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Session 238: Decisions, Decisions

The Therapy for Black Girls Podcast is a weekly conversation with Dr. Joy Harden Bradford, a licensed Psychologist in Atlanta, Georgia, about all things mental health, personal development, and all the small decisions we can make to become the best possible versions of ourselves.
This week’s episode of Insecure finds Issa contemplating lots of different choices that left me thinking about how we actually go about making decisions in our lives. So of course I had to get Dr. Oriowo back in the booth so we could chat all about it. She and I discussed the many decisions Issa is contemplating and what information she may need to make them, how we reconcile choices in our own lives when our heads and hearts may be in different places, and our predictions for what we might see in the final 2 episodes. This episode does contain spoilers.

Where to Find Dr. Oriowo

Grab a copy of Cocoa Butter & Hair Grease

Instagram: @annodright

Twitter: @drdonnaoriowo

Listen to Dr. Oriowo here on Session 231 of the podcast discussing the Season 5 premiere of Insecure.

Listen to Dr. Oriowo here on Session 201 of the podcast discussing how to vet relationship advice.

Listen to Dr. Oriowo here on Session 60 of the podcast discussing colorism and texturism.

Listen to Dr. Oriowo here on Session 159 of the podcast discussing Molly’s return to therapy.

Listen to Dr. Oriowo here on Session 158 of the podcast discussing Issa & Lawrence’s relationship.

Listen to Dr. Oriowo here on Session 155 of the podcast discussing Molly & Issa’s friendship.

Listen to Dr. Oriowo here on Session 151 of the podcast discussing the Season 4 premiere of Insecure.

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The hashtag for the podcast is #TBGinSession.

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Our Production Team

Executive Producers: Dennison Bradford & Maya Cole Howard

Producers: Fredia Lucas & Cindy Okereke

Assistant Producer: Ellice Ellis

Read Full Transcript

Session 238: Decisions, Decisions

Dr. Joy: Hey, y'all! Thanks so much for joining me for Session 238 of the Therapy for Black Girls podcast. We'll get right into the episode after a word from our sponsors.


Dr. Joy: This week's episode of Insecure finds Issa contemplating lots of different choices that left me thinking about how we actually go about making decisions in our own lives, so of course I had to get Dr. Oriowo back in the booth so we can talk through it. If you missed Dr. Donna Oriowo here on the podcast before, she's an author, international speaker and certified sex and relationship therapist in the Washington DC Metro area. She's the owner of AnnodRight and specializes in working with black women on issues related to colorism and texturism and its impact on mental and sexual health. She's also the author of Cocoa Butter & Hair Grease: A Self Love Journey Through Hair and Skin.

She and I chatted about the many decisions Issa is contemplating and what information she may need to make them, how we reconcile choices in our own lives when our heads and hearts may be in different places, and our predictions for what we might see in the final two episodes. This episode does contain spoilers so if you haven't watched the most recent episode of Insecure, you definitely want to save it for later. And let us know your thoughts about the episode. Be sure to share them with us on social media using the hashtag #TBGinSession. Here's our conversation.

Dr. Joy: We see Episode 8 open with Issa and Nathan in the bed, they're having a conversation about squirrels, so random but perfect (it feels like) for Issa. We see the conversation move to him talking about how he enjoys being there, that she has good sheets because, yes, of course, she says Bamboo sheets. Which I also love, I have Bamboo sheets, I'm a big fan. Then he suggests like, oh, maybe we should move in together because I'm always here and maybe it'll help us save on rent, kind of thing. But she's like, huh, maybe we should think about it. And so I found that really interesting because, again, you don't get like clear timelines so I'm not sure how far we are from when they actually even said I love you. Where are we even in the timeline of them starting their relationship again?

Dr. Oriowo: I know that we are some weeks from then, from when the girls were over, because that much has been said. I'm just like, but some weeks means what exactly? Two, three, four five? Then I'm thinking three because you didn't say a month ago.

Dr. Joy: Good point.

Dr. Oriowo: But I also know that when I say “some weeks ago,” that most times I got my timeline already wrong in my own life and it does mean a couple months ago. So I don't know.

Dr. Joy: But either way, we know it has not been what feels like a significant enough time for them to be having a conversation around like moving in together. For me, that felt very fast.

Dr. Oriowo: Yeah, I was like where y’all going? Why are you rushing? Are we in a rush? Because I thought we were taking our time and now we are no longer taking our time. When I heard, I was just like, wait, what? Who, who, who? Who are moving in, not y’all? Not yet?

Dr. Joy: That was the suggestion and it really made me think about the research on sliding and deciding. I'm sure you've heard of that, like this decision to move in. Are you deciding to move in with your partner because it feels like the next step in the relationship, like okay, this is what we want to do? Versus sliding into this relationship or sliding into this decision because it feels convenient. So that's what Nathan said, like, oh, we're always together anyway and it would save us money on rent. And so all this research suggests that when you decide because it's the next step in the relationship, there's a higher likelihood of the relationship continuing as opposed to sliding into it for convenience, which is a higher indicator that the relationship is actually not gonna last.

