Man Camp, Part 6: Tara and Scott

The 90-Day Challenge

"When I left The Dr. Phil House, I felt like it was a brand new beginning," Tara says. But one issue she and Scott have always fought about soon reared its ugly head: Scott's drinking. "Scott actually went out the very next night, and it went downhill from there. There are some things that I didn't tell Dr. Phil that I regret, and it's that Scott has a drinking problem. Scott and I are always fighting because he gets drunk at least three or four times a week," she explains.

"I'm not an alcoholic," Scott says. "I don't go out and just pound beers. I don't have a problem. That's asinine. I drink when it's appropriate."

"Scott blames me for his substance abuse problem. I don't think I drive Scott to drinking," Tara says. "Scott tells me that he wants me to be nicer. It's hard to be nice to someone who's done you wrong for so long, and then all of a sudden they want you to be this perfect person."

"I'm trying to take into account what Dr. Phil said and follow his advice. It's really hard with Tara though," Scott says. "Tara thought it was just going to be magic. We meet Dr. Phil, he bumps us on the forehead, and we're healed. It doesn't work like that. It's an ongoing thing. Tara calls me names all the time. Her favorite one is that I'm a worthless father because she knows that is what instantly gets to me. That'll move me from not pissed off to being enraged in an instant."

"When I'm calling Scott names, it's because he's ignoring me, and because he's gotten what he's had to say in there, and then he's going to run off and be a baby about it and not finish a conversation," Tara says.

Scott explains, "She'll try to start a
fight, and I'll be like, ‘OK, whatever, Tara,' and stop talking to her. Like, I'll sit on the couch and watch TV, and she'll still be trying to fight with me. ‘Stop being a baby. You're being a baby. You're being a sissy,' just because I won't get up and interact with her. So now, instead of being an a**hole for fighting with her, I'm a sissy for not fighting with her. Talk about a Catch-22."

Scott and Tara have separated and are currently living apart. "When Jacie asks me questions, like where her father is and why he doesn't live with us, it hurts my feelings, but I know she'll understand in the long run," Tara says.

"When I was packing to move out, Jacie asked what I was doing, and I said, ‘Well, we're moving, Baby. Daddy's going to live with Grandma for a while, and you're moving with Mommy,' and she smiles real big and says, ‘Daddy, you have to move with me.' Instant heartbreak right then," Scott explains.

"I want to save my relationship with Scott," Tara says. Still, she maintains, "Scott has a substance abuse problem. He needs to get his life together in order for us to be a couple."

"Tara tells me she wants to be with me, but her actions say otherwise," Scott says.

Dr. Phil first meets with Tara. "Tell me what's happened since you've been here," he says.

"I've just made a decision for myself and for my child that I think it's better that we live alone, and so we've moved out of our house and got a new apartment, and [I'm] just trying really to show Scott what he has because I don't think he realizes it," she says. Tara explains that within 24 hours of returning from Man Camp, Scott went out drinking.

"Where does he go when he goes out?" Dr. Phil asks.

"Sports bars and friends' houses," she says. "If he comes home, it's 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning, and then the next day, it's like a totally different guy. And I regret so bad not talking to you about this last time, but it was something that he and I discussed before we came, and I thought that you would tell him things that he maybe could use as an example for that, but you didn't get to see the full picture, so he thought he was doing no wrong."

"Does he recognize in himself that he is taking excess in that way?" Dr. Phil asks.

"He won't say that he does it too much," she says. "He's told me before that he wanted help, but it's only when he's been using or drinking that he wants help. That's the only time he'll come clean about it, just to make me happy."

"There are two things I know: You can't change what you don't acknowledge, and I can't deal with or fix what I don't have in front of me," Dr. Phil tells her.

"I think that if anybody can make him realize it, that it would be you, because you have a way of talking to Scott where he understands. I'm not scared to raise my child on my own; I just don't want her to live like I did, without a father," Tara says.

Scott joins them. Dr. Phil asks him, "Are you getting along better, in your view, since you aren't together?"

"I think so," Scott says.

"Is it possible that y'all are just incompatible and shouldn't be together?" Dr. Phil asks them.

"I think it is. I think it is very possible that that's the problem," Scott says.

"Whether y'all continue a significant-other relationship or not, you will forever be co-parents of your daughter," Dr. Phil tells them. "What does she understand about why you're not together?"

"I mean, she knows it's Mommy's house, but she doesn't know that Daddy doesn't live there, I don't think," Tara says.

"Well, let me tell you, she'll figure out she's done something wrong," Dr. Phil warns. "And it'll be something like, ‘I left my toys out, I cried at the grocery store.' It'll be the most insignificant thing, but a 3-year-old will hang everything on that to decide that she's the reason y'all are not together. Who's responsible for this split up?"

"I think Tara is," Scott says. "It's all about the golden rule. She wouldn't want me to talk to her the way that she talks to me."

Tara asks Scott, "Would you want me going out like you go out? Would you want me staying out all night like you do? Would you like me spending money on substances, anything? Would you like me doing any of that?"

"I would never, ever leave your side or the house if it wasn't like this every second that I'm there. Who is the one who wakes up in a bad mood and is ready to fight from the get go?" he asks her.

