The end of my story…for now!

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’.

The End!

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…….

Advertisements

Meeting the mistress and achieving closure

There have been many times where it felt like I was being ‘guided’ through my healing process; the opportunities that presented themselves, the people I had met and the decisions I had made. Or maybe it was the fact that I was acting on my own instincts without having to make compromises or being influenced by others. Whatever it was, I took the opportunity to listen and learn from all my experiences.

Going back to October 2015 and the start of my story, I felt as though my life was hanging on the edge of a cliff. I felt worthless, unattractive and physically damaged. But the holiday to Cancun had opened the door to a whole new and educational world I had no idea existed. From that moment on, I found so many nice looking guys that for whatever reason (and there were many different reasons) liked something about me. To hear the words, sexy, hot and stunning were adjectives that I had never heard used to describe me before and whilst some may have been said to get me into bed, I learnt to accept that some guys genuinely looked at me in that way. But it wasn’t their words alone, it was also how they made me feel that was important.

There were quite a few people that played their part in getting me to accept myself and helped to me to unleash my hidden sexy side but I definitely had my favourites. If it wasn’t for them and the path I chose to go down as a ‘cougar’, I wouldn’t have realised how many things had been missing in my marriage, particularly in the latter years.

Chris said many things to me to justify his decision to leave me; at the time I felt very hurt to hear those words but looking back he was right about so much. He had worked it all out a long time before I had. One of the things he said was that he felt we were really “just good friends” and whilst the lack of sex between us in recent years wasn’t the main reason for him leaving me, it certainly was a factor. But I had proved to myself that I was able to have a really good sex life, it didn’t have to just be all about intercourse which at times was so incredibly painful that it was impossible to achieve. Because of my experiences since the cougar life began, I really felt that perhaps Chris and I weren’t that sexually compatible after all.

However, we used to have a really good friendship and I missed that so much. Despite what had happened, I always wanted to return to having that part of the relationship back again some day in the future. We had made great inroads in recent months but it would take many more months maybe even years to get there.

He had obviously made the right decision for him because he was still with the woman he left me for even though they only really saw each other at weekends as he was now working in Dallas Texas and she had moved to a job in Denver Colorado but it was obviously working for them. It would only be a matter of time, maybe at a special family event or something similar that we would end up all being in the same place at the same time and I would have deal with to seeing them in the flesh.

I had already made the decision to prepare myself for that day by looking at photographs of them together and hearing their voices during Skype calls with my son in recent months and it no longer had any effect on me. But meeting her and seeing them interact with each other would be the ultimate test of how far I had come and whether I had truly accepted their relationship. I felt I was ready to take that step but wanted it to be on my terms and at my instigation.

On the 26th April 2018, two and half years after I discovered his affair, I met the person he had chosen to be with instead of trying to save our 35 year relationship. That morning I had arranged to visit a friend for coffee. As I was having breakfast and catching up on a few emails a thought came to me out of nowhere. I knew she and Chris were in the U.K. for my grandson’s birthday and were taking him out to a theme park that afternoon with my son but I wondered if they had time to meet me beforehand. To my surprise he said “yes” and an arrangement was made for us all to meet for coffee at 12:30.

After a lovely couple of hours catching up with my friend, I said goodbye and headed off to the meeting place, (a cafe in a local department store). I confess to having a few nerves which was entirely understandable, however the closer I got to the venue the more I realised they had no idea how I was going to behave. Whilst Chris knew me well enough to know I was unlikely to have an alternative agenda, his girlfriend would have no clue what I was going to do and that made me smile and put me very much in control. ‘I’ knew what my intentions were but the fact they didn’t, gave me the upper hand for the first time and that gave me strength.

As I entered the store, I could see them waiting for me in the distance and that gave me a few seconds to compose myself. Chris saw me first and raised his hand in acknowledgement, it was then I got my first glimpse of her as she turned her head to look at me. I had rehearsed my greeting; I had planned to embrace and kiss him on the cheek before shaking her hand, but she had a broken ankle and was standing next to him on crutches; without thinking I embraced her too. I immediately re-assured them that it was ok they didn’t need to worry as I wasn’t going to do anything. Chris then tried to introduce us which was weird as we obviously knew who each other were!

