Rob and I returned from our honeymoon in Russia where we met our soon-to-be adopted daughter, Siena. I was filled with hope that maybe the marriage wasn't a huge mistake. Now the paper chase began in order to complete the adoption and it would be some ten months before we would actually get her home. That is a story all its own.
Almost immediately, I realized that I was completely overwhelmed by Rob and Nicole and the drama going on between the two of them. And the drama going on between Rob and his younger daughter, Kalie, who was refusing to speak to him at all. I felt swallowed up-- Morgan and me-- way out of our element. We were in a new neighborhood, in a house too big that needed too much work and I was getting zero help from Rob, and I didn't know how to handle it at all. My cousin, Sue, was getting a divorce and I asked her to move in with us. We gave her Kalie's bedroom, since I knew she wasn't coming home anytime soon. Sue became my much-needed ally.
By early November, just three months after our wedding, Mean Drunk Rob showed up. I didn't even know what was going on when he started screaming in this horrific pitch that I have never heard a grown man do. Ever. It was this agitated bizarre behavior that would start with glassy eyes, fidgety hands, and rambling, followed by a scream in a high falsetto/mezzo soprano wail. If I only had recorded it! Because there is no way to describe the scream and behavior surrounding it. The first several times that I witnessed this behavior, I literally stood transfixed, mouth gaping, wondering how the hell he could reach those incredibly high decibels. I didn't know if I should laugh, run, or slam my fist into a wall. Instead, I would do nothing and just let the bizarre scenario play itself out.
One night after a particularly "entertaining" screaming fit, I simply went into the guest room, laid in bed and started watching TV. I loved the feeling of being in bed alone. I felt single again and, truth be told, it felt terrific. I thought of Terri, Rob's ex wife, and I envied her life. It made me recall an illustration I once saw that said: "You're dating my ex? I've got a half eaten sandwich. You want that, too?" That was me-- taking Terri's icky leftovers that she couldn't swallow anymore. A few hours later, Rob came into the bedroom. I could tell he had been crying.
"Please come to bed. You're my wife," he said.
"No. There's something wrong with you. Go away, please," I said.
"This isn't going to work, is it?" he said with tears in his eyes.
I shook my head. "I don't think so." And I meant it.
He went back into our bedroom and after maybe another hour, I felt bad. He was my husband. Poor innocent Rob. The guy who was terrorized for 19 years by his ex wife and who didn't know how to communicate. It was all her fault (so Rob said and I believed him). I really needed to cut him some slack. He had so much stress. As soon as the stress was gone, he would be normal, just like he promised. So I got up, went into our room, cuddled up with him in bed, and gave him extra hugs and kisses-- just like I would a child. I thought that maybe more love and affection would do the trick.
Shortly thereafter, it was late November and my company Christmas party was just a few days away. That party was really fun every year. The year before, I had taken Todd with me and it was one of the best nights ever. We had dressed up and looked amazing, we drank a little too much, and I was giddy. I was with a guy I was absolutely crazy about. This year, I was feeling much more subdued and sad-- sad that Todd wasn't going with me, even though we had talked just a few days prior and, if I was single, I would have invited him and I know he would have gone with me. Instead, I was taking my husband, a guy I didn't love and screamed like a shrill woman. And in the midst of all those feelings, I got a call from Todd. I picked up the phone and we talked and laughed and I felt excited and happy again. Rob and Morgan had already gone to bed. It was just Sue and I. Sue could see me smiling as I texted messages and photos back and forth with Todd.
"Wow-- look at you," she said. She was stunned at how happy I looked.
I finally had someone to confide in. "Sue, I think I made a mistake. How can I love Rob when every time I hear from Todd, I look like this."
And then my excitement came to a crashing end when I realized that, oh dear Lord, I was married. To Rob.
Todd and I talked a long time that night and for the next week, I was in another Todd funk. Rob and I went to my Christmas party and it was all I could do to stave off the sadness and depression I felt about being in a marriage with a man I didn't want to be with. Plain and simple.
The following week, Rob and I threw our first annual Christmas party. It was really fun and we had some 120 people show up. After everyone left, I was cleaning up and Rob, after taking out a few bags of trash, said, "Ok, do you have everything else?" I thought he was joking. "Sure, yes, I've got it all!" I responded. Maybe 30 minutes later as I was scrubbing floors, I realized Rob had been gone for a long time. I went to find him and he was in bed sound asleep. I woke him up.
