The Pursuit of Porsha: How I Grew Into My Power and Purpose by Porsha Williams
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
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The Pursuit of Porsha by Porsha Williams takes us on the journey of what made one of the most popular real housewives who she is.
Entrapment in abusive and toxic relationships with men seems to be the main traumatic point of The Real Housewives of Atlanta star’s story from how her father treated her before his untimely death to how her ex-husband treated her behind the cameras.
Atlanta born and raised, Porsha Williams starts her story on how she always envisioned herself in front of the camera as a way to escape her lingering depression and suicidal thoughts. Growing up, she lives with her mother Ms. Diane, a familiar face on the reality show, and her older brother Hosea. Her father also named Hosea like her grandfather, the civil rights activist who worked alongside Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., lives with his second wife and other family. Whenever Porsha and her brother visits their father, sometimes their father punishes them by forcing them into a basement or another room. Though she says the door would never be locked, Porsha feels like she can’t move. On one occasion, she tells her stepmother that her father has a girlfriend since her father would take her when he’d hang out with the girlfriend. This results in a punishment where she’s left in the car for hours. She says her father would forget he’s punishing her and her siblings, but that frozen feeling stays with her in future relationships with men.
When you’re that young, watching the man you love with your entire miniature heart give his love to someone other than your mom, it changes how you think about love and what you expect from it. It changes what you think is up and what you think is down, and suddenly life seems a bit more sideways.
The entrapment follows her when she becomes involved with the recently convicted sex trafficker R. Kelly. After being recruited from a nightclub, Porsha hops on the plane to the R&B singer’s Illinois estate for what she thinks is a recording session. Like the victims’ testimonies in the docuseries Surviving R. Kelly, Porsha describes being sold the falsehood of a singing career to becoming romantically involved with the manipulative man. He, too, leaves her trapped in bedrooms, where she’s not given food or water as a result of him forgetting about her.
Besides physical entrapment, Porsha discusses the highs and mostly lows of her two-year marriage to former footballer Kordell Stewart. Their relationship is first documented on the fifth season of RHOA, Porsha’s debut season. In her memoir, Porsha admits the TV opportunity appeals to her as a way to make her husband proud. A daycare center owner at 24-years-old, Porsha is convinced to let go of her business and be a housewife. But, she says, everything she does is never enough for her husband as their marriage falls apart for millions of viewers to see.
I thought the cameras would be a good distraction from the very real problems we were facing in our marriage, but they weren’t distracting at all. If anything, they magnified the façade we had built brick by unsteady brick.
Porsha relives her first season, realizing everything she says will be scrutinized to the max. Some famous slip-of-the-tongue remarks had viewers questioning her intelligence, and Porsha says she felt ashamed by her honest mistakes, especially while representing her family with civil rights advocacy roots.
After nine years on the show, Porsha has since left the Bravo series and now wears the title of civil rights activist in her own right. She documents in the book her journey from attending protests with her grandfather at six-years-old and witnessing racism firsthand to taking charge at the George Floyd protests last year that soon involved countless other Black people who had lost their lives to racist violence. She’s been tear gassed and arrested on her new crusade, but she says the strength she musters to go out and fight comes from protecting her baby daughter Pilar.
My daughter saved my life. I’ve dealt with depression on and off my entire life. I’ve never been clinically diagnosed, but I know what depression looks like. I know what it feels like. It’s almost like a wave drifting on the shore; I can see it out near the horizon, steadily coming toward me until it overtakes me and I have no choice but to give in to it.
Mental health is a topic that hits readers in the first several pages as a young Porsha says she has unexplainable suicidal thoughts and is taken to a therapist by her mother to discuss her feelings. She recounts a suicidal attempt as a preteen due to feeling out of place at school. The childhood depression evolves with her as she struggles to find relationships she can trust. Porsha emphasizes the pursuit of herself as discovering her self-worth and taking responsibility for her actions.
The toxic relationships with men dominate the book. In the audiobook version of the memoir, Porsha’s younger half-sister Lauren, who also appears on the reality show, takes the reins for two chapters describing some of the difficult relationships. In those situations, Porsha also narrates her uneasy path to motherhood from having an abortion to experiencing infertility due to fibroids. She says the men, who seem loving to her at first, flip on her into unrecognizable monsters, a recurring theme.
Overall, the book gives us a front row seat to Porsha’s World with her longing to be a star to her actually becoming a star amid the obstacles that forced her to recognize her self-worth.