Real names have been changed in this article.
Pretty much every abuser puts his victim down endlessly. In my case, my ex husband, Rob the Great (Alcoholic) was no different. (I call my ex Rob the Great because he constantly told me what a “great guy” he was and how I simply failed to realize it and appreciate him.) During the course of our marriage, he said things like:
- Without him, I wouldn’t have a job. We worked for the same company. He claimed that it was his great power within the company that I got the job to begin with, though I was beyond qualified and experienced for that position and no one in my entire department, including my hiring manager, had even heard of Rob. Add to that, there were strict regulations that prevented him from having any input in hiring for my position and, if he had, he could have been fined, fired, and prosecuted.
- I worked in the dumbest part of the company. I worked in corporate communications and Rob loved to tell me that everyone knew that everyone in my department was worthless and we never really did anything all day. All we did was look good and go to parties, he said.
- I couldn’t survive live without him. In San Diego, we had a 15-hour power outage. Rob came home that evening drunk and screaming at me that without him, the children and I would be screwed.
- He was the best dad ever and our children liked him more than they liked me. I was boring and worthless.
- He made so much money and was so successful and I could never financially handle life without him.
- If I left him, he’d find another girlfriend in a second because there were so many women out there looking for a great guy like him and I would never find another man.
When I was diagnosed with cancer and fled our home and moved to Utah to enter treatment, I received horrible messages. Here’s one example:
Subject: This is YOU baby!!!!
Everyone in my life hates you and is glad you’re gone. Nicky can’t believe that you took the girls after I started all over and agreed to raise kids again. The girls love me and miss their dad and I’ll tell them it’s your fault, baby, that they were taken away from their loving dad. Kelly hates you. She is getting so much more from me now that you’re gone. If you think she’s being helpful by telling you anything, it’s all lies. She’s so glad you’re gone. When we go to court the room will be filled with everyone supporting me. The landlords are on my side. Even the woman at the Marriott thought you were really weird. So, baby, you just get better and can’t wait to see you in court with all my friends ready to testify that I’m a great guy and you’re a crazy, lying thieving nutjob. Have a great day!!!!!
A few email exchanges later, I sent Rob an email reminding him about the time in which Kelly told him, sobbing, that if he drank again during the weeks she lived with him, that she would move out and not come back. And then he drank in front of her a few days later and Kelly, true to her word, stopped living with him, decreasing his custody from 50-50 to 90-10.
Rob responded with this: It never happened!! You’re a LIAR and Kelly is going to write a letter saying it never happened!!!
Clearly, one of us was crazy. After a while, I started wondering if I was the crazy one and not Rob. I needed validation.
Immediately after getting this email, I contacted our landlords. “I’m sorry to hear that you’re on Rob’s side. Can you tell me what that means, exactly?” I asked. He responded. “On Rob’s side? We don’t have enough information to be on either side and we’re just the landlords. We hear you are sick and we pray you’ll recover soon.”
Next, I sent Rob’s friend, Ken, a text message. “I hear you plan on going to court to testify on what a great guy Rob is and how crazy I am. You know how much I struggled with Rob’s drinking because you and I discussed it. I never lied or exaggerated what was happening in our home. I survived hell, escaped it, and am now sick.” Ken texted back: “I would never go to court to say anything bad about you! I know how bad things were. I don’t know why Rob would put words in my mouth like that.”
I then contacted the Marriott Residence Inn in La Jolla. The girls and I stayed at that property three times over the years when Rob and I got into an argument and I needed to seek refuge somewhere. Each time, the stays were for one night and after checking in, we quietly retreated to our room, had breakfast the next morning, and left. I forwarded the email to the manager and talked with him many times. He interviewed every front desk manager at the property and told me that no one has any idea what Rob was talking about, nor would anyone ever give that kind of feedback.
Several months later, I talked to Kelly, Rob’s younger daughter. I told her that if there was anything that I wrote that was untruthful or hurtful, I would remove it. “No,” she said. “Every single word is true and don’t change a thing.”
But the coup de grace was this email. It came to me several months ago via email. Someone had stumbled on my blog and sent me a private email. I’ve changed a few words and names so as to keep this person’s identity private.
I know [a woman who knows Rob well] and that’s how I know Rob. Even though he’s nice and helpful enough, I always thought there was something off about him. Several in our circle thought the same. Of course we won’t tell [our friend] this because we don’t want to get in the middle of it. One night I did a Google search and found your blog. Wow what a story! I cried when I was done reading. Everything confirms what I thought but couldn’t quite put my finger on. He’s an alcoholic. I am so sorry you went through that and I worry about [my friend]. I am hopeful she’ll figure it out before it’s too late. Stay strong, Lizzy! You are an inspiration of strength and resilience.
That email came at such a perfect time– a time when I was having panic attacks about my health and future. As bad as I feel for any woman who gets involved with Rob, it is no longer me. I was no longer the one listening to his screaming fits and pathetic excuses for his behavior.
Validation was necessary. A reality. Fact check. No, I wasn’t the crazy one.