She was about the same height and build as me and whilst I had been expecting her to be quite glam, she was actually very ordinary. I did not for one second feel inferior to her, I was actually surprised she didn’t look smarter given that I had been criticised by Chris that I never made the best of myself. If anything, I was the one that looked better that day.

As they queued up to pay for our drinks, I grabbed a table for us all to sit. Chris came and sat next to me and I sat opposite his girlfriend which was a slightly odd formation really, you’d think he’d either sit next to or opposite her but maybe I’m reading too much into that! Realising we hadn’t got any glasses for our soft drinks, Chris got up to get some leaving the two of us alone together. I had no real plan of what I was going to say at that point but I basically told her that I had processed everything and no longer blamed her for what happened and that I realised now that our marriage was on the rocks a long time before she came on the scene. We all chatted together quite comfortably for about an hour, there was no awkward silences or difficult moments. I had no negative feelings towards either of them.

The entire time we were together, I was smiling and joking. Although I didn’t intend it to come across this way, I realised that I almost wanted her to ‘like’ me. If I had kicked off or been disrespectful, it would only have given them ammunition to justify their affair in the first place.

As we said goodbye, we had another embrace and I’m sure us meeting would have felt really weird for the two of them. As for me, I felt great. It was honestly the most empowering feeling I’ve ever had. I had grasped the opportunity to show them and confirm to myself that I was healed and it felt awesome!

Next… the end of my story – for now!

Giving up the cougar life… well almost

I always knew that being a ‘cougar’ was just a phase but I never expected it to last two years. I had learnt more than I ever expected and had a lot of fun in the process. Without doubt the youth of today seem to look after themselves more than those my own age ( well those I matched with on dating sites anyway). They cared about their appearance and I don’t think I’ve seen anyone under the age of 35 with bad teeth. As for male grooming, well that was a real learning curve too. Just as women have names for the variety of different pubic hair styles, anywhere from the Hollywood to full bush, men also have there chosen style of manscaping. I must confess I can’t imagine being with a man in the future that hasn’t made any effort to be neat and tidy in the nether regions, it’s so much nicer!

But after meeting approximately 30 people aged between 23 and 39, there wasn’t much more I wanted to discover which is probably why it was losing its appeal. This felt like a sign that I really was at the point where I wanted to have a more meaningful relationship but I was scared of being committed to anyone, partly because I was worried about letting my guard down and partly because I didn’t want to totally cut myself off from some of my existing contacts I’d got to know. Ideally I needed a ‘Friends With Benefits’ type of arrangement with the emphasis on friends, but then I guess in reality that’s just a relationship without exclusivity, aka having your cake and eating it!

After a few weeks of avoiding the dating apps, I renewed my efforts on looking for men my own age. I matched with a few that looked quite nice and struck up a few conversations. But unlike the youngsters, it was hard to hold someone’s attention for long which was frustrating. There was only one person that I felt was progressing with and we ended up exchanging numbers, but after a week or so of daily communication, he called me ‘Mary Poppins’. I wasn’t quite sure what he meant by that but I took it as though he thought I was a bit prim and proper. Looking back through our texts, I had no clue why he had that impression of me but as he wasn’t really showing much interest in getting to know me, I didn’t hang around long after that.

My personal experience with the older guys so far was they either had chips on their shoulders or downright boring so I started to realise that the kind of person I was interested in probably wasn’t on dating websites. The young guys I’d met that I really liked were career driven people. I loved hearing about their goals and ambitions so where would those people be in 20 years time if they were single? Because that’s where I was going to find what I was looking for.

So whilst I might have been ready for a meaningful relationship, it wasn’t looking promising it was going to happen any time soon. Rather than get even more despondent, I made the decision that I really should stop looking altogether for a while and focus on me, I needed to learn to be happy in my own company. It wasn’t as if I was short of male attention, I still had a couple semi regular visitors (the ones I nicknamed The Handyman and The Lawyer) I enjoyed their company and knew where I stood. I also had a couple of regular ‘sexters’ and I would say probably about 50% of people I’d already met stayed in contact and that would do me for now.

