Wednesday, May 29, 2013

I shattered a $300 bong

Bob had two daughters from his first marriage. One, Nicole, was 17 years old when we got married and had a major marijuana habit (and God knows what else). She lived with Bob fulltime because her mom wasn't putting up with Nicole's doing drugs, not working, and generally not showing up for high school classes. It was far easier living with her dad who pretty much had no expectations and excelled at enabling.

I, the clueless dumb newcomer to the whole mess, felt so sorry for Nicole because I fell for Bob's lies about Nicole's mother (namely that she was a skanky lying whore who abandoned Nicole in favor of Kalie because Kalie represented more years of child support). Poor Nicole had never had a positive role model in her life, never had a mother who loved her, and, according to Bob, I would be the mother Nicole never had. Oh yes, I stepped right into the hornet's nest but, seriously, I was completely clueless. I was so ridiculously easy to manipulate, no doubt about that.

Over the next few years, drama wouldn't even begin to adequately describe my time with Nicole. I blame a lot of it on Bob because he should have taken care of Nicole (and Kalie) first, not himself as he pursued pleasure at everyone else's expense. He should have stopped drinking long enough to realize that his first priority was parenting his children, and finally getting treatment for the many years he spent as an alcoholic. But doing that would actually have taken work and that isn't fun so, well, forget that.

Bob and Nicole got in a huge fight about three months into our marriage. I wasn't there, though Bob blamed me for that fight, too (yawn, I get so tired saying this). By the time I got home, Nicole had already moved back in with her mother.

A few nights later, we were sitting in bed late at night talking with Kalie when we heard loud banging on the door. It was scary. None of us moved. Next thing you know, Nicole texted Bob that she was outside with the police and we'd better answer the door. Bob wouldn't move. "Go answer the door," he said. I was baffled-- despite all the hours I spent as a kid watching The Brady Bunch, they never confronted something like this so I wasn't sure what to do. I made a split decision and did what I was told.

Seconds later, I was opening the door. Who the hell did any of them think they were, attempting to "demand" entry without cause or search warrant? I knew my rights and I was not about to be intimidated. When none could present a valid warrant or reason to barge their way in, I simply slammed the door. And when I turned around, there was my cowardly husband standing behind me nearly giddy with excitement at what I had done. I was disgusted looking at his gleeful face. What kind of "man" stands there silent while his wife takes the heat? Bob the Great (Alcoholic), that's who. Bob slept like a baby that night (alcohol is a great sedative!) while I shook with anger, shock and horror. Unable to sleep, the next day at work was a very long one indeed.

Long story short, Nicole's stay with her mom didn't last long (to Bob's complete delight, which is a whole other story). Nicole then moved in with her boyfriend's mom. That didn't last either. One thing I quickly learned: Nicole excelled at burning bridges. Next thing I know, Bob says Nicole is a changed girl and wants to move back home but he said not until she talked to me, too. So Nicole, Bob and I sat in the front room while Nicole gave an Academy Award-winning performance that included a heart touching, tearful explanation about how she was different, how she learned so much while she was away, and how she'd never repeat past mistakes. All she wanted was a functioning family and she realized she had one right there in front of her with her dad and me (ok, this last part is really funny). My heart melted and we all cried and she moved home.

I actually loved Nicole and believed all the lies she fed me. She was good at manipulating, just like Bob. It's the pathology of addicts. Lie, manipulate, convince, shit on your head, repeat because until the victim is no longer gullible, they'll keep feeding you the same line of crap over and over and over again. And when you catch on and say no more, well then they just hate you. (By the way, I take any animosity addicts have against me-- and I only know two, thank goodness-- as a badge of honor.)

And so the cycle began and it was oh so tiring and predictable. It went like this: Bob and Nicole would get in a fight, Bob would kick her out of the house, I'd talk Bob off a cliff and beg him to allow poor Nicole to come back home, Nicole would move back, Bob and Nicole would get in another fight, Bob would break something of hers (like an iPod), she'd call me crying, I'd beg Bob to stop screaming at her. Repeat. A few times Bob and Nicole would scream at each other so loudly in the backyard that I was worried a neighbor would call the police. It as all so ghetto and lowlife and I was horrified. I had literally never seen anything like it outside of the movies and even then, this was extreme.

Nicole would call me often to tattle on her dad drinking at bars. Or she'd ask me for money. Or to borrow clothes. If I said no, those things would just come up missing, even though Bob put a lock on my closet door. When I noticed Nicole wasn't doing anything productive, I'd harp on Bob as her father to do something to help his daughter out-- demand she go to therapy, drug test her, stop giving her money so she'd get a job, something, anything. And Bob would say stuff like, "I don't know anything about parenting. I never had parents. My mom was always working and I raised myself and Kathy. I made us mac & cheese all the time because my mom never even fixed dinner. My dad was too busy with the drum corp. He didn't give a shit about us. Terri and I never parented. This is all new to me!" Blame blame blame.

