The L Word, Season 5, Episode 1: The Coach’s Perspective

Last night was the big season premiere for round 5 of The L Word. Last year I blogged about the lword5_thumb.jpgSeason 4 Finale with my life coach hat on and had a great time doing so. This year I decided I am going to make it a regular series; much like Mombian does with The Parenting Perspective.

While the show is fiction and filled to the brim with drama (otherwise we’d be asleep on the couch instead of watching, right?) I hope to find some little tidbit or insight in each episode that I can write about through the lens of a coach who works with lesbians on being comfortable in their own skin in their life and their business. While some characters are beyond help (I fall into the Jenny needs help in a padded room sort of way camp), most are just living normal lives or at least as normal as fictional characters in LA can. So, let me know what you think and your opinions by commenting on the posts as the season progresses.

I am going to start off this year on a similar theme to where I left off last March – on the topic of vulnerability and being willing to let go of control.

As you might guess that brings us to our power professional, Bette Porter. While we haven’t seen much of her on the job in recent episodes, her business style is still front and center because she leads her personal life much in the same way as she does at the office – in charge and willing to relinquish control to no one. Not even the woman she is so passionately in love with, Jodi.

Near the end of the show Jodi returns from being out of town (we can assume on business) and Bette is visibly thrilled to see her. In true Bette fashion which is with a big heart but a means that is often out of touch with the people closest to her, she has set up a gorgeous table for Jodi in her studio. Jodi is touched, but perturbed by this invasion of her personal and creative space. I know I watch Bette operate and often think – “Woman you are so caring and mean well, but are so out of touch of what your partner really needs and wants yet again.” Who doesn’t remember her clueless to Tina’s feelings approach in Season 1 and 2?

Coach’s request to Bette:
Pay attention to the nuances and read between the lines of what is unsaid when you deal with people who are important to you, business or otherwise. Pause and open up to being OK with giving others what they need and want rather than driving the situation the only way you know how to — in control and according to the Porter agenda.

Now I’m not trying to be harsh with our beloved Bette. I’m sure I’m not the only one thrilled that we got to see her in a more casual light at the pool and hanging around in tank tops. But someone has got to be a little edgy with our resident control freak if we are ever to see her truly happy in a relationship whether that be with Jodi, Tina, or someone else entirely.

Let’s face it we’ve known from day one that Bette is a control freak. She likes to be in power, in control, and guarded. I touched on the short glimpse into Bette’s willingness to be vulnerable in my Season 4 Finale Post:

What I noticed last night though was her real willingness to take a risk, be vulnerable, and see herself truthfully maybe for the first time. When she asks Tina what she does so wrong in relationships, Tina truthfully and lovingly tells her. For the first time we see Bette allow the armor that surrounds her persona to drop and let this information in. She even opens to the point of allowing Tina to email Jodi this honest truthfulness of how Bette behaves when she’s scared, uncertain, or getting close to someone.

I don’t know what happened between then and now, but Bette seems back to her old tricks. Or, shall I say she is clearly illustrating the armor and deep-seated fear of being vulnerable and out of control in this week’s episode. As Jodi tied the blindfold onto Bette’s eyes the fear of losing control was palpable. Several times Bette swatted away Jodi’s hand and physically resisted getting close to her and allowing Jodi to be in the driver’s seat.

Coach’s thoughts: I know it is a hard shift to make Bette, but dropping the guarded, control freak, unwilling to be vulnerable thing is the only way you will ever be happy. I’m not saying you won’t ever get hurt or that everything becomes a bed of roses, but only that a life lived in fear of opening up and with a death grip on the wheel of control is a half lived life. Trust me, I know. I’ve been there. Micromanaging control freak to the point of physical ailments and major relationship tension – yep I’ve done it and it isn’t pretty. Letting go is not always easy and it is an ongoing process. It may be extremely uncomfortable at times, but it is the truest path I know to being comfortable in your own skin and the riches that flow from that — on the bottom line, in relationships, and simple daily living.

It’s too bad I can only offer my expert coaching from afar to our dear L Word friends. Otherwise, I’d sign Bette and Jodi up right away as a client because I KNOW it would help both of them start to ease into the process of letting go of the illusions we all carry around about control.

How about you? What do you think the need to be in control and stay guarded costs Bette (and Jodi) in terms of success and happiness?

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  1. […] As I announced last week this year I am going to blog about my take on each week’s episode of The L Word from a coach’s perspective. Episode 2 heats up with a number of new character developments that made me ask – “what happened in the time we weren’t watching?”. For instance, we now see a much more centered, confident, sans gossip Alice who models some of the best relationship communication we’ve seen on the show yet. She’s always been insightful and witty, but before it was more in a hyper “I’ve had one too many espressos at The Planet” sort of superficial way; this season she seems to have evolved and matured in a big way given she is facing a tricky and all to real relationship challenge with Tasha. More of that storyline from the coach’s perspective coming soon, but this week I’d like to focus on our dear desperate and out of sorts Tina. […]

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