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Our Whole Life Is Sad – Starting Over, 02-04-05

by LauraBelle

The lesson Rhonda teaches everyone today is the difference between being a giver and being a taker. Givers can learn how to take and takers can learn how to give, but I’m not so sure they can ever switch roles completely.

Cassie meets with a group of adoptees and some other people who had given up their children for adoption. One woman had given up two children and has since ben reunited with them. Another was reunited when her birth child was nineteen, and tells Cassie it’s a hard time to do it, as at that age they are still discovering themselves as a person. An adoptee tells Cassie it’s hard in the beginning, but she needs to be patient while he processes through it. Everyone admits that they don’t know anyone that regrets reuniting in the long run.

Rhonda introduces Group by asking the difference between a giver and a taker. Cassie says a giver does so from the heart. She believes herself to be a taker, though, as she only gives, while expecting to get something in return. Candy disagrees, and says Cassie is a giver, as she gives of herself.

Denise says takers expect things from people, and realizes her husband does the opposite, coming home after a long day of work expecting nothing from her. Denise says her sister is a taker, and Rhonda points out they are more alike than Denise cares to admit. The assignment for the day is that eveyrone will take from Denise throughout the day, be it services or material items, and she isn’t allowed to interfere. Candy is looking very forward to this assignment.

Candy starts by asking Denise to give her a makeup lesson, which is interrupted by Rachael asking for some of Denise’s fruit. It is very early in the day, but Denise is already very agitated.

Rhonda and Cassie meet and talk about Cassie’s birth mother coming for a visit later in the day. Cassie believes if she can forgive her mom, perhaps her birth son will forgive her. Her birth mother gave her up to be with a violent man who had once tried to drown Cassie. She went on to have a whole other family with the violent man after abandoning Cassie. Rhonda asks Cassie why she is so afraid of losing a woman that doesn’t care about her. Cassie will be going out to dinner with her mom that night, and Rhonda urges her to ask the questions she desperately needs answers to.

Rachael and Iyanla are having a one-on-one discussing how she was raised. Rachael eventually admits she raised herself after her parents death, and Iyanla tells her she draws her values from the ones she learned as a little girl. With Rachael’s male friend, Jamai, coming for a visit the following day, Iyanla wants to know what Rachael’s dating rules and values are. When asked, she says her rule is not being intimate until the relationship has lasted at least three months.

Asked to separate lust from love, though embarrassed, Rachael says lust is when she gets mad after sex is denied her and love is when she is really listening and cooking for them. Iyanla would like Rachael to conduct a survey and get her housemates’ answers to the values and rules they set for their romantic relationships.

Rhonda arrives to take something from Denise, and chooses her wedding rings. Renee breezes through eating Denise’s pistachios. Rhonda then gives the rings to Bethany to wear, then gives Cassie one of the rings to wear. Denise says the rings bothered her most of all the things taken from her, as they are a symbol of her marriage.

Now ringless, Rhonda moves on to a one-on-one with Bethany, designed to unmask the possible traumatic event that has prevented her from remembering her first seventeen years of life. Bethany acknowledges the church was going through a a tough time when she got sick. Another family at the church had started rumors about Bethany’s dad’s infidelity. Bethany admits her mother and father talk about it a lot, causing Rhonda to ask why Bethany knows no details.

In the four years since, Bethany’s family has been put through the ringer. Rhonda asks again why she has never asked for more details, and she explains she doesn’t want to cause more harm to her family or the other family supposedly involved. When pressed, Bethany admits she would like to get to the bottom of it. Rhonda tells her this will be her mission when visiting her hometown in two days; she will film a documentary of her life and involve people that may know the answers she is looking for.

Rhonda moves on to a meeting with Denise who admits to feeling angry in her day of everyone taking from her for a change. Rhonda explains that takers have short term goals and givers long term goals. She then asks what Denise could give to the people she has taken from, namely her sister. Denise admits saying she is sorry would be helpful. Rhonda asks if there is anything her sister has ever given her, and after a struggle, she remembers a block party her sister invited her to. Rhonda instructs her to write a thank you letter to her. She is told to do this while not expecting anything in return.

Denise struggles with the letter to her sister. While she works on it she is cleaning up the kitchen with Rachael. Denise begins to argue and admits to being on edge all day between the taking and writing the letter; she says it took the fun right out. Oddly for her, Denise says people need to start doing their own dishes.

Listening to Rachael’s survey results of intimacy, Iyanla turns the conversation back to Jamai. Rachael says he is not her boyfriend as he isn’t ambitious enough. Iyanla warns her not to try and be his mother, as a lost man leads to a frustrated woman. Iyanla tells her if he is not the one to move on. You need to let go of what you don’t want to get what you do want. That Iyanla, she has some sage advice sometimes. I wish someone had told me that when I was twenty-one.

After a long wait, Cassie’s birth mother, Nancy, finally arrives. Over dinner, Nancy admits to Cassie that she, too, was abandoned by her mother, when she was three or four and put in an orphanage with her seven brothers and sisters. Her mother didn’t visit very often. When Cassie asks why her birth grandmother never took Nancy out of the orphanage, Nancy says it was not easy to get kids out of a place like that back then. Continuing, she says her mother went on to remarry and have another child.

Cassie is absolutely horrified at the developing pattern. Nancy tells her she was never bothered by it as she was with her brothers and sisters. Cassie tells her the more she hears, the worse it gets, and asks if it stops, explaining she doesn’t want to live in chaos. Nancy tells her she doesn’t have to, and should live her own life. Cassie believes her mother is in denial, and wishes she, too, didn’t have any shame. Nancy tells her she can’t put the past behind her, as it makes her who she is, and tells Cassie she shouldn’t be sad. Cassie retorts their whole life is sad. Nancy says to get through it or ruin her whole life.

Cassie entered the house believing her son deserves to know his birth heritage, and that she had given him a better life. Now she realizes, after hearing more of her own heritage, that she wasn’t necessarily giving, but doing the only the she knew – putting a child to the side, only to start over again later. The question is if between her birth son and herself they will be able to break the familial pattern.

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

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