Dr. Oriowo: Honestly, I think that, if anything, Issa would be the slider. Something about the way that Nathan is interacting with her says “I love you and I enjoy being with you,” and that was his original thing. And it's almost like he backed up off it to give practical reasons why they should be together.

Dr. Joy: Interesting.

Dr. Oriowo: Because he’s just like I enjoy waking up making you coffee and seeing your face. I’m looking like so he enjoys being of service and being in presence with. And then, yes, there are the other benefits, like I keep all my stuff here and you are also here. I'm wondering how long he's already been thinking about it versus when he brought it up to her, because we already know that he can be pretty slow to actually say the thing. And he said that he was going to work on that and I'm wondering if this is him working on it or how long he's actually been considering moving in. But either way, it all feels too fast to me.

Dr. Joy: Right. We are both saying like it feels fast but I wonder, is there a set timeline for when you would make this decision about moving in with a partner? And like what kinds of things should you consider before making this decision?

Dr. Oriowo: Let's see. What should you consider? Do you like them? Maybe just start there, do you like them? Are you sure about them? And I think maybe that's why it feels fast, because there seems to be uncertainty that's thrown in the mix. And maybe it only feels fast because Issa has been in some ways uncertain. I mean, even Nathan said it–you were wishy washy or whatever language that he used to describe it–but I'm looking like he wasn’t wrong.

Dr. Joy: And we saw that they like had a little bit of a follow up conversation to that disagreement that they had but nothing significant. Of course, we only got 30 minutes so they can't show us everything, but like how much conversation have they actually done? One, about this most recent disagreement, and also about like why their relationship ended the first time.

Dr. Oriowo: That part. With them, I know that they seem to have had some conversation and that's why they decided that they were going to be friends for the length of time that they decided to do that first. I'm hoping that means that they had a conversation but it's still a wish so I don't know.

Dr. Joy: Yeah. I think one thing that you will want to keep in mind, in addition to “okay, do you really like them,” the idea of sharing space with somebody. Because I think it’s different when y'all are spending the night at each other's houses and you're like, oh, I got a toothbrush here and I got some clothes here, whatever. But it's very different when there is no place for that other person to go back to. I think as long as there's still some other residence and you know like, okay, we still have our separate spaces. I think it gets very different when you realize, okay, we are combining all of these things now and is there actually enough space in this apartment for us to both cohabitate peacefully, if we make that decision?

Dr. Oriowo: I think it's a conversation of like habits and the duties of the household. Like how are y'all gonna maintain the space together? What does that mean and what does it look like? Are there expectations of cooked dinners? How are you also gonna make sure that you're setting aside time to spend time together intentionally? I think that there's this sort of thing that can happen when you move in with someone where you just stop intentionally trying to spend time with them. Because you're just like, well, we live here together so we’re gonna eventually spend time together. I'm just like if that's how you're gonna move, that's exactly what it's gonna feel like. Y’all are afterthoughts to each other. So for me, there are so many factors. I'm just like, to me, this is a longer conversation.

Dr. Joy: And I am really proud that Issa didn't immediately say yes or no. That she did say, oh, we should think about it. Which, you know, is giving her some time to think about does this actually make sense for us?

Dr. Oriowo: Yeah. And I like that his ask was, is this something we should think about? As opposed to is this something that we should do? Though the little preview for Next Episode...

Dr. Joy: We will get there, we will get there. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. So after they have had this conversation in the bathroom, then we see that the Art Walk that she has been planning is finally happening. We see the... I forget the name of the group that she clearly has convinced to show up, that was a little iffy because of her previous relationship with Crenshawn. We see they show up and she is walking with the NBW guy and he's pleased with what he's seeing. It looks like it is a great event, lots of activity, people are having a good time, so yet another successful event that she has been able to pull off.

Dr. Oriowo: Whoop, whoop! It's like she's just in her element and I’m loving it.

Dr. Joy: It really is, it really is.

Dr. Oriowo: I feel like that part is so nice to see.

Dr. Joy: Yeah, she felt much more confident, it felt to me, in this event than she did in any of the other previous events. Which, like you're saying, it really feels like she's found her groove and is really in her zone now.

Dr. Oriowo: Yeah. I think that what I also like is that, while some people might say black women always have to do everything by themselves, I’m looking like, ah, not Issa. Not doing everything by herself. She definitely has an assistant and she has an assistant that is good for her, someone that is in sync with her. And I think that also is making a huge and beautiful difference in how she's able to put this stuff on while maintaining some level of boundary and all that jazz. So I'm like, me, I'm just love to see it.

Dr. Joy: We love to see it. So, yes, they're walking her in... Quoia I think is her assistant, were walking to put things in the car and then we see Crenshawn pull up. We're like, okay, what does this mean? What's going on here?

Dr. Oriowo: Opportunity, bruh.

