Re: I'm Leaving Aikido
I put my own time in bouncing in college and then later as a behavorial counselor in a residential facility for kids with behavior issues. I had a lot more good practice de-escalating a situation before it got started, but at the same time, when it was time to go hands on, you couldn't hesitate about it.
I had a good bit of experience in judo and wrestling then (with a solid year and half of aikido in high school), but was also in my height of karate training - talk about the wrong set of reflexes! The bouncing gig discouraged throwing strikes, but we could if defending ourselves (plus there's lots of things you can accidentally deliver *oops* to someone you have to put hands on).
But working with the kids (up to 17 years old) was a different matter and was actually more dangerous, because, in general, they were in less control of themselves, more willing to throw themselves at you with no regard for consequences and you were under much greater constraints in what you could physically do to defend yourself (not to mention the incredible amount of paperwork that followed any hands-on encounter).
And it was about that time I gave up karate, because the training I was getting there was not helping me perform my job function. Worse, it was detrimental in that I had the hesitation of stopping myself from throwing what I had been training to do. So I went back to playing with the college wrestling club and that worked out much better for me.
So, I can relate to finding an art that isn't workging out, though I can also allow that it depends what you put into it. But, I do welcome OP to continue posting here. I think it's helpful here to hear all perspectives of people that practice aikido. If everyone agreed about everything and didn't question anything, it would get dull pretty quickly . . .