Monday, October 7, 2013

Exercises in futility

Lately you might notice that I'm focusing more on my divorce than my illness (and fight to get and stay well). That's because very soon I'll be announcing my weekly column, which I'm very excited about. As I'm on this new path of self discovery and life, there are a few major components that make up the new Lizzy Smilez: single mom, divorce, survivorship of alcoholism, and cancer warrior (multiple myeloma specifically). Today, my post is about alcohol survivorship.


If you want an exercise in futility, try arguing or pleading with an alcoholic. Because that's exactly what it is: futile. It doesn't work. Ever.
During my entire relationship with my ex husband, Rob, I kept thinking that if I said the right combination of words that he would finally realize the severity of his problem and get help. He promised. He apologized. He acknowledged. But he never got help beyond a few therapy or AA sessions.
It was frustrating beyond belief and, of course, I couldn't encourage or make him get help. Instead, I continued to be his punching bag while I wanted to bash my head into a wall in complete and total frustration. More than anything, I wanted to have a cohesive and peaceful home. I begged, pleaded, threatened and... and... stayed.
In case you're interested, the email exchange below is so typical. As a survivor of alcoholism and abuse, I can tell you that the most liberating thing you can do for yourself is to: 1) acknowledge that you will never change your abuser's behavior; and 2) stop engaging in any kind of dialog. It's a complete and total waste of time. 
From: RobertTo: Lizzy
Subject: Re: Dumped my brain.
Back to the last email I sent. I did more with you in 3 years than I did with Terri in 21, and more than folks go through in a lifetime.
With Terri, she never wanted to do anything. When I was done with that relationship and met you, I exploded. Kind like, let's get done with and do everything I could not do with her now. Buy a big house, buy property for retirement, and you had your goal of another child which I jumped on.
Travel etc...
Finally I had a wife that was willing to stretch the boundaries with me and I for her because I loved her.
Unfortunately, I bust out of the gate with my head down and it took me and you down.
My drinking as things progressed much worse than ever because work was piled onto all the other loads that we managed in 3 years.
Yes, that's what broke our relationship, too much, way too much in such a short period of time. Draining it was on us both.
I realize that now and like I said would be glad as hell to cut out all the large ticket items that are a burden (Big Home, white car, Big Bear) for ever and move into a small easy to maintain home with you, the kids and animals.
To me now that I reflect through all of your emails, that's what you wanted all along, a simple life, with kids, travel, and a focused family. Instead, I gave you hell on wheels, busting out to lay a path I never had with Terri, loving family Twhich we were), big home, vacation home, travel...none of that matters, I realize that now especially when its all gone
I would ask one last time that we try by unloading as much burden we have and allow me to be a much better husband and as important, a good father to our kids.
And yes, I've thought about the church and Allens talks when diving, and have experienced with your family, has me convinced that there is, at minimum, a great family reason for me to join the church. Its for the family as much as me, I need it, as well, but the family should pray together. I will get dunkedand take the steps necessary to do that and will do it whether you keep me around or not. After all, who knows what religion is the one to get you there, the more the better chance. And I am sincere about this. Drinking must go away, that was my concern in the past with joining. And I thought it was rediculous some of the rules you have, however a clean lifestyle leads to a happy healthy and spiritually solid family.
That is what I want, that is what I have/had right in front of me and I took advantage of it.
You are right with your anger, you are right to want to bail, you have the door right in front of you and the rear view mirror right there. You can take it, but with all I realize that we've tried to do, which is not what you want, I would like to work with you to simplify and pull the family together to focus on what matter instead of trying to create 2 handfuls of stress every couple of months.
You are very beatiful, educated, morally solid with a great head on your shoulders and do not drink, the kids love me and they are great wonderful kids, both are exactly what I was looking for and exactly what I want. - sure I've been the opposite in your eyes, but would like one last chance in one month after spending time with Randy and talking with Allen and the Bish to try to mend this.
I will get dunked and arrange for it the weekend you let me back in.
I f'd up, I stepped up, I want to right this cut back focus and move forward as Husband and wife and parents to the kids.
Its late, I'm going to have a rough day, but I'm glad I reflected.
I seriously love my very beautiful wife and kids.