Although I called him a semi-regular I hadn’t actually seen The Handyman for about six months when we made an arrangement to meet up. The last time I met him I opened the door to him just wearing my underwear and my leather boots which lead to a very nice evening and he requested a repeat performance but I have to say that I’d lost a bit of confidence largely due to the difficult time I’d had recently. But with a bit of encouragement from him and a couple of glasses of wine for Dutch courage, I got out my latest set of new matching underwear and waspie (wider version of suspender belt) and prepared myself once again.

It was a snowy cold evening when he arrived and once again we kissed passionately for several minutes as soon as he was inside the door. He was an excellent kisser which was a real turn on for me. Still stood inside the front door he undid my dressing gown to take a good look at my attire and indicated he liked what he saw. He was definitely someone that made me feel really sexy. He was the only person that I had ever dressed up for and his reaction made it all worthwhile. We both knew why he was here and we didn’t waste any time in getting down to business but he seemed a bit different this time. He was more gentle, caring and tender than before and took his time pleasuring my body in a way that surprised me and I really enjoyed. That night he really brought the ‘naughty’ dominant woman out in me. His encouragement had given me the confidence to be provocative in a way that my ex-husband never did and it felt really good. Maybe I wasn’t quite ready to give up being cougar after all!

Next…… Meeting the mistress and achieving closure

Giving the dating apps a rest.

I had been on the dating scene for over two years and I’d met quite a few people during that time. Most of them were lovely and I’d had very few bad ones. They all had different qualities; there were those that made me laugh, those that taught me what I’d been missing and those that made me accept myself physically. But the sexy dentist was probably the best all-rounder and if it wasn’t for the fact that he was 22yrs younger than me, would have been my ideal man. He possessed every quality I looked for in a man but we both knew that it was just two consenting adults enjoying each other’s company. He was looking for a serious relationship with someone of his own generation and he was honest about that from the start. But we were both happy to see each other again until that happened and made a tentative agreement to meet sometime over the Easter weekend.

I was getting to the point where endless swiping to find the next person to date was losing its appeal. It was very time consuming and now that I knew what type of person I was looking for, it also became very frustrating when I couldn’t find anyone that ticked my boxes. Whilst there were still plenty of guys under 35 happy to match with me, the older ones I liked the look of were in very short supply. They just didn’t seem to be interested in me and I was getting down on myself that I was never going to find another serious partner in my future.

With all the negative things happening in my life lately, the sudden death of my mother, the fraudulent credit application on my house and subsequent visit from the bailiffs amongst a few, I realised how much I missed the emotional support of a partner. Actually I think that was the thing I missed the most in recent months. But the fact that there was no sign of anyone of a similar age to me remotely interested, it was going to be a long time before I had that in my life again and that made me sad. For self preservation I felt I needed to stop looking for a while to avoid getting even more disheartened so I made the decision to take a dating app sabbatical and learn to be happy being single.

As it happens, at the same time as I was coming to this decision, one of my contacts in the category of ‘would love to meet but haven’t’ messaged me and said he was coming off Bumble for a while but said he’d still like to chat with me and gave me his number so we could still communicate via watsapp. I already had the phone numbers of most of the male contacts I wanted to stay in touch with but there were a couple that I was still just staying in touch via the dating app so I told them that they wouldn’t hear from me for a while and the reason why. I just wanted to stop searching for anyone new for the time being.

The weather in my first week between jobs was very cold and several inches of snow had fallen, so much so that I was stranded at home for 2 days as the advice was not to go out unless you really had to. But the weekend brought a little thaw enough to make driving conditions bearable. My son and grandson were due to stay that weekend and managed to arrive safely. On the Sunday morning, more snow came and we all decided to enjoy it. We wrapped up well and went into the garden to make a snowman and throw some snowballs. My grandson hadn’t really seen snow before and it was such a joy to see him having so much fun having a snowball fight with his Dad. As I watched them chasing each other and giggling, I realised how precious this moment was and that if I hadn’t have moved back to England, I never would have seen these wonderful moments with my family.

