On the 24th January 2017 I posted my first blog; at the time I had no idea what path my story would take or indeed how it would end but I thought I would ‘know’ the ending when it happened. The original idea for writing a blog came from friends who enjoyed hearing about my funny dating stories but it ended up being so much more than that.
If I’m honest, at first I wasn’t that comfortable about sharing the fact that I was dating men over 20 years my junior, I felt I had to ‘justify’ how it came about to make it more permissible. So I decided to start my story from the very moment I found out about my husband’s affair to convey the type of person before the ‘new me’ emerged. Within a very short space of time sharing my story, I realised that putting all my thoughts on paper for all to read was very cathartic. But it wasn’t until I met ‘the mistress’ that I realised my story was really all about a personal journey to ‘self acceptance’.
Affairs are bad enough for anyone to deal with but when your spouse chooses the affair partner and decides you’re not worth fighting for, the feeling of worthlessness can virtually destroy you. His decision was confirmation to me that I was very ordinary and not good enough. So it made what happened next so extra-ordinary that never in a million years did I expect it to happen to me, so if anyone else can benefit from reading my story, then it was certainly worth writing!
You see, what I have learnt is that beauty takes many forms, it’s not just what we deem as attractive looks. A lot of the men I met were very attractive, that had I been of similar age, they would probably never have given me a second look. But these particular young men were attracted to older women because they were looking for something different. Over the course of two years I struck up conversations with so many people (literally into the hundreds) and I found the age difference dynamic fascinating. Of course there were many that I dismissed because they had an agenda I wasn’t interested in but it was still fascinating. In a lot of cases I found conversations with younger men much more mature than people closer to my own age. I refer you back to a previous blog ‘Why dating young guys worked for me’. It offered so much more than I ever could have imagined.
I cannot stress enough how low I felt when Chris left me; it all happened so quickly after he made his decision. I was left alone to deal with the split, the fact that he had an affair and all while I was living in a foreign country. But in hindsight, it may have been a lot to deal with at the time but the fact that he wasn’t rubbing it in my face was a blessing and it allowed me to grieve alone. One of the hardest things for me to get my head around at the time was ‘how could he do this to me’, it didn’t make any sense. But I remembered something my American counsellor said which was “he’s robbed a bank but he’s not a bank robber”. In fact she helped me understand so many things using analogies which is why I feel it’s very important to find the right support to help you make sense of it all.
I’m sure I’m not the only scorned woman who wants the see the new relationship fail and have the man come running back with his tail between his legs saying what a mistake he has made. But if you’re constantly looking for that to happen, you’re not focusing on your own life or processing your part in why the adultery happened in the first place. With my counsellor’s words ringing in my ears, I made the conscious decision to try and move forward. I’m not pretending it was easy and had I not gone on that fateful holiday to Cancun, I don’t think I would ever achieved what I have. Of course there have been bumps and knocks along the way and I had the most wonderful friends who picked me back up, but the knocks also help you to develop a thick skin and protect you from future knocks so even they have their purpose!
So if you asked me now if I had the choice of saving my marriage or have the life I have now, what I would do? …….that would be difficult to answer. But if you asked me if I am happier now than I was in my last years of marriage, the answer is most definitely YES. When I met Chris and his girlfriend a few months ago I realised immediately they have nothing I wanted. They both looked tired from work and travel, they didn’t look like they had much of a romantic connection nor did they look like two people in love (although I realise that meeting me might not have been easy for either of them). They still only saw each other at weekends or when taking holidays together, and most importantly Chris only saw his son and grandson in person on his twice yearly visits to the U.K. If I had stayed with him, nothing would have changed and I would still have been desperately unhappy.
So here I am back in my own country, where life seems so much less complicated than the US. I don’t need to worry about the cost of healthcare or being shot if I cursed at a bad driver. But the biggest and best thing without a shadow of a doubt about being back home is the wonderful relationship I have with my 3 yr old grandson. The bond I have with him has made me so happy, he lights up my world. A few weeks ago when I was looking after him overnight, he came running in to my room when he woke up in the morning with a big smile on his face, jumped into my bed, held my head in his hands and said “I love you Nannie”. These moments are so priceless and I actually feel sorry for Chris that he will never experience these precious moments, but he has made his choice.
I am so grateful for the people that have helped me through my healing process, there are too many to mention and I don’t want to leave anyone out so I will just say a big thank you to everyone, my friends, family and neighbours who supported me through the bad times, picked me up when I needed and who didn’t judge the path that I chose to walk down. I also want to thank the many guys I met who taught me to enjoy life again and give me back my self esteem.
But perhaps the biggest surprise for some is that I want to thank Chris for the many great years we had together. He may have hurt me badly but I forgive him. I really believe he didn’t mean to hurt me, he didn’t set out to have an affair and he is a really decent and caring man. We only live this life once and for whatever reason he wasn’t happy, then someone came along who showed him what he was missing. He was faced with a choice, did he want to live the rest of his life unfulfilled or take the plunge and be with someone that made him happy? There are plenty of horrible people in the world but he wasn’t one of them. The breakdown of my marriage was happening long before the affair began, the affair was the catalyst in forcing the decision. But whilst he hurt me in the most painful way at the time, I can honestly say that my wounds have healed and my life has become so much more enriched as a result.
But I’m not stupid enough to think that I was ever going to waltz off in the sunset with a handsome 30 something, but life as a cougar gave me an apprenticeship in modern dating and a kind of ‘try before you buy’ experience. I had learnt all the different qualities I was attracted to in a relatively short period of time. Now I feel my apprenticeship has reached its conclusion and whilst my story doesn’t have the ideal happy ending of finding a perfect partner, I am content in the knowledge I’m equipped with the skills to identify that person when I meet him.
But the most important thing is, this whole experience has made me happy with who I am. Self-acceptance is massive and empowering especially to someone like me who felt unattractive and lacking confidence. As far as wanting a new relationship, I am at the point where I no longer feel the need to fill the gap for the sake of it or choose the wrong person out of loneliness or desperation. I truly believe that if I have been guided through this journey, the right person will appear when the time is right.
So my final message is this….just because the person you love leaves you, it doesn’t signal the end of your happiness. When the hurt subsides, which it will over time, try and think of this as life’s way of showing you what else is out there for you to experience. I’m not ashamed to say there will always be a part of me that will love Chris and I have chosen to remember the good times rather than focus on the end. Holding on to anger and other negative emotions is only going to affect one person. So grab the new opportunities with both hands and discover the ‘new you’.
Thank you to everyone who has followed my story, I hope you enjoyed it. That is the end for now, although I’m sure I’ll post a few updates now and then! Please feel free to leave your comments or share my story…….