Homeless has an entirely new meaning to me now. As of black Friday I learned what homelessness was all about.

I've always been pretty fortunate in life and thankfully have always had a place to call home. But now when I drive by the transients on the side of the road I know what they're feeling. It's very scary not knowing where you will sleep at night. It has added to the overwhelming feeling of hopelessness and despair. These are constant reminders to me that I have nothing. I want better that's why I asked Dr. Phil for help. I don't want to settle for my current situation. I want to rise above it and make a fresh start.

~ Alex
It's been a while since the last time I swallowed my pride and asked for help. I find myself in unchartered territory because for the first time in almost six years I find myself without a man to take care of me.

Recently Tony and I decided to take a break and try to figure out what we each want for our lives, our relationship, and each other. I still love Tony and want a family with him, but for the first time I want more for myself. I want to realize some of my dreams and goals.

I am currently waiting to retake a placement test required to begin the medical assisting program at the local Tech. college. I am currently without a home seeing as Tony and I were living in his mom's house. I have been desperately seeking employment but have been declined over a dozen times due to my background check which shows all my police activity and my two arrests, one for battery (from a long time ago) and the aggregated assault charge I was wrongly accused of. When I begin school, however, employment will be almost impossible. I will be attending school full time so I can finish the program in 12 months, after which I will take the certification exam and hopefully begin employment.

Every day seems to bring on a new struggle. Some days I feel like there has to be a bigger plan for me, as they say "What doesn't kill you only makes you stronger." So basically I am asking for help, I am on the right path to getting Anthony Jr. back. I want to prove not only to myself, but everyone else I can do it.

~ Alex
As far as I'm concerned, people love to hate other people, unfortunately that's how the human race is. I could be Mother Theresa and some of you will still find something negative to say about me, so I've definitely had to learn to deal with some of your harsh criticisms.

I do want to say that I don't appreciate some of you telling me I should have my feminine organs ripped out; I think it's immature and uncalled for. I know some of you keep saying you're tired of hearing about us and seeing Dr. Phil work with us, but in the end he obviously sees a need to keep working with us and if he didn't, he'd stop (ie. my sister). My family is sincerely seeking help and we're going to continue to take it as long as it's available.  

I also want to say thank you to those of you who have kept an open mind and been supportive to me and my situation. The main reason I even started working with the show 7 years ago was in hopes of helping 1 person in a similar situation.

Also, I want to say during the satellite break, I knew the show was still going to tape what I said, and I said what I said intentionally, hoping it would be heard and shown. I do want people to see me in a more positive light. In my own selfish way, I felt a little unappreciated. I wish people could see more positive changes I've made in my life and how hard I've been working. 
It kinda pissed me off when I asked Dr. Phil to answer the question about me and my mom and he didn't answer it. I thought it was a legitimate question and I feel like he just brushed it off. My mom and my relationship is something we've been dealing with all season. Recently, my mom has been really stressed out about the third grandchild on the way and what's going to happen with him. Also, my other pet peeve with her is that no matter what makes her mad, even if it's not related to me she'll find something to be mad at me about. I just don't know how to deflect from my mom when she's harsh and being "Erin."

I realize we have made some progress this season, when we do blow up at each other it's a one day thing and the other will call and apologize, which is new for us. The therapy we've been going to has definitely taught me and my mom better strategies on how to deal with each other's personality. I know things with my mom will probably never be perfect, but I really do want more tools and strategies on how to be more open minded and how to consider her feelings more.

I also know Dr. Phil wants me to come up with a better question to ask, so I'm going to keep thinking about it. 
After the show and our fight, we got in the car and really didn't talk. When we got on the plane we started to talk. I told Tony the way he acted was unacceptable and he embarrassed me. I felt like Tony could have handled the situation with Dr. Phil better. Tony said he felt backed into a corner. When we fight, we always talk about what happened to make the fight so bad and what could have been done differently. On the plane we both apologized and he apologized for acting the way he did and saying some of the stuff he said. I said I worried he felt like I was pressuring him and told him I was proud that he tried to do the test. I told him I knew it was hard, but that stuff in life is never easy. By the time we got back home we were fine. Truly I wish Dr. Phil and Tony had left on better terms, but I can't make someone do something they don't want to do. I'm going to accept the way things are and I'm not going to push either one of them.

Tony and I are planning to stay together, but the breaking point in a relationship for me is physical abuse. Emotional abuse is bad, but if the abuse becomes physical, I'm done, like what happened with Chris. I feel like I grew up being exposed to emotional abuse. I realize any type of abuse is not acceptable at all, but I feel like if it becomes physical and the guy can't control themselves, at that point it's not worth trying anymore.

