Mr. Wrong: Darlene

Flash Forward

"Nineteen years ago, I started to correspond with a man in prison," says 49-year-old Darlene. "I opened myself up to this person. We started to share more personal stories, and it became an experience that I always had hoped for, for a friendship that turned into love."


Darlene spoke and wrote to this man every day, and she would visit him once or twice a week. "The days went by, and the months went by, and the years went by. You become a slave to the telephone. You become a slave to the mailbox. You're constantly looking at your watch," she shares. "I scheduled

my time around the schedule of a person who doesn't have any freedom. It's like being in a prison yourself."


Darlene had a difficult time coming to terms with the reality of the situation. "I was devastated when the reality came to me of not being able to be with the person whom [I] would really like to spend the rest of [my] life with and grow old with and have children with," she says. "If I could have chosen to fall in love in a different way, I would have."


Darlene wanted to be a married mother and live the American dream, but that never happened. "I made the choice to be with a man sentenced to

life in prison. Because of that, my world was turned upside down," she says. "And so, here I sit today, 49 years old. I'm not married. I have no children. I hurt a lot. I feel very alone."


Not only is she lonely, she is embarrassed. "It's really, really sad, because the only time I've ever felt any joy in my life, I'm ashamed about it, and it shouldn't be that way," she cries. 

Dr. Phil asks Darlene, "What would you do differently?" .

"I would take better care of myself. I would put myself first," Darlene says, tearing up. "I believe that anytime we fall in love with someone whom we can't be with, it's a tragedy, and it hurts, and rarely is that acknowledged." She says that every year after the first year, her life has been miserable.

"I feel a lot different than she does," Sarah says. "I don't feel like I'm doing anything wrong with my life. I actually am happy sitting at home without him there. That's where the problem lies. I'm not waiting on him to do anything for me." She reiterates that she is more concerned that she will leave him.

"Are you concerned about how your girls will accommodate all of this?" Dr. Phil asks. "Are you being a good guardian, a good fiduciary " putting their interest above your own " to haul them down to the prison to
spend the afternoon with a convicted murderer?"

"Yes, they're my children. They like him," Sarah says. "He's not doing anything mean to them. He's not in prison for hurting children or anything of the sort. So what is the problem in it?"

"The problem is, it's an environment where you don't really get the kind of role model that you're looking for. You don't get somebody who can play with them. You don't get somebody who can form a relationship with them and help them with their homework, and go outside and play with them, and teach them how to interact with guys versus girls, and all the things that fathers do, because theirs is in prison," Dr. Phil explains.

"They have me for those kinds of things," Sarah says.

"I'm talking about in terms of a male role model," Dr. Phil makes clear.

"Are they going to then do the same thing that you've done, and would that be OK with you?" Dr. Phil asks.

"If they're happy in doing it," she says. "I do want more for them. I want them to actually be able to be happy with men out here. I don't want them to go through the distancing that I do."


Dr. Phil asks Sarah what will happen if she still has the same relationship problem with men once Willie gets out.

She says that she's scared she will leave him. "I don't want to leave him," she says.

"Then why do you have no interest in figuring out why you do that?" Dr. Phil asks.

"I want to know why I do that," Sarah says. "I need help with that."

"There are no demands on you, right?" Dr. Phil asks.

"Right, none at all," she says.

"Do you fear that you are going to model that or in some way pass that on to your daughters, where they don't see this kind of give-and-take and learn how people co-exist in their same space?" Dr. Phil asks.

"Yeah, I do worry about that for them," she says.

"You're the most powerful role model in their lives," Dr. Phil reminds Sarah. "You're showing them this is how you do it."

"He's not the only role model in their life," Sarah says.