As much as the snow was fun in certain situations, I definitely wanted it to thaw quickly as the following weekend there was a girly weekend in Bristol planned. This was the second of the ‘Texas Returnees’, the first was in Glasgow more than a year ago and we all had high hopes for round 2. Unfortunately, the weekend started badly. One of the 6 ladies in the group had come down with flu on the day she was due to travel and couldn’t come; without her, it was never going to be the same. Of the 5 of us left, 2 were only staying the first of two nights due to it being Mother’s Day on the Sunday but in an effort to make the best of our time together, the plan was to start with a bottomless Prosecco lunch so we could have a good social catch up. The food and atmosphere was great and we managed to get through 8 bottles in two hours between 5 of us, not bad going. Later on that day, one of the ladies came down with a sickness bug (apparently nothing to do with excess alcohol!) That reduced us down to 4 of us for dinner that evening. As much as we tried to enjoy our time together, it wasn’t the weekend any of us had hoped for. But it was great catching up with the girls though and we all agreed we needed to arrange another.

I left Bristol earlier than I had anticipated. It was Mother’s Day and the first without my Mum so I wasn’t looking forward to it. I was home before noon and sat alone thinking about her, wishing she was still here. Already feeling sad, my day got worse as I received a text from the sexy dentist. He’d found himself another girlfriend, one that he felt had a lot of potential. In his message he said that as much as he’d like to eat his Easter eggs off my body, he wanted to be a good boy…..I never heard from him again.

Next…… giving up the cougar life….well almost!

Illness, a trip up north and another meet with the sexy dentist

I was offered another extension to my temporary contract at work which was puzzling as the work was dwindling and there were many days where there wasn’t enough work to do and I was getting very bored. I had started applying for other jobs and registered with a few recruitment agencies but I had decided I wasn’t going to take up the offer to stay where I was with or without another job to go to.

Valentine’s Day was approaching, this was one of those days that I didn’t enjoy. All the commercials about love when you’re not with someone can be tough. It’s hard not to feel lonely and sad even though it’s an occasion that I’m not really a fan of. But luckily for me I had a distraction that day. A guy that I first met over a year before was housesitting at his parents house and invited me over. I had contacted him a few weeks before after I had confirmed my trip to Australia, as he had lived there for several years I wanted to gets some hints and tips. It was good to have a catch up and hear his stories of Oz. As I left his house that night, I was surprised to have texts and watsapp messages from 4 different guys, I certainly felt popular!!

One of those who contacted me was the ‘sexy dentist’, he was telling me that he was back on the market again and would be interested in seeing me again if I wanted to. As he was without doubt one of my favourites, I was very excited at the prospect. As it happened, I had planned to visit a friend of mine the following weekend and it would be easy for me to call in to see him on my way back and so the arrangement was made.

I knew Delores from Houston, she was one of the ladies I met through the British Ladies Club; we went to Spanish lessons together as well as socialising regularly. She was also one of the people that had stayed in regular contact after I’d left America. She relocated to the U.K. about a year after I did. We had talked about meeting up for quite a while and finally arranged it for the third weekend in February. However it nearly didn’t happen as the weekend before I had come down with flu-like symptoms and had been in bed for a few days, I felt so poorly I even took my first days off work through illness in many years. She and her husband had also been ill with a similar thing so we agreed to go ahead as planned as I was unlikely to pass my illness on.

After two days off sick, I was just about well enough to go to work for the last two of my notice period before leaving for my trip on the Friday, but when I literally had no work to do on my last day, I knew I had made the right decision to leave. The Friday morning I woke up to a very cold but glorious sunny day, I still didn’t feel great and had developed a cough but didn’t want to cancel so I packed my bag for my long weekend ‘up north’. The drive was very straightforward and about four hours later I arrived at this beautiful house in what felt like the middle of no-where. The scenery around their newly renovated house was stunning countryside. After a short while of catching up, we got togged up for the cold weather and went for a nice walk but I had so little energy and with a very tickly cough, I felt exhausted. I ended up having to go to bed much earlier that night than I would have liked and without a drop of alcohol to celebrate meeting up.

