I’ve come here over the past few weeks multiple times with the intent to write more of this story, but every time I leave with a blank screen.
It’s hard to go back there.
I left off with describing the first week after discovering the secret life my husband was living. I had one goal: keep life as normal as I possibly could for the girls.
Dave wasn’t living at our house, but in an effort to keep life normal for Little Bug and Sweet Pea, Dave “came home from work”, stayed through dinner, baths and putting the girls to bed, and then he immediately left once they were in bed.
I will never forget what it felt like to not even be able to look my husband in the eyes. I couldn’t look at him, much less interact with him, and, truth be told, I really didn’t even want him in my house! It was best for the girls for him not to completely disappear and I needed to figure out where his heart was. So I asked if he would come over every evening to keep things as normal as possible for the girls. I endured his nightly visits during those first couple of weeks.
Any communication we had was purely functional and related to the girls and our brief, strenuous couple of hours as a family every evening. The pain, on both sides, was so raw. Neither of us knew where we were headed and those weeks of him coming over like a house guest were some of the strangest weeks of my life.
I was watching his actions like an animal watches their prey. He continued to faithfully come over every night to be a daddy to his daughters. I was very aware of the fact that this was a step in the right direction for him because, had he desired to take on his secret lifestyle and make that his new life, he certainly could have done it in those weeks.
During these weeks, we started marriage counseling with our pastor’s wife. She was instrumental in guiding us every step of the way towards rebuilding our marriage. One of the first things she asked us to do was to go through a process called “Full Disclosure”.
This was a very painful process but a very necessary part to healing. Basically, she asked Dave to make a timeline of sorts of everything he had done, as best as he could remember, from the first offense all the way to January 22nd. Then, Dave was to tell me everything on that list, item by item.
There were many things I learned as Dave went through that list, but if we were going to work towards rebuilding our marriage (I didn’t know if that was even possible at this point!), everything had to come to the light and be exposed, so it could be dealt with and no more secrets would be popping up three years down the road.
That process was excruciating – for both of us. Item by item, Dave told me everything. My heart was flooded with so many emotions during that time but this one feeling stands out to me plain as day.
I felt like my family was a fraud to the point that I wanted to take down EVERY SINGLE family picture hanging in our home and burn them! There we were smiling in those pictures, holding Little Bug and eventually both girls, and from the picture, it seemed like we had it all. We’d been through so much to even become a family! Who would have thought all of this was going on in the background where no one could see, including me? I couldn’t look at those pictures.
I remember wondering to myself if I would ever be able to look at our family photos again prior to January of 2014, and have any positive feelings towards them.
It was too much to process in my mind and it didn’t seem real. In order for me to even think about beginning to heal, I had to find a way to make all of this seem real. I felt like I was living outside of myself, looking in and witnessing something horrible going on to some girl that I didn’t know.
The way I brought all this to my reality was by doing something that was extremely painful to do, but something that I had to do.
There were years of emails and work chats between my husband and several women at work, and I went through and read every single email and every single line of chat.
I knew that was my first step toward wrapping my mind around all of this and being able to process all that had happened and who my husband had been all of those years.
It was devastating to read and it cut me to the core of my being, but it gave me what I needed: I began to accept in my mind that all this really had been happening.
And then I had to decide what I was going to do with my new reality.