Monday, May 6, 2013

Rob is the worse thing that ever happened to me

Meeting my ex husband, "Rob", is the worse thing that ever happened to me. I was a happy single mom, living in a condo by the beach with my daughter, Morgan. I had a fat savings account, zero debt, a high paying job I liked, a newer car with no car payment, two homes that I owned and rented out, and I was physically healthy.

Rob came into my life like a bull in a China shop. As abusers do, they suck you in, then box you in, so that the victim feels stuck and hopeless. And Rob was no exception. Honestly, Rob isn't smart or charming enough to do this cognitively. However, it is definitely his MO.

First, Rob portrayed himself to be a really great guy (which he reminded me of throughout our marriage until I rolled my eyes every time he said it). Except, make no mistake about it: Rob is a really awful, horrible, disgusting drunk who appears to be a really great guy until he's done with his sales pitch and he's convinced you've bought it. Then the real Rob shows up and, well, yuck. Horror, actually.

Rob blamed all his bizarre temper tantrums at the feet of his ex wife, Terri. This woman was, in his words, nothing but a lying, lazy, whore who fucked every many around and only cared about his money and their GINORMOUS amazing house (except when I saw this BIG house, it wasn't big or impressive-- here's a photo if you don't believe me http://goo.gl/maps/k8Cqq ). 

Within weeks of our meeting, he asked me for a commitment. Within a month, he told me he was in love with me. He would tell he that he would watch me sleep, in awe that I was so beautiful and how he had never been in love before and it was amazing. I felt sorry for him. This poor innocent boy had no real life experiences because his ex wife stunted his emotional development. What a line a crap he sold me.

During the first Rob temper tantrum, I was literally speechless and horrified as I witnessed a grown man act in a way I had never seen in my entire life. Soon, the Rob tantrum cycles became disgustingly apparent: Pressure, pressure, pressure-- EXPLOSION. BAM. And EVERYING for Rob is pressure and he can't handle ANY of it. Problem is, he must handle his pathetic job at the utility company (which, though Rob acts like it's the most amazing and demanding place in the world to work, in reality, it's just like working at the DMV or post office). Everything else, well, fuck everyone-- we victims get to pick up all the pieces of the disaster known as the Bob Stolberg life. And to Hell with those of us who struggle in the aftermath.

Rob can't handle pressures of parenting (so he did no parenting at all; Rob's idea of parenting is to have fun with the kids), or dogs, or paying bills, or managing the vacation rental that Rob wanted to buy so badly, or anything at all. All he can really handle is drinking, diving and going on VACATION! Rob would get this crazed look in his eyes just before a Rob tantrum and just-- EXPLODE. And nothing I could do would prevent those horrible, awful, inexcusable explosions.

And this is what living with Rob the Great (Alcoholic) is like:

1. Suck in his victim
Rob did this by saying he loved me, slamming through a huge commitment from me, pulling out all the stops to sell me that he was a great guy and would be an amazing husband, companion and father. Sheesh, all he had to do was show me (and continually remind me) of all the millions of friends he had and the really close relationship with his family. Except, truly, none of his friends truly "know" him beyond diving trips and a few war stories. No one really know Rob except us poor wives who've had the misfortune of being married to and living with him because simply dating this man doesn't count.

And, sure, he has a close relationship with his family. Except he lives 20 minutes away from his mom and I saw my parents (who live 12 hours away) more than we saw his mom. I loved going up to her home for the weekend and meeting up with her for dinner or whatever. I asked Rob all the time why we didn't see her more often and he really had no answer for it. But my gosh, he badmouthed every member of his family, with the exception of his sister Kathy. No one, not mom, dad, brother, was immune to the terrible things he said about his family. Even after his father passed away but before the funeral, he told me what a sucky father he had been. I was delivering the eulogy and I finally had to tell him to save the stories for another day because it was highly inappropriate and incredibly ill timed.

2. Box his victim in
As abusers do, the next step is to get Rob's victim so boxed into the relationship that leaving is nearly impossible. And Rob excelled at this one. He dragged me into buying a bigger home than I wanted. (Yes, I'm culpable here-- I should have said NO!!! and I didn't.) Once in the home, the more Rob knew I wanted to leave him, the more responsibility he heaped on my shoulders.

