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May 31 • Hurts to Have Fun

Day 326

My wife and I are very different people at a fundamental level. We are very good together when we are communicating and being honest, and not so good when we give in — especially when I give in — to our baser selves.

A difference that has defined us individually over the years is our reaction to anticipated pleasures, as well as to the actual joys of life. She is eager to enjoy the world around us and to take in as much as she can. She plans for it, saves for it, strategizes for it, and soaks it up when it happens. I endure it and marvel at her freedoms in this realm. I’ve never thought of it as a dysfunction, but I’ve always felt guilty when I think about having more pleasure than the next person.

I’m not talking about sex here; this can be anything from a cruise to a nice steak. I generally feel wasteful spending money on things just for me, though I keep doing it. Rarely have I ever been able to just let go and enjoy the moment of some life-affirming experience. I tend to anticipate the guilt that I know is coming, or the damage to my image if the wrong person should ever find out that I’m... not suffering.

This is painful to write because I know it is wrong. It’s painful to acknowledge how much I’ve stood in her way in such moments. It’s painful to realize that I have not made much progress on this point, even with all the improvements I’ve made in the past year of recovery. I do enjoy most of these things when I do them, but the thought of a vacation stresses me. A night on the town is something I “sacrificially” do for my bride. And spending more money on a lifestyle that is already better than that enjoyed by most of the world??? Why me? What did I ever do to deserve any of these blessings, including the one wearing my ring?

I have observed these emotions for many years, usually applying some grand bourgeois affliction onto anyone that could seek these pleasures. I never seriously considered that this could actually be a problem in my life; that it is not about my humility or frugality, but rather it just might be at the core of my unworthiness, or even my addiction.




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