OK, so since I last posted anything substantive:
I got engaged, leased my house, got rid of most of my stuff, and moved in with K and kids. Put my all and everything into building a new family. Meanwhile, Elsa was having a very rough couple of months, and we started trying medication, OT, and counseling for her and for me. It got better, but not dramatically.
It was hard.
And, it turns out, it was even harder to blend families. It was hard to watch Elsa being held to unreasonable standards. It was hard to watch the other kids get treated differently. It was hard to watch her compete for K’s attention and affection, which was increasingly withheld. And it was hard to fight with K, more and more often, about Elsa and whether I was too easy on her, and whether Elsa’s presence in the house was damaging to K’s kids. It was more than hard trying to be the buffer between Elsa and K – my stomach in knots every time Elsa was too loud or not immediately compliant.
Then, it was hard to hear out loud what had become clear: that K didn’t want to blend families because of Elsa, and was not willing to go to counseling and/or work on that. Elsa started to ask me what was wrong with her, and acting out more and more.
(For the record, I do not believe that Elsa was more than part of the reason for our cohabitation failure – she was the most easily identifiable problem, but there were plenty of other underlying issues. When the presence of 4-year-old who is loving and kind but disabled but trying hard as hard as she can to be good is *intolerable*, and a 40-something-year-old doesn’t want to work on that in order to preserve the relationship between the parents, there is something deeper wrong, yes?)
It was crushing, but in a way it was grace, because there was no waffling room left at this point.
So Elsa and I moved out. We’re in a too-expensive furnished month-to-month rental down the street. Can’t move back to my house yet – it is leased out until midsummer. Don’t have much furniture anyway.
It’s convenient – the au pair is still driving Elsa to/from school, and watching her in the afternoon. And K is trying really hard to be supportive and kind and still in a relationship. And I want to be in the relationship.
But, I am adrift. I am relieved, I am angry, I am sad, I am hopeful.
My village has rallied in a phenomenal way. My sister takes Elsa two nights a week (yes!). My friends check on me, take me to lunch, come visit and make this rental feel more real. They promise me I won’t end up alone.
I am cherishing time with Elsa and (a tiny bit of) time to myself. Elsa is flourishing with more of my attention and time, less competition from other kids, a calmer environment. She is off all meds (that is another post altogether). Her teachers and OT all say she is doing really really well lately.
I still love K.
K wants more of my time and attention than I feel able to give now. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, is back to being wonderful with Elsa when they are around each other. Which Elsa eats up and it makes me happy to see her finally get the emotional food from K she was starving for when we lived together. But makes me deeply sad because it’s only available now that we live apart. Makes me ache for the beginning of the relationship – when it was so much easier.
For now, I am waiting out this place that feels a bit like purgatory.