“It felt like a bad dream. All of it.”
“I was very naïve. I won’t be naïve anymore,” she explained. “I learned my lesson. I won’t make the same mistake twice.”
Her emotional reunion with husband Joe and daughters Gia, Milania, Audriana and Gabriella was captured at the episode’s end, with Teresa saying “I made it. I did it. I’ve been dreaming about this moment for the past 11 and a half months. Like, Am I really home?”
Joe was the first to meet his wife when she entered her Montville, New Jersey, home in the early hours of the morning on Dec. 23, 2015. Teresa had been released from the Danbury Federal Correctional Institution in Connecticut hours earlier and driven home – with tailing paparazzi – by lawyer James J. Leonard, Jr.
“I can’t wait to be home – I’m coming home!” she told Joe and Gia through FaceTime, while in the car.
Sneaking in through the garage to avoid the onslaught of photographers waiting outside, Teresa stopped to greet her dog in her crate. She then entered the kitchen and embraced Joe. “I missed my house and I missed you,” she said. “I can’t believe I’m home.”
Seconds later, Teresa yelled “Girls, I’m home,” embracing her daughters as they quickly ran into her arms in a mixture of screams and tears. “I love you girls,” Teresa said, crying.
Teresa’s daughters had been preparing for their mother’s return throughout the episode, hanging “Welcome Home” signs and placing homemade gifts throughout the house which Teresa later read. Fourteen-year-old daughter Gia even packed Teresa a bag with her phone and an outfit to wear home, which Leonard brought to her (along with a cappuccino, which she requested).
“Even though I saw my daughters once a week, that’s nothing compared to just being there for them,” Teresa told viewers. “You’re their mommy. You’re their provider. You’re their everything. And to be taken away for them? My poor babies, I know they felt lost.”
Joe also appeared to feel lost with Teresa’s absence, taking care of his four daughters all alone. “I felt like I’ve been through a war this year,” he said, telling them, “I think if I made it through this year being abused by you kids, I can make it through anything.”
“These kids are draining me,” he continued. “I love them to death but it’s draining. It’s like literally being married for five women. They think they can boss me around.”
(Joe is currently serving a 41-month prison sentence for fraud).
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While home, Teresa would have to wear an ankle bracelet – which was scheduled to be put on her by her probation officer two hours after she arrived home, Leonard told Joe in once scene. She’d wear the bracelet for six weeks before it could be removed, followed by a supervised released, he explained.
Leonard added that while she could move around the state without permission during her supervised release, she’d need permission to travel with her ankle bracelet, which Leonard would get for her. “The last thing we want to do is violate any of the rules and get her back in trouble,” he said.
“Hopefully when Teresa comes out we will not be back to where we were,” Joe Gorga confessed.
Added Melissa, “If she comes home and it doesn’t start off right from the very beginning, I don’t know if there’s gonna be much hope for us.”
The Real Housewives of New Jersey airs Sundays (8 p.m. ET) on Bravo.