Emma exuded beauty, calmness, and strength. However, smoldering beneath the facade, she barely kept her emotions controlled.
Last night, she attempted another conversation with Tony about what she’d discovered, quite by accident. It’s not like she’d been snooping. Well, not very hard. Emma had her suspicions, and on Tuesday, she found some evidence.
“How could he? Why can’t we talk about this without World War III breaking loose? It’s MY fault?” Emma simmered.
What else would she discover?
In desperation to uncover the full extent of his betrayal, Emma grabbed Tony’s laptop during the kids’ naps. A quick history search made her nauseous. He’d stayed up long after she went to bed last night. As Emma clicked on each link, she went further down his rabbit hole. Even websites that appeared innocuous revealed more sensuality. Quickly, she grabbed the trash can to catch her stomach contents.
This couldn’t be happening! And yet, she stared at the evidence.
“What’s wrong with me?” Sobbing, she bit her lip, tasting blood. “Quiet. You don’t want to wake the kids.”
Furiously wiping away the tears, Emma opened a new tab to search for options.
What could she do about her discovery?
“He’s a good dad. And my kids need a dad. But I can’t stand to look at him, let alone pretend everything is okay between us.”
Scanning through the many Google search results, Emma watched several videos, hoping someone would tell her exactly what to do. But the many diverse opinions left her feeling more hopeless.
Soon, Emma’s anger and confusion settled into deep pain and brain fog.
Normally clear thinking, she floundered in a molasses sea of doubt and darkness.
“Mommy?” the voice called to her. “Mommy?”
Emma quickly closed the windows and attempted to erase her recent search history so Tony wouldn’t realize what she’d been doing. Figuring out why would have to come later. All she could rationalize at this moment was to cover her tracks.
Walking toward the kids’ bedrooms, she glanced in the bathroom mirror. Her eyes haunted, face a little blotchy. Emma hoped the kids wouldn’t notice. Pasting on a smile, she opened their doors.
“How was your nap? I missed you. Are you ready to have a snack and to play?” She snuggled each one. Their hugs, sleep-mussed hair, and warm bodies comforted her wounded heart. At least her children loved and needed her.
Throughout the next few hours, Emma listened to her children’s chatter, laughter, and disagreements.
She enjoyed snack time but caught herself staring out the window only to be drawn back with, “Mommy!” And for a few minutes, she remained present.
While preparing dinner because Tony would be home soon, Emma reflected on the last few months. She knew she’d been distracted by the kids. They made it through a bout of flu, then dealt with strep throat. When the kids were settled at night, she fell asleep on the couch. She couldn’t remember the last time she and Tony had spent an evening together. And physical intimacy? It’d been way too long.
Was that why?
“I’m a horrible wife. With everyone sick, it’s been days since I showered, put on anything other than sweats, and combed my hair. No wonder he’s looked at that stuff.”
Emma accepted complete blame for her discovery.
Maybe if she tried harder, their relationship could return to where it had been.
Having lost track of time again, she hurried to the bathroom to brush her teeth and hair and put on some clean jeans and a nice sweater. At least she wouldn’t look like a slob when Tony walked in.
Emma heard the garage door open. She took a few deep breaths and walked toward the mudroom. She could hear the kids excitedly chattering to Tony. Smiling, she turned the corner to greet him.
Could she block out those images and treat Tony normally? Emma breathed a quick prayer and hoped so. She reached to hug Tony. And slammed the door shut on her emotions.
“Keep smiling. You’re okay. You can change and become what he needs, so he doesn’t have to look at that stuff.”
Not understanding the devastating impact on her identity from that decision, Emma hoped Tony’s struggle would go away on its own.
If you can relate to Emma’s discovery and decision, please reach out.
You have options. Let’s explore them together.
Oh, to read more of Emma’s story, check back next week.