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Forgiveness – Starting Over, 01-14-05

by LauraBelle

Here’s a little riddle for you. What is something all of us expect, but have a hard time giving out?

Forgiveness.

Everyone in the Starting Over house either needs to forgive someone else or forgive themselves. In Group with Rhonda, Denise is delighted to find she has been given two steps toward her goal of “Clean Up Life.” However, another step has been added – Forgiveness, giving her three more steps to complete to reach her goal.

Rhonda goes around the room, asking some of the women who they need to forgive. Rachael believes she needs to forgive her mom for dying; Bethany knows she needs to forgive herself for losing her memory. As the talk moves to Denise, she knows … she KNOWS who she needs to forgive – her abusive father. Rhonda explains we need to forgive to move forward; without it, we are simply standing still.

After Group, Denise has a one-on-one with Rhonda to work on the beginning of her forgiveness. Rhonda asks Denise to write all her dad’s negative qualities down on one side of the board. Denise fills it with words such as violent, mean, makes cruel remarks, etc. The last thing she writes down is that he was a horrible human being. Of course, on the other side, Rhonda has Denise write down the positive qualities of her dad. She struggles with this, but does fondly remember he cooked for them a lot, and comes up with a few more eventually. Rhonda asks Denise if it’s possible that this was the only way her father knew how to show her he loved her. Cooking may not seem like a lot, but maybe that’s the only way he knew how to show it. Lastly, Rhonda has her circle the qualities she shares with her father. The only one not circled, good or bad, is “horrible human being.” Rhonda suggests maybe he wasn’t so horrible, just a human being, and that that’s another thing they had in common. Denise believes she had a good reason for her bad qualities, and Rhonda suggests maybe her father did as well.

Iyanla meets with Candy and asks for her list of women she most admires. Among the women are Indira Ghandi, Dolly Parton and Oprah. They talk about how Dolly is admirable because she achieved such success after growing up dirt poor. Iyanla asks if these women are all perfect Size Fives. Obviously they aren’t, and Candy sees that she must begin to feel feminine on the inside first.

Iyanla takes Candy shopping to choose outfits for different feminine looks. For “lady” Candy picks out a gorgeous sequined dress, and for “tramp” she chooses a black/white teddy. Most interesting is that for “woman” she chooses a plain matronly red housedress. Iyanla begins to understand that Candy sees women only as caretakers.

Rachael is trying to finish up her conversations with her family, gathering information on her mother, and has saved the hardest ones for last. She is talking to Flossy, her godmother who cared for her for awhile shortly after her mom died. Flossy tells Rachael that the family didn’t like her father or step-father because they were African-American.

In a one-on-one with Iyanla, Rachel is being asked why her aunts were not willing to care for her, and shipped her off to the godmothers’s, and why her godmother had to be paid to take care of her. Iyanla wants to know if it’s because of racial bias, but Rachael clearly doesn’t want to go there. Iyanla has two assignments for Rachael. The first is to keep a log of her emotions all day, and the second is to allow Iyanla to paint her face with all the emotions she feels right now. Rachael fights it, but obliges and allows Iyanla to write all over her face.

Even though she resists, Rachael does call her aunt and ask exactly why she was shipped off to her godparents. After being asked if it was based on her race, her aunt laughs and says no, it was because she was an incorrigible brat. Realizing Rachael has had a rough day, Iyanla invites her out to dinner, allowing her to wash her face first. Noticing she is empty-handed and not holding her emotions log, Iyanla asks why this is, and why Rachael is resisting yet again. Rachael says she did write a few things down, but was mostly working on other things, and tells of her conversations with her aunt. Iyanla tells a story of how she too was abandoned after her mother died, and she too was passed around, no one seeming to want her. She was in her forties before getting to the bottom of her abandonment issues, and doesn’t want the same fate for Rachael. She needs to know whom she should forgive. Rachael vows yet again to recommit to the process.

While Rachael is out to dinner, the other women in the house get together for dinner, feeling a sense of family. Candy, very much in that maternal role she feels a woman must be, cooks a spghaetti dinner, and ven teaches some kiing lessons along the way. Bethany, very homesick, is most grateful. Denise tells how she had forgotten that her dad used to cook dinner for them, and says after she graduates from the Starting Over house, she might visit her dad’s gravesite, as she hasn’t been there since he died. Something tells me for her final act of forgiveness, she’ll be visiting with Rhonda before her graduation.

At the close of the day, the women are working on what they need to. As Denise and Candy go to bed, they resolve to work out together the next morning at 6:00. Cassie is hitting the books, studying hard, and Rachael is journaling. They are all trying very hard to move forward, but most still have a lot of forgiving to do.

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

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