Friday, April 26, 2013

"I'll never forgive you..."

Watching Dr. Phil this morning and there is a teenager named Callie on there who is out of control.  She smokes dope and is angry and hateful to her parents.  How they've been able to deal with this out of control kid for as long as they have is beyond me.  She's crying and screaming and has said several times "I will never forgive you!"  She has said that she will never come home and will take a drug overdose and die.  She has said that she hates her dad and wants her parents to get a divorce.

Listening to this, I hear that this poor, troubled girl feels like she has no control over her life.  And her parents have to do something about her behavior before she really does kill herself.  She's sitting in a room screaming that she wants her mother, the very same person she just said she would never forgive.  She's clearly unhappy, but doesn't want to go to Turnabout Ranch, which is where Dr. Phil sends all the troubled kids on his show.

I have no idea if Turnabout Ranch is a good place or not.  About ten years ago, I did a lot of research of so-called "teen help" programs and found that quite a few of them really were abusive prison-like places where kids were being indoctrinated and forced to endure unhygienic conditions.  I doubt Dr. Phil would send kids to places like that, because that would effectively end his career.

Anyway, part of me is outraged on behalf of Callie's parents, who have had to endure her abuse for a long time.  Part of me is outraged on Callie's behalf, because somewhere along the line, the people in her life failed her by allowing her to turn into what she's become.  Part of her problem is that she's a teenager, which is when hormones and emotions run amok and make kids do crazy things.  She's physically mature, but emotionally immature... and she thinks she knows what she wants and needs, but has no way to help herself.  So I can see why she's crying and screaming and saying things she probably doesn't really mean.  When a creature is backed into a corner, the first instinct is to come out fighting like a wildcat.

I was never even close to as out of control as Callie is, but I remember having my share of emotional outbursts with my parents.  I remember getting to the point of hyperventilation during our many fights.  They'd hand me a paper bag and we'd just keep fighting.  It makes me sad to remember those days, which were often fueled by my dad's drinking and need to control and my penchant for being a smart ass.  

Once incident in particular happened when I was 20 years old.  I was about a week or two shy of my 21st birthday and my family had rented a beautiful beach house in Corolla, North Carolina for the week.  I had brought my then best friend with me and my brother-in-law's brother was also there.  My sister had also brought a friend.

One night several days into the "vacation", we all went out to dinner, and my dad was really getting on my nerves.  I made some snarky comment that was directed at my dad.  I don't remember what I said, but my sister's friend heard it and apparently thought I was talking to her.  Suddenly, all hell broke loose.  The next day, my sister's friend suddenly decided to leave.  I remember she had given me $10 because I had planned to make dinner the next night and she asked for the money back.  At the time, I didn't understand why she was leaving.  I had no beef with her.

All that day, my sister was being shitty to me.  She wouldn't tell me what her problem was.  I finally lost my temper and confronted her.  She said she was mad at me.  My dad, who had been drinking, decided to break us up.  He took me into a room and proceeded to berate me for two or three hours.  At one point, he hit me in the face, HARD.  I was shocked and told him that if he had been someone on the street, I could have him arrested for assault and battery.  And then I told him that if he ever raised a hand to me again, I would have him arrested.

He exploded.  His face turned beet red and he said, "You go right ahead!  Call the police!"  Then he made some comment about how I lived in his house and I could just pack up and leave.  At some point, I hit my arm on something and developed a really nasty bruise.

I remember that no one helped me during that confrontation, which left me really upset and feeling completely worthless and stepped on.  And then, it turned out I'd started my period, which is probably why I was so irritable and made that rude comment in the first place.

My sisters later came in to talk to me.  The one who had been mad at me explained what had upset her so much that this huge blowup happened.  I told her that I hadn't been talking to or about her friend and if she had just asked me, we could have avoided this whole thing.  The scene was embarrassing and traumatic, especially since there were a couple of people there who weren't family members and had witnessed this Mommie Dearest moment between my dad and me.  The worst part of it, though, was that the next day, my dad acted as if nothing had ever happened.  For her part, my sister ended up losing contact with her "friend", who turned out to be not such a good friend after all.

It took a long time for me to get over that incident.  Five years later, my dad lost his temper again and threatened to hit me.  I reminded him of the last time he hit me and what I said to him.  He backed off and then started screaming at me.  I ended up leaving.  Unfortunately, at that time, I was kind of paralyzed.  Though I was 26 years old at the time, I was living with my parents and had nowhere to go for more than a night or two.  Not long after that, I got on the right depression meds and finally managed to start making plans to get out of my parents' home.  I needed to for their sake, but especially for mine.

