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Knockin' Down Those Walls – Starting Over, 01-27-05

by LauraBelle

When we want to keep others at bay, we all put walls up. Sometimes it is one thick iron-clad wall that need to be knocked down by a bulldozer, sometimes it’s several thin layers that need to be peeled away. What brings everyone to the Starting Over house is needing to know what it was that put up those walls.

Rhonda meets with Cassie just to be sure she is on solid ground for moving ahead and contacting the birth parents. The old Cassie, the only one the adoptive parents know, was helpless, insecure and lost. When she last saw them and her birth son, he was just three-years-old, and she was drinking daily, but feels she hid it well. Rhonda informs her she probably wasn’t hiding it as well as she thought. Asked what she would want her birth son to know about the new Cassie, she says that she is compassionate and that she never forgot him. When asked what would happen if she never meets him, Cassie indicates she will move on. This, more than anything, shows the progress of Cassie.

Iyanla breezes into Group and asks everyone to put their hands up and facing their palms out. They are asked to push against the person’s hand that is next to them, and leave their other hand free. Iyanla explains that this is resistance, and while fighting so hard with one hand, the other doesn’t move. This illustrates what happens when we put imaginary walls up to protect ourselves. We spend so much energy fighting that fear behind the wall, the free part can’t move. Cassie knows behind her walls is a fear of judgment. Bethany’s walls are up not allowing her to move forward for fear she will lose her memory again, but Candy tells Bethany she has a wonderful future ahead of her, and she isn’t enjoying her life now for fear of not remembering it. For herself, Candy knows full well she has a wall around her femininity.

When the talk moves to who has the biggest wall in the room, everyone agrees it is Renee. Bethany tells her she feels she is listening, but doesn’t ever hear Renee speak about herself. To broach the subject of Renee’s wall, Iyanla asks if she can share some learned information from her one-on-one the day before with Renee, and Renee agrees. Renee has always believed she was stupid, but doesn’t know where that belief originated. Iyanla guides Renee to the realization that her fear of being stupid is the real reason she didn’t go to college, not the fact that her father spent her college fund. Iyanla closes the meeting by urging the women to find the wall, and then start by pulling out one brick at a time.

Rhonda believes if Bethany learns to ask for help it will help her break down some of her walls. She is given four envelopes and Rhonda tells her to get a roommate to drive her to a certain intersection in Los Angels and to not open the first envelope until she gets there.

Denise drops Bethany off “in the middle of nowhere” and Bethany is the epitome of wide-eyed and innocent. The first envelope instructs her to find the Greek restaurant and buy souvlaki. She struggles saying she is worse than a man when it comes to asking for directions. At the restaurant, she is presented with a choice of chicken, beef or veal for her souvlaki. Wanting to experience different things, she chooses lamb, only to lose her nerve and get the chicken after all.

Bethany’s scavenger hunt next sends her to a book store where she is to buy a book in a foreign language. Given the choice, she says, “Reckon I’ll take public transportation.” After asking a few different people, Bethany eventually gets to the store. She chooses a book in Spanish, knowing she took Spanish in school, but not remembering a word of it. She is hoping Candy, of Puerto Rican descent, can help her with it. Next she is sent to a shopping mall where she needs to ask someone to take her picture in front of the Virgin Megastore. She feels silly, but does this and anxiously awaits a ride home back to safety.

The social worker comes and meets with Rhonda and Cassie, as Cassie reads the letter she wrote to the adoptive parents. The social worker feels this was a wonderful exercise to get to the point of why she is contacting them. Cassie is asked now that the current address and phone number is known for the adoptive parents and her birth son, how she will fee if Rhonda called them and how she would feel if she sent the letter. Cassie doesn’t know which is best, but given the choice she jumps up and down and says, “Call today!”

Candy, meeting with Iyanla, says on the inside she feels sexy and feminine, much more than on the outside, and wants to know how to get that feeling from the inside to the outside. Asked what is blocking it, she realizes it’s how she feels about herself physically. Iyanla instructs her to close her eyes and feel her face, and she describes having chubby cheeks and a softness. Feeling down her breasts and alongside her body, Candy says it’s not very feminine, because big is bad, and realizes that big hides things, and it’s her femininity that is being hidden. She knows she started hiding this so that her father would see a boy and not a daughter. She is tired of being referred to as the fat girl by him. Feeling her face again, she says it’s not a boy’s face, but a beautiful girl’s face.

Iyanla sends Candy to a photographer where they will take what they have now and make it beautiful. Inside the stodio she is nervous, knowing she doesn’t take good pictures. But they send her through wardrobe and makeup. They even take a flat iron to her hair, and leave it down and very straight. She is absolutely gorgeous when they are through. Looking in the mirror, she knows her roommates will freak. Candy takes many different pictures in very femine poses, and they are printed out for her to take home. Once there, her roommates are astonished, just as she knew they would be. Iyanla walks in and sees her and shouts, “Oh my God!” and tells her that she is blown away. Looking in the mirror, she tells Iyanla she sees female and happiness, and most of all, sees herself.

Rhonda, sitting with Cassie, calls the adoptive mother and is rebuffed from the very start of the call after introducing herself as an intermediary for Cassie. The adoptive mother nearly hangs up, and Rhonda works real hard to not just get her to stay on the line but to also get her to allow Cassie to talk to her birth son. The adoptive mother doesn’t want any problems in her family, and Rhonda tells her neither does Cassie, she just wants information. The birth son has had addiction problems and is currently in recovery, and it’s clear the mother blames Cassie for the problems, knowing Cassie’s history. Rhonda urges her to believe this is not the same Cassie from eighteen years ago. Rhonda ends the conversation giving the mother her phone number and encouraging her to call if she changes her mind. Rhonda tells Cassie she believes her son doesn’t know he is adopted because the adoptive mother refused to answer that question. Asked if it’s worth all this, Cassie says yes, as she has already called herself enough names; this won’t hurt her any more, and she knows she is now a different person.

Cassie has lifted many of her walls, but the interference now is the adoptive mother’s walls. She fears the old Cassie, and is so afraid her appearance in the son’s life will send him back to addiction. This is where many fail. We can lift our own walls, but we can’t lift other people’s walls around the perceptions they hold of us. That’s why many of us give up. Hopefully, Cassie will continue. She has come so far, if her adoptive son knew her, he would be proud.

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

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