Tag Archives: alcoholism

…part 3 – end of one chapter, beginning of another

Needless to say, I was beside myself.

I asked my best friend H what I should do.  She’d been there through all of it.  She felt he was testing me. I’d drawn the line after 3.5 years of hemming and hawing, I’d issued my ultimatum…and he was letting me know exactly where he stood.

I’m not saying our marriage was perfect otherwise – far from it.  I was working too much – he always felt I favored my career over him. He was emotionally abusive.  There wasn’t a day that went by where I was told I was fat in one way or another.  And in addition to “Baby” the other names he called Robbie were “Stupid”, “Ugly” and “Trouble.”  How any one could call a 1 year old baby stupid or ugly is beyond me. 

I could put up with all of it. But if you put my child in harm’s way, I draw the line. 

That night I told him I wanted a divorce.

His response?  He had to drive into town to get a bottle because the liquor stores out by us were closed. He came home with a bottle for me, too.  Drinking was not really what I wanted to do.

On Monday, I found a daycare for Robbie.  If my #1 reason for leaving was that I couldn’t trust him alone with our son, then I wasn’t about to leave him there and go to work.

On Tuesday, I got my hair cut. Robert had always joked that he’d leave me if I chopped off all my hair (it was down to roughly my chest).  I knew he didn’t mean it…but I also knew that if I cut it, he’d realize just how serious I was.  I came home with my hair about chin length.  First words out of his mouth were, “Oh my god, you’re not kidding.”

I was definitely not kidding.

On Friday – exactly one week after I’d told Robert I wanted a divorce – I was laid off. Wow, what timing!

Thankfully, I found work again right away. I kept Robbie in daycare and used my severance to fill the gap. The following weeks were not easy, to say the least.  Thankfully – and I am thankful every single day for this – my grandmother heard about what was going on.  She called me and told me to find a lawyer and tell her the cost.  She was going to pay for my divorce.

I won’t hash out the rest of it.  He moved back to Oz in May ’08, just a couple of weeks before the divorce was finalized.  He took two suitcases and told me he didn’t want anything else. 

With him gone, Robbie and I were suddenly spending a lot more time together.  I went from the workaholic that never saw her kid…to a single mom who had a lot to sort out.  Lucky for me, I had an amazing kid. So smart! So independant! 

Robert came to visit once – April of 2009. He was here for a full month.  Entirely too long, but we made the best of it.  I don’t think he’ll be coming back.  He shows little to no interest in his son, but I think it’s his method of self-preservation.  If you don’t think about something/someone, it’s less painful. 

I’ve always said that I will never speak poorly of Robert to our son.  I’ll stick to the facts.  I’ll answer any questions he has.  He’s only 5 now, but I’ve already explained that to him more than a few times.  I’ve also told both father and son that if they ever want to video chat or talk on the phone, all either of them has to do is say the word and I will make it happen.  The last request was made by Robbie almost a year ago. I talk to my ex-mother-in-law more often than I do my ex. 

Robbie’s always been a sharp kid.  Once, when he was about 3, someone remarked at how well he speaks.  “That’s rare in an only child,” she said.

“Well, I’m an only parent,” I responded. “I don’t have anyone else to talk to!”

I’ve always talked to Robbie as if he were a little adult. That probably wasn’t always the best move, but we’ve grown together over the years and I hope we’ll always be close.  I’m a firm believer in being a parent first, not a friend, but I love how close we are.

I was very careful when dating.  Before Rick, Robbie only ever met two of my boyfriends – I had to be sure they were going to be around for a while before I wanted Robbie to meet them. Rick was different.  We both knew it before we met – this was different. 

My family took some convincing.  When we announced we were moving in together after dating for just 3 months, my brother was beyond angry.  After what I’d gone through with Robert – what we’d all gone through – it was going to be a long time before they’d trust another man around me. 

In December 2011, my brother married his college sweetheart.  We all went to the wedding and that was the first time Rick met the majority of my family.  They all approved.  They saw how happy we were.  They saw how kind he was.  They realized he was the complete opposite of Robert in every single way. 

I’ve never been happier.  We’ve been married a year this past February.  Every day, he treats me better than anyone has ever treated me in my life.  Every day, I try to do the same for him. I always feel like I come up short.

I see so many relationships – including my first marriage – that devolve into these petty little pissing matches. So many people trying to trick their spouse or get “even” with them, etc.  He’s shown me how marriage should be.  It should be full of love and respect.  The “golden rule” isn’t just for strangers!  It applies beautifully to marriage.  If we both spend every day trying to treat the other the way we could only dream of being treated ourselves… we end every day just as in love – or more – as we were the day before. 

