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I met all sorts of people, from all over the world, older and younger, and each seemingly as desperate for a true connection as I. Should I be blaming my mother, or my – mostly absent – father for feeling that something was eternally missing? I was born to a woman that didn't much want children, and who fell foul to postnatal depression a good couple of decades before the term was even coined.And for a while at least, it all felt harmless and innocent, and fun. My father leaving didn't help, and for the first six months of my life I was placed with a notional "auntie", a family friend who became my surrogate mother throughout my childhood.Taking my online affair offline was my big mistake, a transgression too far.What drew me to the online world was the maintenance of fantasy.Soon, I was spending hours in the parallel universe of cyberspace, often through wonderfully wide-awake nights, uninhibited in a way I never could be in reality.I told no one, immersed and isolated in my secret life. In moments of fleeting clarity, I wanted to understand what was happening to me. Was it just my marriage problems, or was there something deeper causing me to behave that way?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.Luckily, after only a short time apart, my husband came back to me, willing to try to put us back together and realising, in all this, he had had a part to play too.
And I did, pretty much, and I was perfectly fine - until suddenly I wasn't.
Mercifully, the kind and complicated man I was married to focused too.
I'd always heard that you have to work at a marriage.
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.
Some people can handle guilt well, and can happily juggle more than one life.