You may not know, but Tony grew up in a household full of children, he has a really large family. He grew up around small children, and his grandma is the person that really raised him. People think Tony has no experience with kids, but his grandma always had a bunch of kids in the house. His family is very protective of Tony and they continue to back him up and support him even while this hard stuff is happening. Tony is a really good man and he has a good heart. He has the best of intentions and when he sets his mind to doing something he puts everything he has into it. Tony has been working really hard, he now has a full time job Monday through Friday and he's working hard to provide for us. I like when Tony gets up and goes to work every morning, it's nice because I can actually miss him during the day and look forward to him coming home at night for dinner. He's working hard to make the best environment for the baby that's coming to make sure he has everything he needs to be happy and healthy. Tony has also completed his psych. evaluation, and we've completed 10 weeks of parenting classes together. The last thing he has to do is finish a stress management class and he's about half way through. I think Tony is going to be a really great dad.
When Tony first agreed to take the polygraph test I was definitely nervous, not because I thought he was guilty just because it's a serious thing and I just wanted to make sure it's what he wanted to do. I wanted him to take the test, I was all for it, but I didn't want him to feel like if he didn't take it I would hate him. I feel I'm a pretty good judge of character and I believe what he says. I feel like I've known him long enough to believe he didn't hurt Leilah.

When Dr. Phil was meeting with Tony I was a little nervous. When they told me I could come in and join them, I kinda had a bad feeling and then I saw Tony crying. At that point I knew something didn't go right. It was really nerve wracking for me because I believe what Tony says, and now Dr. Phil had something that contradicted him. It was scary for me and I had lots of questions going through my mind. I wanted to know, how come Tony failed?

When I first found out someone wrote a letter accusing Tony of hurting Leilah I was really upset. Tony and I sat down and talked for hours and I believed and felt comfortable with what he told me; however, sometimes I have doubts, because of the test and everything. Even though I believe Tony, I'm still going to keep a close eye on him when the baby comes and we get Leilah back, and things settle down. I plan to keep a closer eye on everything.
If Tony really does have to move out of the house, I know it will be what is best for me to get my children back. As difficult as it would be for me personally it's a hurdle in its own right. Without Tony in the house I am sure I would feel lonely and separated. I know that I could still see Tony but not having someone around that I'm used to seeing everyday, going to sleep next to, talking to about my bad day, or having him hold me in the middle of the night because I had a bad dream will be hard not just for me, but for him too. But I know it would benefit my children and that means the world to me as well.

If Tony does have to move out I will definitely be a little worried about faithfulness for us. I mean no matter how much you love, trust someone, temptation is still really scary and can seem so easy and you could slip so easy, especially coming from a family where commitment and loyalty have been tested along the years. Knowing first hand how much it hurts to find out the man that you love, have a family with, said your vows to, cheated still weighs in heavily on every relationship. I guess I have major trust issues, and Tony has never in any way ever done anything to make me think twice about him, it's just hard for me to shake the past. I know that if it comes to Tony moving out I will hold my head high and know that no matter what my children are the most important thing and if Tony really loves me he will be there for me still, even if it's from a far.

Tony and my relationship is nothing like my parents because we still love each other, don't get me wrong I am sure my parents love each other just not the way Tony and I love each other. Tony and I still play, and we continue to do things that help our relationship grow.

With the new baby coming, Tony and I have talked a lot about how we want to parent this child together. I will have to say that the parenting classes that Tony and I had to take really helped us really explore the different parenting styles. I know that Tony will be a great dad I have no doubt. Tony and I have talked about whether or not we plan to use spanking as a discipline or time-out. I am really glad we had to take those classes; they really helped us to open up about parenting.
1. My relationship behaviors with my fiance differ from my parents' relationship in the following ways: My relationship with Tony is different from my parents because Tony and I have different values, for example we have more time to spend with his family and our friends and want our family to be open and comfortable talking to one another. Tony and I also still enjoy the little things like love notes or flowers for no reason.

My relationship behaviors with my fiance are very similar to my parents' relationship in the following ways: To be honest mine and Tony's relationship is nothing like my parents.

My parenting behaviors with my children differ from my parents' parenting in the following ways:
a. Nathan: I would say I am a little more strict about certain things then my parents are, for example I want to teach my children to learn to be self sufficient and confident in their own capabilities. With Nathan I let him pick out his clothes and dress himself and make him do chores like putting his dirty dishes in the sink and cleaning up after himself.

b. Leilah: With Leilah it's the same situation I want her to learn to be independent and let her find her way with my help of course but with her being the leader. For example I let her wear "big girl panties" instead of pull-ups so she can really learn that when she has an accident she gets wet. Leilah also helps me with the laundry by helping me carry it up stairs or separate colors and whites.

4. My parenting behaviors with my children are similar to my parents' parenting in the following ways:
a. Nathan: My parents and I agree that when I am there that I make the rules and consistency is crucial.

b. Leilah: My parents and I work toward similar parenting styles with Leilah like time-outs instead of spanking.

5. Based on the responses I've given above, my existing relationship with my fiance/husband in the future will be: Hopefully a successful one! I think that every relationship is different and only you can make it what it is, happy, or horrible it takes team work and Tony and I are learning every day how to make our team work and be successful and happy.

