In Atlanta, a successful video producer named Jay Williams has been working with life coach Iyanla Vanzant to get a hold of his chaotic personal life. As a man with 34 biological children by 17 different women, Jay is desperate to understand his pattern of behavior, and make amends with those he has hurt. Iyanla has had brutal conversations about Jay's recklessness and spoken with his own parents about their roles in his life, but there's a big piece of the puzzle that still needs to be addressed: the women themselves.
Five of the 17 women agree to speak with Iyanla and nervously arrive one by one for the uncomfortable session. Iyanla quickly learns that several of the women (Chantau, Aisha and Charmaine) have been pregnant at the same time, and two of the women, Nicole and Charmaine, even used to be best friends before their involvement with Jay broke up the friendship. Nearly all of the women know each other.
It's a tangled web of sex, relationships and betrayal, but Iyanla boils much of it down with a simple sentence.
"What all of you have been doing is man-sharing," she tells the women. "What I'm looking at is nasty. I don't mean 'nasty' in terms of physically. I mean energetically between women."
Nicole and Charmaine seem to have an especially nasty energy between them. Nicole, who has one child with Jay, says they were in a relationship when her former friend Charmaine also got involved with him (and gave birth to three of his children). Complicating matters, Nicole says that she's been in an on-again-off-again relationship with Jay for more than 14 years -- and is still currently having sex with him.
"I'm just disgusted with her voice, her look, just everything about her disgusts me," Nicole says of Charmaine.
"But are you disgusted with yourself?" Iyanla asks Nicole.
"I was. I'm over it, though," Nicole answers.
Iyanla disagrees. "You can't be over your disgust with yourself if you're still projecting that on her, baby," she says. "Y'all were in the same place."
When Nicole insists that Charmaine is to blame for everything that has happened, Iyanla asks her about Jay's role in the drama. "What is his responsibility? That's the problem: None of you have held him accountable!" Iyanla says to group.
Turning her attention to Charmaine and Nicole, Iyanla breaks down what really happened between them and hopes each woman will see the situation for what it really is.
"You betrayed your sister-friend, and then you both settled for less than you needed or wanted," Iyanla tells them. "Y'all are doing the same thing. Both of you are responsible for yourself, for your choices, for your decisions. And my question is, why?"
The women are quiet, so Iyanla continues. "That breaks my heart that as women, you let a penis penetrate your friendship," she says. "A penis!"
Iyanla is also teaching a six-week eCourse on forgiveness. Learn more.