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The Queens of Denial – Starting Over, 01-31-05

by LauraBelle

Every time they show the women of Starting Over going to church services, it always brings a peacefulness to the show, both in spirituality and making the house seem even more like home. Even when PJ was searching for a new faith, only to end up staying with her original Church of the Latter Day Saints, it was fascinating to watch all the different faiths presented, and in every single one, there was a sense of peacefulness. When the show starts out today with the women and Iyanla going to church services, you know it will be a good day.

Rachael had asked Iyanla if she could go to church as she wanted to keep honoring her mom, and wanted to feel even closer to her. Bethany, Renee and Iyanla join her, and all are moved by the service. It brings Bethany to tears, missing her church back home and her father, the pastor there, yet she feels a closeness when Rachael puts her arm around her and Renee slips her arm through Bethany’s, and she is thankful for the support.

Cassie had a hard day yesterday, being told the adoptive mother doesn’t want the birth son to meet Cassie, and that she is being blamed for his addictive lifestyle. To make matters worse Denise has insulted her by calling her a high class hooker once she put on a gold necklace. What Cassie shares with Denise later is that the necklace she put on she bought when she originally gave her son up for adoption, and she hasn’t been able to wear it ever in the past eighteen years. As she put it on for the first time, to help deal with feeling rejected, Denise further hurts her feelings. Denise apologizes.

A box is delivered to the house, and inside are materials for each woman to decorate a bird house; these will represent each woman’s house of denial. Once decorated the women bring the bird houses to Group with Dr. Stan. They of course are talking about the pitfalls of denial today. Each woman is asked to explain why their house represents their denial issues. Rachael is in denial of her parents death subsequent abandonment, and Denise is in obvious denial how her humor can hurt people’s feelings, and is also in denial that her humor covers her anger. Bethany chose to paint hers with all her excuses, apparently still stuck on the last Group’s discussion. Yet when pressed, realizes she is in denial of her anger, tired of feeling like a guinea pig after way too many medical procedures.

Cassie notices that everyone else’s is pretty but hers, but denial isn’t exactly supposed to be pretty. Renee is in denial of how the way she has hurt others has impacted them, pretty much the same as Denise. Candy has so much denial stored in the tiny birdhouse, not many birds will be fitting in there. She’s in denial of her desires, needs, anger and uncontrollable rage. She keeps threatening to unleash that anger, and something tells me it’s coming. Dr. Stan ends the session saying denial keeps you from facing the truth. Gee, thanks for that insightful moment. Sorry, Denise creeps into me from time to time.

Rhonda brings Candy and Denise together to talk about what irritates them about each other. Neither woman has much of a problem listing the irritating qualities. Candy noting the Denise is “always on*, is messy and uses an irritating sound machine. Denise notes Candy is always politically correct, is never angry, is robotic and perfect and too clean. For the rest of the day Denise and Candy will need to switch personalities and be each other. This will be interesting.

Candy and Denise help each other dress in clothing that would represent the other. Candy dresses very flamboyantly, blow dries her hair and has Denise do her makeup. Denise puts on what she calls “Candywear”, her most plain unpadded bra and the ugliest clothes she has, and wipes off her makeup. The Faux Denise says it is liberating to say whatever she wants and her day is spent “all about me” as she lies on the bed and watches Faux Candy clean and cook. By the end of the experiment, when they meet up with Rhonda again, Real Denise says it was difficult to be in control, and never hurt anyone. Asked to defend the other’s irritating qualities, Real Candy says what others sees as lack of self care is because she doesn’t know how to. She realizes if she allowed herself to be a little more of a free spirit she would have more fun. Denise admits this experiment was an eye opener as neither one see the extremes they go to that the other person sees so vividly.

Bethany meets with Dr. Stan to discuss what he sees as her guilt over separating from her father. He tells Bethany it’s part of every person’s development to make that separation at some point. He asks why she is in constant need to always be Daddy’s girl. Bethany tells him her father is the only one that accepts her for who she is. Dr. Stan shows her how her sister is away at college and hasn’t been forgotten, and she hasn’t forgotten the rest of the family. If Bethany would allow herself to separate more often, it would be the same. She would not be forgotten, and she would not forget them.

It is Rhonda’s turn with Bethany, and she takes her to the top of a mountain near the Starting Over house, overlooking the house and the city. Rhonda asks if Bethany is so enmeshed with her father, will there ever be room for friends and lovers? She tells Bethany she is a beautiful woman and her dad shouldn’t be the only one that gets to see that. Rhonda finally leaves her on top of the mountain to be isolated, and encourages her to come down when she feels she needs others.

Bethany finally descends the mountain and tells Rhonda she realizes there are five women in the house waiting to greet her with hugs, and she is excited to tell them how she needs them. The first person she goes to is Cassie. Bethany tells her she realizes she doesn’t need to be by herself, and she appreciates Cassie’s smile and love, as it makes her feel home and safe. Cassie, still feeling rejected by her birth son, needed that more than anything today. They have done what they came to the house to do, support each other.

Rhonda meets with Dr. Stan and Cassie to discuss how Cassie should proceed from here. Dr. Stan is quickly brought up to speed on the adoptive mother’s hostility and the threat of legal action if Cassie pursues seeing her birth son without her permission. Knowing now that the birth son does know he was adopted, Rhonda wonders if he was told in a bad moment, if he was told at the height of his addiction, making him feel it’s Cassie’s fault, since she also suffered from addiction. Cassie says she is very hurt and wonders if she will ever be good enough.

Dr. Stan tells Cassie it’s not about her. It’s about stability, and her birth son has never had it with the four times the adoptive mother has been married, making his life influenced more on his environment the past eighteen years and not his birth mother’s history. Dr. Stan feels is Cassie entered the picture now, she could be used by her birth son to get back at the adoptive mother, basically a “screw you” to them. He suggests they go in another direction and try contacting the adoptive father. If he hasn’t been with the adoptive mother these whole eighteen years, he might have a different view of Cassie, and might be more helpful letting her into her son’s life.

It was a good day, difficult, yet still a good day. Bethany has begun to reach out to others, peeling off those layers of fear little by little. Denise and Candy continue to make slow and steady progress at realizing being polar opposites they are more alike than different, and Cassie has regained her hope, and so have we. As Starting Over’s faithful viewers, we want a happy ending, just like when Susan found and reconnected with her birth father after such a long search. We want that so badly for Cassie who deserves it. Hope is good, and so much better than denial.

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

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