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.
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.
And for 12 long, frequently torturous months we painstakingly made it liveable and lovable. I had a husband, a home, yet I was missing something, intangible but palpable. I still loved my husband, but I wanted adventure, excitement, a reminder I was still alive. I began chatting to men online in private chat forums, concealing any obvious indentifiers of who I was but talking about my life, problems and thoughts.
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.
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.
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.
When the time was right for both of us, we would work through our problems and come back to one another. I shed my regulars and concentrated on just one, a man younger than me by almost two decades.
And it was harmless, until I fell in too deep and wanted more than his messages.
Taking my online affair offline was my big mistake, a transgression too far.