Photos from our first Christmas party-- a party that Rob did almost nothing to help clean up afterwards.
"What are you doing in bed when I'm up cleaning?" I was livid.
"You said you had it all!" he shouted.
"I thought you were joking. How rude! Most of these people were your friends and you leave me with everything?"
He went back to sleep. As I watched him sleeping in bed with his big huge beer gut hanging, I was completely and utterly revolted by the sight. It was the first time that just looking at Rob with his fleshy belly made me physically ill. That fleshiness represented laziness and it was disgusting. I began to experience true contempt for him for the first time. I watched him for several minutes, becoming more and more grossed out by the view before I went back to the kitchen with a toothbrush and started scrubbing the tile floors and crying. I felt like I was losing my mind. The despair I felt was horrific. I was so angry with Rob and with me for getting myself in this situation.
It was after Christmas and Rob and I got in a huge enormous fight. Mean Drunk Rob showed up again, screaming again-- this time over my needing help with putting Christmas ornaments away. I begged him to go to his mother's house for a night to calm down. He packed up and on his way to the front door, screamed at me: "I'm not going to my mom's! I'm going to a hotel!"
My heart started pounding. "No you're not! We don't have money for you to go to a hotel, especially because you can go to your mom's for free!" I said.
"You can't tell me what to do! I make a lot of money!" he screamed again. Except he forgot to mention that no matter how much money he earned, he owed it all to his ex wife.
So I did the really mature thing. I called up the two credit card companies and cancelled both of the cards. And I texted Rob that he had no access to credit and he needed to go to his mom's house. He was furious but whatever. He was furious anyway and his mezzo soprano screaming wasn't sitting well with me anyway so, quite frankly, I didn't care.
My next call was to Todd. We spent the next several days talking on the phone and texting each other. He invited me over to his house for dinner. He was going to make us salmon and he had the whole menu planned out. I accepted. I was going to see Todd and maybe have an affair and let the chips fall where they way. It was a Sunday afternoon and I was taking a long walk trying to let my anger at Rob ebb before I returned home. I was steadfast in my decision. I called my friend, Shannon.
"I don't love Rob. This is a huge mistake. I'm going to see Todd next weekend," I said.
In the midst of that call, Rob called and I answered.
"I'm an alcoholic," he finally confessed. "I'm so sorry. I should have told you. I love you. I don't want to destroy another family. I want to get help and I promise I'll get better."
My heart broke. If there's one thing I do well-- I try and heal people. Wounded men is my Achilles' heal. I found AA meetings that week and I went with Rob to a few where he told the group: "Hi, I'm Rob and I'm an alcoholic." He got an AA sponsor who also worked at his company, Randy. And the next weekend, instead of going to Todd's for that salmon dinner, Rob and I went on a get-away to Catalina where we ate yummy food, went for runs along the beach, and took naps in front of the fireplace in our room. We got home on Super Bowl Sunday and went straight to Rob's brother Chris' home for the Super Bowl party. I decided that I needed to try and help Rob get well and to make my marriage work. After all, we owned a house together and I was stuck so I was going to do my best to pick up all the pieces and make the marriage work.
In April, Rob and I got in another huge fight. I went online and purchased two plane tickets for Utah and Morgan and I left the next day for the weekend. I didn't even tell Rob where we were going. We just left. I wanted out of the marriage by this point. But the same pattern started back up. Rob apologized. I felt sorry for him. We made up. We got along for awhile. Rob always had an excuse for his behavior. He was stressed because of work. "I'll be better as soon as I get these big projects off my plate," he'd say. Well what the hell? I had all the same stressors and more because I was managing our entire house with almost no help whatsoever from Rob and yet I wasn't behaving that way. How was it ok that he was?
And that was when Kalie told me about Rob drinking every day after work. A week later, she informed Rob that she wasn't going to be living with him anymore.
And I just sank deeper and deeper into life with an alcoholic-- a man who lied, manipulated, screamed, threw temper tantrums, made false promises, belittled, and behaved in horrific ways befitting a five year old child who had his Tonka truck taken from him. The seeds of contempt were well sewn and every single day, my contempt for him started growing stronger and stronger. And every time he screamed and apologized, I learned to loathe him a bit more every single day.