Thursday, May 9, 2013

Dr Phil spoke to me today

Once a month I get an Aridia infusion to keep my bones strong. It is part of my one year of maintenance treatment following two back-to-back stem cell transplants. This doctor visit takes about three hours, which gives me a chance to catch up on past Dr Phil episodes on the OWN channel.

Today's episode featured what it's like for the victim wives of an alcoholic husband. And today's couple was so identical to my relationship with Rob the Great (Alcoholic), that it literally took my breath away. I took notes as I sat literally spellbound by this chilling story. The couple was Michael and Maggie and here are my notes:
  • Stunted maturity of the alcoholic: Alcoholics (even highly functioning alcoholics, like Bob  and this guy Michael from today's Dr Phil show) have stunted maturity. They stopped maturing years prior and they act like children. They are unable to handle stress. Oh.My.Gosh: So true. Rob's screaming fits and temper tantrums are strikingly like that of my seven year old daughter's when she is really super tired.
  • Stunted maturity of the victim spouse (and children): Because the victim(s) live in a world of uncertainty, chaos and emotional abuse, victims stop maturing, too. Such behavior often causes the victim to get ill (emotionally and physically). Wow- if this isn't me, I don't know what is. Thanks, Rob the Great (Alcoholic).
  • Alcoholics are driven by the pleasurable principle and pretty much nothing else: So true. Rob lives for the moment and seeks pleasure above all else. Vacations, drinking, naps, movies, vacations, drinking, diving, fishing, sleeping, drinking, naps, diving, fishing. That's pretty much it. Anything (besides his pathetic job at a company that's equivalent to working for the Post Office or DMV) that isn't FUN is an annoyance to Rob. Somehow, when he stopped emotionally developing, got it into his sick head that anything that got in the way of his "fun" (like true parenting, or helping around the home, or going to therapy, or paying bills, or managing a vacation rental) deserved his anger. After all, how dare anyone expect anything of him but to seek out fun?
  • Blame anyone (and everyone) for taking away his pleasure and stressing him out: He blamed everyone, anyone, any thing for getting in the way of his pleasure. It was me, his kids, money, his job, me, me, ME for expecting anything from him. He said I was his trigger. Ok, sure, Rob.

    Then it was his work project. He even went to far as to tell me that pretty much everyone on his team was getting divorces so it was the company's fault. I was sitting across from him in September 2011 when he said, "Seriously, talk to Robin (his boss) about my stress." So I said, "Ok, I'm going to email her right now." And Rob said, "Go ahead, please do." So I took out by purple Blackberry and emailed Robin saying that Rob wasn't dealing with stress well and I worried about his health. I read it to Rob out loud and he said, "Good, send it." So I did. Robin responded right away that his health was important to her and she'd deal with it.

    Except shame on me. It wasn't the work problem that was making Rob be an alcoholic and abusive monster. It was just Rob who was behaving like an alcoholic monster. Before the work project, before me, he was still an alcoholic monster. Lessons learned.
  • The alcoholic promises to get well as soon as this one last stress is off his plate: Hmmm... wow, how many millions of times did Rob the Great (Alcoholic) tell me that he would be a better man as soon as (fill in the blank): he finished a work project, went on VACATION, finished up a court battle with Terri, moved Nicole out of the house... You name it, the promises to get well in just a few more days or weeks were ENDLESS (and all lies).
  • A restless mind: Rob told me his alcohol therapist at Kaiser told him that he had a restless mind. That Rob was unable to clear his mind and rest, which made him self medicate with alcohol. Except Rob never went to therapy past more than a session or two, because, sheesh, that wasn't fun. So, well, getting better just never happened. It was far better that he continue victimizing his family because, really, his pleasure was the only thing that matters.
  • An inflated sense of self worth: Wow, how many times did Rob the Great (Alcoholic) tell me that he had so much to offer and, my gosh, it was all my fault that I failed to recognize his greatness. And, who the FUCK am I to try and change any part of Bob the Great (Alcoholic) because he was just so fucking amazing? Let's see what Bob really has to offer: 1) mounds of debt; 2) alcoholic abuser; 3) emotional abuser; 4) a tiny penis; 5) a REALLY loud voice in which to SCREAM with; 6) the maturity level of a seven year old who needs a nap and snack; and 7) good fish that he catches when he's out diving. Oh, and he can plan a vacation or a fun night out on the town because, after all, that is FUN. Anything else, well, as soon as he's done selling his next victim, well he's just an alcoholic liar.

This is what Maggie, Dr Phil's guest, had to say. Sounds like my experience to a T:

In the beginning, Michael (her alcoholic husband) was so nice. Since then, I've been very scared with his screaming and verbal abuse. He's never hit me yet but it would almost be easier if he just did. I feel disrespected, degraded, unappreciated. I have self loathing at times. He has made fun of me in front of our daughter, I feel stupid. He once slammed the door so hard he put a whole in it (wow-- Rob the Great did this, too!). He has frightening amounts of rage. The verbal abuse is endless. Maggie said that the more Michael behaved this way, her tolerance for it grew smaller and smaller and she was living in a nightmare from which there was no escape.

This is what Michael, the abuser, said on Dr Phil's show:

Michael blamed Maggie for much of his behavior. He blamed her for being controlling, for being his trigger. He was starting therapy to get well but she deserves some of the blame because she knows how to push all his buttons. She knew he drank. She knows he has stress so it's not just alcoholism. He takes blame for about 95% but, really, she is to blame, too, for not recognizing his stresses and her controlling behavior that just "made him" drink and be abusive.

By the way, when Michael was speaking, Dr Phil was disgusted and incredulous. Dr Phil said that abusers always blame their victims and that he needed years of therapy. Dr Phil said that abusers nearly ALWAYS call their victims CONTROLLING. Hmmm... thanks Rob the Great (Alcoholic). You're not even original or creative. You're just a pathetic, mean, manipulative, lying abuser, just like Michael on Dr Phil's show (and pretty much every alcoholic out there).

And that's where I stopped taking notes.

I took Rob's alcoholism far more seriously than he did. I can honestly say I gave of myself 200% while Rob drank, went fishing, went to bed, watched movies, made fun of me, and SCREAMED at me. I read books, went to therapy, Alanon, AA, I read books, went to support groups. Tried tried tried. Worked worked worked worked WORKED and NOTHING helped. At the end of the day, Rob was just a mean abusive alcoholic and his behavior was HIS fault. My fault was sticking around too long.

While a victim is never perfect, let's make one thing PERFECTLY CLEAR: I as the VICTIM and NOTHING I said or did would have stopped Rob's behavior. You can't even work on a relationship when one doesn't deal with their substance abuse.

Word of advice: I've said it on this blog many times and I'll keep saying it again and again and again. If any of you out there are married to or in a relationship with an alcoholic or substance  abuser, RUN LIKE HELL AND DON'T LOOK BACK. Any promises that they'll change and get better for you is a LIE. Unless they are in long term therapy and have a track record of improvement, the abuser is just a manipulative liar. Oh they can sound sooooo incredibly convincing but it is a LIE.

And Rob the Great (Alcoholic), much to the utter horror of his family, did NOT get therapy or take a breather to get well after his marriage to Terri ended, or after I left him with a cancer diagnosis. Instead of healing and repairing, Rob the Great (Alcoholic) just went in desperate search for his next victim. I shudder, cry and cringe for whoever that poor woman will be.