Today’s Starting Over was a “special episode” about resolving conflict in a relationship. Dr. Stan notes that the type of conflict that arises between the women on Starting Over is most likely the same type we as viewers would experience. As a prep for helping Rachael and Renee resolve their conflict, the show brought back past graduates to show how they resolved their conflicts, and how to resolve the conflicts that still exist.
The first graduate brought back is Kim, who struggled in nearly every area in her life with conflict, most notably with her sister. Addressing her as the “Queen of Conflict”, Rhonda, Iyanla and Dr. Stan meet with Kim to discuss her conflict and how she resolved it. Asked to describe the original conflict, Kim says it all seems so silly now, but she needed to mend this relationship to fix and move on with the rest of her life; she wanted to be happy and feel good about herself. The root of their conflict was they both thought each other had lied. Asked why there was no early resolution to this, and why it took five years to resolve, Kim says it was pride and wanting to be right.
Kim admits she got in the way of herself. She had set a pattern in her life of not resolving conflicts. She never spoke the truth to let people know who she was and what she needed. Iyanla introduced her to the idea that perhaps everyone else isn’t the problem, perhaps it was Kim. She says she was on her way to healing the first time she laid her story down and realized she had told it all too often. Asked for advice to give other people needing to resolve conflict, she says emphatically, “It’s YOU! It’s always you!”
Brenda and Audrey had a very close relationship while on the show together, but had a falling out on Audrey’s last night there. Brenda had planned a nice evening to celebrate Audrey’s graduation, but it was also a big night for housemate Karen, who Brenda felt needed to be celebrated as well. Audrey didn’t want to wait for Karen’s function to be done and got angry with Brenda. Two separate groups of people celebrated that night. Brenda in one, and Audrey in the other. The next morning the conflict arose in Group; Brenda had said “f*** you” to Audrey, and Audrey was upset, saying she would never use those words to Brenda. Audrey left the show with no resolution of the conflict.
Brought together now, they are asked if that conflict was ever resolved. Audrey says yes, and Brenda says not really, but she has allowed Audrey to think it has been. Asked what the original conflict was, Brenda and Audrey aren’t quite sure. Dr. Stan says sometimes we argue so much, we forget the original conflict. Iyanla asks if this is an important relationship and worth saving. Brenda says no, and Audrey indicates maybe, and when pressed changes to yes. They are told they now need to decide whether they should even try to resolve this or if it’s not important to them. Their segment ends this way, and it just seems so odd. So … unresolved.
Next to join Rhonda, Iyanla and Dr. Stan are mother and daughter, Lynnell and Hailey; although the conflict between them has long since been resolved. It’s Hailey’s relationship with her twin brother, Kevin, that brings them here today. Rehashing their original story, it is pointed out that their family was the poster children for conflict. The turning point for Hailey was when she realized the intentions behind her words were not positive. The turning point for Lynnell seemed to be once she learned how badly she triangled in her children’s relationship. She kept herself involved in Kevin and Hailey’s problems, and as long as she did that, it would never be resolved. Hailey and Lynnell didn’t realize how bad their relationship had gotten until they watched the show after graduating. The mother and daughter say they handle conflicts better now by taking a step back and listening, as they had never really listened to each other before.
Hailey says the original conflict with her twin, Kevin, started when they were around fifteen years old. They went to the same school and had all the same friends, and he believed everything bad that was said about her, instead of simply asking her. On the show originally, she wrote a letter to Kevin, reaching out to him. He took the envelope and threw it in the fireplace without even reading it. When she tried a second time with Rhonda’s urging, Lynnell triangled and called Kevin saying she couldn’t tell him what was going on, but just believe her when she says it wasn’t Hailey’s doing. All that did was reinforce to Kevin that Hailey wasn’t honest in her intentions. Kevin, and their other brother, Blu, are waiting in the back to talk to Rhonda, Iyanla and Dr. Stan. Rhonda says they will bring the brothers in without Hailey and Lynnell, and if Kevin wants to talk to her, Hailey will be invited back in. Lynnell slides back to her old ways for a moment and says she doesn’t think Hailey will be back. She realizes, once they point it out, she is triangling again, showing some improvement in this area.
