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Here I Am – Starting Over, 11-10-05

by LauraBelle

Towanda Chloe Braxton, one of the singing Braxtons, and sister of the more famous Toni Braxton, grew up showcasing her voice, but never having it honored. One of the most important tools we are brought screaming into this world with is a loud, powerful voice, able to bring us our wants, needs and desires. But sometimes people in our lives take that voice away from us – not physically, but emotionally. We grow and no longer feel we will be heard, no matter how loud we are. As beautiful as Towanda’s singing voice is, she never knew how powerful it could be.

As the show returns from a winter hiatus, we are anxious to learn Sommer’s fate. Sommer never learned she had a voice either, and found it difficult to express herself to her parents. Wanting desperately to be loved, she had an affair with a good friend of hers, who happened to be a married man. A year later the man died in a drunk driving accident and she lost her friend and lover, never able to put closure on her relationship with him. Feeling lost, she found herself at her highest weight ever, around two-hundred-eighty pounds. Desperate to rid herself of the weight, she had gastric bypass, and now wanted to learn how to be a thin woman.

By this point, she has lost over one-hundred pounds, but there is a bigger part of her goal she is not reaching. Instead of learning to use her voice, she keeps seeking attention from the wrong people. Now instead of the forbidden married man, she is seeking attention from the production crew on the show, who are supposed to be invisible and blend into the background. Being warned already and put on probation, she has still not stopped, and it has begun encumbering the other women in the show.

The sanctity of the show has become jeopardized as somehow Sommer’s roommate, Renee, learned the gossip the other members of the house were speaking about her in the van. Renee can’t remember where she heard this information from, but all signs point to Sommer finding this out from someone in production.

An emergency Board of Review meeting is called by Rhonda and Iyanla who ask the roommates to stand up and speak about Sommer’s transgressions and their effects on the household. Proving why she is graduating the next day, Towanda voices herself out of respect to the house. Though loving Sommer very much and wanting her to stay, she has been witness to problems arising from Sommer speaking to the production crew, and she voices her concerns at the Board of Review.

Rhonda and Iyanla have no choice, but to dismiss Sommer and ask her to leave, telling her a car will pick her up in ten minutes, and whatever cannot be packed by then will be shipped to her. No one feels right about this, but it clearly needed to be done. The results of Sommer’s actions were showing on Renee’s progress. Renee didn’t feel like she could trust women, and hearing that people were talking about her behind her back, was never going to allow her to heal, and find her own voice, lost after a man had sexually abused her when she was eight.

The next day finds Denise locked in a white isolation room, clad only with a lone clock on the wall. Halfway through Rhonda brings her some paints and markers, encouraging her to voice her feelings on the white walls, and leaves again. Denise paints smiley faces on the walls, and a picture of herself, her husband and dog on the floor, yet writes words about fears and sadness and anger. Rhonda comes back and questions why the room doesn’t reflect her anger, and encourages Denise to not only feel it, but express it. Denise flies into a rage and throws paint all around the room. Rhonda instructs her that now she needs to clean up the mess left by her anger. We know she means metaphorically.

Iyanla apologizes to Renee for calling her a spoiled brat. Not knowing of the abuse she suffered earlier, Iyanla believed Renee was just spoiled and used to getting her her own way. Iyanla knows differently now, and shows Renee that she lost her voice after the sexual abuse when she was younger. She was acting out because of this, not because she was a spoiled brat.

Kim and Jennifer have returned for Towanda’s graduation, and it is wonderful to see the *Sisterhood* again. Kim admits to learning how to be a better sister to her own sister through the sisterhood she felt with Towanda. Privately Rhonda is saddened that Towanda is graduating alone, as she had always hoped she would be doing it alongside Sommer, instead of Sommer leaving in disgrace the day before.

Towanda is gifted with a photo shoot and the chance for a solo concert performed in front of a thousand people in the music industry. She thanks everyone, and before she leaves, Iyanla asks her to sing the bridge of her song, Here I Am. As she sings it beautifully, we hear that she has finally found her voice.

I welcome all questions and comments at LauraBelle@realityshack.com

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