home Archive 5, 6, 7, 8. Is She Gonna Graduate? – Starting Over, 02-18-05

5, 6, 7, 8. Is She Gonna Graduate? – Starting Over, 02-18-05

by LauraBelle

The hardest part about attempting to heal a relationship is not knowing how it’s going to be received by the other person involved. Just because you’re ready to get it out in the open, move on and put it behind you, doesn’t mean the other person is. All the women in the house are ready to heal, but that doesn’t mean their friends or family are.

Denise opens the door to find three girls wearing matching white shirts and black shorts. They hand her a note form Rhonda saying to meet her at Shirley’s house by eleven o’clock. Before they leave, the girls break into cheer, “5, 6, 7, 8. Is she gonna graduate?” Denise joins Renee in the kitchen and is literally jumping up and down, then suddenly calms herself and wonders what Rhonda has up her sleeve.

Everyone moves into Group with Rhonda, and she asks what happens when one person is ready to heal the relationship, but the other isn’t. Rachael says she is trying to reach out to her dad, and is protecting herself by expecting the worst. It would be a gift if he would make her feel safe.

Rhonda tells her that’s very honest, but it’s the wrong attitude to enter the relationship with. Rachael starts to cry and says she has ben closed for so long, but she’s trying not to be. Bethany stares at her with a sudden realization. Bethany says she feels like she’s looking at her twin. She says Rachael is “speaking my heart. I can’t put it into words.” Rachael and Bethany stand and hug each other. As they both cry, Rachael says she’s never felt so close to Bethany before. This is huge, as they used to think they were so different.

Cassie, sitting there witnessing this, says they have just given her strength. She says that last night she almost gave up looking for her birth son. She knows how sad Rachael has been, and now that she’s changing, it leaves Cassie with hope of having a good reunion some day with her birth son. They both hug and say I love you. This group is melding so well together, that it’s a shame Denise is leaving.

Iyanla and Renee meet to talk about getting Renee’s mom to visit the Starting Over house. Iyanla want to be sure they get the lines of communication open. They talk of how Renee has set her intentions, but her mother keeps resisting. Iyanla believes her mom’s resistance is a function of Renee’s resistance to say what she needs to say.

A call is placed to Renee’s mom, and Iyanla tells her that Renee had shared her mother’s reluctance to visit. Iyanla just wants to assure her. Renee’s mom says it’s hard when you’ve always dealt with things the same way; it’s difficult to deal with it another way. Iyanla understands and asks if she is willing to share her feelings in a safe and supportive environment, and she agrees.

Today, Renee will be doing another giving assignment, and this time it will be in honor of her mom. Iyanla is sending Renee to Tree People to plant trees and be involved in the circle of life, since that is what her mom has given her. She is to invite Cassie to go along. Then Iyanla drops the bomb. When she gets back this evening, Renee will have to call her dad.

Denise arrives at Shirley’s house ready to tie up all the loose ends she had left the day before. Rhonda is waiting for her with a few surprises. Today Denise is to be the drill sergeant and teach Shirley what she has learned. Rhonda is giving Denise a few extra rooms to clean as well. Denise is doing it for Ermanno and herself. Eight weeks ago she knows she couldn’t have done this; now she wants to prove to herself that she can.

Two million trees have been planted by Tree People, and Renee and Cassie will be helping to plant more. They are told the acorns are all from the same area of the Santa Monica Mountains. Once they grow into oak tree seedlings, they will be replanted in that same area. Renee and Cassie get to work recreating life.

After Rhonda has left, Denise sets to work becoming a drill sergeant, even having Shirley do pushups. Shirley still gets lost in her own thoughts and starts babbling about putting money in a jar every time she curses. She says it’s hard for her to keep weight on, so instead she should be eating a piece of pie or something. Denise urges her to pick up the vacuum and do more cleaning and less talking.

Rachael tells Iyanla that her greatest desire in reaching out to her dad would be for him to say he had looked forward to getting to know her. Her fear is that she will be rejected. Iyanla urges Rachael to be open to his side of the story. Rachael would like her father to know what she wants to do with her life, that she plans on going into nursing. Iyanla asks where she’d be if the situation were reversed, if he showed up on her doorstep wondering where she had been for twenty years.