The next day Dolores had plans to show me around Chester, the weather was gorgeous again and perfect for walking. Unfortunately I was still not feeling any better which was such a shame on such a nice day and in the company of a good friend. I had very little appetite and struggled to eat all day, I felt so embarrassed that I couldn’t enjoy the weekend as much as I would have liked and in hindsight perhaps I should have postponed to a time when I wasn’t ill.

On the Sunday morning, we had another walk and something to eat before I left to come home. I was feeling slightly better but did wonder how long this illness was going to last for as it had been a week already. Thankfully I didn’t have to go to work the next day so I would have a chance to properly rest up. We said out goodbyes and I was on my long journey back home, only this time I was stopping off on route.

The journey went smoothly with no holdups and about 2&1/2 hours later I had arrived at the sexy dentist’s apartment. I had warned him that I wasn’t well but he was still happy to see me. As he opened his door to me, he put his arms around me and gave me a lovely hug and kiss. Because of his occupation, I imagined his apartment would be clinically clean but wasn’t at all. I am getting the impression that all single guys are the same, stuff lying everywhere and not tidy at all! He did of course, have the massive TV screen with the football on, a typical male!

We cuddled under his blanket on the sofa, spooning so he could keep one eye on the match and then when it had finished, he paid much more attention to me. Despite my coughing and spluttering, we managed to have a nice intimate time together in his bedroom which unsurprisingly had a large bed in a position that he could still see the TV screen in the lounge. What I was surprised about though, was that he had a pole (for pole dancing) in his bedroom!

After our stint in the bedroom, we went back to his sofa and cuddled up where he fell asleep with his arms around me. In fact he slept through the whole of the next football match which wasn’t ideal for me but it felt nice snuggling with him and his head next to mine. He’d had a busy week and was exhausted.

After a few hours at his place, I decided I needed to get home as the weather was cold and the roads liable to ice overnight. An hour later I was home. Despite my illness, I’d had a lovely weekend.

Next…..giving the dating apps a rest

The first date of 2018 and too much alcohol!

The end of January couldn’t come soon enough, it was the worst start to a year I think I’ve ever had in my life. It felt like everything I touched went wrong, although there was one thing that felt bad at the time which actually turned out to be better in the long run and that was my Australian holiday plans. The tour company told me not to worry and gave assurance that they would be able to bespoke a trip for me and on the very last day of the month, I finally had a plan in place and a deposit paid. The confirmed trip would begin in Cairns to visit the Great Barrier Reef, next fly to Perth which included a couple of days visiting my step cousin who I hadn’t seen since I was a teenager. From there I would fly to Melbourne and have 8 nights which would include several days attending the Open Tennis (another of my bucket list items), then finally Sydney. I would leave on the 1st Jan 2019 and arrive back on 27th Jan. Without doubt this revised plan was much better than the original which just goes to show that sometimes a negative can turn into a positive.

I had been talking to a few newish Tinder matches in January, one of which was impressed at my discipline to not drink for the entire month. I told him that I was definitely going to be open a bottle of something fizzy and alcoholic on the first weekend in Feb. After a couple of glasses on the Friday evening, I invited him to join me and finish the bottle, which he duly accepted.

At 39, he was a bit older than my usual but I had made the decision I needed to start working my way up the age range. Not only was he a bit older, he was the only guy I’d met that had a child. He hadn’t been married but he had his daughter to stay every other weekend, she was just a little older than my grandson which meant we could talk about kids as one of the things we had in common. After a month without alcohol, it did go to my head a little quicker than usual and by the time I opened the door, I was already ‘relaxed’!

We got on really well, talking about work, families etc and I felt instantly comfortable with him, so much so much so that I opened another bottle. I think we were both somewhat under the influence by the end of the second bottle and I decided I needed a coffee. As I stood up he got up too and went in for the kiss. However, despite the fact that we were really getting on when we kissed it felt wrong, almost as if I was kissing a relative. From that moment I realised he made a great drinking partner but nothing more, I was a bit surprised as is never felt like that before.

