"My family and I had a very nasty breakup," says Mynde. "My father's annulment has destroyed us. In order for him and Penny, his new wife, to be married in the Catholic Church, the marriage to my mother had to be annulled. After three kids and 31 years of marriage, the annulment went against everything that I believed in. The annulment is an insult to me. I've been bastardized in my own
"My annulment does not make my children illegitimate," says Pat, Mynde's father. "She feels that I've betrayed her, and that causes me great pain. I don't think that I have put my relationship with Penny ahead of my daughters."
"It wasn't about me, and it wasn't about Pat's children. It was about Pat and God," says Penny.
Pat's other two daughters, Kellie and Jennifer, are also torn. Although they attended their father's wedding, it has fractured their relationship with Mynde.
"My sisters betrayed me by going to the wedding," says Mynde. "It's a lot easier to avoid each other and not deal with it all." Mynde skips family events and her sisters miss her.
"Mynde and I used to be best friends," says Kellie. "We barely talk these days."
"I feel extremely empty. Now our beliefs are different. We don't do things as a family," says Jennifer. She looks at an old photo. "That's one of the last memories I have of my parents together with my children."
Pat wants their situation to change. "Christmas is different now, because not everybody attends at the same time. I miss our family. It breaks my heart that Mynde and I are not speaking," he says.
Jennifer is tired of this family rift. "This nasty breakup of my family has monopolized the past six years of my life," she says.
"My sisters need to stop making me responsible. I didn't destroy this family," says Mynde. "They've made their choice, and I need them to allow me to make mine. I can't be in the same room with my father. I don't want to look at him, and I don't want to speak to him. I believe my father's dead and gone. The man that I knew, and loved and respected is gone."
Dr. Phil asks Mynde, "You say this is the ultimate betrayal, and something that you just cannot get past?"
"That's correct," she says. "It's my belief that one of the acceptable reasons for annulling a marriage, is not to marry someone else." She looks at her father. "And it makes a lie out of everything you've taught us, out of our beliefs."
Kellie says she's neutral. "I have unconditional love. I've respected everybody's decision in this. But it's put me in the middle. I've felt anger toward me, animosity."
Dr. Phil asks Mynde, "And you say that the reason that it bothers you so much is that Pat has just fractured and devalued the family? Aren't your behaviors actively and aggressively bringing about just exactly the results you say you don't want?"
"Absolutely not," she says. Although Mynde hasn't spoken to her father in three months, she says, "I want to have a relationship with my father. I want to trust him and feel safe."
"You said, 'My father is dead to me.' That's a quote," says Dr. Phil.
She stands by her statement. "My father does not exist to me. It's the way I've been coping with it."
"But do you think it's a healthy level of adjustment to say, 'You have devaluated our family. You got an annulment, which means I'm now a bastard child, and you are dead to me'?" Dr. Phil asks.
Mynde explains where her pain is coming from. She never meant for her father and Penny not to have a relationship. She just wanted time before he brought Penny into the family. "When I say, 'He's dead to me,' the man that I loved as my father is very important, and I will hold him here forever. I respect him, I trust that person, and I love him very deeply. This person who he is now is a completely different person. And it is not productive to have a relationship with someone who is always making me feel wrong for having a bad feeling about this entire situation," she says.
"Is your bad feeling because of what he's done? Or is your bad feeling because you can't tell him what to do and control him?" asks Dr. Phil.
"My bad feeling is because of what he's done," she says.
Pat addresses her. "There was a time when you didn't talk to me for a whole year. And it's difficult to stay in a relationship, to maintain a relationship, to move a relationship forward when there's no communication, for one thing. There has been miscommunication between us. And it's clear to me that you and I have had difficulty understanding completely what we're communicating when we communicate. There certainly has never been any intention on my part to separate myself from you, to dishonor you in any way, shape or form. And, I'm sorry, but I do believe that a lot of what this is, not a conscious attempt, but an effort to control me."
"That is unbelievable," says Mynde. "You devalue my whole spirit. You don't even know who I am! It's unbelievable to me that you would sit up here and make a statement like that. You all need me to be strong, but sometimes when I'm strong, that's now a controlling thing?"
Pat and his daughters argue about who made efforts to reconcile and who didn't.
Dr. Phil turns to Penny. "What do you think about everything you've been hearing here?"
"I think that it's a really painful thing for all four of them. And it hurts a lot to see really good people be in such distress," she says.
"Do you feel that the relationship that you have had with Pat is wrong? Is there something here that is inappropriate, or has been an attack on this family?" Dr. Phil asks her.
"Absolutely not," says Penny. "I moved forward, and Pat and I moved forward with the understanding that this was the right thing to do. And the annulment is not about his children."
