...And I'm far from the only person who has had this kind of experience in aikido. There's a long line of people who have had to go outside of aikido looking for aikido, starting with no less than Koichi Tohei. So I think I'm ultimately in good company in this pursuit.
Wow, you're putting yourself in extraordinary company. However, it seems to me that Tohei had a virtual lifetime of experience in Aikido including being the Chief Instructor at Honbu. One of those guys with high rank earned over decades. So he had a amazingly powerful foundation upon which to build. Same with Tomiki. Same with... Heck, my organization's sensei left with Tohei and himself eventually broke away from Tohei as well. But R. Kobayashi sensei was ranked in both the aikikai organization as well as shinshintoitsu before he split to do his own version. Again, strong foundation.
So since this thread is about rank and testing, how did *your* dan exams go? Where they overcompliant? Or were you expected to perform with non-compliant attackers on your dan exam(s)? Were your dan exam(s) all that you expected? Or were they just formalities along the way?