Monday, March 4, 2013

Rob is a legend only in his own mind (even his family knows he's sick)

I fled abusive "Rob" on the Saturday of MLK weekend 2012 and moved to Utah. I had thrown clothes into trash bags, put the cat in a carrier, and drove off. And as I drove towards Utah, I received text after text from Rob. They varied from "I love you, come back, I'm so sorry" to "you're a lying bitch." It was truly bizarre and unbelievable. I couldn't get away from him fast enough. In fact, just days after I left, he sent me an email stating that he got on Antibuse (a prescription that makes an alcoholic really sick if they come in contact with alcohol) and that prior to getting the prescription, they had to check his liver function. He told me he had a PERFECT liver! I wanted to throw up. One of the main effects of my disease was that it attacked one's liver and many with my disease first presented with complete liver failure. It was so incredibly inappropriate that it made my head spin. But that's Rob for ya.

What really confused me, however, was that Rob's family was silent. Well, Kalie, his younger daughter from his first marriage, called and texted me to see if I was OK. Kalie and I had a rough start in our relationship but she had ended up being a close pal and confidante. It was a relief to learn from her that Rob's abusive behavior wasn't just reserved for me-- he had done it to his first wife, Terri, as far back as she can remember. But, I kept wondering, why was not a single Stolberg calling or texting me at all? 

And then I got "the call". I won't betray confidences or throw anyone under the bus so let's suffice it to say this: The person who called me was one of Rob's adult family members (not the children).  The phone call was this: Rob had emailed the adult family members telling them not to have any contact with me. He went further by telling them that he wanted letters from them saying I was awful to his children and anything else they could say negatively about me. This family member said that the Stolberg's always stuck up for each other and that is why no one would contact me but that they all realized Rob was sick, that he needed help, and that what he had done to the kids and me was wrong. This person also said that Rob had promised (again) to enter treatment for his alcoholism but instead was busy trying to find a new girlfriend. In fact, he had contacted one of Chris and Joanie's friends trying to arrange a date the weekend I left him. (Rob had also contacted Chris asking if he could move in with them but that no one in that home really wanted Rob there because he would try to sneak into Chris and Joanie's liquor supply in the middle of the night.) This family member said that they were all stunned with Rob's rush back into another relationship. He had done this after he and Terri split-- dating way too soon instead of taking time to heal. And he was repeating it. They all recognized Rob needed a lot of help and therapy and time, but they all realized, too, that Rob was incapable of doing that. (I have to say, when I learned that Rob had emailed Terri just weeks prior to our meeting telling her how sorry he was for how he treated her, I was sick. I felt so stupid that he had been trying to repair things with Terri just weeks before he pursued me with a vengeance. It made me feel so stupid and used. And Rob did this again with the new honey. If I were her, I'd feel like an idiot, too.)

...And then I got to thinking: Is remaining silent the right approach to take when you know your a member or your family needs serious help? If your son or brother was sick, wouldn't you try an intervention? How many times had I called Peggy, his mom, and discussed Rob's problems with her? She tried the soft approach with Rob-- setting up appointments with her priest, Father Joe, asking him how therapy was going, calling me at work asking me if I would take her son back if he got help... But no serious intervention, which Rob desperately needed. Maybe if that had happened, Rob wouldn't have destroyed two families.

So as I ponder the Rob the Great (Alcoholic), I wonder how much of his abusive behavior and destruction could have been prevented. Did someone in his family owe it to me to warn me that Bob was an alcoholic? Would I have listened? The only one who tried to warn me was Terri, his ex wife, but when she did, it was too late-- we were just days away from our wedding. Rob was great at hiding his disease. He lied to me. He deceived me. He was abusive. His behavior was ridiculous.

I'll never forget an email that Terri sent to the Stolberg family a few months after Rob and I got married. In the letter, she was trying to set the record straight and defend herself against the lies that Rob told everyone about her. I will never forget one sentence she wrote

"I prayed every single day that things would get better with Bob and they never did," Terri wrote.

That sentence sent chills up and down my spine and throughout our entire chaotic relationship, this sentence replayed in my head over and over and over again. I did the same. I prayed every day that Rob would change, that things would get better, and they never did.