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.He was by far the best of the bunch, a kind and generous man, but someone who could also be selfish and unfeeling.
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.
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 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.
And so our long-nurtured virtual affair became real.
He was young and beautiful and I couldn't believe that he wanted me.
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.
There were redundancy problems at work; my marriage was showing strains; and there was something large and unnameable missing from my life.