Back when Rob the Great (Alcoholic) and I were married, we went on a cruise with his whole family. His parents paid for everyone to go, which was incredibly generous, thoughtful and kind. The problem for me was this Rob's daughter's boyfriend also went and they shared a cabin. These kids were 17 years old and their cabin was right across from our cabin, which we were sharing with our two young children (ages five and seven at the time). I was furious that the young children were seeing their sister sharing a bed with her boyfriend. If she were out of our home, hey, to each their own. But that wasn't the case. She was living with us and it was not the message at all that I wanted to display to the children.
Rob, who seemed to think of nothing when it came to parenting, agreed but only after I pointed it out to him. Anyway, so off on the cruise we went. One day, there was a newlywed game. Rob and I were going to enter the contest since we had been married for just over a year at the time but we didn't. I didn't even go but Rob did. He gave me the summary. One question that they asked, apparently, was "I wish my wife had a bigger ....." Rob said that if we were playing the game, he would've answered "I wish my wife had a bigger heart."
"What does that mean?" I asked.
"You can be cold," he answered. "I wish you looked at me more lovingly."
Nice, I thought. And I wish you had a bigger commitment to not drinking. I wish you wouldn't scream. I wish you could handle stress. I wish you would finally start paying the bills. I wish you would help around the house. I wish you would stop getting in my face. I wish you wouldn't make promises and break them all. I wish you would stop acting as if you're the most important person in the whole utility company where you work and blame your job for why you have to hit the bars every night before you come home. I wish I wish I wish I wish. Well, maybe if you were a better man, I wouldn't be so cold. I wish I loved you. I wish I liked you. I wish I respected you. I wish you weren't an alcoholic. I wish you'd stop blaming me for why you drink. I wish you'd start taking responsibility. I wish you'd stop sitting your fat ass on the couch and watching TV while you watch me work like a dog. I wish you'd stop going to bed at eight o'clock at night. I wish you weren't so lazy. I wish you were better in bed. I wish you had morals.
I looked at him with utter contempt. "Well I have an answer for ya," I said. "There's a ship full of booze. You can drink away your sorrow."
When we got off the ship, Rob made a commitment not to drink anymore. "Please go with me to AA," he said. Absolutely! We went to two meetings together. Apparently, Rob kept going for a few more weeks until his daughter, Nicole, called me one day to say her dad wasn't at AA, he was at the BrewCo. I drove past his favorite bar. No car in the front. I was in the parking lot when his friend, Kevin, came out. "Is Bob in there?" I asked. He nodded. I drove around the back of the bar and there was Rob's car- hidden from view just in case I drove past.
I walked into the bar. "Hi!" I said in an overly cheerful voice.
"This is non alcoholic beer," he said.
A few days later, I gave Rob a big huge pass. His dad went into the hospital and it was awful. He wasn't doing well. One day, we were at his bedside and he had a moment of clarity. "Don't forget to let me tell you what happened," he said. He had just come out of a few days of near unconsciousness. I kept reminding Rob to ask his dad what he meant. He probably had seen angels or family or whoever. I wanted to know. He never got the chance to ask him because he passed away shortly thereafter. It was on a Sunday.
Rob's dad, Rob Sr, was a great man. Kind and generous. I never heard that man speak ill of anyone. He was wonderful with the children. They would sit on his lap and he would talk to them endlessly. I never saw him light up more than when the kids were around. Siena still talks about him often.
Rob, no surprise, started drinking again with a vengeance after his dad passed away but before the funeral. And boy oh boy did I get an earful about how he felt about his dad. Much of it positive, a whole lot that wasn't. I was writing and delivering the eulogy and I wanted to smack him. Get off the fucking booze, sober up, and shut the fuck up, I wanted to scream. I loved his dad. I was working hard to help out his mother by doing the eulogy, planning the logistics of food and beverage for the wake, writing the obit, and working with my meeting planner to organize the funeral luncheon. Rob was at the bars. Still, I said nothing. He was in mourning and grief and I tried to give him as many hugs and as much comfort as I could. It was a tough one-- feeling empathy and utter disgust at the same time.
Rob's dad was laid to rest. I sometimes went and visited his grave when no one was with me. I'd have work up in Los Angeles from time to time and I started a routine. I'd call or text Todd and we would meet for coffee. I'd then stop by Rob Sr's grave without telling anyone and talk to him. "Please," I'd say. "If you're able to hear me, please try to inspire your son to get help. Or if he won't get help, please inspire him to leave and not come home." I would beg, plead and sometimes cry. And then I'd get back in my car and drive to LA.
Bigger heart? I became an emotional wreck in that marriage. It was sucking me dry. I became numb most of the time. Almost an auto pilot. Just doing my best to survive one day at a time. It was strange because Rob and I would get in huge fights and I would loathe him like I've loathed no other. And then after a period, we would eventually make up. And when we did, we would get along fantastically. I would be upbeat and affectionate and almost giddy. It would be such an incredible relief, that period of joy that would follow the most horrific of fights. But yet I'd always know that another enormous fight would be just around the corner. Would it be today? Tomorrow? In an hour? In a week? The uncertainty was maddening. Yet I'd look at photos we would take-- photos of our family. A happy family, we would appear. Was my vision of our relationship accurate? Sometimes I would wonder. Was our relationship as bad as I knew it was? Or was I dreaming? Was I crazy? I doubted myself. Where was the reality in all that chaos? Was it in my head?
All I knew is that as active as I was on Facebook, nowhere was Rob. I had not a single photo of him on my page, no mention of a husband, no relationship status of being married. Some of my extended friends knew I was married, most didn't. Because one thing I did know-- I didn't want to be married. I didn't want an alcoholic as my husband. He defrauded me into marrying him.
Was my heart small? I think it was frozen solid.