…part 2

In 2007, we moved into a house – brand new construction in a great little neighborhood. My job changed again and I found myself commuting in the opposite direction. I was still working crazy hours and going to school part time. Robert found a job stocking at a grocery store at night. It didn’t pay enough to cover a 2nd car and daycare. He swore he could make it without daycare and his shift meant another car wasn’t necessary.

After 2 days, he realized it was too much. We found a daycare for Robbie that was somewhat affordable.

Three weeks later, Robert was fired. We pulled Robbie out of daycare and were back where we started.

I’m not sure if that’s when the drinking got worse…or if it just took me that long to notice.

I tried to reason with him. I tried to set limits. At first, he just had a problem with hard liquor, so he agreed to no hard liquor in the house. Then one day he polished off three bottles of wine in an afternoon – while I was at work and he was alone with our baby. So I changed it to “no more than one bottle of wine or one six pack if beer in the house at a time.” I was so young and naive.

I begged him to get help. He finally agreed to attend a few AA meetings. One weekend, he asked me to go with him. I was so glad he was trying and willing to let me be a part of this. We went to a meeting and listened to everyone share their stories. I spent most of the meeting in tears.  On the drive home he explained that he brought me so that I could see that he doesn’t have a problem – he wanted me to see just how unlike those people he was. I was crushed.
I opened up his AA book that week and found a chapter for spouses. Granted, this chapter seems very outdated and culminates in a “stand by your man and do your duty as a wife” mentality, but most of the chapter was painfully accurate. It explained what it feels like to be married to an alcoholic. I went through and underlined every passage I agreed with…and then gave it back to him.

He was very surprised to hear the pain he was causing. He still felt he had control, though.

Robbie continued to be a happy little baby, but I grew more and more nervous about leaving for work each day.

On New Years Day 2008, my family wanted to get together, as my family is apt to do since we’re all very close. As usual, Robert wanted nothing to do with them. I left him at home with the car and jokingly said, “Try not to get into too much trouble!” Robbie and I went out with my family for the day.

When I came home that night, Robert was smashed. He’d bought a handle (1.75L) of bourbon and had easily finished over 1/3 of the bottle at that point. He thought I was giving him the ok to drink when I left. He told me to hide the bottle from him and that way he wouldn’t drink more the next day while I was at work.

Of course I didn’t hide it well enough.

When I came home from work the next day, the oven was on – I remember thinking that was odd. It was set very high – 450 or so. I called out to see where my guys were.

“I’m in here, playing with Baby,” he called from Robbie’s room. He never would call him by his name. He still doesn’t.

He also rarely ever played with Robbie, so I was skeptical, but hopeful. Maybe he was trying.

I walked in and saw him leaning against a wall, coke in hand, while Robbie played on the floor.

I sat down to play with my little guy. Robert was grinning ear to ear.

“Why is the oven on?” I asked.

He gave a little nod if his head and made some swooshy gesture with his hand. I both had no idea what that meant…and exactly what it meant, all at the same time.

I stood up and sniffed the can in his hand. Bourbon.

I ran to where I had hid the bottle. There was maybe four fingers’ worth left. I’ve never been so upset in my life.

I called him into the kitchen. I issued my ultimatum.

“If you EVER drink ONE MORE SIP of alcohol while you are at home alone with OUR BABY, I will leave you.”

I poured the rest of the bourbon down the drain. I can’t tell you how much alcohol I poured out over our short marriage.

The next morning, he snuggled up behind me, trying to be sweet.

“I meant what I said last night. I wasn’t joking,” I said.

“What did you say?”

He had blacked out. He didn’t remember any of it.

“I told you that if you ever drink another drop if alcohol while you’re alone with Robbie, I’ll leave you. I’m serious.”

The next Friday, he walked with Robbie to my mom’s house (1/2 mile away at that time). He drank a beer. He left the empty bottle on her counter.

When he got home, he messaged me at work and told me. I started crying right there in the back if my training class.

Robbie…and more on my pre-Rick days

After reading the latest post on Lovemanytrustfew’s Blog, I’m feeling reminiscent of baby days gone by.  Since I’ve only ever had one baby in my life, I thought I’d put some words on Robbie together.  And, of course, it’s impossible to talk about Robbie’s early days without giving some more of my own background in the process.

