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i don’t understand what lesson is the universe trying to teach me. it feels everything in my personal life is being torn away. some kind of clean slate and/or scorched earth thing is going on, in a painful way.
the first true love my life is my dog, India. she has been with me through thick and thin. she is the most loving, sweet, gentle soul i know. she has been true blue – the most loyal, loving, constant presence in my life for the last 13 years.
and she is dying.
yesterday i got as far as calling the vet to the house to put her down. but after an examination, the vet said we could try a few things – mostly pain meds – and see if she might bounce back. it’s possible that she has some kind of inner-ear infection, which would account for India’s loss of appetite, stumbling and falling, and holding her head at a weird tilt. if so, it’ll resolve in a few days.
but it’s more likely that it’s something bigger. like a brain tumor.
she still gets up and wags her tail when she sees me. she happily ate the peanut butter i gave her. but she’s obviously uncomfortable and disoriented. and i just can’t take the fact that she is not long for this world.
yesterday i laid down with her and just petted her and cried.
today i sat Elsa down and tried to prepare her – explained that India is getting so old and her body is tired and sick. Elsa asked if India was going to die soon, and i said yes. she responded that we would not be a family anymore without India and she started sobbing. i didn’t even know what to say.
i have lost so much in the last few months – i don’t know how to take this one.
having a crisis in one’s personal life is an interesting thing.
not the crisis part – but the way people react to it.
although i post gobs of gory detail of my life here on El Bloggo, in my real life, i am rather private.
the recent demise of my relationship has been far too public for my liking, and far too many people are fascinated by it. i understand the impulse – it is a juicy story. but i am now starting to hear versions of it that aren’t anywhere close to factual. and now more and more people want me to talk about it.
there are some people now practically insisting that i talk to them about my personal life. suddenly, i am interesting? more likely, they want the inside scoop.
i’m keeping counsel with trusted friends and my inner circle (which includes my village here on habeshachild). that’s it.
i know i can’t control what people say about me, my ex, the whole sordid mess. but it still bothers me – a lot – that they are so intrusive and meddlesome. maybe because i’m NOT talking about it a lot, they feel they can just make stuff up?
my shrink reminds me that the reaction of others to my situation speaks volumes about their OWN unresolved “stuff”, and very little about me, K, or us.
this is true, i know.
what i didn’t expect is how many people have so much “stuff” that is stirred up by this situation.
and they all want to talk to me about it.
my brain is mush.
today i had plans to see a dear friend for an early dinner. i even booked a sitter.
i completely forgot all these plans.
not only did i forget, but when my friend called, i was pretty sure she had the wrong day. but then the (brand new!) sitter called to say she had arrived at my house. elsa and i were not there, of course. took me 1/2 hour to get home, while she patiently waited in the car.
i cannot wait to get moved back into my little house, get a new childcare situation sorted out, and get settled back into some kind of normalcy. my brain is on overload these days.
i don’t hate you for this.
people seem to think i should. and i guess it would be easier, in many ways.
but i can’t go from loving someone so much to hating. i don’t know how to turn off love.
you and i always disagreed about the fundamental nature of people. but i can’t change the way i see the world; i believe that people are good.
i hate what you did, and i truly hate feeling this way. i am angry and sad and frustrated and grief-stricken. i don’t understand it, and i don’t want to let you off the hook for any of it.
i feel sucker-punched.
but i won’t – can’t – hate you. i will always care about you, wish you well, and hope you find peace and happiness.
For a while there, I felt like I was in some kind of purgatory… waiting, trying to make it work, scared, unsure of the right thing to do.
But then I went from purgatory straight to hell.
The shock of it all is wearing off and I can feel it now. It’s excruciating.
Infidelity is an awful thing. It seems so… common, and dirty. And yet there is something worse than infidelity, and that is betrayal.
I figured you could hurt me – you already had in smaller ways. And of course there was always the possibility you might eventually leave me. People do leave each other, often. But I never, in a million years, thought you would betray me.
Why, why, my brain can’t keep asking, couldn’t you just have broken up with me? Why did you have to string me along, talk about our future, tell me you loved me, all the while lying to me over and over?
You say you were afraid I would never talk to you again if you told me, that I wouldn’t be your friend if you broke up with me. How is making me suffer the humiliation of discovering your affair myself better than you telling me? Or hey, how about telling me you wanted out BEFORE you cheated on me? You ensured the very thing you say you were trying to avoid.
The two of you picked literally the single most destructive course possible. How did you think it would come out? You threw a grenade into my life, our life together, her marriage, our mutual friendships.
What the fuck were you thinking!?!?
I lie awake at night replaying conversations and struggles we had in the last months – months that I now realize you were cheating on me. The time you accused me of hiding things from you, and told me even a hint of deception would send us 3 steps backward. The time you told me you were embarrassed by my child’s behavior at my own family function (none of my family was bothered). The time you got angry at me trying to “pass us off as a family” at school. The time on our vacation when you posted only photos of you and your children, as if Elsa and I didn’t exist.