Promises that he would clean the pool? Nope, hire a pool cleaner. Promises to clean up the yard? Nope, hire a gardner or do it yourself. All the cleaning of the home? Me. Rob "surprised" me with two puppies. Guess who raised and cared for them nearly one hundred percent? Rob? No, that would be me. Buy a vacation home in Big Bear and promise to help manage it? Nope, I did it nearly 100% of the time we were together (until, after I got sick, I handed the entire responsibility of the Big Bear home to Rob, in which case he promptly managed it into the ground). All the home cleaning was mine. I can't remember a single time Rob even emptied the dishwasher. I finally convinced him to mop the floors in Saturdays, which he did intermittently. When I BEGGED for help, his answer was "hire a maid", which I did. But a maid doesn't put laundry away, buy groceries, cook dinner, put things away on a daily basis, or make a home run. I worked like a dog trying to run the home, care for dogs, pay all the bills, buy groceries, manage a home, care for children, help with homework, and try to manage Bob's oldest daughter who was a complete and total lying, thieving pothead when she was with us (that, too, will be the subject of a future blog post). He promised to take over paying the bills in the house. He didn't do that either. Leave his drug addicted daughter who was struggling in my care and ask me to drug test her every Monday when he was out of town for work. EVERYTHING was mine to deal with. Leaving Rob became one more thing I didn't have time or energy to do, and we were so in debt with Rob's enormous financial obligations left from his first marriage, that I didn't know how we could even afford a divorce.

And so it was that I stayed in a marriage with Rob the Great (Alcoholic) way past its due date while Rob promised he would change and stop drinking and blah blah blah and simply lie every single day. I grew to hate him. He disgusted me.

And, sure enough, he did the exact same thing to his first wife. He did absolutely nothing at home but come home from a "hard" day of work, hit the bar, and throw dirty socks at her feet (his words). But, hey, what a great guy that Rob is (if there's an audience, anyway).

3. Terrorize his victim
The verbal putdowns from Rob were unbelievable (and laughable, coming from an overweight man who mostly wore pants too short and used really embarrassing grammar in his speech). Rob would tell me endlessly that if it wasn't for him, I just wouldn't be able to manage life. I would have no friends (huh?), no home (right, I had two homes before I had to sell them both to try and bail Rob out of his crushing financial debts and obligations), no ability to be a mother (except I'm a damned good mother, even in the face of living with a terrorizing, abusive alcoholic of a husband). He told me that if it wasn't for him, I wouldn't even have a job. When I was hired at the company I worked for, Rob said that his work buddy, Jorge, called my hiring manager, Michelle, and made sure she hired me. Except that wasn't true at all and I knew it. Doing something like Rob claimed was an enormous breach of all kinds of laws and regulations. But, hey, "truth" is not a trait that's familiar with Rob.

Of course, Rob called me the one with a hair trigger temper, which is laughable coming out of his mouth. He blamed me for everything when, in fact, life with an alcoholic is trauma all on its own and there is one person to blame for that-- the abuser, NOT THE VICTIM.

I did EVERYTHING I could to try and live with Bob and make life "better". I went to Alanon meetings twice a week. I read books. I joined support groups. I tried to give boundaries on no drinking in the house. I drank with him. I went with him to AA meetings. I went to therapy sessions alone. I begged Rob to go to therapy sessions with me (he'd show up a few times and, after that, be a no-show). I stopped talking to him. I tried to be nicer. I cleaned better, cooked better, did less, did more more MORE. NOTHING was enough. I couldn't be nicer, prettier, sexier, smarter, a better cook, better cleaner, better partner to stop Rob from being a raging, abusing, bullying, screaming, mean alcoholic.

4. Have 0 ability to handle any stress
I had never experienced anything like Rob. He literally could handle no stress. And every stressor in his life made him MAD and desperate. Work. Terri. His daughters. Me. His dad. Getting out of bed. Not being able to sleep. The dogs. The vacation rental he did nothing about. Finances which he refused to look at. You name it, it's a stress Rob can't deal with.  The only thing that made Rob happy was: 1) diving; 2) vacation. Always, he'd start saying, "I need a vacation. I'm so burnt." And I would wonder how it was that I worked far harder than he EVER did and, yet, while I wanted a vacation badly, too, I wasn't wringing my hands and drinking in order to get me to the magical day of departure.

5. Fail to be a partner
Rob felt that once we purchased a home, or vacation home, or dogs, or whatever, his work was DONE. Mine just began because then it became 100% on my shoulders to pick up the pieces and make it work. I begged, threatened and complained about the unfair balance of responsibilities. I was frustrated, exhausted and desperate. He'd say he understood, blame it on his alcoholism, and promise to do better. But, of course, when you say you're at an AA meeting and, instead, you're pounding beers at the BrewCo, it's kind of hard to deal with your alcoholism. And, sadly, the only time Rob was a decent man, partner and father was when we were on vacation. Home life was pure hell.