When I was 23, I met a young Aussie that was here visiting friends.  We’d known each other in passing from a message board that we’d both posted on for years.  We met for a drink.  He seemed pretty normal, so I invited him with me on a road trip the following weekend.

One thing led to another, and I found myself engaged.

After 11 months of waiting for paperwork and red tape, he moved back to the US and we were married.  It was not a typical marriage.  I worked full time and he stayed home.  We got him a green card and worked off and on, but never anything steady.  He had dreams of being a stay at home dad and I was an ambitious go-getter that had zero desire to stay home birthin’ babies.  At the time, it seemed like a good fit.

At the ripe old age of 26, I became pregnant.  We’d been trying for 9-10 months and I really didn’t think it would ever happen. I figured it wasn’t meant to be – our relationship was on the rocks as it was and maybe us not conceiving was a sign!  And then… -tada!- …it happened.

I had a miserable pregnancy. I continued to work entirely too many hours AND I was trying to finish my degree at nights. My body did not take kindly to all that hard work and stress.  While I only gained about 15 lbs in the first 7 months of pregnancy, I then proceeded to gain 14lbs in less than 2 weeks.  At 35 weeks, I was diagnosed with HELLP Syndrome. My liver had shut down.  The only cure was childbirth, so I was scheduled for an emergency c-section.

Robbie was born 5lbs 15oz.  After 12 hours under constant surveillance, I was allowed to roll past him in the NICU before I was taken upstairs.  I remember seeing this skinny little thing, all covered in tubes and wires.  So tiny.  All I could touch was his elbow.  I couldn’t get up or hold him or any of the things you should get to do right after your baby is born. This was not like you see in the movies.  This was painful.

I was told that after I’d completed 24 hours of a magnesium drip, I’d be allowed to go see him properly.  The minute that clock hit the designated time, I buzzed for my nurse.  They asked if I was sure I was ready to make the trip down.  It was going to take an army to keep me from my baby!! They said 24 hours, it had been 24 hours, I wanted to go now now now!!

After 4 days, I was sent home. Robbie had to stay in the NICU.  He was 5 weeks early, so they told me to prepare myself for the fact that he might remain there for 5 weeks.  My mom drove me up to the hospital every day.

My ex – Robert – wouldn’t hold his son until all the tubes came off. He didn’t have to wait long.

On day 6, they told me they were going to try him on bottle-feeding.  They told me not to get my hopes up – the NICU seems full of these “downer” moments where they want to make sure you aren’t filled with false hope.

He took to it like a fish to water. 

On day 7 they said they were going to take him off the feeding tube completely, and if he did well for 24 hours, he could come home.  On day 8, we brought our little baby home.  He was 5 lbs 9oz at that time.  19 inches long, though!  Mr. String Bean.

Robbie spent his first year practicing things before he’d let us see.  He must have rolled over a dozen times before I ever caught him in the act!  I remember one morning, instead of waking up to crying…we heard him babbling!  He’d never babbled for us!  I snuck into his room and the minute he saw me, he stopped!  Just smiled up at me as if to say, “What? I wasn’t talking. I was just laying here quietly!”  He did the same with walking.  I knew he’d been walking, but just never could catch him in the act.  He’d run laps through the house with his push cart, but never on his own two feet.  And then one day, I busted him!  He left his fruit snack in the kitchen and I brought it to him.  He was at the couch – I put the snack on the coffee table and said, “You forgot this!”  He turned and ran to the table.  I said, “I KNEW IT!!” He just laughed and laughed. I swear that kid was born with a sarcastic sense of humor.

Backing up a bit… when Robbie was 5 months old, I got a call at work. It was my husband.

Him: I’ve fallen. I hit my head. I need you to come home.

Me: What happened?? Are you ok?

Him: I’m bleeding. I need you to come home!

Me: I’ll call you right back!!

I was in a panic – things were a disaster at work and even if I’d left immediately, I was 45 minutes from home!  I called my mom to see where she was and if she could possibly get there faster.  She was in town and only about 20 minutes away.  She and my stepdad rushed over to our apartment.

I called Robert back.

Me: My mom’s on her way. Are you okay? Is Robbie okay?

Him: Baby’s fine. You called your mom??

Me: Yes, she can get there faster. What were you doing when you fell down??

Him: I was standing.

Me: Are you drunk???

Him: Yeah, maybe a little.

 

That’s when I should have left.  That’s when I should have known that what looked like a fun guy pre-baby was actually an alcoholic.  Of course I didn’t leave.  I tried to work it out. I tried to negotiate and reason.  I tried to make it work.

More on that tomorrow…