I took in all of that hurtful shit, and I worked so hard to understand it, to give it reason, to be compassionate. Because I loved you.
I gave you my wide-open heart, and left it in your hands even as we struggled, because I trusted you.
You threw it on the floor, then stomped on it for good measure.
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.
a anonymous commenter on the previous post pointed out that it’s reasonable that the au pair found Elsa overwhelming and i should probably lighten up.
if that was truly the only reason for her departure, i would not fault her for that. but i truly think it was not, so i am a bit cranky about the whole thing.
the au pair made the decision to go home because she was homesick and lonely – something that happens a lot to au pairs after they’ve been here a month or two, before they have gotten settled and made friends. she later said she decided she doesn’t really want to care for children, or live with them. she refused all other re-placement offers from the au pair agency, even to easy placements, like families with one older child. she just wanted to go home. i think she wanted a fun adventure in the US, and the childcare part was not for her. which is fine – we’re better off without her, in that case.
(also, for the record, i would never expect a child-care provider to deal with Elsa when her behavior spirals out of control. i am the person to deal with it when it happens… so, far, Elsa’s saved those behaviors for me.)
so, i don’t like her pointing to Elsa as the sole reason for her departure when in reality it was that au pair gig was just not for her. Elsa has enough labeling and judgement from the world – she doesn’t need more. and we are dealing with a 5-week gap in childcare because of her hasty departure, which is a total nightmare. so i’m not in the mood to be touchy-feely and supportive of her now that she is feeling regret over her decision.
and that’s the end of my rant about the old au pair.
the new one is showing up Sept 10, and i’m hoping he’ll be great (yes, you read that right – it’s a manny!). we were excruciatingly clear with him about what he’d be signing up for, and he’s interested in working with special needs kids (and has experience) and incredibly enthusiastic, so i’m optimistic.
got two weepy facebook messages from the ex-au pair today (the one who said Elsa was “too hard”).
apparently she is not having a good time at home, she really misses us, and although she was only with us for 7 weeks, she loves us.
also, she now regrets quitting and going home.
cry me a river.
thanks to you all for the response. i had written and deleted the previous post many times, for fear of… i’m not sure what. fear of being judged. fear that people wouldn’t believe me. fear that no one would respond at all.
but you guys did, and i feel much, much less alone.
some good news i should report is that the latest Rx we’re trying – a sustained-delivery system (in the form a patch) – seems to be working really well, without big swings. hard to say for sure (we’re just on day 3) but it looks promising.
also, Elsa had her first swimming lesson yesterday. i was afraid it was going to be awful – high potential for a very public meltdown of epic proportions. but it went, well… swimmingly.
finally, the rather epic bad news: today is the first day of what will be five weeks without childcare. the au pair quit (citing Elsa as the reason, which made me want to punch her) and the new one won’t arrive until September 10.
pray for us.
things I am doing:
- working at my (sometimes high-stress) job
- building a new relationship
- living in two houses
- figuring out how to become a stepparent to two wonderful kiddos
- worrying about Elsa’s reaction to so much change in her life
- doing a bedroom/bathroom/closet remodel
- consistently canceling social plans due to persistent sickness
- taking antibiotics in hopes of finally getting better
- slowly getting Elsa her SSN, Certificate of Citizenship, and passport
- planning a move, and then renting out my house
- interviewing au pairs
- preparing my annual report to Ethiopia (on Elsa’s progress, etc)
- planning a wedding
- planning a trip to Disneyland in a few weeks (gulp)
- applying to a new school for Elsa to attend next year
- hoping that friends and family won’t resent me for never being available
what I am not doing:
- doing a good job at my work – I’m doing OK but dropping balls here and there, which I hate
- holding up my half of my relationship
- feeling connected to my friends and family
- sleeping much
- calling people back
- responding to personal email
- checking voicemail. I haven’t checked my home voicemail since January 4 – I shit you not. If you need to reach me, I sure hope you have my cell phone number or my email address.
- opening mail
- writing thank-you notes on time. or at all.
- cooking or eating well
- keeping track of which clothes/shoes/whatever are at which house (getting dressed for work in the morning is either tragic or hilarious, depending on my mental state)
Elsa’s teacher asked me if I would volunteer to drive to a field trip they are doing later this month. I can’t even begin to imagine how I could carve 5 hours out of a Friday to make that happen. It’s not even remotely possible. The very thought made me want to laugh. Or cry.
One of my best friends is trying to schedule dinner with me. The first date that MIGHT work is literally six weeks from now.
There is so much goodness – really, an embarrassment of riches, here. Yet I just want to run away from everything and everyone. Of course, that won’t really fix anything – would probably make it worse, as most of these things only get worse with neglect.