When the brothers enter, Blu admits to seeing how much Hailey and Lynnell’s relationship has changed since they were on the show. Asked where their conflict arose, Kevin says it was when they were growing up as he didn’t like the way she treated their mom, Lynnell, and he didn’t like her behavior in general at the time. He gave up on her. He is told brothers are supposed to have a protective instinct for their sisters, and asks why he lost this with Hailey. He isn’t sure. Asked if he loves Hailey and wants to resolve their conflict, Kevin says he loves all his family, and maybe some day he will resolve this conflict. He is told he can love her and still not like what she does. Just because he felt disappointed and embarrassed didn’t mean he needed to stop caring for her. He says he would like to see her be more kind to his mom and to be more responsible. Blu ads he doesn’t like everything Hailey or Kevin do, but that’s their choice. He seems so much more grounded. Asked if he will talk to Hailey, Kevin says no, as it’s not for television, and would like to do it in private. He admits he still loves her, and when asked if he is willing to tell her that, he indicates he will in private.
Hailey is brought back in alone, and wonders why. She is told that Kevin wished to do anything further in private, but that he did admit to still loving her and being impressed with the changes she has made in her life. This is good news for Hailey; it’s not a total resolution, but she now knows a little more of where she stands. Knowing this makes her feel good, she says. Rhonda, Iyanla and Dr. Stan impress upon her that the trouble isn’t about her anymore, it’s about Kevin, as he has his own issues. She is discouraged from having to do a dance to get him to respond to her, and told Kevin may never give her everything she wants in their relationship. It ends on a happy note, and much happier than whatever it is that remains between Brenda and Audrey.
I have to turn this towards a personal note here, and say Starting Over has always been special to me as it has encouraged me to make changes in my life similar to those of the women on the show. I see some of my own issues in them, and try to work on them the same way. I have realized so many things about myself, and feel I have grown very much. The latest change I made was resolving a conflict of my own. The more and more I watched these women, especially Kim, I wondered if I stood the chance of resolving it in the same way.
When Kim and her sister had their “fierce conversation” on the show, I thought about when my own sister and I had recreated our own relationship several years ago. I then thought about a lost relationship that I had never been able to get past. I had had a very painful year, and it was building in me, with me not knowing how to stop it or release some of the pain. My best friend and I began to have problems in our relationship, and I was not a strong enough person to tell her what was bothering me. Just like Kim on the show, I never felt able to be honest with myself with other people and in my relationships. As this is not the only failed friendship I have had, I heard Iyanla’s words to Kim over and over in my head. Does everyone else treat me badly or I am really treating everyone else badly? Remember what Kim said today. “It’s YOU. It’s always you.”
I had ended our relationship three years ago to extricate myself from the pain, although it never went away, and only created more pain. I can’t even find a number for how many times I cried myself to sleep at night over this loss. It was very hard, as like families that fight, we saw each other nearly every week. Our kids were in several activities together, and it was a constant reminder of pain. A few weeks back, I began thinking of our relationship, and if it really was me, and wondered if I should apologize. I saw her the next day at our sons’ basketball game, and for the first time, I didn’t see my pain, but hers. I was responsible for hurting someone that was very dear to me. I came home and fired off an email to the address I remembered of hers, telling her how sorry I was. I waited nervously, and after a few days she responded back accepting my apology, making one of her own, and agreeing to Start Over.
I have included my own story here to let everyone know this isn’t a thing just for TV. It really does and can happen in real life. If there is anyone reading this that has unresolved conflicts in their relationships, be the first to reach out. It feels so nice to forgive the other person, forgive yourself, and even more in the end to be forgiven. Denise said the other day on the show it was like a natural high forgiving her father for his abuse of her. She is right; it is a natural high. I and my friend, coincidentally also named Kim, have enjoyed the past few weeks remembering all the fun we had together, and sharing pictures of times that we were trying too hard to forget for three years. After three years, my pain has been lifted, and I believe hers as well.
As always, I welcome all questions and comments at LauraBelle@realityshack.com. And most especially if you have a story to share about resolving a conflict, I would love to read it. It takes a lot of strength to speak the truth, but it is so freeing to do so. Remember, it’s you; it’s always you.