6. Based on the responses I've given above, the results in my children's futures will be:
a. Nathan: I think that Nathan will grow up in a loving and happy home where he knows everyone loves him and we all expect him to succeed and be great and we are all going to be there to help him accomplish those goals.

b. Leilah: I hope that Leilah grows up knowing we all want what's best for her and as long as everyone in her life keeps her happiness in mind I think that she will have a great childhood.

7. This exercise suggests that the behaviors I need to eliminate are: I don't feel like it suggests that I eliminate a certain behavior, but instead improve upon the good choices that my family and myself are striving to continue.

8. This exercise underscores the importance of continuing to emphasize change and improvement in the following behaviors: As I said before, family and consistency is so important and we all need to be on the same page in order to be a successful functioning family and to raise these children in the best and healthiest environment possible.
1. Are there certain behaviors or bad habits I need to stop? If so, what are they?
I would say yes, I do have some bad behaviors I need to stop and I am working really hard to make an effort to refrain from doing them because I know when I do them it hurts people's feelings and at times creates unneeded animosity for the family. My bad habits would be saying mean and hurtful things about other people when that person and I are in a fight. Also I tend to deflect by pointing out other people's mistakes when I feel like I am being backed into a corner, I do this in order to justify myself or take the heat away from the issue.

2. Do I spend more money than I can afford, possibly jeopardizing the financial condition of myself or my family?
I definitely know the importance of a dollar especially now that I am living on my own and have to make my own money and manage it. So with that said no I don't think I spend more than I can afford. I do however splurge on occasion, but its usually for things like clothes. I might for example buy the nicer pair of blue jeans instead of the cheaper on sale pair. But I make sure all my bills are managed first.

3. Do I choose to live recklessly and without regard for my personal safety?
No I don't. I have children that need me around. I know I've done some stupid unsafe things at times but I usually learn "hey that probably wasn't to smart" and move on. 

4. Have I taken unnecessary risks?
Yes, I believe most everyone has at one point in their lives or another.

5. Have I in any way treated my children unfairly?
At one point or another I am sure I have treated my children unfairly. I know it is unfair for them to have to be separated from each other and not be with their mommy, which is very unfair for them. I am working so hard for them and I just want them to know how important they both are to me.

6. Am I failing to take care of my health by simply not requiring enough of myself?
I think I do too much at times and put my health last. I don't think I do not require enough of me. I am constantly on the go and doing things, whether it be parenting classes, going to my mom's to see the kids, court, etc. Sometimes I totally forget to take time to take care of me.

7. Have I failed to take my marriage vows seriously, being emotionally unavailable or even unfaithful? Have I considered how this behavior may affect my family?
No I took my marriage very seriously. I was ready my partner was not however ready to commit and settle down. I was ready for "in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer" I was not ready however for the emotional and physical abuse, which in my book terminate all the "I dos". Marriage is a team effort. it requires each to sacrifice and each to take, I felt I was sacrificing it all and he was taking it all willingly.

8. What are my current priorities and how do they affect my relationships with my family?
Right now my priorities are to do what I can to get my children into a stable environment, maintain a healthy pregnancy and work on making me better. I hope that by bettering myself it will better my relationships with each of my family members.
During the last Dr. Phil show Katherine and I taped, Dr. Phil scolded my sister and me about some of our less than pleasant behavior. Such as, as he put it, "demands" that Katherine and I have made to the staff.

I will admit that, at times, my sister and I can be strong-willed when it comes to the show and staff. I have made a few requests, as I see them. For example, I wasn't sure if you could bring razors in your checked bag, so when I got to the hotel, I asked the concierge desk if they had a razor, and I guess the hotel has new liability rules and doesn't distribute razors to guests. OK, so I asked if someone from the show would not mind grabbing me a razor.

There was no "diva" moment, I swear. Now, I am very guilty of having "diva" moments, and I do apologize to everyone once I realize what a jerk I am being. One thing that Dr. Phil said that I have mixed feelings about is when I told him Beth is like a big sister to me, and he told me, well, she is not.

I do acknowledge that yes, on a totally professional level, Beth and all the other producers and staff members; they are not my family, more like my bosses. I completely respect that about them. However, I have known and been working with some of the staff members since I was 15. To do what my family and I do -- open our lives up completely to the whole world -- and let everyone see us with all of our imperfections, you end up forming a family bond with the people working on the show. I mean, you talk to these people and share intimate details about yourself. And it just makes it easier, in my opinion, to be close to the people on the other end listening and forming ideas and ways to help you and make your life healthier and more peaceful.

There was a fabulous part during the show that made my day, and I think everyone in the audience's day as well, which was when Shell Gas Corporation graciously donated gifts cards worth $200 each to the entire audience and me. This was such an amazing gift for me. Now I can see my children with no problems. I know I do not deserve such a thoughtful present, but in a way, Dr. Phil gave my kids a gift as well, they get to see me more often. Thank you so much Dr. Phil and Shell, this was a perfect end to a very enlightening show. 
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