Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Validation from the ex's family. My saga is updated via Divorced Moms

I sometimes take snippets from the early days of my blog, refresh them a bit, and post them on Divorced Moms, which gives me a very large audience. My story is one that I don't necessarily write in order of events but, rather, what strikes me as important at that moment. You can read below in case you missed my original post. Today, I feel this is an important piece of my story. Not too long ago, a reader contacted me about a similar experience. Her husband is an alcoholic and his put-downs are really extreme. But this is what an abuser does-- takes as much as the self-esteem away from his partner as possible so she is less likely to leave him. What is critical is not believing the lies and, instead, spending that time getting strong so that one is able to leave.

It is amazing to me how many women are strong, independent, and even earn good incomes yet stay with abusers. It isn't an income or education level thing. Victims come from all age groups, across the spectrum of attractiveness, income level, and the like. A victim is a victim is a victim. Why do some women stay when she sometimes holds all the cards and can get rid of the looser in her life? There are a million reasons, none of them good. It is a very sad situation and I can only say that getting cancer made me strong in ways I wasn't when I was healthy. Go figure. Cancer made me strong enough to not only leave my alcoholic husband, but to fight him in the courts and win every single thing I wanted, and to thrive in a better relationship. I hope it doesn't take a life threatening illness for others to walk away. If this is you, save yourself at all cost.

Yesterday, I had another bone marrow biopsy, my third in five months. My partner from The Myeloma Crowd, Jenny, told me to ask for the lollipop, which is a fast-acting pain killer. "I don't even remember the experience and the side-effects of the drug are gone just a few minutes after the procedure," she said. So I went into this one thinking that I would drift off into nothingness and would come out of it pain free. So I was on the table and started sucking the lolli and guess what? It totally failed me! It didn't help one tiny bit with the pain and discomfort. And because I wasn't mentally prepared for feeling anything at all, I was really super unhappy. For a second, I envisioned myself telling my tech to stop right there and I was leaving. See ya! And then I remember that I don't have an option if I want to monitor my disease closely and pick the right treatment plans for me. So I stuck it out but I am so incredibly tired of biopsies! This myeloma journey is really un-fun sometimes. I'm getting really burned out from doctors, appointments, needles, prescription refills, pills, more needles... One day at a time. Tomorrow will be better.

But on the happy news, I have been invited to be a guest speaker at a divorce survivor's retreat in North Carolina next month. I said yes and now I'm busy putting together my presentation. I am really excited and flattered and, no doubt, I will share all the details with you along with links to the retreat in case any of you are interested in going out there some day.

I must run, as I have infusion this morning.

Peace and love,

The Alcoholic Hubby Is A Legend (In His Own Mind)
by Lizzy Smith                    
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August 25, 2015
635596338568578798Fotolia_57937690_XS.jpgMy ex husband is an alcoholic. A highly functioning alcoholic who could hold down a job (barely) but hit the bars the second he could. Truth is, he works for a public utility and (no offense to you utility workers who are really amazing employees), as such, he did not need to produce and compete in the same way one must if you are working for a small business or large corporation. (There is no competition for public utilities and employees can get away with producing almost nothing and not get fired. That is the truth.) Because by noon on many days, Rob was already sitting in a bar getting wasted off his ass, oftentimes going to sleep (i.e. passing out) by early evening. Very few employers would ever put up with that but at the utility, his bosses didn't even notice. I did and it was positively stunning that he managed not to find himself on the unemployment roles. So I use the words "highly functioning alcoholic" loosely.

After five years of living a life a total chaos, lies and volatility (get drunk, scream and throw temper tantrums, apologize profusely and promise to enter treatment, enter treatment but not really be at AA meetings and instead be drinking again and lying about it, repeat), I finally left just days after getting diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a blood cancer (Tom Brokaw has this disease, so does the actor Mat Damon's father). Actually, I fled this abusive monster on the Saturday of MLK weekend and moved to Utah. I had thrown clothes into trash bags, put the cat in a carrier, and drove off. And as I drove towards Utah, I received text after text from Rob. They varied from "I love you, come back, I'm so sorry" to "you're a lying bitch." It was truly bizarre and unbelievable. I couldn't get away from him fast enough. In fact, just days after I left, he sent me an email stating that he got on Antibuse (a prescription that makes an alcoholic really sick if they come in contact with alcohol) and that prior to getting the prescription, they had to check his liver function. He told me he had a PERFECT liver! I wanted to throw up. One of the main effects of my disease was that it attacked one's liver and many with my disease first presented with complete liver failure. It was so incredibly inappropriate that it made my head spin. But that's Rob for ya.

What really confused me, however, was that Rob's family was silent. Well, Kellie, his younger daughter from his first marriage, called and texted me to see if I was OK. Kellie and I had a rough start in our relationship but she had ended up being a close friend and confidante. It was a relief to learn from her that Rob's abusive behavior wasn't just reserved for me-- he had done it to her mother as far back as she can remember. But, I kept wondering, why was not a single person from Rob's family calling or texting me at all?

And then I got "the call". I won't betray confidences or throw anyone under the bus so let's suffice it to say this: The person who called me was one of Rob's adult family members (not the children).  The phone conversation was basically to relay this: Rob had emailed his entire family telling them not to have any contact with me. He went further by telling them that he wanted letters from them saying anything awful they could about me so he could present it to a judge when the time came (oh, if he had really done this, I can imagine what a judge would have thought. This kind of stuff made me more determined than ever to fight.). This family member said that their family always stuck up for each other and that is why no one would contact me but that they all realized Rob was sick, that he needed help, and that what he had done to the kids and me was wrong. This person also said that Rob had promised (again) to enter treatment for his alcoholism but instead was busy trying to find a new girlfriend. In fact, he had contacted one of his brother's friends trying to arrange a date the weekend I left him. (Rob had also contacted his brother asking if he could move in with them but that no one in that home wanted him there because Rob too often snuck into their liquor supply in the middle of the night.) This family member said that they were all stunned with Rob's rush back into another relationship. He had done this after he and his ex wife, Tina, split-- dating way too soon instead of taking time to heal. And he was repeating it. They all recognized Rob needed a lot of help and therapy and time, but they all realized, too, that Rob was incapable of doing that. (I have to say, when I learned that Rob had emailed Tina just weeks prior to our meeting telling her how sorry he was for how he treated her, I was sick. I felt so stupid that he had been trying to repair things with Tina just weeks before he pursued me with a vengeance. It made me feel so stupid and used. And Rob did this again with the new honey. If I were her, I'd feel like an idiot, too.)

...And then I got to thinking: Is remaining silent the right approach to take when you know a member or your family needs serious help? If your son or brother was sick, wouldn't you try an intervention? How many times had I called his mom and discussed Rob's problems with her. She tried the soft approach with Rob-- setting up appointments with her priest, asking him how therapy was going, calling me at work asking me if I would take her son back if he got help... But no serious intervention, which Rob desperately needed. Maybe if that had happened, Rob wouldn't have destroyed two families.

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