I"ll attempt to address all of the questions
Was the BDB your first and only espresso machine? It is a pretty feature packed machine and generally regarded as a really great machine that Breville was able to come up with. That's not to say you won't be happier with an E61 dual boiler, but it probably won't fix whatever problems you were having before.
Yes it was the first and only. I understand it is pretty feature packed and well regarded. I don't think an E61 will fix my problems because I don't think the machine was the problem.
You've already pointed out that you didn't take much care weighing things for consistency. Do you remember what coffee you were using?
Yeah, another problem. I started out pretty quickly using home roasted coffee, only I didn't have any experience in that area either. I really was shooting myself in the foot. I did eventually try some coffee from a local roaster but I don't know how consistent they are. They roast fresh daily, but they aren't attached to a coffee shop, they provide coffee to office buildings that have nice cafes in them. I never ordered up a batch of well established, consistent, coffee from a recommended "start here" roaster.
When I wasn't sure if I would enjoy making espresso at home (both the process and the result) I got a flair to go with my Lido 2.
I'm not afraid of the effort or cost outlay at this point. I have a much better idea of how to approach the process. I don't think it was 100% of the problem by any stretch but I understand the Vario W was not an ideal grinder for espresso (I originally bought it for pour over), etc.