Dr. Joy: Right. She’s like, okay, are you coming in peace? Like what's happening here? And so he congratulates her on what is a successful event and it sounds like he's been trying to do something and didn't realize like how difficult it was to get permits and all this stuff. So he realizes like Issa is really in her bag, that there's a lot more involved than just showing up, doing what you want to do at the event. So he proposes then for them to work together. Now, how are you feeling about this proposition?

Dr. Oriowo: And the thing is, it's because it’s coming from such a fine man. But, you know, good looks aside, I mean damn! But I'm thinking about what he said last time–you were more concerned with your bag than my art. And now all of a sudden, I see you got love for the community. What changed?

Dr. Joy: What changed, Crenshawn? What changed?

Dr. Oriowo: Yeah, cuz I’m looking like she hasn't changed who she's working with, she hasn't changed that she's invested in the community and in the community work. That has not changed so what changed other than now you realizing that there's actual work on the other side of what she's doing? Because it feels like an olive branch to me. Because she tried to extend one where she was just like, look, you’re dragging me out here in these streets and I felt like I did go work by you and you didn't communicate with me that it was unacceptable for you to change. You didn't allow me space to even go to bat for you about it, despite the fact that I went to bat for you, you just were not privy to that. And you was ready to throw me away and now you’re ready to, what? Join back up so that you can make a buck? Because that's what it feels like.

Dr. Joy: It definitely didn't feel like there was any apology on his part and it feels like “I know now I need something from you and so now let me propose us working together.” It just didn't feel trustworthy to me. Like it felt like him proposing this option of working together was very premature, given that you haven't apologized for how you treated her when she tried to smooth things over. And like the way that you flipped out at the actual event, anyway.

Dr. Oriowo: Word, so there's been no apology at all and now suddenly it's “let's come together.” And I know that Quoia was just like, oh, love this apology from this sexy man. I’m looking like, yes, sexy man but no apology. I didn't hear one. Because an apology to me is not “I see now that it’s a lot of work and I respect you for it.” That's not an apology, that's an acknowledgement that there is work and that you are now able to appreciate that there is a certain level of work that you were unaware of. That's not an apology. An apology is: I'm sorry, saying what you did that you’re sorry for, how I would like to make amends, do you forgive me?

That's a simple four-step apology that we teach the sixth graders and I'm looking like I smelled no apology. I did not see one, I did not smell one, it was not in the same vicinity. And for me, that counts as a *[inaudible 0:15:07] apology, which is hilarious because I just posted about shitty apologies last week.

Dr. Joy: And here you go acting it out.

Dr. Oriowo: Exactly. I’m just like that's not an apology. You saying that now you see my work and now you see the worth of my work, that's not an apology. Because now it's almost like you're coming to me because you're saying that I see where this could go if I work with you versus if I try to do this thing by myself, and I want to make it easier on me by working with you. And I think that's okay to say but it's not okay to say before you have issued an actual true-to-life apology.

Dr. Joy: Yeah, that would have been okay to say if we had not fallen out because of what you did. Like that would have been okay for you to recognize in the beginning, not after we have had this blow up and you have dogged me out on social media.

Dr. Oriowo: That part. And I feel like that sort of comes into that question where she asks Molly am I a sellout if I work with NBW? Versus is it risky to work with Crenshawn?

Dr. Joy: Yes. Let's back up before we get to that because that is a question I want to explore. After she has this conversation with Crenshawn and she's like, okay, I think about it, she goes home, she gets the email from NBW, they propose wanting to work with her further. Sounds like the coins was right, like she got a little rap going on with herself. She putting coins on her wristlet like she said, or whatever. Which I love. I feel like the mirror scenes are some of my favorite like this entire... like this show. Those are, I think, some of the most memorable because it just gets into like how we talk to ourselves and like what kind of relationship we have with ourselves. I just think that's so funny and playful. They have made an offer which leads her now into this dream sequence of... Which wasn't clear that it was a dream sequence. I was like are we...?

I thought we had like fast forwarded five years and I was like, oh, this is how they’re gonna wrap us up? By like advancing five years in? And then we realized it's a dream. But she gets into this dream sequence of like, okay, if I work with NBW, this is what my life could look like. We see her escalating in terms of the venue she's booking and then she is jet setting across the country and we see here on stage with Elaine Welteroth in a conversation about her work. And it feels like she is thriving professionally and feeling very excited about the work but you can also hear in some of the things she says like the sadness of not being in LA very often anymore, and feeling disconnected from that world. What were your thoughts there?

Dr. Oriowo: Honestly saying, it was almost like they were trying to give us a sellout sequence because there were pieces that were just clearly out of alignment. She loves LA. The whole point of what she's doing is LA and it sounds like she's doing the BLOCC work everywhere but LA. And feeling that sort of disconnect like she didn't even realize that, oh snap, I don't even have anything going on there. The thing has blown up in ways that she never thought of, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but that it has also disconnected her from the root of what she likes. And I don't know the significance of living in West Hollywood. The house was nice, I'll give it that.

Dr. Joy: I loved that part of the dream sequence. I was like, oh, I want this neutral-colored big windows place for myself.