Now that I'm much older and in a better place emotionally, I understand the dynamic more.  My dad is not a bad person, but he was abusive at times.  He was also a control freak about a lot of things.  Oftentimes, people who grow up with controlling parents have a hard time breaking the cycle.  My mom is not controlling and always encouraged me to get out on my own.  But she rarely did things to help me in that department, so I had to figure it out for myself.  And I ended up doing things like going to Armenia and graduate school to make the break.  There are worse things I could have done, of course.  I could have turned out like Callie and started smoking pot and drinking and whoring around...

This isn't to say I think Callie's parents are control freaks.  Actually, I think they tried to be friends with her, until she started getting out of control.  And then, apparently, her dad started trying to lay down the law, which caused her to rebel.  Somehow, I realized that being self-destructive ultimately hurt me more than it hurt my parents.  Callie hasn't learned that yet.  She doesn't seem to understand that many aspects of life are just elements of a big game.  You have to play the game to win.  Once you get to a certain level, you can start making your own rules.  But when you're a minor, you don't really have any control over your life.  It sucks, but it is what it is... and in many instances, it's for the best.

Anyway, my dad is now 80 years old and no longer has any control over his life.  I know it depresses him and makes him feel disenfranchised.  I don't have the anger toward him that I once did.  Now, I feel kind of sorry for him.  He's become pitiful.  But even during our worst fights, I never said the things to my dad that Callie said to hers.  I never told my mother to divorce him, though there were times when I kind of wished she would, mainly because there were times when he just plain acted like an asshole and made life unpleasant for everyone.  He'd lose his temper and say whatever came to mind, lose control and act like a child, strike out physically, and maintain a different set of standards for his own behavior than he did for mine.  

One of my sisters seems to hang onto the idea that our immediate family should have family reunions.  She has this fantasy that we can all get together and hang out as a family.  Long ago, I came to the conclusion that it's not realistic for our immediate family to have reunions where we all share the same space.  Every time we try to do it, there's a big fight.  I don't know how these fights affect the rest of my family of origin, but they always take days for me to get over.  I've been through enough of them to last the rest of my lifetime.  So I continue to be a stick-in-the-mud and refuse to jump on the reunion bandwagon, which annoys my sister to no end.  She often makes cracks about it, which I don't think are very funny.  I have long been the one who gets crapped on because I'm the youngest and the rest of my family apparently thinks I don't deserve respect.  I have to teach them that I have a mind of my own.

I don't approve of Callie's behavior, but on some level, I sort of understand where she's coming from.  I hope she gets the help she needs and realizes that she doesn't really mean it when she says "I'll never forgive you..."  She says that because she feels like she's lost control.  And when you're in that state of mind, you'll say anything to regain some semblance of control.   


  1. I sense that the worst of the conflicts I've had with my parents are in the past. At least I hope that's not wishful thinking on my part. We've had some dramatic times, though they pale in comparison to what Callie and her parents are groing through. Most of my major problems were not caused by my parents, though they've had their share of responsibility for a few. My parents are genuinely good people who are, at the same time, human, and have manifest their humanity as parents more than once. What made it hardest for me overall was that I always seemed to get the brunt of their human weakness while my brother escaped relatively unscathed.

    Among my parents' and my most serious quarrels was when they forced me to go to residential treatment for PTSD. I understand now that I probably wouldn't have a hair left on my head (extreme stress for me manifests itself with either gastric upset or trichotillomania) had they not taken drastic steps, and they made major effort to be with me throughout the stay as much as they could, but at the time I felt that I was being punished for something that was not my fault.

    My mom and I got off to a bad start from day one. We worked our way through it, though when rough times hit, sometimes to me it comes back to the idea that I'm not the favorite child even though that might not be the case anymore. Perhaps that's just my way of hitting below the belt when I really want it to hurt.

    My parents at least were not major hitters. My dad spanked us when we were little on occasion, but not excessively or abusively. My mom only spanked me twice: once, inappropriately, but she was freaked out, when I was looking through a magifying glass at the bear or monkey or whatever it was on my Tommy Tippee cup, with a magnifying glass and accidentally caught my napkin on fire.
    The other time she was facing another cancer scare and was in a foul mood, and she tried to stick a spoonful of cough syrup in my mouth at the precise moment I began to cough, so the purple sludge spilled all over her robe. She thought I did it on purpose. I was much to old to be spanked at that point, but she didn't really cause me much pain if any. My brother and I laughed as soon as she left the room. She apologized later.

    In the grand scheme of things, I've been lucky with regard to parents despite my mom's bias toward my brother early in our lives. I have friends whose lives were more like Callie's than mine.

    My dad drinks, but probably not to excess. The amount he drinks may be more than what's good for his liver-- I really do not know enogh to judge him on that account -- but he's never falling-down drunk, he doesn't drive when he's had anything to drink, and if anything, his mood improves after a drink or two.