Iyanla takes this opportunity to share with Rachael how similar her own life is to Rachael’s. Rachael’s family worked very hard to protect its secrets. Iyanla says she herself lived form the time she was two-years-old through thirty thinking her step-mom was her real mom. Once she found the truth at thirty, she sought out her aunt for more answers. Her aunt was mean and asked, “Where have you been?” Her aunt missed the point that Iyanla was a child while her aunt was an adult. Iyanla left vowing never to see her aunt again, only for her aunt to call a few months later and ask to be forgiven.

Rachael is now being asked to create a memory box of her life to give to her father as a way of introducing herself to him. Iyanla comes back to check on Rachael after she had worked on her box for awhile. Iyanla tells her it’s an incredible biography of her life, and just right so as not to offend. She wants to send this box to her dad instead of calling. Iyanla says she is blown away and her heart is weeping for joy for Rachael.

Denise has a visitor at Shirley’s house. It’s Candy! She brought Denise a water. Denise shows Candy around and asks if she has any advice for her. Candy says it’s not too bad; she’s cleaned bigger messes. Shirley wonders why Starting Over didn’t send Candy to help her. I’m just wondering if they would send Denise over to help out my son with his bedroom. It looks just like every room in Shirley’s house. Candy leaves, hoping she can make it. Denise looks at Shirley and says, “Let’s tame this beast.”

Candy goes back to the Starting Over house and reports in. She says the last room Denise has to clean is big. Surprisingly, Candy starts to cry. Rhonda asks why she’s crying, and Candy says she can tease Denise, but she knows it must be so overwhelming to her. I am so glad they are reaching this point in their relationship before Denise leaves. I hope at some point they realize how similar they are. Rhonda asks if she thinks Denise will be done at five o’clock, and Candy says she knows she won’t. It’s ten after four.

At 5:00 Denise steps away and admires her work. Outside Rhonda is gathering the other women and Iyanla. They are given white gloves and told they are to say nothing and remain completely serious. They are to give the whole house the white glove test. They ring the doorbell, Denise answers, and and as the whole crew marches in, Denise says, “What the … Why does everyone look so mean?” She knows something is up, though, as she laughs. she tells them she feels like it’s Forensic Science 101.

All the women line up in front of the fireplace and show Denise that their white gloves have been soiled, and are no longer white. Rhonda says they know what they think, but want to know what Denise thinks and what she has learned. Denise says this is a huge accomplishment for her. She did the best job she could do, and she gave 110 percent the whole time. She knows she did a great job.

Iyanla points out that you don’t get rewarded or blessed for what is complete. Denise shoots back that Rhonda had added extra rooms today, and Denise still got them done. They can walk through the rooms now, they couldn’t before. Rhonda asks if this is an excuse. Denise says no, that Rhonda had added all this other stuff. Iyanla butts in, and says, “Excuse me, do I hear you using a disrespectful tone to a life coach?”

Denise defends herself adamantly. She says eight weeks ago her life was total chaos. Just for her not to get overwhelmed the past few days in this house was a big accomplishment for her. This house represents her life. And she feels she has cleaned up Shirley’s house and her own life quite well.

Still using a serious tone, Rhonda says she never assigned Denise the closet. She did more than was asked of her. Rhonda said to look in that big room downstairs, not do it. But Denise did the whole thing. Rhonda finally rewards her and tells Denise she is graduating. Denise hugs everyone and cries. Rhonda tells them to all celebrate tonight by going out to dinner.

The women go to Schwab’s diner and Denise begins going over memories. She talks of playing Bethany in Yonder theatre. She and Candy are even able to now laugh about the big argument over the banana creme pie. Candy admits she will miss Denise. She says Denise has grown on her, but not like a moldy fungus. Normally cold Candy says she is happy, but will miss her sister.

While some of the women learned to heal their relationships with appropriate expectations, Denise learned to have great expectations from her life. She is definitely a person that will be missed from the show. She is such a larger than life person. Even Candy sees that now. I am off now to buy a new box of Kleenex for Denise’s graduation on Monday.

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


Freelance writer, webmaster of realityshack.com, chief editor at applemagazine.com, contribtor to TechLife News and maketecheasier.com, martial arts instructor, and mother of two.