Dr. Oriowo: Thank you, thank you for this. But it seemed like she was just like, when did we move here? Not just the when but it seemed like the question behind it was like, why did we move here? When did we move here?

Dr. Joy: Right, like how did we get to this place?

Dr. Oriowo: Exactly. What I did enjoy about it was just like she had no trouble leaning in to Nathan in that dream sequence. Like the kiss hello and his greeting and let's come together thing, and going get about them clothes. I’m looking like well, well. I liked that there were so many elements in it and I think that it’s when you see the second one that you realize that no matter what she does, she is going to thrive in the work that she is doing. And that it's just a matter of what does this thriving look like? Because even between the two, with one she has straight hair and with the other one she doesn’t. The entire styling was different. From a suit to, I don't know–how do you distinguish other clothes that's not a suit? The other clothes.

Dr. Joy: More business casual, I guess.

Dr. Oriowo: Yes. Like a little bit of a business casual. And the hair styling, all of that was very different. I think that both of them, we saw her still being almost like natural in the element, though. It was like no matter which way this goes–Boom, you got this!

Dr. Joy: Yeah, so we see the one dream sequence where she clearly is working with NBW, jet setting across the country. Then she comes out of that dream sequence and she gets a text message from Crenshawn saying meet me at this spot. Which leads into the second dream sequence where we see, okay, she has clearly made the choice to partner with Crenshawn and they are opening locations all over LA. She gets a key to the city, like clearly people around her neighborhood know who she is and she's a very big deal in her community.

Dr. Oriowo: Absolutely. And she seemed so comfortable in that space. They seemed to be growing a little bit slower in the second sequence because we see that she's still staying where she is now, still doing the job of a super, getting ready to grab that plunger and get that hair up out of there. She still leans into Nathan but she's also disheartened to see that she's living in the same place. And I think that is almost like a show of some level of stagnation on her end, where it’s just like damn, still in this space. And I thought it was funny that in the moment that she is disgruntled and mad, that she's just like, “ugh, I'm still here,” that's when Lawrence shows up.

Dr. Joy: More from my conversation with Dr. Oriowo after the break.


Dr. Joy: So we’re thinking we gonna get a like Lawrence-free episode, and I did think it was telling that Nathan was in both of the dream sequences. Like that, to me, was important. That it feels like, okay, she is at least envisioning a future that includes Nathan. But then we get to this second dream sequence where she is talking to what appeared to be Nathan in the bathroom, and who comes out saying that he's proud of her except Lawrence. What did you think of like him popping up in this dream sequence? And she clearly wakes herself up out of it because at that point it becomes almost a nightmare. What did you think of him popping up in the dream sequence this way?

Dr. Oriowo: I think that the way that she responded to him showing up in the dream sequence was telling. I think that there's definitely something to be said about the fact that he showed up at all because it's almost like, oh, okay, you're still thinking about this person. True, you are still thinking about this person. That does not mean that you want to be with them. It just means that you're thinking about this person so I'm just like, okay. And she leaned away.

Dr. Joy: Yeah, she was clearly shocked. Like it wasn't a welcoming of him into the dream sequence.

Dr. Oriowo: Yeah, she squealed. It was like a...

Dr. Joy: And it's also notable, I think, that he wasn't in the first one. Now, that could have been just for the show's effect because if he shows up too many times and it's like okay girl, what’s happening here? But it did seem like the first sequence where it feels like she's thriving professionally and jet setting and that kind of thing, Lawrence is not in that sequence. But he is in the one where she is maybe in a more stagnant place, at least personally.

Dr. Oriowo: Yeah, so there's a piece of me that's like, okay, is it that he is what she thinks of when she also thinks of going backwards or stagnation or not moving forward? Or is it that the first dream sequence is a sellout sequence? Since that's the question that she's asking. If she goes with NBW, is she a sellout? Versus is it too risky to go with Crenshawn? I'm wondering if that is also supposed to be like an element of it. And I'm not saying that one feels like a sellout versus one does not, I think that actually the whole idea that her dreams are on a binary is false. Personally, I'm just like... Because I think that we think of too many things as being on a binary. Like the real question is not is it Nathan or Lawrence? It's not NBW or Crenshawn. It's what aligns most with Issa and Issa’s values and what she would like to do. And based off both of those, I’m looking like, baby girl, cherry pick.

Dr. Joy: Right! Is she having to sign exclusively with one or the other or can she work with both of them?

Dr. Oriowo: Exactly. Because I was like you can still do the work that you want to do with Crenshawn and be with NBW at the same time. I'm just like make sure that none of their stuff is playing on the same day so that you can...

Dr. Joy: Plan accordingly.

Dr. Oriowo: Yeah, plan accordingly. And I think that we already see in the first dream sequence that she has a beautiful capacity for being able to expand her team in such a way that would allow her to stay on top of it. Applying for permits in advance and all that jazz. I’m looking like, oh, they haven't even *[inaudible 0:25:44] this place and you already did your due diligence.

