Dr. Phil's Get Real Retreat, Part 4: Carina

Waiting for an Apology

Carina stands. "In talking about taking care of ourselves, I have a really strong connection with Angie and, obviously, Ron and their daughter," she says. She turns to Angie and Ron. "But I want to tell you guys from experience that you will not allow your daughter to take care of herself first, because you are forcing her to take care of the situation. I had to take care of the alcoholic situation."

As Carina advises them about their daughter, Dr. Phil walks over and interrupts. "Excuse me. Aren't you kind of doing my job?"

"Sorry. Yeah. I just want them to know that it's tough," Carina says.

"Because you've been there," Dr. Phil says. "I get that. They don't yet, but they're sort of getting it. How are you doing?"

Carina smiles and nervously laughs.

"How do you feel about your mom?" he asks.

"Good."

"How do you feel about your [stepdad]?"

"Bad."

"And you can't control him. You can't make him change," Dr. Phil says.

"I want him to love us, and he won't," Carina says.

"Well, he probably can't," Dr. Phil points out.

"Really?" she asks.

"What would you want him to give to you? What would you want him to say about you, to feel about you?" Dr. Phil asks.

"I would like him to want to spend time with me and get to know who I am," she says. 

"I so hope he does that before he dies. I hope you can find a way to inspire him, maybe, to do that," Dr. Phil says.

"That's a hopeless situation, I feel, because that's what I have a hard time [doing], being able to forgive, not for him, but for me," she says.

"Sometimes we have to give ourselves what we wish we could get from somebody else. Sometimes we would like a parent, for example, to step up and say, ‘I am so proud of you, and I love you,' but they're just emotionally bankrupt. They just don't have it to give, so sometimes, we've got to give ourselves what we want to get from somebody else. Sometimes, we've got to look in the mirror and say, ‘I'm really proud of you, and I love you, and I am there for you every minute of every hour of every day,'" Dr. Phil explains.

"Why does someone I'm not even biologically related to have such control over my emotions?" she asks.

"Because you've chosen to invest in him because you believe he has something you need," Dr. Phil tells her. "And he probably has something you would like to have, but it isn't the only place you can get it. He may never be able to give it to you, and if you're waiting for him to give you something he doesn't have, you could spend your life upset about that instead of accepting the fact that, fair or unfair, he doesn't have what you want, what you need."

Later, Carina reflects on what Dr. Phil said. "When he told me I might never get an apology, it devastated me because that's what I've been expecting for 17 years, and that's why I haven't been able to let go and be happy, so when he told me that, it upset me, but it was almost like, OK, that makes sense. It was a relief almost."