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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.
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.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.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.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.
There were redundancy problems at work; my marriage was showing strains; and there was something large and unnameable missing from my life.
I ignored it until I could do so no longer, until eventually, for what felt like the sake of my sanity, I resolved to do something about it.
He discovered messages on my phone and so I sat him down and poured the whole sorry tale out to him, feeling I was stamping on his heart with every word. I spent a lonely Christmas at my mother's house with nothing to do but wonder how I had got myself into this situation. I started therapy, and learned just how dysfunctional my life had been, and so little wonder I kept making new problems for myself.
I began writing everything down, to help make sense of it, first for myself, then for others.
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.