Family Chaos: Bridgette Relapses

Family Chaos: Bridgette Relapses

Bridgette says she cut back on her spending sprees but recently had a slight relapse. "I went shopping three days ago, and the total for that day was probably $600. I haven't done anything major like before," she says.

She and Mike recently purchased a Chihuahua for $2,400. "We did buy her outfits, a collar, and two sweaters," Bridgette says gaily, holding up the trinkets.

 

She feels that her husband is trying to fill an emotional void with material things. Mike disagrees. "When I try to get close and I hold her, or massage her and hug her, she'll push me away and say, 'This is phony. You're doing this just to have sex,'" he reveals. 

When Mike relayed some bad financial news to Bridgette, she had another cutting episode. "I came into the kitchen, and we talked about the possibility of losing the house," he says. "I followed her into the bathroom, and she sat down in front of the mirror with an eyebrow shaver and she was just cutting herself really hard. She was openly bleeding and I said, 'What the hell are you doing to yourself?'"

 

Bridgette blames herself for her family's financial quandary. "I started thinking I am the one who put him in this tremendous amount of debt. I just felt really, really horrible, so I went into the bathroom [to cut]," she confesses. "That was the first time I've ever seen him look almost helpless. When I finished cutting, I wiped the blood off and had dinner and it was over. It was like it never even happened."

"You know, this is just not OK. It doesn't work. You think there's a release of anxiety and stress when you cut yourself and you see the blood," Dr. Phil warns Bridgette. "If it fixes the problem, why do you have to keep doing it over and over? Doesn't that tell you on its face that that doesn't work?"

"It's a momentary thing," she admits.

Dr. Phil urges her to explore other methods for finding peace. "Research will tell you, 90 percent of cutters were discouraged from expressing their emotions when they were growing up. There's no outlet. You're looking for somewhere to go," he says. "The biggest relationship problem you've got is the one you've got with you. You're walking around complaining, and people look at you and say, 'Hey lady, you're living in a beautiful home. You're not working. You spend all your time running errands, talking to your friends. You're driving around in a Mercedes. You shop all the time. What are you complaining about, lady?' You're busy blaming everybody. You're busy complaining about everything, and the truth is, the person you're upset with is you." 

"I admit that. That's why I cut," Bridgette says. "I accept full responsibility for everything that I have done to him, for all the debt that I've put him in."

 

Acknowledging her faults is a good first step, Dr. Phil says, but Bridgette needs to put some verbs in her sentences. "You've got to be willing to say, 'I'm going to work on the problem. I'm going to quit complaining about the problem. I'm going to start doing something about the problem, and I am going to deny myself this pattern of cutting,'" he advises.

Dr. Phil addresses the issue of the couple being permissive about pornography in their household. Mike says things have been blown out of proportion. "The whole business of our encouraging it, or Bridgette buying pornography for [the kids], that really is an untruth. What we do behind closed doors in our bedroom I think is OK," says Mike.

Bridgette disagrees. "I want him to take the initiative to be a stronger father, to be a better father figure and say, 'This is not acceptable. You are not going to talk about this around us.' I don't want to hear it, because when they do it around me, I go crazy," she says.

 

"You guys are validating this behavior for them by being involved in it yourselves," Dr. Phil says sternly. "This is going on in your house and you say, 'What we do behind closed doors is OK. It's not hurting anybody' ... Don't tell me it's not hurting anybody when you're watching pornography behind closed doors. You're funding, you're fueling an industry that's exploiting young women!" Dr. Phil admonishes.

"When you put it like that, I can't argue," Mike concedes. He wonders if his family is beyond help. "Is it too late for us to serve as a role models for these kids, to make a meaningful change in their lives?"

Dr. Phil gives the couple hope. "Not just no, but hell no, it is not too late," he says. Turning to Bridgette, he says, "Your mothering of those daughters hasn't even started. They're going to be making decisions in their lives, they're going to be picking mates, they're going to be having children. Your role as a mother can just be starting at this point."