    I'm so sorry you had to live with an alcoholic father who thought it was OK to get his point across by slapping you, and I'm sorry your mom wasn't more of an advocate for you.

  2. Thanks Alexis. When I was growing up, I didn't realize my dad was an alcoholic. I was used to his behavior at that time. It wasn't until I was about 17 that I started to see that his drinking habits weren't normal. I was lucky in that he wasn't often violent, though he was a big proponent of corporal punishment and could be very scary when he was angry. I was the last kid and he had retired from the Air Force when I was very young, so he was around for my childhood. My sisters mainly had to deal with my mom. I get along pretty well with my mom, but my middle two sisters fought with her a lot. They don't have as many issues with my dad as I do, though.

    My dad was never really "falling down drunk". For him, the alcoholism had an effect on his behaviors and moods. He mostly did his drinking alone at night at our house. When he would get very drunk, my mom would often cover for him. She never let him face consequences for his behaviors because that would affect her quality of life and decrease her lifestyle. Now my dad has dementia and she still takes care of him. She doles out small amounts of alcohol. I guess at this point, it doesn't really matter.

    My dad has an illness and I realize that now. But when we were going through that stuff, it was really hell. I felt very misunderstood and helpless. One aftereffect is that now I am positively saturated when it comes to abuse. I don't tolerate it from anyone anymore.

  3. Callie was out of control. I'm just wondering about a step father that creeps around the hose and videos his step daughter in her bra and panties.. Callie is sick?

  4. After hours of research..Callie dosen't exist. She and her parents have no last name. She is in no high school.

    She has an A average and NO teacher has spoken up for her.

    None of her friends have spoken up for her..Nothing but silence.

    Her employer has said nothing.

    Even Hitler had friends.

    Search the net ,all you get is Dr. Phil sites.

    The audience was set up and she is an actress.

    Just too manty fools watching the show.

  5. I agree with bountyhunter3. Watching the program, it seemed fake or phony. She's going to college in 6 months, and yet she's having a tantrum like an 11 year old. And their daughter is around 17.5 years of age, and now they choose to intervene? That horse left the barn a long time ago. If she's been a problem, why buy her a car? Theoretically this could be a factual story, but my 1st impression was that they were actors. It also was funny as hell. Maybe i'll watch Dr. Phil more often.

    1. LOL... You'd be surprised by how immature people can be, even when they are technically adults. I have a sister who threw tantrums similar to Callie's when she was in her 40s. In fact, just recently, a man videoed his soon to be ex wife throwing an epic tantrum in their car because he wouldn't take her to the lake to hang out on their boat. It wasn't too different from Callie's fit on national TV.

      However, I agree that the ship had probably sailed by the time Callie was getting "help" at brat camp. My point was that she didn't really mean it when she said she'd never forgive her mother. She was in a desperate situation and about to lose control, so she said whatever was most threatening and hurtful to regain control of the situation. This was one instance in which her usual control tactics didn't work.

      Obviously, a lot of people were affected by that story. I posted this in April and have gotten lots of hits on it whenever it reruns. I have a love/hate relationship with Dr. Phil's show... but it does give me things to write about.

      Thanks for the comment!

  6. Poor Callie. I conduct courses for unemployed people in Denmark motivating them to rejoin the work force. I do honestly believe that the only result of a stay at Turnabout Ranch would be damage to her ability to manage it in life.

    She has a job, she has good grades. As for the person who claimed she doesn't exist, just look at the comment at another blog I saw yesterday made by a boss I have referred several clients to: It is not a TV show, it is child abuse

    I feel terrible for a girl facing normal teenage problems to be abducted by muscle men on national TV.

    1. I agree that the "gorillas" (which are what these transporters are sometimes called) are a bit thuggish. On the other hand, her parents probably figured they had to do something, since nothing else was working.

      We obviously don't anything more than what was on TV. I'm sure there's a lot to this story on both sides.

  7. Callie Miller attended Northwood High School. Good athlete,excellent student. She lives in Sanford North Carolina. Mother ,Tracy (teacher) Father ,Clint (exterminator) Chatham County. Dr. Phil got most of her wiped from the internet. Facebook terminated. They missed this.

    There is no followup. It was most likley a total disaster. Dr. Phil would be on the show crowing about his wisdom if this had a favorable outcome.

    1. Wow... that is really ironic. Until late July, I lived in Sanford, North Carolina too. Weird.

      As to your thoughts about Dr. Phil crowing about his wisdom, you are probably right. The man has an ego the size of Russia.

  8. Callie seems to be out of prison and tweeting.. From her comments it seems Dr. Phils wisdom or not had no effect. I guess stupid is as stupid does?


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