Dr. Joy: We have come so far, so far.

DR. Oriowo: Exactly. And, oh, we already ran the numbers so we know that we could do this storefront. Okay, ma'am. Go ahead run the numbers. Not go and run on the feeling of your gut alone. I kind of like that we already see that she has the capacity for planning and that she has the capacity to build a team that would be able to support her in being able to do that work, so I don't see why she would need to choose between NBW or Crenshawn. I think that she can have a both and.

Dr. Joy: Mm hmm, yeah. I mean, and that's the beauty of negotiation, right? Like so she already has the offer from NBW in hand so there's no reason why she couldn't play ball with them and also Crenshawn and say like I can work with both of you only if I can work with both of you. Like I don't want to have to choose, both of these pieces of the work are important to me.

Dr. Oriowo: Word. Now, unless Lawrence and Nathan are into poly, she’s probably going to have to choose there.

Dr. Joy: Right, there's gonna have to be a choice there probably.

Dr. Oriowo: But the choice is still not between them, the choice is about her. Just like where do you want to be? Because it's very easy to get nostalgic, to be like I should be with Lawrence because we were together for so long and we tried again and maybe the third time's a charm. And we had these thoughts of things like that. And on top of that, a lot of TV shows actually do show us this idea of this boomerang love. That they just boomerang and boomerang and boomerang and eventually you’ll end up together. It was one of the principles that was going on in Living Single with Khadijah and Scooted.

Dr. Joy: Scooter.

Dr. Oriowo: We end up learning that sort of thing there. I mean even Derek and Meredith, it was boomeranging. And I think that we get used to this idea or we get to thinking that if it boomerangs back that's what we're supposed to do, when that may not be your reality. That you don't have to boomerang back. You can actually just say, nah, I'm straight, I'mma keep moving forward. I think that maybe there are unfinished conversations with Lawrence that she may want to have, but I also don't think that is necessary for any type of closure. I think that we trick ourselves into thinking that we need to talk to this ex in order to have closure. I'm looking like, uh, no, that's a setup.

Dr. Joy: Because what are you really looking for there? Yes, right. Let's stay with the conversation around Lawrence and Nathan. It feels in my mind, it feels like her heart really wants Lawrence. It feels like there was so much unfinished business there. Like we saw them in Season 4 have like this reconnection and getting back on the same page before we find out that Condola’s pregnant. And so it definitely feels like there was some unfinished business there, like they tried to make it work but it just couldn't, given the logistics or whatever. I feel like her heart still wants to explore what could happen with Lawrence, but at this point, it feels like Nathan looks better on paper. In terms of the way he supports her, it really feels like professionally he's there for her. He has I think really helped her to step out of her comfort zone and affirmed her to say “you can do this” and been there to pick her up. And so I feel like Nathan just makes more sense right now but I don't know that her heart ever really checked out from Lawrence.

Dr. Oriowo: I think that's part of what worries me. I think there's a piece of me that's trying to look at it at a distance and a part of me that's really in it. And the part that's really in it is like don't go back, girl. I find that I might be Team Nathan. If there were teams, I might be Team Nathan. I mean, really, I'm Team Issa and I want Issa to go with the thing that feels right for her. And we know that she could have this whole squirrel conversation with Lawrence too. I think that it's now not just a conversation of do I love this person. Because I think that it is very easy for us to be in a space of I have to go with my feelings and my feelings are telling me to do X. And I'm just like, actually, your feelings are just letting you know what's going on for you about a situation, it does not say go do anything. I'm just like the fact is, Lawrence has a child. The fact is he will always be connected with Condola. Yes, he is also now back in LA, which makes him now more geographically desirable. But for me, I'm just like are you prepared to be somebody’s stepmother? Is that even the direction that you want your life to go in? Because...

Dr. Joy: Yeah, because none of those dream sequences included...

Dr. Oriowo: Not a nary kid. So I’m just like, well, I think that it is commendable to be able to note that you still have feelings. And I think that sometimes feelings, it's not a faucet, you can't just turn it on and turn it off when the mood suits you. But I do believe that we still get choice. And that just because you don't choose the thing that you might secretly want, that doesn't mean that the thing that you have is any less important to you, it is just another thing that you want.

Dr. Joy: Yeah, so the conversation we were having was, again, how do you choose? Or do you choose or is it a combination? Head versus heart. If my head is saying like, okay, Nathan is the choice but my heart says Lawrence is the choice, like how do you make a decision about moving forward?

Dr. Oriowo: You let some more time pass. And I say that you let some more time pass because one thing that we do know about emotions is they're fleeting. An emotion lasts but so long unless you feed into it and how you're feeding into it. And what sort of narrative are you creating around it? Is this something that you are thinking that you want as well as something that you're feeling that you want? Are you in or out of alignment? And for me, I will usually make some people like pause. Okay, let's write down what your values are and which person or what values do you believe these other people exhibit that feel in alignment or out of alignment, with you and for you? Granted, a pro-con list is not very telling in the end of the day because you can have equal pros and cons for both of them.

