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The Process of Healing – Starting Over, 01-11-05

by LauraBelle

Today’s Starting Over was based around a group discussion of grief, but I think of it more as healing, that process of healing after a loss. There are only four women left in the house right now, after Towanda’s graduation and Sommer’s dismissal, and all of them have a great deal of healing left to do.

Denise has a lot of healing to do over her abusive childhood. She realized in her day of isolation the day before that she was holding in a lot of anger from her childhood, and Rhonda is showing her that anger is another stop of grieving for her lost childhood.

Rhonda no more than gets out the words, “I want you to write … “ and Denise starts to cry. She is asked why she is crying before Rhonda even finishes the instructions. Denise says she knows what Rhonda is going to ask – she is going to ask her to write a letter to her dad, and Denise is just not ready for that yet. Rhonda finishes her instructions, saying she is only asking Denise to write a letter to “her childhood,” but if her father fits into it anywhere, that’s all the better.

Denise calls her mom to get a little encouragement, and they argue about blame. While her mom tries to make excuses for keeping herself and daughters in an abusive situation, Denise gets made and just wants her mom to admit she didn’t do right by her and her sister. Her mother gets upset and says that back then they didn’t know they had a choice to leave an abusive relationship, and believes she did the best she could.

After writing the required letter, Denise brings it to her one-on-one with Rhonda. Knowing that she was most confused in her childhood when she was five-years-old, she tells Rhonda she wrote the letter to five-year-old Denise. she begins to break down while reading the letter, but holds it in. Rhonda tells her not to hold it in like she usually does, just let it out. Denise has never seemed more vulnerable than she does right now.

Cassie has quite a bit of healing to do as well, after a childhood of abuse, abandonment and attempted rape, and an adulthood of alcoholism and giving her child up for adoption. She is beginning to find a new self-confidence, and Rhonda encourages her to do different things all day long, to explore that new Cassie. Instead of pulling her hair straight up and wearing a sedate blue, she wears some wildly colored clothing, and put her hair up with dramatic curls.

A sush chef comes in to show Cassie how to prepare sushi, and she is most excited. She has tried to do this a few years earlier, but failed. With his instruction, she does quit well. Rhonda comes in and asks the chef if he velieves Cassie is stupid, as that’s waht she belives about herself. He says certainly not, and Rhonda leaves.

The sushi chef asks Cassie why she thinks she’s stupid, and she gives a quick review of her childhood and adulthood history. The chef tells her he finds it interesting as he, too, had a difficult childhood and was constantly being told by his father he was stupid. He tells her he even lived on the streets for about six months. Cassie is in awe he turned his life around this way and begins to think she could as well.

After he leaves, Denise and Cassie catch up in the kitchen, and Denise tells Cassie to try speaking differently. She loses her baby-doll Alabama accent, and begins to speak with confidence. Rhonda walks in and is delighted. She tells Cassie she wants her to write a poem and read it that night at an open mike poetry night. She does so, and brings her housemates along for the reading. They are delighted as she reads, “The confidence of Cassie.” She certainly can’t think she’s stupid now.

Rachel is still struggling with creating a memory box of things to honor her mother’s memory. The project has taken on an increased importance as tomorrow is the anniversary of her mom’s death. Rhonda helps Rachel plan out a memorial service that she will hold at midnight with her housemates. Rachel continues to get information from her family and mom’s friends.

The candles are lit for the ceremony promptly at midnight. Rachel is upset that her mom’ dress, being sent form an aunt, never arrived, as it was to be an integral part of the ceremony, but she carries on, and tells her roommates all that she learned of her mother’s life. She breaks down when she tells how she learned her mom loved her very much and did everything she could for her. She also remembers her mom calling her into her room when she was twelve, and being told she had cancer. Rachel has now learned the doctors said her mother lived longer than many do with her particular form of cancer. She gives credit to her mother for doing that for her.

These women have so much healing left to do, but they have been given a great start today.

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

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