From: lizzy
To: Stolberg, Robert
Subject: Re: Dumped my brain.
Excuse after excuse. ALWAYS an excuse. Men who beat up their wives and kids have an excuse too. Doesn't matter the excuse AT ALL-- its the victims who have to continually pick up the pieces, except I am not willing to clean up anymore. Sleep with you laptop, balckberry and photo of the brewco. It is where your heart lies, what gets all of your attention and the only entities that get your good side. I am done being a victim, my life is hell, I am exhauted and unhappy and I am not buying it AT ALL.
From: Robert  To: Lizzy
Subject: Dumped my brain.
I would like to switch gears a little bit back to the issue at hand the blew up on Sunday. This does not justify my actions at all, but helps you understand what lead to the outburst (which was totally wrong of me).
Yes I drank Sunday, it was a tough 3 days for me and I knew that work was around the corner which has consumed me.
Now work, yes, I admit, that my priorities have gone wrong. Prior to the project, I had dropped down to 203 pounds and was fairly healthy walking the dogs 2 times per day for a bit. I would pick up the kids and put Siena to bed most nights. Infrequently I'd do other chores, but have none assigned (although I know you have wanted me to take over bills).
Then, the project. I told you when I started, I'd be away for 4 days per week. What I did not know was what the project would do to me, exhaust me. Every day here is a new thing progressing at a very fast pace. It's a whirlwind that never stops. If you don't believe me, ask Rick D., Rick Gardner (who got divorced during it), or Robin Ables. When I get home and sit on my fat ass, it's because I'm brain dead and want to get all of it out of my head. But I can't. It's huge, and with anything business wise I put my head into (Big Bear Properties/Work/My Conversion Job), they all do great. Why, I get consumed and live it. I think of every process, every requirement, the entire end to end to make it a success. And this project, nearly pulling together a 1/2 Billion dollars into one integrated system is huge. Fair to you or anybody, no. That is how I tick. Projects and work always great, always get bonuses, always get raises, without being educated. It's what I hang on to and it's wrong.
With that, when I joined the project, I had no idea the amount of energy it would take away from my enjoyment and family life. You think I fish a lot now (no more than 2 sat am's a month), not at all until I talked with Allen a few months ago. I used to go 3 Sat.'s a month and I do not have that energy now.
Family, this has been a struggle for me. I love you, I love the kids, but unless I'm bashed in the head, my work and all the details get in the mix of it all. Work meaning anything I sign up for. I know it worked with Terri when I had actual chores (not bills, nor laundry) that was assigned on a calendar. That house part worked when we did that.
It is not my intention to avoid you, nor the family, nor is it my preference to ever explode the way I do. It all builds up inside me, like you right now and floods out that door. I love you all dearly, and you pay for me not knowing how to manage inside the family. So, please never say that I do not want a family, that is totally not the case. I want one bad and would pay anything to get clean in my head to be able to manage all of it. It's my head that gets in the way with it all. Yes I am an alcoholic. Terri hated it. And ruined that family. I don't want to do this to you because I love you like I will never love another woman.
Lastly, everything I do is to improve my and my families life now and in the future. I want us all to be ok, but I see now that when I do this while away, I'm piling all of the enhancements on to your shoulders. I can get rid of Big Bear, get rid of the white car, can sell Corto if that would help ease your mind. We'd probably come out of it paying off all our biils, in a much smaller house, and nothing more that a home, animals and vacations to tend to. However I'd like a boat at some point, the kids and I love that.
From: Lizzy
To: Robert
Subject: Re: Re:
And, besides, that's like saying "We have great times, then I beat you up maybe once per month, 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: Lizzy
To: Robert
Oh, yes, you've done so well with the pressure to perform in the past, haven't you? yes, the times we've seperated, the times I've threatened to divorce you, the times you've promised to be well, the times you promised to do AA, while on the cruise when you told me that you were weren't drinking but, after looking at your cruise statement, you drank a lot. Yes, all those times you've done SO well, haven't you. The more you promise, the more you write, the more you say that "this will be different" the more disgusted I am with you. I do not believe a thing that comes out of your mouth, I don't believe ANY of your empty promises, and I am NOT willing to work on this relationship ANY more. You've felt pressure in the past to perform differently in this marriage and you have NOT. This time will be NO different. I have heard ALL of this before and, quite frankly, I do NOT care if you get well.