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.
Some people can handle guilt well, and can happily juggle more than one life.
I failed – the guilt was profound – and so began the painful but necessary process of erasing one and focusing solely on the other, the one that had come first.
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.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.From the very first meeting, the guilt racked through me.We would meet in hotels, have sex – mindblowing sex - and then the realisation that what I was doing was irrevocably wrong would set in.As I have come to learn, most of those who grow up in a dysfunctional relationship are condemned to seek them out forevermore. In adulthood, I had become a rather complicated girlfriend, each relationship beginning well, but then growing fractured and ending badly.I am bound to say, though, that I wasn't solely culpable. I ended up marrying one of these complicated boyfriends.I was a latecomer to counselling, having previously considered therapy a largely American pursuit. By the time I reached that landmark age, without children and in a marriage that was beginning to lose its fairytale glow, my daily life was beginning to feel not unlike a soap opera. And I did, pretty much, and I was perfectly fine - until suddenly I wasn't.A late arrival into the world of social media, I nevertheless embraced it as a kind of escape.While my husband spent most evenings catching up on the horse racing he'd recorded over the weekend, I began perusing chatrooms – not in pursuit of cybersex necessarily, but initially more for harmless flirtation, a little virtual attention.