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    Hi Anita,

    Thanks for taking the time to both approve the post and answer it thoughtfully.  I was half-convinced you wouldn’t post it, as even to me it sounded like a Jr. high school “dear diary” entry (except for the history part.)

    I just read another daily email from Hazeldon, and it talked about “… learning to listen to your heart for the first time…”  That hit really close to home.  I’ve been living from the neck up for the vast majority of my life… and this new voice is both confusing and disconcerting.  I have a long history of going after things I *think* I’m interested in, and spend a lot of time learning and gearing up for them… only to drop them when it comes time to actually DO the thing I thought I was interested in doing.  So as I said earlier, I don’t really have a lot of faith in my ideas of what I ‘want,’ and listening to my heart has no track record at all… though maybe that could be taken as a point in it’s favor.

    My real problem is that as much as I think I want a chance at a fresh start, I’m not sure I can live with buying my own happiness at the expense of another’s.  Knowing that the only way I can even try to go for it is to inflict such pain on another person just slams the brakes on everything.  I mean, my wife’s not malevolent or deliberately mean… she genuinely cares about me, in her own way, and seems to want me to be happy.  It’s not like my life with her is nothing but unmitigated misery… we do things together and have our little routines and rituals and all… but it’s so sterile for me, no joy, no real happiness.

    She also is not aware of the nature of my feelings towards her (I don’t know when or how I became such a secretive soul, but I always seem to feel like I have to hide everything from everyone, especially who I really am… something I’m not even sure of myself.)  Like so many other alcoholics (or addicts of any stripe), I am a “collector of masks,” one for any and every occasion.  Nobody ever gets to see the ‘real’ me, ever gets an authentic, unedited reaction from me; every response gets parsed by the ‘context’ I’m in, the kind of people I’m with.  I’ve no idea why this need to hide seems so important, but it is, and it’s how I’ve operated for many decades.  And perhaps the saddest thing of all is that there’s a mask for her, too, and that’s what she sees.  I’ve become extremely good at hiding what’s behind that mask, and apparently the price for that is the mess I find myself in right now.

    I’m not even sure what it is that I’m looking for here, beyond validation of what ‘this new voice’ seems to be telling me, which you’ve already given me.  And I guess that only I can determine just how high a price I’m willing to pay for a shot at the brass ring.  Whatever else may be true of me, I’ve always been an extremely gentle soul, and the thought of causing such pain to another person is distressing in the extreme.  Plus, I don’t feel that I’m worth that cost, that I have any right to do something like that to another.  By what right do trash somebody’s life so I can improve (*maybe*) my own?  AA preaches acceptance a very great deal, and it also seems to figure prominently in Buddhist thought (unless I misinterpret what I read), and they also talk a very great deal about guidance from a ‘higher power;’ well, the jury’s out on that one for me; I’m more than willing to admit that I am not the greatest power in this universe, and I’m open to the possibility of something like a greater power… and none of what I want to do seems to be in alignment with any of this.  It feels very much like me trying to take control of things once again, and force things into the shape I ‘think’ I want them to be.

    Okay… I think I’ve finally figured out why I’m here:

    *I don’t trust much of anything that seems to come from within myself,

    *I don’t believe in a ‘guiding force’ or anything of that nature (at least I’ve not seen convincing, objective evidence of such), AA seems hopelessly mired in the past, somewhere in the time of Bill W’s reign, and while I have to give them credit for setting me on a more spiritually-oriented path, they’re otherwise not a very good fit…

    *Having read many of your responses to others in these forums, I’ve come to… respect? admire? trust? your take on things, and if I can’t go by either me or AA, I could most certainly do far worse than to listen to your thoughts on the matter(s.)

    I don’t know how to resolve this dilemma I’m facing (dilemma: a situation requiring a choice between two unsatisfactory ends, something I learned as a kid when my best friend blew a test in school, and his dad was drilling the things he got wrong into him… and me, because I was there with him; I’ve no idea why this little childhood vignette has stuck so tenaciously all these years), and maybe there is no resolution to it; it may well be a matter of heart -vs- head.  I’ve heard that the longest journey anyone can ever make is the eighteen inches from one’s head to one’s heart… I’m certainly finding that to be the case.  I very much look forward to your thoughts on this.

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