A while ago, a friend and I were talking about my former life with Rob, my alcoholic ex-husband. (In case you’ve missed it, I was married to a highly functioning, verbally abusive alcoholic. I finally left him on the day I was being tested for cancer when Rob, in a drunken rage, spit in my face, calling me a thief, loser, drama queen and lazy.) This friend then asked me a very thought-provoking question: What would Rob say about me? What would he claim were the reasons our marriage didn’t work out?
Rob says: You’re a control freak!
Lizzy says: Absolutely and completely false.
This accusation from the mouth of an alcoholic is so trite and boring. Pretty much every alcoholic says that their partner (or children, parents, etc) is a control freak. After all, how dare anyone have the audacity of saying the alcoholic’s behavior is unacceptable, right?
The reality is, I had no control. Every ounce of control was held by Rob the Great (Alcoholic). Every single thing I did was controlled by Rob’s temper tantrums, expected temper tantrum, or a hope that I could somehow avoid a temper tantrum. By Rob’s refusal to do almost anything around the house meant that I was worked to the bone, overstressed, overtaxed and, eventually, sick and fighting for my life.
Control? The only thing I controlled was the cleanliness of the home. The more chaotic our alcoholic home became, the cleaner I tried to keep the house. To the point that it became an obsession.
Rob Says: You have a hair-tigger temper!
Lizzy Says: I deserve a medal for restraint.
When one is getting screamed at, belittled, and emotionally terrorized pretty much every day, I think I deserve a medal for keeping my mouth shut most times. True, after a couple days of silence, I would email or text Rob messages about how I really felt. Mostly that he was a lazy, pathetic, abusive drunk and I hated him.
But I walked away from Rob ninety percent of the time I was terrorized. And for that, I am proud of my behavior. Of course, what I should have done was left his drunk ass as soon as I realized what a jerk he was.
Rob Says: You’re a snob and you hate my friends!
Lizzy Says: I didn’t “hate” his friends.
But didn’t feel like hanging around people he drank with. Because Rob’s a fun drunk when he’s got an audience but when he gets home, he’s a monster and I get to pick up the pieces.
Rob Says: You’re not “fun”!
Liz Says: True as charged.
It’s pretty dang hard to be “fun” when “fun” means somehow being happy and ok with being terrorized by a drunk husband all too often. I lived in fear, dread, sadness and desperation. It’s also pretty dang hard to be “fun” when the entire household responsibilities rested on my shoulders. I was so overwhelmed by everything I had to do, that my life and world were incredibly “un-fun.”
Rob Says: You’re a terrible mother!
Liz Says: I’m as great a mother as I know how to be.
I sincerely do my best every single day to be a good mom. It is my top priority. Shame Rob can’t say the same (his top priority is the pursuit of fun, which is pretty much drinking, diving, fishing, watching movies, naps and going on vacation). I work so hard and sincerely don’t know how to do better or more. Interestingly enough, Rob said the same things about his ex-wife. Really, his ridiculous insults are just stupid and tiring (and incredibly inaccurate). Truth is, Rob is just simply a liar and will say anything to inflict pain on anyone who dare get in the way of his pursuit of pleasure.
So why would Rob say our marriage failed? In addition to the reasons listed above, I, according to Rob, didn’t appreciate his amazingness and the fabulous things he brought into the relationship (I scratch my head over this one– he brought in loads of debt, an addiction, and the coping skills of a 13 year old child), I just wanted to go live with my mommy so she could take care of me (true that– I was required to have a fulltime caregiver during chemo and my two stem cell transplants), I was lazy, and worthless.
I fled Rob for these reasons:
- To fight for my health. I was just diagnosed with cancer and the thought of trying to get well in the midst of evil was overwhelming. I knew that if I stayed with Rob, I would probably succumb to my disease because there is no healing when living with alcoholism
- For the emotional health of the younger children (it got increasingly difficult to tell the girls that they should never allow any man to treat them the way Daddy treated me)
- For the health of Rob. I truly hoped and prayed that he would find himself in a place where he would finally fight to get well of his alcoholism. Two families destroyed by his illness would, I thought, be enough for him to finally try to get well. Nope, not Rob. Counseling and AA meetings are, simply put, not “fun”
When I started dating again, I was really interested to see how my relationship with Rob would affect future relationships. Would I try to communicate with my next boyfriend in the same way I did with Rob? I was so relieved to know that my relationships bare no similarities to my former marriage. There is no screaming, belittling, hateful emails and texts, or disrespect. I definitely “survived” my marriage and, these days, I’m thriving. Yes, there is hope for escape, recovery, and a better life on the other side.