Partner in Crime

"My mother is my partner in crime. We will buy makeup, we'll buy purses, we'll buy jeans," Gina says. "We'll get home, and then we'll chat with each other over the phone, and she'll say, 'Did you try that makeup?' 'Yeah, I don't like it.' 'Me either. I'm gonna return it. I don't like this purse. I don't really need it.'"

"We go in there and try them on, and they don't look good, and we laugh. We have a good time together," says Glenna, Gina's mom.  

 

[AD]"Gina has realized she has a problem, but sometimes her mother doesn't realize that she has a problem," Dustin shares. 

 

Gina realizes she's passing her behavior on to her daughters. "My two little girls were sitting down and eating cereal. My 6-year-old will say, 'Mommy, I don't like this. Let's return it and get a new box of cereal that I like.' And I would say, 'No, Honey. We can't do that. It's not appropriate. This is what we have.' She will say, 'Why mommy? You do it all the time,'" she shares.

 

Gina grows emotional as the tape end. "It breaks my heart, because I don't want to cause any problems with my two girls. I don't want them to grow up that way," she says. "I don't want to put them through that. I don't want to put my husband through this."

"What's going to happen when you stop doing this? This is serving a need in you, right?" Dr. Phil asks Gina.  

"Yes, it is. I get very overwhelmed. I get very anxious. I get very nervous, and I have to shop. It's almost like a drug addict needs his drugs, or an alcoholic needs their drink," she shares. "And then it calms me down, and then I feel better about myself. I feel more confident. I feel pretty, everything. I just have more power."

[AD]"But you know, that's a total fiction. You say, 'I'm standing next to somebody buying something she can't buy.' So you feel superior in the moment," Dr. Phil says.

"Yes, I do," Gina agrees.

"You can't buy it either," Dr. Phil points out. "You're stealing it. She can't buy it. Neither can you, so you just defraud it out of them, essentially."

Dr. Phil asks Glenna, "Have you trained her in this?"

 

Glenna explains that she was a single mom raising Gina. "I worked and tried to take care of Gina. At that time, my income wasn't that much, and I didn't get that much child support, so I felt bad for my daughter. So I would buy things for her to make her happy and to make me feel happy because I really couldn't do it for her," she says. 

 

Dr. Phil asks Glenna, "Do you return with her now?"

"Yes. We've both got a problem," she admits. 

 

"I'm just trying to get you to be honest, because you can't change what you don't acknowledge," Dr. Phil tells her. "You have ownership in this. If you've trained her in this dynamic of salving your guilt, salving your anxiety by buying things you can't afford and creating a fictional economy, then you really have to acknowledge that."

 

[AD]Glenna says it's a problem, and she admits to shopping with her daughter and borrowing money from her. 

 

"This is a very serious problem. Very serious. I can't blame my mother, because I have to take responsibility as an adult and choose to seek help, and that's what I'm doing right now," Gina says. "But it sure didn't help being raised in the ghetto, and being poor and have my mom turn around and buy me things, where she would essentially turn around and borrow money from her mom to fill my needs."

Dr. Phil tells Gina why he thinks she's living in a fantasy world and why it must stop.

 

 

"This guy is gonna leave you flat," Dr. Phil says to Gina.

 

"I'm ready to go," Dustin confirms.

"And in this circumstance, it's a pretty good idea you're not going to measure up very well in a custody fight," Dr. Phil tells Gina.

 

"I don't wanna lose my kids, I don't want to lose my husband, but no, I don't have self-esteem. Those issues I've been lacking since I was a child," she shares.

"Well, it's time to turn around and deal with that instead of smoothing it over with this fictional, fanciful, sort of economical fix," Dr. Phil tells Gina. "You're putting a cash poultice on a very serious psychological issue, and all that does is allow you to keep up in denial. You need to be willing to face the fact that this is a psychological issue that you don't fix financially. Denial is over, running away is over. You need to deal with your self-esteem issues, which I think you're going to find so manageable." He offers to provide her with resources to address her self-esteem issues.

 

[AD]Gina agrees to participate. "I have to change my life," she says.

"You need to step out of this, Mom," Dr. Phil says to Glenna. "Be a good mother by supporting her in creating a real solution, instead of a denial-based fantasy life."