Ask Dr. Phil: Rachel and Dr. Berliner

Torn Between Two Worlds

"I feel extremely lost in who I am and what I need to be. I am Rachel the mother and Rachel the wife, but I'm not just Rachel, and I feel like everybody else's wants and needs are way ahead of mine. I want to stomp my foot and go, ‘What about me?'" says Rachel. "I was engrossed in my career, and even though I had all those goals, dreams and money in the bank, I didn't have anybody to come home to. I was very lonely at the end of the day. I just happened to meet my husband. We just clicked and decided to raise a family. My husband had a young son. We had our youngest son, so it was fast and furious. I sometimes dream about having a day to myself, not worrying about diapers, or getting the kids to school and me to work on time. I love my husband and kids. I just don't love myself. I want somebody to just look me in the eye and say how to proceed in the future."

Dr. Phil tells Rachel, "You cannot imagine how many thousands of letters we get talking about this very thing. You feel guilty because you miss your life where you got to have adult conversations. You miss the adult world, right?"

"That's correct," she says.

"But you feel guilty about it?"

"Extremely guilty."

Dr. Phil introduces Dr. Patricia Berliner, author of Touching Your Lifethread and Revaluing the Feminine. She's a member of the Dr. Phil Advisory Board and Co-Founder and Director of Women for a New World, which offers programs to assist women across the U.S. She's also a psychologist and a nun.

"I got an invitation to be an Advisory Board member of the Dr. Phil show," Dr. Berliner recalls. "Dr. Phil has experts whom he can call on. It's an amazing resource that he's assembled from all over the world. I like Dr. Phil. I've been impressed with how he goes out of his way to find resources for people." Her focus is on women. "A lot of women don't recognize their own value. When a woman comes in and tells me she feels like she's lost herself or her world is collapsing, I would try to find out what generated that experience. It's really more valuable to ask them to look into their own experience, so it's really a self-discovery, almost a rediscovery: This is who I am."


"You don't think she should feel guilty at all, do you?" Dr. Phil asks Dr. Berliner.

"In my book, there's this whole section about the myth of the good woman, and I think you feel like if you pay attention to yourself, you're not going to be a good woman, you're not going to be the good mother, you're not going to be the good wife, and that this is selfish," Dr. Berliner says to Rachel. "We're so afraid of being selfish. Selfish, in essence, is to show concern for myself. To be able to be concerned and care for myself."

Rachel says she's conflicted. "There are certain things at work that I need to go handle, and I can be on top of things and get the project done, but then in the back of my mind, I'm like, well, I need to be home to handle homework. You're torn between those two worlds," she says.

Dr. Phil asks her, "Do you think you could be a better mom if you were absolutely lit up and exhilarated personally as well? Because if you don't, if you let yourself get depressed and you let yourself get pulled down, you may have more quantity of time, but you don't have quality. I've often said, ‘You're the only mother that these children have,' and I tell parents all the time, ‘If you love your kids, and I know [you] do, take care of their mother. Take care of their parent.'"

"At home, it's about them. My day doesn't seem as important," she says.

Dr. Berliner says, "You're feeling guilty, but you're also feeling angry. Underneath that is the question, ‘What about me?'"

Rachel nods.

"You put yourself at the bottom of the list every day. Never works, not in the long term," Dr. Phil says.

"I start resenting everything," Rachel says.

"You do! And so you've got to decide, ‘I'm going to give myself a chance to reawaken all of those things inside of me.' It's worth a shot. Will you give it some thought?" Dr. Phil asks.

"Yes, sir. I'll try," she says.