Dr. Joy: Right, that's not gonna necessarily help make the decision.

Dr. Oriowo: Exactly, and there are pros and cons for both of them. I think that if it is a question of trying to figure out what to do next, maybe she needs to actually date both of them–if they're willing participants as well–and explore that more in depth.

Dr. Joy: Yeah, there's a piece of me that feels like Nathan would not be going for like that back sliding, waiting in the door to Lawrence again. Because like he's already been there, why would he sign up for that again?

Dr. Oriowo: Exactly. And another thing is I couldn't say that I blame him.

Dr. Joy: Right. No, not at all.

Dr. Oriowo: He’s not going to do that again.

Dr. Joy: Back to the conversation around sellout versus community focus, I guess kind of binary that it seems like they set up. I didn't know where that came from but it feels like a lot of it is spurred by like Crenshawn, the commentary he had. But I do think that this is something that a lot of people struggle with–do you take a job at a nonprofit maybe in your community versus working with a Fortune 500 company? And so the commentary or the feedback that Molly gave her around like in your heart you know probably what you want to do, you just got to own your decision and go with it. But what were your thoughts around this like heart-centered, community focused work and still be able to support yourself and take care of yourself and have like a nice apartment?

Dr. Oriowo: I think that we have created a binary where one should not exist, where it's either you're making money or you're making a difference. And I'm just like, who did that? Because it’s BS. Even the words that were sort of used in it. Like in the first fantasy it’s, oh, you ain't done nothing in LA but it's always home. Or the tirelessly working that Tyra Banks was giving us as the mayor and just like here’s your key to the city, so she's being commended for tirelessly working. And why is it that we are constantly in a space of wanting black women to be in the space of constant tireless work? What is cute about that?

Like she's tirelessly working and making such a difference in her community but not a difference in her life? She’s still living in the same place. Still has a full-time job to be able to supplement the other work that she's doing. How is that okay? Why is this a narrative that we keep giving to ourselves? Or that we keep saying is the one true narrative? That's why I was saying that she can cherry pick. Life is not on a binary of you're a sellout or you're helping your community, because you can certainly do both. Joy, you're doing both. I think I'm doing both.

Dr. Joy: Right.

Dr. Oriowo: I think that there is a way to help your community and not have to work tirelessly in order to do so.

Dr. Joy: I agree. I really feel like Crenshawn’s character, really the whole point of him has been to introduce that whole conversation around selling out and, you know...

Dr. Oriowo: He trying to make some money, so let's be clear.

Dr. Joy: Listen, okay.

Dr. Oriowo: I'm like for art's sake, it sounds good in theory but it looks like how you gonna eat, how you gonna make rent, how you gonna put clothes on your back? That's what it looks like.

Dr. Joy: How are you taking care of yourself?

Dr. Oriowo: Like, oh, I only do art for the purest reasons, I don't sell my art. There's no business plan, I just do my art. I’m thinking like, okay. And I think that we get too caught up in taking care of others and I feel like moving on to Crenshawn is taking care of somebody else.

Dr. Joy: Right, because that was not an idea she originated, at least not after their relationship had soured.

Dr. Oriowo: No. He introduced the entire concept of selling out and I think that it will come full circle that if she said no. Just like you're a pretty young thing when you're walking down the street, right? Oh, excuse me, you in the blue jeans, you’re so fine, you’re so beautiful. Oh no, no thank you. Oh well, you stupid bitch.

Dr. Joy: Right, it turns real quick.

Dr. Oriowo: I’m looking like how quickly would this turn into, see, I knew you was a sellout? I knew you wasn't about the community. Because I'm looking like he's added no additional evidence that he has seen that what she is doing is rooted in the community. Just “I see what you're doing in the community.” I'm looking like, baby, you were the community, you've seen it firsthand.

Dr. Joy: Right, how did you get involved?

Dr. Oriowo: I feel like one reeks of sacrifice. And I think that the way that it was presented to us was intentionally reductive. You're either a sellout or you are a person who tirelessly sacrifices. And I think...

Dr. Joy: Which is so interesting because I feel like Issa herself, not the character, Issa Rae is also an example of doing both. Like she has made this entire world for herself and put all her people on, you know. So I feel like it's interesting, I wonder if that's something internally she's also had criticism about or that she’s struggled with, because I feel like she's a shining example of how you can actually do both.

Dr. Oriowo: Absolutely. I think that, again, that either or, this binary is an illusion that we need to let go of. It is more chances than not, like what Molly said there towards the end, that it’s probably going to land somewhere in the middle.

Dr. Joy: Mm hmm, I agree.

Dr. Oriowo: And it is no wrong answer either. It's about whether or not you think you were wrong in your answer.

Dr. Joy: Yes. Speaking of Molly, that is the other larger storyline we have going on. We see there’s still like this open conversation with trying to get her parents to get their estate planning done and the will. And so Kelli offers to be involved, it sounds like that's at least a piece of maybe what she does as an accountant. So she comes over to their house and has all these conversations with them. And we haven't really talked here on the podcast since we saw Molly's mom have the stroke and so I want to get your thoughts on just how you have seen Molly show up in these past couple of episodes and what we saw of her in this most recent episode.

