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Warning: Children At Play – Starting Over, 03-02-05

by LauraBelle

Everyone currently in the Starting Over house had some type of difficulty in their childhood that now affects their adult life. Of course, this can be argued about most people, but these six women seem to have more than their share.

Rhonda starts out the day with a two-o-one with Bethany and Vanessa. Rhonda has noticed they have something in common – neither of them had a real childhood. Well, Bethany could possibly have had one; she just doesn’t remember. When Rhonda asks if she has had any flashbacks of being silly and playing, she says she hasn’t, which is odd, since in her hypnosis session with Dr. Stan last week she remembered playing dress-up with her brother and sister.

The two, Bethany and Vanessa, are going to have a fun play day to make up for what they missed out on. Their first assignment is to gather all their housemates in the front yard and play. Rhonda gives them “support tools” such as hula hoops, chalk and jump ropes. When Starting Over producers moved the show from Chicago to Los Angeles this year, they told us it was so the housemates could have more time outdoors. We didn’t realize this was what they had in mind.

Outside, Candy picks up the balls and juggles. Rachael says she never had much of a childhood either, especially after her parents died. Vanessa says in this environment it brings out the competitiveness in her instead of play, and starts to want to have contests, such as who can hula hoop the longest.

Iyanla walks in on this scene and asks what they are all doing, and is told they are having a fun play day. Everyone remarks how beautiful Iyanla looks today, and she replies she always does. You have to admire that ability in a woman, to always be that confident in her looks. She pulls Renee out for a quick chat.

Saying she has good and not so good news, Iyanla starts with the not so good news. Reggie, Renee’s dad, has wimped out and decided to not come to the Starting Over house today for his long-awaited reunion with Renee. The good news is Renee can still reach out to him with the letter. Iyanla notices Renee is pretending to be okay, but is deeply hurt, as she should be.

Rhonda arrives, pulls Cassie off to the side and hands her five videotape copies of Cassie’s message to her son. Today, Cassie’s birth son’s stepmother, Shelly, is coming for a visit, and Cassie is going to give the tapes to her to distribute, hoping one of the tapes will eventually reach her son. The copies are meant for the adoptive mother, one for the adoptive mother to give to the son, one for the adoptive father, one for the adoptive father to give to the son, and one for Shelly.

The best case scenario with Shelly’s visit is, Cassie believes, Shelly will see Cassie’s heart, to know she only wants the best for her son, and will agree to help. Her fear is the adoptive mother will be angry at her for going behind her back. Rhonda assures Cassie they’re not going behind anybody’s back. The adoptive mother shut the door on them, and chose not to help.

Next up is Group with Rhonda. She talks about the playtime they all just had in the front yard. Asked the benefits of it, Candy, the elder woman of the house, says it helps you stay young. Rhonda points out adults forget to enjoy life. Rachael takes the opportunity to say her childhood was interrupted with her parents’ death, and she was forced to abandon he childhood and be thirty-five. Vanessa did play, but missed out on having friends her own age, so had no one to share her play with.

Knowing Renee received the news her dad wasn’t visiting, Rhonda asks how she’s doing. renee says she is disappointed, but it’s good to be supported by the other women. Asked the difference between childish and child-like, Bethany says childish is demanding something right now and child-like is enjoying it now. Bethany knows to be child-like now, she needs to start allowing herself to have fun. To be child-like today, Renee realizes she needs to laugh and have fun, even though she is sad.

After Group, Rachael is shocked to get a phone call from Jerry, her biological father. He tells her he wants to fly down and come meet her. She would like it and wants to do it while in the Starting Over house, as she feels safest there. Jerry tells Rachael he is getting an album together for her, too, on things he has done in his life.

Renee meets with Iyanla to discuss, again, her dad not visiting. She had been more excited than scared, and is now just sad. Iyanla reassures her that her dad’s response doesn’t matter; Renee’s growth to forgive and get to this point is what really matters, and that still stands even without him coming to the house. Renee takes the opportunity to call and leave a message asking him to call her back to discuss him not coming.

