want them the same. Same is what got you there to begin with. If you can put away hurt and anger for a minute and listen, you’ll find usually a misunderstanding that got out of control. Kim and Jennifer both did that.
I welcome questions and comments at LauraBelle@realityshack.com
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