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The B Word – Starting Over, 01-28-05

by LauraBelle

We all have excuses. We may think we have extenuating circumstances, but in the end run, it doesn’t matter, and excuse is an excuse. I can say I have good excuses for why I’m just now, on Saturday night, typing up Friday’s review, but the truth is, it’s by choice. I chose to sleep last night. Good choice for me, but still my choice. Instead of saying I have an excuse, perhaps we should say, I made a choice.

Rhonda pulls Cassie out of the house in her bathrobe and towel-wrapped head and tells her she has news. The adoptive mother called Rhonda that morning. She doesn’t not want to talk any further with Cassie or Rhonda. The son does know he was adopted, and the adoptive mother feels it’s his responsibility to find Cassie if he wants to meet her. He is on his way to college after battling addiction and ADD. The adoptive mother blames Cassie for all this. Rhonda explains to Cassie he does not have a pretty picture of who she is, only the ones painted by the adoptive mother from the Cassie she knows from eighteen years ago. Rhonda is stunned as Cassie’s first remark is “Thank you, God! He’s okay.” She knows she is not the same person. Asked how she will feel if she never meets him, Cassie says she can live with it, because she now knows he is okay. She can have hope she will meet him someday, but it doesn’t have to run her life anymore. She is not sorry; he is okay and thriving. She thanks Rhonda, who continues to be stunned by Cassie’s attitude with this.

Rhonda wants to talk about excuses today in Group. She says we give excuses because we aren’t willing to invest. Bethany says her excuse for not wanting to work hard in the house is that she can do it by herself, and she realizes this comes from her fear of depending on others and being rejected. Candy’s excuse is that she doesn’t have time for herself. Not being smart or good enough continues to be Cassie’s excuse, but anyone witnessing her earlier discussion with Rhonda knows she is working hard to not use that one anymore. Rachael minimizes her story as a way of offering an excuse. The women are being asked to tie a green ribbon on their wrists today if they realize they are making an excuse, and then they will need to do something to get past that excuse. Rhonda ends by telling everyone there is a Board of Review today.

Iyanla believes Rachael operates on an irrational belief that all with cancer die. Today’s mission is to speak with cancer survivors who also have children. Rachael is very fearful of seeing anyone sick, and Iyanla tells her they are surviving, they aren’t necessarily sick. When she meets these people she will give away some of the hope and faith shells she has been working on.

Rachael is so frightened and says she doesn’t know how to act. Iyanla urges her not to minimize her feelings. Rachael never let her parents see her cry over their illness, she needs to let it out now. Iyanla and Rachael meet with four women from an African-American breast cancer survivors group. As the women begin to share their stories, Rachael is soaking in the information; she had never thought that cancer was something people could recover from as she had only seen her parents die from it. She asks them how they prepared children, and is told there is no easy answers, and if you want to live, you have to believe it in your heart you’ll survive, thereby not preparing your children. Rachael, for the first time, realizes her mother told her she would survive only because she had to desperately believe it just to be able to face it and live as long as she did. For the first time letting her anger, fears and full range of emotions out, Rachael, through tears, gives out her hope and faith shells to these survivors.

After forgiving her father for his abuse of her and her family, Denise tells Rhonda she feels a weight has been lifted from her shoulders, and is not as angry or snappy with her comments. Rhonda tells her maybe she should also forgive her sister, and makes Denise draw a picture of her sister with eyes closed. Denise wants to be sure to include the “sourpuss face.” Asked if she sees her clearly as she is, Denise realizes she doesn’t, and thinks her sister probably needs similar therapy to what she’s receiving to get past that difficult childhood. Asked to write down her positive qualities, Denise struggles much more than she did writing down her father’s positive qualities. Rhonda wants her to get support from someone who has been there, and tells her to call Starting Over graduate Kim, who resolved the conflict with her sister while in the house.

Denise follows through and calls Kim who says she hadn’t worked on her relationship with her sister because she felt it was unmendable, and she was fearing rejection. She finally decided she would rather heal than be right. Kim reiterates her new mantra, “It’s you. It’s always you.” Denise is realizing this is a problem she has with herself, not her sister, and knows now she needs to reach other unconditionally. Kim tells her maybe the reason why it’s so much harder for her with her sister than it was her father, is because her sister is still living and her dad isn’t.

Denise grabs the bull by the horns, no excuses, and calls her sister out of the blue. She is met with the sourpuss attitude she remembers, and feels like her sister was saying screw you. Denise hangs up and calls Rhonda, telling her of the conversation. Again, Rhonda asks is this about you or her? Denise realizes how easy it was for her to veer off the course, just by getting that little bit of attitude.

Cassie is the first one up for Board of Review, and this is the first time everyone has been seated around this table since Sommer was asked to leave. Cassie feels she is taking responsibility for her life and loving herself, knowing she is worth it, and knows she still needs to work on not beating herself up. Denise provides some feedback, saying she sees a new confident, assertive Cassie, and Rachael says Cassie juggles most of it so well, but knows Cassie still struggles with her GED readiness. Asked to grade herself, she feels an A-, since she still holds fears. Asked why not more, she is afraid if she is too assertive she’ll be seen as a bitch. Told by Rhonda that a bitch is just a broad in total control of herself, Cassie likes the sound of that, and changes her grade to an A.

Rhonda tells Cassie she was so surprised by her response to the adoptive mother, and that she accepted the blame knowing it’s not her with the problem anymore. She realizes she is starting to integrate the tools she is learning. Rhonda says something odd, and says in the Board of Review she has graduated many and also asked a few to leave, but she has never done the following. I prepare myself, thinking she will be introducing Cassie to her son for the first time. Instead Cassie gets a step for claiming her self-worth and an A+. Both absolutely wonderful, and even though steps aren’t normally given at Board of Review, I feel it was almost teasing in a way. Sorry Rhonda.

Rachael, wearing her mom’s dress for the first time, is next up for review. She believes she has been examining her emotions and trusting herself, and is now ready to throw away the shame and guilt. Through tears she says she is wearing the dress to feel close to her mom and to say she is still thinking about her. She believes she deserves an A. Denise offers feeback saying she still needs to work on trusting the women a little more, and Cassie thinks she still needs to let go of the anger.

Iyanla tells Rachael when she first heard her story she was horrified. Rachael represents Iyanla’s granddaughter in ten years. As a motherless child herself, Iyanla sees that having that loss creates a hole in your being. She thanks Rachael for showing up in the house. Watching her today, Iyanla believes she deserves an A, and just hopes she can maintain that progress.

Cassie says if “the B word” feels like this, she wants to be “the B word” all the time. Everyone enjoys dinner together, and no one is arguing over cooking chores. Everyone is taking responsibility for something and themselves and not offering excuses for their behavior. No one graduated tonight, so the excuses aren’t completely gone, but they are choosing to celebrate tonight, and this is the happiest the house has seemed in awhile.

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

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