Real Life: Carol and daughters

Blindsided and Devastated

"My dad wants to divorce my mom, and my mom doesn't want the divorce. He feels like he has sacrificed for his family for a long time," says 24-year-old Amber. "My family is hurting, and I'm torn apart. My sisters are torn apart, and we just don't know where to go from here. I feel like my total foundation has been ripped out from underneath me. I have lost all passion and purpose in my life. I'm this little girl looking up at her dad like, ‘I love you so much, but you're tearing us apart,' and it was so unexpected."

 

"When I first found out about the divorce, I was very upset. I couldn't breathe. I was crying hysterically. I couldn't get over it at first," says Danielle, 20, Amber's younger sister. "I'm definitely alright with it now."

Elaina, the youngest, says Danielle is ignoring the matter. "She hides her feelings. She doesn't talk about the whole Mom-and-Dad thing anymore. I think she tries to avoid it," she says.

"With Danielle, I do think that there's an element of denial," Amber agrees, adding, "Elaina decided to move away with her boyfriend. I think she needed an escape."

"I don't think I'm running away like you guys think I am," Elaina says.

 

"Since the divorce [has started], I've noticed that there's a change in my dad's behavior," Danielle reveals. "Yesterday, when I asked him why he didn't tell me that he loved me, he told me to get over it."

 

"We're going to be celebrating our 23rd wedding anniversary with a divorce petition," says Carol, the girls' mother. She worries about the future and her daughters' well-being. "The hardest part is going to be getting myself through this, and the girls. That just tore my heart out. Having to watch your children hurt like that, it really tears you apart," she says, fighting back tears.

 

Carol's soon-to-be ex-husband chose not to join the show, but Amber interviewed him on video. At his request, his face was blurred.


"I accept the responsibilities and consequences of my decision. I just hate that it affects everybody else the way that it has," he says. "I'd really like to see everyone else come to terms with it and move on."

"This was a day that your hearts were shattered," Dr. Phil asks. "You didn't see this coming at all?"

"No," Amber says.

To Carol, Dr. Phil asks, "There's not interest in marital counseling on his part?"

"No. Nothing," she replies.

 

Dr. Phil says to Amber, "This really hit you heard. You didn't see him making this kind of shift in his life."

"We have always lived, in my eyes, just this perfect family life. I never expected that one day, especially Father's Day, I would wake up, and he would just wake up and call it quits," Amber says. "There's no effort on his part to do counseling or anything like that. He made his decision, and that was that."

"This is exactly why I wrote Real Life, because you do get blindsided," Dr. Phil says. "You hope that things are going to be fine, but the truth is things happen, and they fall apart, and we don't prepare for that."

 

Dr. Phil hopes people will read the book before a crisis, so when something happens, they will be ready for it. 

Dr. Phil explains the emotions to expect when going through a loss from divorce.

"You need to expect a searing rejection and despair," he begins. "You just feel like you've been rejected, that you're not good enough, and there's a sense of despair. There's just a sense of helplessness." He adds that there may be intense anger. "You're there now, right?" he asks Carol.

"Yes," she replies.

"I would have also told you to expect that you're going to have fear," he says, adding that the women may have asked themselves, "What am I going to? How are we going to live? What does the future hold?" He says that they may also have experienced bitterness. "There would be a part in all of you that would be bitter. ‘This isn't fair. This isn't right,'" Dr. Phil continues. "I would have told you that you would be scared financially." Another emotion often felt is shock. "I would have told you to expect all of those emotions. Would I have been right?" he asks.

"Absolutely," Amber says.

"What scares you the most right now?" Dr. Phil asks.

"What scares me the most is just losing the bond and the relationship I have with my dad, losing respect for him, and seeing my mom and my sisters have uncertainty," Amber replies, on the verge of tears.