They feel like kids again, Bethany and Vanessa tells Rhonda after their playtime outside. Next up for them, Rhonda is sending the two to the home of two professional players. Vanessa thinks the eclectic-ness of the house makes it look like a crazy house They all play with an iguana while two scottish terrier dogs wander about.

Bethany and Vanessa create cards and have their faces and wrists painted with passion flowers to represent having passion in their lives. To support their creativeness in the future, Vanessa would like to be a dancer, and Bethany would like to go back to singing and playing the piano.

Reggie calls Renee back before Iyanla leaves. She supports Renee during the phone call, as Reggie says he just felt it would be best to get together on their own, away from the pressures of the Starting Over cameras. She reads him her letter, and he says it was beautiful, and he is proud of her progress.

Reggie would like Renee to be part of he and his wife’s lives, and says there has bee a missing plate every get-together without her. I don’t know if I have ever heard something more touching. He tells her the letter confirms it and to save it for him. After Renee is off the phone, Iyanla tells her a mission impossible is possible when you trust yourself.

Shelly finally arrives at the Starting Over house, and Rhonda and Cassie are there to greet her. Shelly says she is immediately stunned by how much Cassie’s son looks like her. Getting down to business, they sit down and Cassie asks how long Shelly has known her son. Shelly says she was in his life from the time he was almost two to ten years old. The adoptive mother and dad were already separated and she was his babysitter when he was at his adoptive father’s home. Eventually she and the dad married, but the adoptive mother retained custody.

Asked to describe Cassie’s son, Shelly says having ADHD he was a handful, but liked Ninja turtles and pancakes. Skateboarding is his passion. At eighteen, he is tall, thin and blonde, and very good-looking.

Shelly is asked why the original adoption agreement wasn’t honored, and he wasn’t told initially he was adopted. Perhaps out of fear, Shelly believes, as Cassie’s son was a very angry boy. Cassie asks if it would harm him if she became involved in his life, and Shelly says she is not sure, but stresses Cassie should never go alone.

Rachael calls Iyanla and tells her that Jerry called. “Shut up!” Iyanla tells her. Rachael gives Iyanla the message that she should start arranging his visit. Rachael asks if it’s okay if her brother comes some time as well. Asked why, Rachael says she needs to tell him how he made her feel when he kept walking in and out of her life due to his drug use. Iyanla says they will get together tomorrow and discuss both her biological father and half-brother visiting.

Shelly gets out the pictures she has brought to show Cassie. Cassie says she was supposed to get some according to the original adoption agreement, but she never did. She also gives Cassie some momentos to keep as well, saying she still has plenty more for herself and the adoptive father to have and keep. Included is a sweatshirt that he personally decorated himself, some tiny mittens, a baby bib, and a picture he drew when he was around four that includes a set of his handprints on it. Cassie notices in the pictures his eyes are just like hers, and the pictures all look like her at that age. It has been over a day since I watched this episode, yet this still brings me to tears.

Cassie thanks Shelly for helping her to see she is worth it, as before she didn’t feel she was. Shelly assures her she is. Cassie asks if she should look for him now, and Shelly says if he is out of school, yes, Cassie should go for it, and suggests maybe going through the counselor at school, as they agree to give the counselor one of Cassie’s videotapes.

Cassie reads the letter she has written aloud to Shelly, who says she believes Cassie doesn’t want to hurt her son. Cassie tells Shelly she is so glad Shelly was in his life, and Shelly says so was she. Shelly repeats my personal motto, that everything happens for a reason. She also says Cassie has to follow her heart and that she and the adoptive father support her in that.

Something tells me meeting her son could make this all come full circle. Just like the others, Cassie is deeply wounded by her childhood, which aided her in giving her son up for adoption. She wanted a better life for him. It seems he hasn’t gone on to have the happiest life, and the adoptive mother wants to blame Cassie’s genes for the situation. It seems, though, that the adoptive father and Shelly believe that the adoptive mother is more to blame for her controlling ways. I think meeting each other could heal both Cassie and her son. Along with Cassie and Shelly, I believe it is all happening for a reason.

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

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