Bravotv.com: Were you surprised to hear from Jewel that the family was coming to Austin so soon after you invited them?
Junice Rockman: I was definitely surprised the family followed up on our invitation to visit Austin so quickly. I was thinking of planning a visit sometime during the winter holiday or next spring. So when I heard from them a couple of weeks later, I was very surprised. At the same time, when you extend an olive branch, you want to honor those you’ve extended it to with open arms. For an entire year, there had been such a negative reaction from the family about our relocation, so I really felt it was time to create some new memories outside of our days in Murfreesboro. Life is about memories--honoring and acknowledging the ones we've had and creating the new memories to cherish.
Bravotv.com: So what was the story behind the stripper exercise class you sent the family to? Was it really an accident, or were you just trying to loosen them up?
JR: There really is no "story" behind the exercise class. Anyone that knows me knows I'm a yoga/hot yoga fanatic, so I wanted to share my love for yoga with the women in the family with a cool aerial yoga class. Our babysitter canceled at the very last minute, so I was running late trying get someone to babysit the children, so I could still meet up with the girls for class. I was surprised to see that they all gravitated to (or ended up at) the pole dancing class! I was like, "How did this happen? We went from aerial yoga to swinging on poles?" What people do in their free time is their own private business. Call me old fashioned, but I do not feel a pole class is a group family experience I'd want to create, particularly with my nieces there--no way.
I suppose there are some people in life that gain their sense of power by attempting to be condescending toward other people.
Bravotv.com: How did you feel at dinner when Ben brought up the “pie” analogy and your finances?
JR: Unfortunately, I felt it was another case of family members stepping out of bounds. Healthy boundaries are necessary in every relationship. Rock and I are husband and wife, and as partners we're in agreement. We don't owe explanations to Ben or anyone else about our household. Nor are we prying into other family members business or asking them to explain how they run their lives, because we are too busy minding our own. I'm not sure of the kind of family dialogues they're used to, but Rock and I don't enjoy interrogating people about their personal earnings over dinner. It just lacks tact and class. Besides, whenever we initiate dialogue, we all have to ask ourselves, what is the motive or the greater objective? What was Ben's motive in probing? He certainly didn't ask anyone else those questions. I suppose there are some people in life that gain their sense of power by attempting to be condescending toward other people. Thankfully, over the last 18 years we've been together, Rock and have decided we will not be defined by other people's opinions. We never have approached Ben in that way. We're going to continue taking the high road, keeping it positive, and enjoying our peaceful life here in Texas!
Bravotv.com: What is the status of your relationship with your sisters now? Do you feel like things have gotten better since bringing all of your issues to the surface?
JR: My relationship with my sisters is definitely a work in progress and under construction. Jewel and Junetta are both beautiful, strong, and gifted women. I look forward to days when they're not "teaming up" to tear, but when all three of us are operating as one team in a healthy sisterhood. It's amazing how far a simple acknowledgment or small apology would go. It's like the 4th of July with the yelling and insults and the things Junetta yelled out, many of which were completely untrue. Jewel and Junetta carry on like it never occurred. Even at the family meeting Rock organized, we offered apology for our actions that hurt the family, but my sisters seemed to not have any thought of what the July 4th event must have been like for me. Just a simple, "Heys sorry this went down this way," would have meant so much.
Unfortunately, every family has some level of dysfunction; some are just greater than others and when the family behavioral pattern for generations has been to sweep everything under the rug, have frequent explosive behaviors (yelling, insults) or implosive meltdowns (crying, sobbing, and evading healthy dialogue), those patterns don't suddenly change over a matter of weeks.There seems to be this "just get over it" mentality. It’s true we must all move forward in life, but that doesn't mean we simply ignore the road blocks that are directly in front us. Instead, just like driving beyond a physical obstruction, in our communication, we have to acknowledge what's in the way to move past it.
Just like it's easier to remedy a common cold, versus a chronic disease process, some processes of familial healing simply take longer. Life is too long to live in a toxic way. Once forgiveness has taken place, we still have to do the work of building a new foundation. Like any construction site, it's not pretty, but in the end, the foundation and path is clearer and stronger than before. That's what I see for my sisters and me: a clearer, stronger, more authentic, and mutually respectful foundation down the road. Change takes time, but change will come. After the storms, the sun always shines again.