7 Revealing Things We Learned From TLC's New Duggar Special 'Jill & Jessa: Counting On'
By Zach Seemayer
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Jill Dillard and Jessa Seewald returned to TLC on Sunday -- alongside their husbands and a number of other members of the Duggar family -- where they opened up about the molestation and adultery scandals surrounding their brother, Josh Duggar, and how their family has been holding up in the aftermath.
In the premiere of Jill & Jessa: Counting On, the first part of a three-part special, the sisters revealed how Josh's multiple high-profile scandals rocked their lives and changed the way they thought about their eldest brother. Here are some of the most important things we learned from the Counting On premiere.
Jill and Jessa opened up about their brother's actions -- when, as a teenager, he molested them and two other sisters -- and shared the personal journey toward forgiving their older brother in the following years.
"It was shocking. You don't expect something like that to happen. It's your older brother. Somebody you love and who you trust," Jessa shared. "So definitely there was a period of time in our family where Josh was not to be trusted. He spent time away from home, getting help."
"The healing process started shortly after that happened. When something happens you go with your life. You move on," Jill said. "Jess and I can say that we've chosen to forgive Josh. And that's an important part of our healing."
"Trust isn't instantly rebuilt," Jill added. "You can forgive in your heart, but at the same time it's a journey to rebuild that trust." "It was over those next couple of years of Josh just trying to be able to prove to us, and to the family, that he was worthy of being trusted, and really that relationship was restored between all of us siblings and my parents."
2. They Don't Feel That They Tried to Hide Josh's Actions
According to Jill, "Years ago, when the situation took place, it's [wasn't] like, 'This is something that should be hidden and we don't talk about it.' No. We had to go through lots of different steps, including counseling. After that time, it was a really, really hard time in our family."
3. The Hardest Part Was Reliving Everything In the Public Eye
One thing the sisters made very clear about the first scandal that shook the family was that they don't feel the situation they endured due to their brother over a decade ago should have been drudged up in the first place.
"Here I am, most joyful time of my life, newly married [with a] baby on the way. And then people go digging up old bones," Jessa said. "It was really, really frustrating."
"The police report was released to the world, and I know that wasn't right. Whoever released that, that wasn't right," a tearful Jill said. "It shouldn't have happened. We had moved on from there, so for this to be released right after [baby] Isreal was born, and all these happy occasions in my life, and to be thrown under the bus was really, really hard."
According to the sisters, while they had been able to forgive Josh and move on past what had happened years ago, the revelation that he had been adulterous and addicted to pornography shook them to their core.
"Over the years, Josh worked really hard to repair our trust in him, and he became someone we could really look up to," Jessa shared. "Josh ended up confessing to us that he had gotten addicted to pornography and had been unfaithful to his wife, and we were devastated. It felt like it was just a bad dream. How could this happen?"
"Just thinking about what Josh has been speaking for, and how our family believes as a whole, that what makes it so unbelievable," Jill explained. "It wasn't right for him to let us [defend him] without having the full knowledge of what he was hiding."
5. It Effects the Way They Live Every Day
One of the many elements presented in the special were Jill, Jessa, their husbands and their family living their day-to-day lives as Jessa was preparing to welcome her first baby. But it's clear -- from the way they shop for furniture to the way they browse through clothes -- the heaviness of the situation hangs over their lives.
Much of the episode, outside of their candid discussion of their brother's scandals, focused on Jill and her husband, Derrick, helping Jessa and Ben get ready to be parents. With every interaction, it's clear that these sisters are closer than close, and their love for each other is stronger than the troubles that threatened to tear apart their family.
7. Despite the Scandals, Nothing Has Tempered Their Excitement About Being Parents
While 2015 has been a trying, tumultuous year for Jill and Jessa, one thing is clear: They are endlessly excited about motherhood. Jill, who already has baby Israel, and Jessa, who was expecting to deliver her first child very soon, are totally enveloped by the experience. And while it's been hard for them, they both make it abundantly clear that they aren't going to let anything dampen the joy of building and developing their families.
Next week, Josh's wife Anna sits down to talk about her husband's infidelity and the state of their marriage. Check out the emotionally charged, revealing second part of Jill & Jessa: Counting On Sunday, Dec. 20 at 8 p.m. on TLC.