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.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.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.He was by far the best of the bunch, a kind and generous man, but someone who could also be selfish and unfeeling.A late arrival into the world of social media, I nevertheless embraced it as a kind of escape.
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.
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?
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.