Jennifer speaks up. "But she's not Catholic. She doesn't have the same beliefs that we had. And I'm sorry, it's very difficult because I don't agree with the way things happened. Like I've said, I've accepted the way things are now, and I've had to move on. But I agree a lot with Mynde. I mean, Dad said he made an attempt to have a
"I have called many times," says Pat. "And to suggest that I made an insufficient attempt to communicate with Mynde, I think, is way off base."
"Do you want a relationship with your dad?" Dr. Phil asks Mynde.
"No, not right now, no," she says.
"What has to transpire for you to want to do that?"
"I'd have to feel safe," says Mynde, tearfully. "I'd have to feel like he wasn't judging me and my emotions. And when do you be accountable? When do you just say you're sorry, you did something wrong?"
Another disagreement erupts between Pat and Mynde.
Dr. Phil interrupts and addresses Mynde. "Let me tell you something. I buried my dad. I knew he was dying, and I had the opportunity to talk to him and sit down and do everything within my power to make sure there was no unfinished emotional business. So I've been there. And then once it happened, even though I had made a conscious effort to do all of those things and make sure there was no unfinished emotional business, you cannot understand or estimate the gravity, the finality of it. You say, 'I want to feel safe with him. I want him not to be judging me.' And you are being very judgmental."
He tells Pat, "And you are being very cold about this whole thing. It just seems like you're saying, 'It's just too painful to deal with, so I just won't deal with it.'"
Dr. Phil turns back to Mynde. "And you know what happens? Before the end of this sentence, you could be gone. I could be gone, you could be gone, we just don't know. We just don't know. Do you really, really want to say, 'My father is dead to me,' and then he wake up dead, and that is your legacy? Or is it possible that you can set some boundaries and say, 'Look, somehow, some way, we're going to find a way to be connected here, to be in contact here. I don't want you to lose your dad, or your dad lose you, any of the three of you, with so many things left unsaid, so many hurts."
"I don't know how to get there," says Mynde. "It's been so painful."
"Pain comes from the expectancy of control," says Dr. Phil.
Mynde says she's not trying to control anyone. She tells her father, "Your choices have never been the reason why I am not having a relationship with you. It's a direct result of our interaction with one another, or our lack thereof. And that's period."
"You're saying that your pain and your estrangement from your father is a function of his interactions with you," says Dr. Phil, trying to understand. "Not the fact that he is putting effort and energy into a new wife that he should've put into your mother? It's not that he didn't wait until everything was resolved before he returned to a relationship with her? It doesn't have anything to do with that, it's only how he's treating you? I find that just astoundingly difficult to comprehend."
"No. Those are going to have some effect," she admits.
Dr. Phil addresses Mynde's concern that their family is no longer valid because of her parents' annulment. He introduces Dr. Ed Peters, author of Annulments and the Catholic Church.
Dr. Peters explains that annulments have nothing to do with how long a marriage lasts. "It has to do with how the marriage actually starts. There's an old saying in canon law that what's infirm at the beginning cannot be made firm just with the passage of time," he says. "What someone does when they petition for an annulment is to find out whether, in fact and in law, the marriage they entered in to that's presumed to be valid, in fact and in law, really was. So that's a different question from filing for an annulment because you want to get married again. That's not what the tribunal's asking."
"And in the eyes of the church, if they say there was an insufficiency of the marriage, an insupportability of the marriage, that it was not substantial, either based on deception or lack of commitment, or some reason that eroded the foundation of the marriage, then the church may choose to grant an annulment and say you are free. One of the things would then be that you're free to a) be active in the church, and b) marry in the church again," says Dr. Phil.
"That's correct. There's a very specific list of possible ways that a marriage could be proved annul. And if a given marriage doesn't fit one of those ways, the tribunal will not declare it null," says Dr. Peters.
Dr. Phil turns to the women. "You all want this family not to be fractured. And at some point, we have to stop being right. We have to stop being emotional about a very emotional situation. And at least try to have the foresight to say where you want to be. And you may not say, 'I want to be in a close relationship with him right now.' If you could just say, 'I want to want to. I wish I could do that. I can't do it right now. I don't have it right now, I wish I could.'"
"That is very true," says Mynde. "I wish I could. I can't."
"Then what you do is you work on what you have to do to get to the place where you can bring something to the table that can heal the process," says Dr. Phil. "This family needs a hero. This family needs somebody who steps up and says, 'You know what? I am going to do what it takes to heal this family before something bad happens and I don't have the chance.'"
He tells Mynde, "I am not trying to make you the bad guy here. I don't want you to lose something that I know is important to you. Your father is very important to you. And I know that it's important to you to be able to feel safe. I want that for you. You've got to be willing to come to the table and talk about this."
Dr. Phil tells Pat's daughters, "This is not a bad man. This is not an evil man. This is not an uncaring man. This is not somebody who doesn't value any of his three daughters. I think that he is worth you investing in yourself to see if you can bring this relationship back together."
He offers to help this family get back on track.