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.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.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.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.
What drew me to the online world was the maintenance of fantasy.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.And so our long-nurtured virtual affair became real.He was young and beautiful and I couldn't believe that he wanted me.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.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.Mercifully, the kind and complicated man I was married to focused too.I'd always heard that you have to work at a marriage.