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He was by far the best of the bunch, a kind and generous man, but someone who could also be selfish and unfeeling.
We had agreed, early on in our relationship, that we wouldn't have children. Several friends, however, were convinced that our lack of children created a vacuum.
I was convinced I wouldn't make a very good mother and didn't want my son or daughter, in 40 years time, to dread calling me, fearful I'd berate them for some emotional crime or other. I'm not sure I entirely agree with that, but it is true that when we bought our first house together, we somehow conspired to buy a wreck that required a lot of our attention and focus. I didn't want an affair, nothing grubby, nothing seedy.
And for 12 long, frequently torturous months we painstakingly made it liveable and lovable. I had a husband, a home, yet I was missing something, intangible but palpable. I still loved my husband, but I wanted adventure, excitement, a reminder I was still alive. I began chatting to men online in private chat forums, concealing any obvious indentifiers of who I was but talking about my life, problems and thoughts.
And then it was finished: our nest, our empty nest. I became addicted to the attention and craved contact with the men I thought I had come to know. But I found out it wasn't as easy as I had first thought. I quit decisively at first, then slipped up, then quit again, craving some kind of patch.
My husband worked hard at his job and, to alleviate its accompanying pressures, developed his obsession with horseracing, gambling and drinking. These conversations quickly developed into cyber-sex, each message becoming more adventurous and racy and allowing me to live out fantasies I would never contemplate doing in the real world. My husband and I became strangers, our lives by now distinct entities. I told myself that what I was doing was essentially harmless.
Bringing it to life brought only complications, albeit occasionally exquisite ones.
After a couple of months I had to end it – and it was after I had made this decision that my husband found out.
And I did, pretty much, and I was perfectly fine - until suddenly I wasn't.When the time was right for both of us, we would work through our problems and come back to one another. I shed my regulars and concentrated on just one, a man younger than me by almost two decades.And it was harmless, until I fell in too deep and wanted more than his messages.I got to know – or as much as possible online – a couple of regular men, with whom I conducted tentative conversations that were thoughtful and sweet, and that only developed into something more suggestive after much respective vetting and, on my part, several glasses of red wine. That initial separation, I later learned, all but ensured I would never be able to successfully bond with her.
I'm in my mid-40s now, and our relationship remains every bit as complicated today.
It's taken me a good while to fully come to terms with what I've done, to understand how easily I fell into the previously unknown world that I would regrettably come to prefer to the real one.