Dr. Oriowo: I feel like we saw her trying to do it all, to be in her emotions and be at work all at the same time, and I think that we also saw that there was a breaking point. There was a show of vulnerability where she was able to be like, “look, there are things going on personally at home,” and to be able to note that and to accept help. Because so many of us are so very worried about whether or not we are a burden that in reality... And I said this to one of my clients today. I was just like, and what are you robbing people of the opportunity for? Because we are so caught up in being a burden that we've made a decision in somebody else's home. Remember what I said: boundaries are for you to set in your garden, in your space. You don't get to set boundaries in someone else's space. And a lot of us, that's exactly what we do when we have named ourselves burden in their eyes on their behalf. And then said I'mma keep all my stuff to myself and work it out by myself. When most times, they just want the opportunity to be there and to support you, probably in the very same way that you already do for them. That's all they're looking for.

Dr. Joy: Mm hmm. More from my conversation with Dr. Oriowo after the break.


Dr. Joy: So again, we hadn't talked about this introduction of the Taurean love story that it seems like is blooming there. On one hand, I do really appreciate that he has been there like for her to push this vulnerability. You know, it sounds like he had a similar kind of experience with his family and so I think she felt very comfortable talking with him and for the first time felt, okay, I can take this mask off at work and let people know that I'm struggling. And so of course, you know, they kind of bonded over that but I do have some concerns around love in the workplace and I do believe... I don't know if he's like her boss, but he is definitely like more senior in the firm. And so that gives me some pause around like, okay, would this relationship actually be okay? Even though, clearly, the friendship that they are developing is very healthy, it looks like.

Dr. Oriowo: Yeah, it does look really healthy. I think that I try to be careful around all the spaces that social constructs get to rule our lives. Because even in the workplace, the idea of the hierarchy is a social construct. And I'm not saying that we are not affected by the social construct but that I'm just like she could get a job tomorrow. She can move somewhere else tomorrow, she can start her own firm tomorrow. Yes, she could do the same and he could do the same. They could decide that they want to start something together or that they don't want to work in the same place because they want to be in a relationship together. Or they could be like all these lovely couples of Grey's Anatomy who work there and...

Dr. Joy: Ma'am, that's a mess!

Dr. Oriowo: A mess, a whole mess! But there's just so many ways that this can ultimately play out. I personally don't like the power play in those types of relationships where it's, okay but you seem to be my boss in this situation. But at the same time, most relationships do have a power dynamic in it anyway, it's just whether or not we call it what it is and deal with it.

Dr. Joy: Mm hmm. This seems to go along with the theme that you have been talking about this whole episode again, the binary. Do they date or not? Or is there some gray area where maybe they are dating but not actually working together anymore, in a way that still feels fair and thriving for both of them?

Dr. Oriowo: Yeah. And I feel like, what Molly and Taurean are doing, I feel like they're exploring it and they also seem to be taking their time. And I think the most beautiful part for me is when she was able to just be like, actually, I'm tired. Boundary.

Dr. Joy: Yes, yes. I was also really proud of her in that moment. Because, you know, old Molly would have just pushed through it and like showed up for the date. I really appreciated that she was able to say, you know, I had a really tough day with my parents and I just don't feel like I'd be very fun to be around. Which allowed him to step in and then we see him make this beautiful gesture of wings and wine. Which, I mean, can you really get any better than that?

Dr. Oriowo: Me personally, if you give me food, we go together. So I was just like, oh, I didn't know we was in a relationship. Thank you, now I know.

Dr. Joy: He my man now.

Dr. Oriowo: Like we go together. I was just like aww. I like the piece of being able to say, hey, I have a need to be by myself. This is my boundary. I can't, I'm not in the right frame of mind, I don't have the time and space or the capacity. And basically, what I got from him was thank you for setting your boundary. And now I know that in the future you will continue to do so.

Dr. Joy: Yes.

Dr. Oriowo: And that's what I like...

Dr. Joy: And let me also show you that I care by like offering this gesture. Like let me also give you your space but let you know that I'm still there in the background.

Dr. Oriowo: Exactly. I’m trying my best not to give too many accolades because he saw her as a whole person and respected her boundaries. And I say that because oftentimes, we are giving people accolades and trophies for basic shit.

Dr. Joy: Bare minimum. Bare minimum work.

Dr. Oriowo: Don’t go pressing to the weight. You respecting somebody’s boundaries is really bare minimum shit. But the part that was a little bit more than the bare minimum was the text, was the sending of food, and really being there but not being there. Not disrespecting her request for space. Because I think that sometimes people will just show up at your house with it.

Dr. Joy: I was about to say he could have just shown up and that would have been like him inserting himself when she said she wanted space for herself.

Dr. Oriowo: Exactly, but he did not do that and I do appreciate that. It goes back into the same binary thinking. Like is it time alone or time with you, and I'm just like this was a beautiful gray space.

