From the time of my diagnosis when "Rob" screamed and spit in my face and called me a thief, liar and drama queen, I really tried to take the high road. I either remained silent, pleaded with him to show compassion, or tried to remind him that I had just been diagnosed with CANCER (to no avail). Finally, I started throwing the meanest verbal insults his way. Mature? No. Right? No. But I felt the need to fight back.
This awful fighting pattern was true throughout our entire marriage. It would go like this: Rob would get drunk (or want to get drunk) and scream at me in that horrid pitch that only Rob can reach. 90 percent of the time, I'd walk away. After all, arguing with a drunk is pointless. But that would never be good enough for Rob. He'd follow me around the house. Sometimes I'd say something like, "I'm walking away from you. Go away." In which case he'd respond by screaming some more with this crazed, glazed look in his eyes. If it was a weekend, I'd pack up the girls and me and go stay in a hotel or stay with my best friends in Long Beach before coming back. And then Rob would start texting or emailing me horrible messages, which I'd ignore for a day or two. And then I'd start responding. It would take two to four days before Rob would calm down enough and apologize for his ridiculous behavior and promise to go to help with his drinking problem. And, of course, that would never happen. He'd say he was at an AA meeting when, in fact, he was drinking at the BrewCo instead. (He did this same thing in his first marriage, by the way.)
Rob always accused me of having a huge temper. I can honestly say that I deserve a medal for the most part for ignoring his stupid behavior. Until I didn't. That one out of 10 times that I decided to fight back got ugly because I was ready to defend myself (finally) with every ounce of energy I had.
So this time I told him what I really thought about him but always had the somewhat good sense beforehand to not say.
You have the smallest penis ever
You suck in bed
I never loved you (true statement)
When I met Rob, he was simply a guy to hang out with while I tried to mend my shattered heart from a prior relationship. Rob was really good at selling himself as a good, honest, sweet guy who simply had been terrorized by his ex wife who never appreciated what a great guy he really was. He seemed innocent and kind and helpful. He was great with my daughter and good to me. This is what Rob does-- when there's an audience, he's "on it". And he was aggressively pursuing me. When we purchased our home and got married, I didn't love him at all. I liked and respected him and thought we could have a good future together as companions and parents. The problem was, Rob is none of the things he portrays himself to be. And once I figured that out, ever learning to love him was impossible.
I cheated on you (not true)
I told him I cheated on him with my ex boyfriend Todd. I knew this would cut through his heart. His ex wife, Terri, had an affair when they were married (although the number of affairs Terri had grew each time he talked about Terri-- first she had one affair, then three, then countless). I told him that I cheated on him and his next wife would cheat on him, too, because he was a horrible husband. Well, that part is true. He is a horrible partner. Unpredictable, volatile, a liar, a hair trigger temper, mean and lazy. But I never cheated on him. I did meet up with Todd several times throughout my marriage but I never once even kissed him (besides on the cheek). I wanted to cheat on him. But it just wasn't me so I didn't.
And so it was that my texts finally matched his in evilness. I can't say it made me feel better but there was something sadly empowering about no longer keeping my mouth shut. Here I was, downing some 30 pills per day, getting blood transfusions and platelets, undergoing another painful biopsy without any medications, receiving texts from Rob the Great (Alcoholic) that accused me of being a thief and a liar... And I at least was finding the strength to fight back. Somewhere in my reserves of fear and exhaustion and shock and horror about my health, I could at least fight Rob where it hurt him the most. Literally, below the belt.
And yet, after several weeks of this, it served no purpose but to make me sadder than ever. I had jumped into the Rob cesspool and it was not a pretty or comfortable place to be. I wasn't proud of it. I didn't want to fight like that. It was not the person I wanted to be. And Rob and I actually started a reconciliation of sorts, which will be a blog post of another day.
So what did I learn from this? For me, when I feel cornered like a wounded animal, I fight back. Actually, I don't fight back for awhile, hoping that I'll find an out. Hoping that my logic will prevail over something more primitive in all of us. But I'm human and eventually I'll come out swinging. I did this throughout my entire relationship with Rob. And it is not the person I want to be. It is not the way I want to handle conflict. Logically speaking, you can't argue with a drunk. There is no point and no one will ever win. I wish I could use the logical part of my brain always.
If I could do it all over again, I would have left Rob a few months after our wedding when I started seeing the first patterns of alcoholic behavior, laziness, and aggression. Instead, I believed so strongly in my commitment, in my sense of duty to family, and the hope I had that Rob would become the man that he tried to portray himself to be initially, that I stayed. I stayed to the detriment of my emotional and physical health.
Rob says I have a huge temper and I'm a control freak (more on that later). It's so trite to hear that from the mouth of an alcoholic. I learned that in Alanon. Alcoholics accuse their partners as control freaks because those around them don't like the behaviors of an alcoholic. That makes us, the victims, seem controling-- because we refuse at some point to think that behavior is acceptable. Bob is no different.
So here's my advice to anyone living with, or dating, an alcoholic: Run. And run fast. It never gets better (unless the alcoholic bottoms out and puts in a fulltime commitment to recovery). It always gets worse. It is not healthy for anyone to live in that kind of environment. It messes with the victime emotionally. It is detrimental to children living in that environment. It is a hell like no other. Save yourself.