6. Blame the victim
So boringly typical of an abuser that it goes without saying. Yes, it was my fault he drank. I was his trigger. Except so was: Terri, Nicole, Kalie, his work, his co-workers, his dad, Chris, Joanie (Chris' wife who had the called me one night and tell me that Rob's daughter, Nicole, wasn't doing so well living in their home and she wanted Nicole OUT of her house because she was on drugs most of the time. Rob was FURIOUS with this one!), his not having slept, stress, work, stress, the children, the dogs... You name it. And he was an alcoholic way before me.


My advice: Run, don't walk, from an abuser
Here's my advice to anyone dating, involved with, friends with, or living with a substance abuser, RUN LIKE HELL. It will NOT get better- EVER. Not unless they bottom out and get serious help over a period of time. At one meeting with Rob's alcohol counselor at a session we were both supposed to attend but in which Rob skipped in favor of a night drinking, I learned this: Alcoholics have one coping skill in life: alcohol. Take that away, and they have no coping skills. It takes years (if ever) for an alcoholic to become likable. And that's when I lost hope. Even if Rob finally dealt with his horrific behavior and illness, he would probably be more pathetic and evil and awful until he learned to become a better man.

Several months after I left Rob the Great (Alcoholic), Rob sent me a text telling me he wasn't an alcoholic at all. He only ever told me that to try and make me feel sorry enough for him that I wouldn't leave. So I emailed Terri, his ex wife. I asked her if she thought Rob was an alcoholic and if it had been a problem in their marriage. Hell yes, she said. He was lazy and evil and mean and a liar when they were married. And it destroyed their marriage, leaving to confused, angry and hurt children in his wake of booze.

He also, I might add, drove around drunk with the kids in the car many times. Here's another fun email exchange:

----- Original Message -----
From:
lizzy smilez
To: Rob
Subject: Re: Expectation

You did NOT tell me you were an alcoholic! BIG HUGE difference. That would be like me saying 'I sometimes get sick' and 6 months after marriage 'well I have terminal cancer but I did tell you I got sick sometimes..." You misrepresented and you lie. whatever. Move out, go to your moms. I've been in contact with her today and I've asked that she come over to talk to you after mass. Not sure if she will- haven't heard back from her. You need serious help.
Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®

-----Original Message-----
From: Rob

To: lizzy smilez
Subject: Re: Expectation

I told you directly that I drink a lot of beer before we married and you said ok. You knew me then as you know me now.  Very driven to what is in focus. Running, work, you, moving, drinking.

That does not wipe away me driving Siena, nor that I have a problem.

I never hid anything from you. I went to brew co, you even loved throwing it all in Terri's face when I was there. Now, as understood, you hate it too..

I love you unlike Terri, nor any other woman. When I met you I saw a lot of promise in the fact that you did not drink and perhaps could help me with your determination to be perfect.


My job ended up easier than yours as only I can fix my problem.

I still love you and until I can help myself, I guess I will continue to concr the worlds problems until I can figure me out.

Don't ever think that you are not a good mate. 

----- Original Message -----
From:
lizzy smilez
To: Rob
Subject: Re: Expectation

This is not ok. You lied to me about who you were when we dated, you lied to me about the severity of drinking, you lied to me about drinking, you put siena in harms way, you've belittled me every chance you got. To say 'we're just different people' is a huge copout and cowardly and dishonest. You have a lot of soul searching to do and a lot of begging for forgiveness to be done too to even try to begin to make it right with what you've done. Actually you can never ever make it right- you can only hope that those you've hurt in huge ways can find it in their hearts to forgive you. I'm nit perfect but I didn't ever lie, I stayed sober and faithful, and I worked very very hard only to have you make fun of me and verbally attack me. Sorry, this pathetic email doesn't even come close to what you need to start doing- not for just me but everyone who has been close to you.
Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®

-----Original Message-----
From: Rob

To: lizzy smilez
Subject: Re: Expectation

I will head to my moms for a bit after we get corto closed. It makes sense to pay down bills.  I will sleep on couch or at corto for now. I came home and saw siena on bed last night knowing you did not like to sleep with her thinking you wanted her bed.

We are very different people and we are not perfect.  I do not want this to spill over into the kids at home.  If, when I'm home, you need me to leave, let me know.  I will not escalate anything at home.  For now, I need to finish corto stuff (as we both have till now) then I will go. 

----- Original Message -----
From:
lizzy
To: Rob
Subject: Re: Expectation

I do NOT want your apologies. I want a divorce
Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®

-----Original Message-----
From: Rob

To: lizzy smilez
Subject: Re: Expectation

Not intended, I'm sorry.