While we were out of town, Nicole threw rocking parties at home. One involved high and drunk friends jumping into the pool from our roof (can we say "liability"?). Another had photos on Facebook with her friends smoking pot in the kitchen. Another, Terri showed up and told Kalie that Nicole's friends were all over and our home smelled of pot. Nice! And those are just the few we knew about. Every time these parties were brought to Bob's attention, he defended Nicole and screamed at me.

Finally, in desperation, we developed a contract with Nicole she signed. In order to stay living in our home for free, she had to: 1) attend school; 2) pass a weekly drug test; 3) be at home by curfew on school nights; 4) do a few chores; 5) and never, ever, never bring drugs into the house (if she did, she was told she would move out that very day). In exchange, we bought her a car (that was in my name), gave her a free place to stay, and even offered to pay her student loans when she graduated. Nicole enrolled at community college two different times. Except she stopped going and didn't tell us and failed all her classes. After two semesters, she had zero credits to show for it and we were out, after books and supplies, about $1,000. We gave Nicole one more try. She enrolled in massage college. Except she stopped going to class there, too, and (shocker) lied about it. I called her college teacher and found out that Nicole never showed up for her final exam. Bob, of course, told me Nicole finished her class and passed her final with flying colors. So I put the teacher on conference call with Bob so he could hear it straight from the teacher. When the call ended, Bob screamed at me for that one. Yes, being a dad when you have to deal with tough stuff isn't fun, so found it far easier to scream at me than mentor his daughter.

Of course, the drug testing of Nicole was particularly fun because after a few weeks, Bob stopped drug testing her at all. He was on work assignment that had him in Anaheim four days a week. He'd leave town and tell me to drug test her. Oh hell no, I was not about to start standing at an open bathroom door while Nicole peed. I drew a line in the sand there. You, Bob, get your ass home and do it, I said. Well, we know how that turned out-- Bob screamed at me some more and the drug testing stopped.

While Bob was out of town, Nicole never showed up at curfew time. One night I stayed up almost all night because Nicole didn't come home at all. I was worried sick. I called Bob the Great (Alcoholic) and told him. He called me back screaming at me that Nicole really came home but was a little late and left early in the morning. Nope, sorry, Bob, I was up almost all night and she didn't come home at all. Bob screamed at me some more. The next night, Nicole didn't show up again. It was 5:00 AM and I got out of bed, went into Nicole's room and started searching.

First, under the bed: Wow, a huge ginormous bong! Thick, beautiful glass, enormous, expensive bong. She didn't have any money but, apparently, she had plenty to spend on this. I went outside, got out a huge rock. After many tries, I finally broke it and put just the tip back on Nicole's bed. The rest went into the trash.

Next, the dresser. Oh, my expensive belt that disappeared out of my closet was right there. Weird how that could happen. Next, oh, loads of pot. Next, the closet. More pot. Pipes. My expensive Stuart Weitzman shoes and my Michael Kors' Dorothy shoes. I never would've guessed. Oh, there's Morgan's phone that went missing.

My next stop was to her car. There was another pipe. Cigarette papers. Pot ashes. It smelled of cigarettes when she was specifically prohibited from smoking in the car.

Ok, the gloves were off. I was done being a mom to Bob's daughter while he refused to do a thing and when Nicole did nothing but lie, abuse, steal, and manipulate. As usual, Bob wanted me to do everything while he did little more than hit the bars, drink, fish, nap, watch movies, pretend to work really hard, and scream at me. While separating from Bob was more complicated, putting a stop to the abuse from Nicole was rather simple.

I got to work and called Bob. Guess what? I said. Nicole is moving out of the house today. I don't care where she's going but she better not be home by the time I get there or it's going to be ugly.

Bob said, "Can't this wait until Thursday when I get home?"

"No," I said. "And if you want to live with Nicole, I totally get it and support it. If that's the case, then either you move with her or I'll take the younger kids and move out. If Nicole stays, I sure hope she can help you make the mortgage payment."

"Where's she going to go?" Bob asked.

"I don't care. It's not my problem anymore. She's got a mom and dad. I'm neither. You and Terri figure it out."

"Can she take the car?"

"Hell no. The last thing I'm going to do is allow a druggie to take a car that I'm legally responsible for."

"How's she going to get to work or class?" Bob asked.

"Um, so Nicole doesn't work or go to school."

And so Peggy, Bob's mom, came to the house, and moved her into her home. Well, that didn't go so well either, but that's a story for part II. Stay tuned for that one!

One last funny comment from Bob the Great (Alcoholic)? After he told Nicole she was moving out, he called me back to tell me that the bong I had destroyed was really expensive. What can I say to that except WTF.

Am I a total bitch?
I often ask myself if I was a total unreasonable bitch? If I could do it all over again, what would I do differently?

My answers are:

1. I wasn't unreasonable at all. What I shouldn't have done was put up with it for so long at my expense, and at the younger children's expense. It was really cute when I realized that my 10 year old daughter knew what pot smelled like. Shame on me for allowing that exposure to happen in the home.
2. What would I do differently? The first time she screwed up, that would've been a warning; second time, it would have been Nicole or me who moved out of the house.

Lessons learned
I now know that life with an substance abuser will never be anything but chaos, manipulations, lies, abuse, excuses and blame. It really is that simple. It'll never happen to me again.