...but I don't know where to begin.
Starting any relationship is scary and takes a bit of faith to leap into. But going into something with the potential for re-marriage and blending two families (again, but with older children this time), that isn't something to be taken lightly.
And I didn't. He didn't. We spent many prayers and temple trips both alone and together. We wanted to make sure that this would be the best thing for our families. Blending any family has challenges. But, when disabilities are added into the mix, things become even more challenging. We thought we were doing everything right. We spent time together, both alone and with our children together. We both had concerns, but hopes as well. We wanted to be successful. We had a plan...
Bottom line: you never know how things will be until you are IN the permanent living situation.
The Truth: I allowed myself to get caught up in thinking I needed someone else to "fix" my family. I started thinking how nice it would be to have a partner. I didn't see how much my girls needed ME. I thought if they had a father-figure, they would feel better. Also, I was forced to face my difficulties with anxiety, and that it wasn't being managed and both of our families were suffering.
He has a beautiful family with wonderfully loving and accepting children. We did have some fun times. But all of the children struggled in finding their new places. That was to be expected. But I had to draw the line at anger and hurtful words towards mine. There was so much contention. Also, I wasn't able to take care of four more children with disabilities and different challenges. I could see I was loosing Eliza. Lydia was crying all the time, blaming the contention on herself, saying that if she hadn't told me to get on the dating website that we would never be in that situation.
I made a decision, based on both anxiety and determination (I know now, guided by the Spirit), to make MY GIRLS my priority, not someone else's children, no matter how much I loved him. It had to happen fast. School was about to start and I didn't want them to have to start two new schools. So I had to leave, right then.
I know I broke his heart and I know he is disappointed. It kills me to think about it. I'm disappointed in myself, that I allowed it to go as far as it did. I just kept thinking it would get better, that we could make it work. We've talked about a dozen things we could have or should have done differently, but hindsight is 20/20 of course.
After being back in Idaho for a few weeks, I struggled with the idea of going back and trying again, being on new medication, I thought it would be possible. But, I started seeing changes in the girls...parts of their personalities I haven't seen in a long time. They miss having their Dad, and I can't just pick someone to take his place. But I can offer all of me to them. And that's what has been missing...Me. And it took a crazy summer and a mental break down to figure this out. I've been so busy for YEARS, just trying to keep everything together, that I lost focus on what my real responsibility is. I missed so much of their childhood because I was so focused on providing for the family and taking care of their Dad, that I didn't have a chance to just be "Mom." Oh, sure, I loved them and took care of booboos and coughs and fevers, school lunches and homework. But I never had cuddle-time or story time or special time, to build those relationships. They didn't deserve to loose me to another male in the name of "a new family." They just need Me.
So, now, I didn't get another job, I cut back my school classes, and we live frugally on a student loan balances and social security survivor benefits, in a small apartment. I'm working with a counselor and PA regarding my anxiety. My family has already noticed a difference. I've noticed a difference. My thyroid is still out of balance, and I'm working on that, too, but I feel so much more "normal" than even a year ago, much like my old self. There are fewer tears, from all of us. Eliza interacts with us all more. She is excelling in school, where she was struggling or lacking motivation before. She is becoming more confident in her talents. Lydia is trying hard to be more positive. She hugs me every day. She loves her teacher at school and in primary. They both have friends. They are smiling every day.
He still is a wonderful man. But this was the best decision. Not easy or clean, but the best. I am peaceful.
P.S. It will be remembered as the most expensive birthday party I will ever have and I love all of you who were willing to come celebrate with me :)