----- Original Message -----
From:
lizzy smilez
To: Rob
Sent: Sat Sep 10 17:30:59 2011
Subject: Re: Expectation

But u won't get it. Treatment for a week or two and that's it. And that is YOUR fault. You love your booze more than you love anything and i hate you and you are MEAN
Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®

-----Original Message-----
From: Rob

To: lizzy smilez
Subject: Re: Expectation

Yes I do.

----- Original Message -----
From:
lizzy smilez
To: Rob
Subject: Re: Expectation

You neeeeed helllllllpppppppp
Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®

-----Original Message-----
From: Rob

To: lizzy smilez
Subject: Re: Expectation

You shoukdnt

----- Original Message -----
From:
lizzy smilez
To: Rob
Subject: Re: Expectation

I don't. I don't love you anymore
Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®

-----Original Message-----
From: Rob


To: lizzy smilez
Subject: Re: Expectation

You are not suppose to be ok with that. You don't need me in your life.

----- Original Message -----
From:
lizzy smilez
To: Rob
Subject: Re: Expectation

I am far from perfect but I've done NOTHING to deserve what you've done. And putting siena in the car after you sneak away to drink and I'm supposed to be ok with this????? What is wrong with you!!!!!
Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®

-----Original Message-----
From: Rob

To: lizzy smilez
Subject: Re: Expectation

Neither of us deserve this.

----- Original Message -----
From:
lizzy smilez
To: Rob

Subject: Re: Expectation

You know what you need to remember? I've done NOTHING to deserve your behavior now- NOTHING except be upset that you came home drunk with Siena in your car. Bad me- I guess I should be happy about that and kissing your ass.
Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®


Nice job, Rob. Two families down, victimized by Rob's refusal to get help. But, hey, Rob's a really great guy.

Here's a very typical email exchange between Bob and me that pretty much summarizes it all.

----------------
From: Lizzy Smilez
Subject: Re: Re:
To: R
ob

And, besides, that's like saying "We have great times, then I beat you up maybe once per moth, and then I apologize and we have great times again." That's OK? NO, it is NOT OK. Besides, on a DAILY BASIS I am killing myself trying to work harder and faster to keep up with the house while you are either GONE, sitting on the couch, napping, fishing, etc. That is a DAILY struggle for me. It's not for you, obviously, but it is for me. Every. Single. Day. The fact that I cope with it does NOT MEAN IT's FINE when we aren't fighting. If you look at it that way, pretty much EVERY day sucks for me, I just happen to cope with it better on most days than others.

From: Stolberg, Robert <RStolberg@semprautilities.com>
Subject: Re: Re:
To: Lizzy Smilez

Its not fair, I understand. All of the issues you have with me point to one problem.
After a break, please give me 3 months to show you that I am the one for you. All I ask for is for 3 months. I do well when there is pressure on me to perform. I realize you are completely fed up with me. I want a family and I want my kids all intact. If not 3 months, tell me what you need from me to give me this one last chance.


-----Original Message-----
From: Rob

To: Lizzy Smilez
Subject: RE: Re:

I have your list and can work on it, please give me this one last chance Liz. We can even go to a couples retreat, they help as well.

-----Original Message-----
From: Lizzy Smilez

To: Rob
Subject: Re:

No- get well but I am not giving you another chance. I truly am done. I cannot believe I have put up with this for 3 years.
Sent on the Sprint(r) Now Network from my BlackBerry(r)

-----Original Message-----
From: Rob

To: lizzy Smilez
Subject: RE:


In all your emails, you stated that alcohol is not related to me not doing anything around the house. It is directly connected. I have an 85% chance of handling this and I'm excited about what I'm doing. I spent the day yesterday talking with folks at Fresh Start.

About the dogs, yes I have been a poor owner of the dogs. I will set up appointments with them individually and take both separate to Petco for training. I'm sorry that happened this morning.

I am appalled at myself for
what I did to you this weekend and apologize for that. Again, it is a direct result of the problem which I'm going to resolve once and for all. Apologize for that.
Want I want most is to be free of alcohol so I can be at peace with myself. I do not want to fail this marriage, I love you. The kids and I had a great time in Big Bear, I would not have wanted to do or be with anyone else on my vacation (including you). and I love you and love being their father. I have been a very poor husband, however we've had some good times.

It is appropriate for you to focus you anger on me, I was the trigger for it.

Again, I want a family, I want you and I have an 85% chance now to manage through this. It's not a magic pill, it's life coaching with folks that have been through it and managed with this program.

Please consider this one last try as one that I will put all into. I have a lot banking on it this time.