Nothing is spared from the sex addict’s carefully manipulated facade – not even the family photo album. I made him look really good; he made me look really absent.
On holidays he went to bed tired. Alone, I cleaned up from guests and prepped for the morning. In the morning, I wrangled giggling girls while I completed preparations, then grabbed the camcorder and camera. He showed up and I took pictures of him.
On birthdays, I planned parties, bought supplies, wrapped presents, and even bought him costumes to wear. He showed up and I took pictures of him.
When he napped, I lay a baby beside him and took pictures of him.
When we took vacations, I planned and prepped for weeks. He showed up, smiled, and I took pictures of him.
I was more than happy to do all these things and more because I was playing by the “we” rules. As far as I knew, we were a team and he was working hard for the family. I was more than willing to pick up the slack at home and document his “fatherhood” when I could.
There are very few pictures of me with our children. I now understand that he viewed parenthood as a competition. He had no respect for me or for motherhood. Motherhood and household duties were of no value, because he believed they were easy, endless days of leisure and extravagant spending on things like groceries.
It no longer surprises me that he didn’t take pictures of me with our children. Why would you take pictures of something that disgusts you? My girls and I disgusted him because we had needs.
Only now do I have the luxury of knowing how carefully and patiently he worked the canvas to paint a fake life – so I have to wonder if he knew what he was doing. Was the imbalance in the family photo album another skillful manipulation? Or was it simply the accidental result of only one parent being fully present in family life?
Therein lies the hell of life with a sex addict – you never really know what’s real and what’s an illusion. And when you look back on photos, you wonder what else – or who else – he did that day.