There are places in my heart that my mind has allowed me to forget. Trauma. If you’ve ever lived through it, you understand how your mind has a way of protecting your being so you don’t have to relive the pain over and over and over. Yet, somehow. your body remembers. This is where the PTSD pours through one’s veins. Where triggers seem to come from nowhere, yet your body remembers. A moment. In time.
This. Is the place. I haven’t wanted to write from. The darkest places of my heart involve my boys’ hearts. The treasure I couldn’t protect. I wasn’t able to protect my boys’ hearts from the one person who was suppose to keep them safe. And teach them about a Father’s heart. This is where the codependency rears it’s ugly head. The part of my story I want to hide and protect and run from and never touch…
This. Is the part. I hate with every fiber of my being.
This is the chapter of my story where I’m learning to place my children’s hearts in the palm of the Father’s hand and trust that His heart is reaching into their own heart space. Today. And hope that one day, they’ll discover the wonder of how the Father’s heart beats in sync with their own. The same thing I had to discover. This is the codependent part where I have to let go of the burden. It’s not mine to carry… I know…
I sat in front of the house.
It was very early, perhaps, 6 a.m.
I’m not the same person, Christelle. This time it’s different.
I’ve heard this all before. How is it different. This time. I asked. Again. As I’d asked so many times before.
It just is. This time God has changed me. I graduated from my addiction recovery program. They told me they’d never had someone work so hard at the program and I was able to graduate early. My peers in the class all told me that I’m an incredible listener. We supported each other through. You just have to trust me. I know it’s hard. I know I’ve made mistakes. But this time is different. I promise. I want to reconcile, Christelle. I know God wants us in ministry together. We will travel the world and tell our story. God gives second chances. This time. It’s different. But you just need to trust me.
The words he spoke only a month before.
Our 21st wedding anniversary.
He was insistant on celebrating with me. Ironically, I had stopped celebrating that date several years prior. After a betrayal that nearly killed me. A betrayal that led to our vow renewal. The vow renewal where I later found out, he was already having another affair as he declared promises to me and my boys and in front of a handful of my closest friends and family. This time, with a waitress, we had both come to know, at a restaurant he visited every night after work. And on weekends. Instead of coming home to his own boys.
Their words still haunt my soul, “Mom, where’s dad? How is he still at work?” He had us all convinced that we couldn’t possibly understand how hard he works and the long hours it takes to teach. and coach. and be a father figure to students, the same ages as my boys. “Mom, where’s dad?” My youngest would ask. He waited for hours for his dad to come home. To read to him. To tuck him in bed. To. Spend. TIME with him.
This. is the part.
I’m going to digress.
because this is the story, no child should have to live.
A Father is supposed to protect his children.
AND THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO BE HIS NUMBER ONE FUCKING PRIORITY.
This is the part
THAT fucking breaks my heart.
BECAUSE HE FUCKING broke THEIR HEARTS!
This is the part that hurts so bad, the heart part, where my whole body trembles.
I want to puke.
Does he still have his job, Christelle? His parents would ask when I’d beg them for help.
Be careful who you tell Christelle. He needs his job.
You better not go to my job, Christelle.
No one at my job will believe you, Christelle.
They all know you are crazy.
The words that held me hostage.
The job that held his identity.
And all I could think was. Is. WHO FUCKING CARES ABOUT HIS JOB? When at the end of his life his own boys will declare: We NEVER had a DAD!!! So while he’s living a lie at his religious institution, spending time with students his own boys age. Living in the status of a leader, mentor, coach, father figure… HE’S failing his OWN children! Neglecting them. Abandoning them.
THIS is the part.
Where I was held hostage.
And bound to silence.
This is the part where, my own boys have given me permission to talk.
And so I sat in front of the house. On Thanksgiving day. And watched.
There are no more women in my life Christelle. I only hang around my roommates. They are all males. No females come to visit. I’m a changed man Christelle. This time it’s different. I want my family back. I just want to be a good dad. You need to trust me.
We made plans for him to spend a portion of the day with our boys.
But something whispered through my soul… I couldn’t ignore… lingering whispers…
Something isn’t right…
The house. The very house my sister in law had beautifully prepared for us to help create a new life after the affair that nearly killed me. Both my brother and sister in law decorated, painted, built. For US. Our family. Prepared with love as we made steps to. Begin. Again.
YOU STOPPED BEING MY DAD WHEN YOU HAD AN AFFAIR WITH MY BEST FRIEND’s MOM. My oldest son screamed at him. From inside that house. Only months prior. My son bolted from his room to protect ME from his father’s drunkin’ state. He had lunged at me and pushed a couch into my body as he tried to take my phone. I was recording his words to me because I knew. Noone. Would believe me.
The house. The place of new beginnings and very dark endings.
“I Hate you Christelle! You always assume the worst. And I wont let you! I believe in a God of second chances!”
The language of a narcissist. To make you feel crazy. To second guess yourself. To shift blame. To use YOU as a scapegoat. WHEN in fact… the assumptions are minor compared to the truth. Every single time I made an assumption about His actions, I would find out later the truth was something I could never have imagined nor thought possible. He spoke the words. He knew the words to use. To keep me bound. For 20 years. And I truly believed he could change and that God would change him. Until. One day. I no longer believed him. And just like that. I knew. Our life together was over.
I arrived at the house. The boys were set to meet with him at the house. To celebrate the holiday with him. But I couldn’t shake the feeling. Something wasn’t right.
And so I sat there. And I watched. The porch my boys had once played on. The porch where I had taken pictures of my boys on their first days of school. Captured photos of them wearing their Halloween costumes. Watched them play with friends. The house where I stopped allowing their friends to come over. Because in the end. It became so incredibly dark.
From across the street. I watched as two females, about the same age as my oldest… relaxed on the porch. Smoking cigarettes. Drinking. Something. Dressed in their pajamas. It was clear they felt comfortable there. It was clear by their appearance, they had spent the night there. After several minutes, they stood up, opened the door, and let themselves back inside.
She means nothing to me Christelle. She’s crazy, Christelle. I met her in my drug and alcohol rehab program. She needed a place to stay. I was helping out a friend. She needed a way to get to work. I needed to drive her there. She doesn’t have a car. She had no where to live. I couldn’t let her go back to the streets. I let her sleep in my bed because she wanted to. She came into the bedroom and told me she had been raped. I needed to comfort her. We only snuggled, Christelle. Nothing happened, Christelle. We are only friends.
My bed. My house. My boys.