Getting diagnosed with cancer sucks. But getting diagnosed with cancer and then having your (alcoholic) husband taunt you sucks even worse.
The month prior to diagnosis
Leading up to my diagnosis was not a fun time and I started to know in my gut that something wasn’t right. In December, I went on a business trip and worked ridiculous hours. By the time I flew home, I was exhausted beyond belief. The next two days were a Thursday and Friday and I was given comp days to rest up.
After dropping off the kids at school on Thursday morning, I started cleaning the house, doing laundry, unpacking, and balancing our checking account. Rob was home that day under the guise of “working from home” (wink wink, which meant hitting the bars starting at noon). I noticed that Rob overspent on something and I asked him for details. He started SCREAMING at me like only Rob the Great (Alcoholic) can. His scream is this freaky bizarre falsetto/mezzo soprano pitch. And he wrings his hands and nearly jumps up and down. Seriously, unless you see it, you wouldn’t even believe it. It is seriously freakish.
“Why are you screaming? I can hear you. I’m right in front of you,” I said. In which case he started screaming at me some more. “This is my day off! I want to relax!” I said to him back, “And this is my comp day. I am exhausted. And I am doing things for our home– things I hate doing, things that must be done, and things that you promised from Day 1 of our relationship that you would take over [like the finances].”
He then called me a bitch and I stood up and shoved him hard and told him to shut the fuck up. I grabbed my handbag, got in my car and drove around sobbing. Rob and I had a counseling session that afternoon together and I it couldn’t come fast enough.
I drove to Costco and went shopping. On my way home, Rob called screaming at me again. I had left my handbag in the shopping cart and it was at the member services department and how could I be so stupid to leave my purse there? I hung up on him and drove back to Costco. By now, I knew something was wrong with me. I was shaking, confused, and scared. And I was angry with Rob– so angry with myself for staying with this monster for so long. I hated him.
A few hours later, I picked up our daughter at school and she told me that while I was on my business trip, Rob had taken the kids to his oldest daughter’s house, who had drug issues. Because of this, Rob and I agreed that the younger children could not go to her home but that they could see her in safe places, like a restaurant or his mom’s house. Instead, while I was gone, Rob took the kids to her house and told them both to lie to me about it. I was furious.
Soon after, Rob called to tell me that he wasn’t going to our counseling session. “Of course you’re not,” I said. “You’ll have to tell your counselor you’re still a drunk and while you’re supposed to be at group therapy sessions, you’re at the bars and diving.”
My next call was to Rob’s daughter. “Your dad did this to your family when you were growing up, right? It’s not just me that gets this wonderful treatment, is it?”
“No,” she said. “I’ve lived it my whole life. He hasn’t changed a bit.”
I then went to our therapy session alone, sobbing. She put me on temporary work leave to allow me to gather my thoughts and prepare for leaving Rob. Wow– I had never had a counselor actually be that forceful about any decision.
On the following Tuesday, I went to my primary care doctor. Something still wasn’t right and I knew it. I insisted on blood work. And that’s how the doctor noticed I had some very bad anomalies. But that came a few weeks later.
Soon thereafter, it was Christmas and the girls and I were flying to Utah a few days prior to Rob coming out to join us. On our way to the airport, we ran some errands and finished up sooner than expected. We were going to be droppoed off at the airport some four hours early. We were near Target and I wanted to run in and buy an inexpensive watch for the flight. No one needed to get out of the car and I’d be maybe 10 minutes. Rob didn’t like that. He started screaming at me that I didn’t need a watch and I needed to be at the airport early. I wanted to throw him out of the car. I gave in and started driving to the airport with my heart pounding.
In my head I’m thinking, “I hate you.” I finally said, in not my finest moment, and in front of the kids: “Let me remind you that I never asked you to marry me. I’ve asked you 100 times to move out and not once have I ever asked you to come back. In fact, every time you did come back, I was sick to my stomach about it. I don’t need you and I don’t need this marriage.” There was silence in the car. I knew the reason he had to hurry up and get us to the airport was so that he could have drinks– and have them FAST.
Over the next many days, Rob sent me one hateful text after the next: I was a control freak. I tried to change the Great & Wonderful Rob, I was a horrible mom, I was lazy and that’s why I went on medical leave. I ignored them all. While I was in Utah without Rob, I realized I didn’t ever want to go back to my old life and the thought of Rob coming in a few days made me feel sick. But come he did. I picked him up at the airport on Christmas morning. The site of him made my stomach clench up.
He got in the car apologetic and humble. “Will you marry me in the Catholic church if I get an annulment from ex-wife? I have never loved anyone like I love you and 2012 is going to be a great year. I want you to marry me in the church.”
“Rob, we are not OK. I don’t like the way you treat me.”
“I know but it’s going to be great next year. I’m going to train for a marathon and quit drinking. You’ll see.”
“Right,” I said. “This is dejavu.”
And Rob went on and on about how he was a family man, we were going to be great, I was the love of his life, it was going to be great, blah blah blah. I tuned it out.
A few days later, my doctor called. I was highly anemic but not iron deficient. When I got back to San Diego, they were going to do body scans, more blood work, urine tests, I would see a specialist in hemotology/oncology… I almost fainted. “Should I be worried?” I asked. “Well, we don’t know yet but we’ll take good care of you.”
Oh my God, no one ever wants a call like that. We flew home to San Diego on January 1. The night prior, Rob said he couldn’t wait to go home. I said, “Not me. If I didn’t have to go back for testing, I would stay right here.” That shocked him but I didn’t give a rat’s ass anymore. I hated him. He was not my friend, lover, supporter– he was an abusive, mean, highly volatile, lying, screaming drunk.
And on January 2, I woke up and went for testing. Before I left, Rob wanted me to wait several hours so he could run errands and I could watch the kids. I was incensed. “Rob, my testing is more important than your errands, don’t you think?” And I left. And Rob was furious.
And that’s the day I came home from my testing, having been told by the radiologist that my doctors thought I had cancer, and Rob came home drunk and screamed at me so loud he was spitting in my face, calling me a drama queen, stupid, lazy and on and on. I called the police and had him removed from the home. And that’s the last day we lived together.