"Are you going out too much?" Dr. Phil asks Scott.

"Possibly. At this point, it's because, you know, I'm not trying to lay blame or make excuses, but if you're going to hit me with a baseball bat every five minutes, eventually I'm going to get
up and leave because I'm sick of getting hit with a baseball bat. I'm done with it," Scott replies.

"And how many nights a week are you doing that?"

"It varies because we have our good weeks and our bad weeks. If it's a good week, I won't go anywhere," Scott says.

Tara disagrees and says Scott drank the previous six nights. Scott explains that sometimes he gets off work early and will get a beer with a friend, but will still get home before Tara.

"That very seldom happens. If it's one beer with Scott, it's 10 beers with Scott. He can't drink just one," Tara says.

"It doesn't matter how many " I mean, but I come home," Scott argues.

"This whole thing is just bad on a relationship," Tara tells him.

"You say he's told you a thousand times that he'll quit drinking?" Dr. Phil asks.

"Yeah, if I would be nice," she says.

"Absolutely," Scott agrees. "I have no desire to go out. You know, I want to stay home. I like to stay at home with my little family unit. That's what I've always wanted."

"Then why is it when we get along, you still have to go out?" she asks.

"Just because I stop and meet a friend for lunch and have a couple beers, doesn't mean I'm going out," Scott says.

"Here's the deal," Dr. Phil tells Scott. "There are signs that worry me in that you do say that you're drinking during the day, and that you do drink because of her. ‘She's the reason I drink.' If you were going to list the signs for a drinking problem, that's on the short list right there. So that worries me, and you should think about that because it can get to be a problem. It clearly is an issue in this relationship. Now, you say it's just because she's looking for something to pick at, and if it wasn't that, it'd be something else?"

"Exactly," Scott says. "The deal with the alcohol is maybe, maybe once or twice a month I will drink a couple beers at home."

"This is the deal," Tara says. "Even if he's drinking at home, I will still gripe about that. It's alcohol, period ... And it's not good to do that in front of your child."

"Are you an alcoholic?" Dr. Phil asks Scott.

"No," he says.

"Do you have a substance abuse problem?"

"No. Absolutely not."

"Do you think you are doing anything to contribute to the problems in this marriage, and if so, what?" Dr. Phil asks.

"Yes, you know, I agree escape is probably a warning sign, and that's what I call it. I'm not going to stay at home, which means I'm going to look for somebody to talk to, a friend, you know, whatever, and I'm going to drink," Scott says. "But the thing is, it's not like I get home from work and I'm like, ‘I have to have a beer right now.' I'll go a month without opening a beer, and there have been times I've gone seven days and drank every single night. I don't know what you define alcoholism as. I can quit whenever, I mean, I don't need it."

"Well, my definition is if there is a pattern of alcohol consumption that is creating problems in your life, then to me, that's a problem," Dr. Phil says. "And you don't drink because of her, you drink because you choose to drink, but it sounds to me like you can't do both. You can't be in this relationship and drink."

Dr. Phil tells Tara she needs to work on controlling her anger. "It sounds to me like you are addicted to this engaged battle between the two of you … Let me ask you this: If he quit drinking, now where are you?"

"I want to get help for myself to learn how to deal with all the anger I have built up," Tara says.

"If he did that, you recognize you have huge changes to make with your anger and your combative nature because you've got a chip on your shoulder. Are you willing to do something about that?" Dr. Phil asks her.

"Yes, sir."

Dr. Phil tells Scott, "She thinks you're an alcoholic and substance abuser. Are you willing to do anything about that?"

"It's not something I need to go get help for. I can turn it off. I'm done," Scott says. 

"Can you not take a drink for 90 days?" Dr. Phil asks.

"Absolutely," Scott says. "Done."

"If you embark on that and fail, would it shock you?"

"Very much so," he says.

"Would you, at that point, say, ‘I guess I can't quit'?" Dr. Phil asks.

"Yeah, yeah, at that point, I'd recognize that's a fault, that there is a problem," he says."No substance, no alcohol, nothing," Dr. Phil clarifies. "Just be sober as a judge for 90 days."

"And I will probably call you in 30 days and tell you about what she's bitching about now," Scott says.

Dr. Phil tells Scott that if he fails, he should call him, and they'll figure out what to do from there. "And I'm not saying 90 days unless she gets bitchy. I mean, 90 days whether she gets bitchy or not."

"I'll give you the whole 90 days if you think it'll help, if that's what it takes," Scott says. "If nothing else, to prove I'm doing my part, if that's the only thing it does is prove that I do my part, then I can feel better about it, and we can go our separate ways."

Dr. Phil tells Tara, "If he's willing to stay totally clean and sober for 90 days, then you have to do what I arrange for you in that 90 days, and that's a lot of work on you. I want to help you with that."

"OK," she says.

"I'm asking both of you to make a significant change in the next step," Dr. Phil says. "And if at the end of that time, you just don't have a really good attitude about this, then both of you can say, ‘You know what? We gave it our best individual shots. We need to shut this down and learn to be friends with the common interest of our wonderful daughter.'"