Dr. Joy: We saw the preview, I guess, the next week's episode. And we see now that Tiffany and Derek, it sounds like, have decided they're moving to Denver and so we are seeing they are having a going away party. And we see conversations with Lawrence and Chad around whether he's gonna go because Issa's gonna be there. And Chad asks like, well, she offered, you didn't fight for her, so it's done, right? We see that there's gonna be some conversation, some thought around like do we want to be in the same space together? How awkward is this going to be? And we also now know that this is going to be the opportunity with which she starts to further think about like, okay, is there something still left unsaid or undone with Lawrence?

Dr. Oriowo: I don't really know what I would want to see from this. See her move into something with Lawrence or see her close something out with Lawrence. Maybe she isn’t single by the end of episode, I have no idea.

Dr. Joy: I have been paying attention to, you know, just kind of some of the sentiment from people about this season in terms of feeling like it's moving very slow. And like I think some people have felt like there has not been enough moving the story forward with some of these episodes. And it definitely feels like low drama, especially compared to some previous seasons. But I don't know that I'm disappointed with the way that it’s moving but I also don't know that we're gonna get any kind of happy ending or neat bow in Episode 10. How are you feeling?

Dr. Oriowo: I am feeling much of the same. I think that it’s going to be one of those things where you’re sort of left wondering more than anything and I think that that's an okay place to be. I think that we have to realize and remember that sometimes things end and they are not resolved, that they're not so-called finished. And it actually sort of brings to mind, I read the book The Fault in Our Stars some time ago and I revisited it over the Thanksgiving holiday. And there is a book that she's reading in the book, where the main character of that book probably dies or whatever in the middle of a sentence and the book is finished.

Dr. Joy: Oh?

Dr. Oriowo: And I'm just like, well, that's life. That's life. Sometimes shit ends and it is not going to be wrapped up in some pretty ass bow. And some of us, we just need to learn how to get on with that.

Dr. Joy: It also feels like that kind of ending would be very fitting for this show.

Dr. Oriowo: Oh, yeah.

Dr. Joy: As frustrating as it might be because of course we want to know what's happening, it feels like that kind of ending would be very *[inaudible 0:48:02] for Insecure.

Dr. Oriowo: Yeah. Because I think we've gotten very used to the “and they lived happily ever after sort of narrative” however it likes to play out. I also think that a lot of us, high key, are into drama, drama. So, yeah, this season feel slow because we love drama. We are all into the tea of all the drama. And that the best parts for us are the drama filled parts. And sometimes I’m just like I don’t know that we know how to be without the drama.

Dr. Joy: I love seeing like her and her girls in like the slower moments. Even though it doesn't necessarily translate into action and like excitement on screen, I think it felt very tender in a lot of ways.

Dr. Oriowo: Yeah. I think that there's no need for it to drive the story forward, per se. I think that it's more of a do you know how to be in this space, breathe into that space. If it holds parallels to your life, and a lot of us see our lives in this, how are you able to breathe into space? How are you able to be okay? That there is no big ass song and dance, it's just you living life. We’re into the drama, we're into the big finales and destinations. We’re not into the journey which can actually be peaceful and restive.

It's like the idea that you have to suffer for your art or that if it came easy, then you must have done it wrong or it wasn't the right thing for you to do. And I think that sometimes some things in life are just that, they're just easy. And you do get to just breathe into it and be present with it, and love on it and let it love on you. And I feel like for some of us, we have friendships that are like that, they’re easy as breathing. And it doesn't make them less valuable because there's no drama.

Dr. Joy: Look at you always coming through with a good word for us to think about. We do have the two more episodes, so we will convene again. Probably after the finale, to kind of figure out what has happened, share our thoughts on the wrapping up of one of our favorite shows, see how y'all are feeling. If there are things that you have thoughts about, definitely let us know. Share that with us on social media because we are tuning in. And just stay tuned for our finale thoughts in a couple of weeks.

Dr. Oriowo: Word.

Dr. Joy: I'm so glad Dr. Oriowo was able to join me again to chat about the show. Be sure to visit the show notes at to find out more about her work or to grab a copy of her workbook, Cocoa Butter & Hair Grease. And don't forget to text two of your girls right now and tell them to check out the episode.

If you're looking for a therapist in your area, be sure to check out our therapist directory at

And if you want to continue digging into this topic or just be in community with other sisters, come on over and join us in the Sister Circle. It's our cozy corner of the internet designed just for black women. You can join us at Thank y'all so much for joining me again this week. I look forward to continuing this conversation with you all real soon. Take good care.


Discover the transformative power of healing in community in Dr. Joy Harden Bradford’s debut book, Sisterhood Heals. Order your copy now!

Sisterhood heals
Order Now

Looking for the UK Edition?
Order here

Discover the transformative power of healing in community in Dr. Joy Harden Bradford’s debut book, Sisterhood Heals. Order your copy now!

Looking for the UK Edition? Order here