After we drank our coffee, he asked if he could stay the night as he’d drunk too much to drive home. I was in a bit of a dilemma as I didn’t want to lead him on but I understood that I couldn’t expect him to go either. So I said he could stay but that I didn’t want anything to happened between us. In hindsight, I should have made him stay in the spare room but I didn’t. He kept his t-shirt and underwear on but despite me telling him I wasn’t going to let anything happen, he still tried it on several times. I can honestly say it’s the first time I ever felt really vulnerable and worry that he wouldn’t take no for an answer and it took a very firm “no” for him to finally get the message.

Thankfully he didn’t try after that and it was pretty early in the morning that he got up and left. The next day I sent him a text to say it was nice meeting him and I’m sorry but I just feel a chemistry or fancy him in that way and hoped he respected my honesty. To my surprise, he actually responded positively.

But if that date wasn’t a success, the next was going to be a lot worse and added to the feeling that I was really having some bad luck.

Heading into February, despite wanting to move up the age range, I was tempted by the looks of a handsome 26 yr old. In the main he was saying all the right things but there was the odd occasion where he said something that was a bit of a warning flag but when challenged, he covered his tracks well. It was a Sunday afternoon when he arrived at my door and after a few pleasantries I made him a cup of tea.

Almost as soon as we sat down he said he wanted to show me his manhood. I’ve always been puzzled why guys wanted to show a woman their bits, it’s like they needed confirmation that it was ‘ok’! I’ve never been particularly interested in what it ‘looked like’ but after being pestered constantly I said “ok if it will shut you up”! My reaction of “yes it’s a cock” obviously wasn’t what he wanted to hear and he said “I don’t think you’re naughty enough for me”. To cut a long story short, it turns out his main objective was to get a blowjob from a woman in her 50s. He had managed to achieve his aim from women in their 20s, 30s and 40s but he expected someone in their 50s would be even better.

I reminded him that my motto was ‘respect not expect’ and once he realised he wasn’t going to get his wish he scurried off home, he hadn’t even finished his cup of tea! I immediately unmatched him and blocked his number. At first I was really gutted that I hadn’t listened to my instincts but after a while I actually thought it was quite funny. However the net result was that I needed a break from the dating scene as I’d started to get very despondent. So for the remainder of February I decided I wasn’t going to look on dating sites, just remain in contact with those I’d already met. I needed to take the pressure off myself.

Next ……illness, a trip up north and another meet up with the sexy dentist.

The worst possible start to 2018

During the second week of January at 6:45am on Monday morning I was in the shower getting ready for work when there was a knock at the door. I thought it was a bit weird for someone to be calling at that time of day so I ignored it. But when I got out of the shower, the security lights were still on so I went to investigate. I looked through the spy-hole on my front door and could see a reflective jacket and thought it was the police so I opened the door just wearing a dressing gown over my towel, wondering what on earth had happened.

It turned out to be a debt collector looking for a person that I had never heard of. I answered a few of his questions and showed him my council tax bill that he requested, clearly showing my name only and he seemed happy and went on his way. I was curious but assumed the matter was closed. However two days later at exactly the same time, the big burly guy returned. He said that the bill I had given him was the previous years and did I have the current one. I said I would go and look for it but as soon as I stepped away from the door, he entered my house. “I didn’t invite you in” I said, to which he replied “I’m allowed to make a peaceful entry”. He continued to say that his job was to find evidence of this person that the company who had hired him had said I was hiding.

To cut a long story short, it turns out that a person (most definitely unknown to me) had made a fraudulent credit application against my property and the company who was owed money had hired the most high profile debt collection agency to hunt him down. All their evidence suggested to them that he lived in my house.

The shock of seeing a man who was as wide as he was tall, searching through every room in my house, opening cupboards and drawers taking pictures whilst I was only wearing a dressing gown had a devastating effect on me. I was frightened, couldn’t think straight and broke down when he started looking in my office at paperwork that was related to my mother’s passing. It was at that point he accepted there was no evidence of a male in my house and gave me the contact details of his company so I could make a complaint. He also told me he wouldn’t be bothering me again. But for me the damaged was done and I was in a terrible state.

After a while of trying to compose myself, I went to work but as soon as I arrived and went to see my boss, I broke down again. The whole incident felt like I was watching myself being robbed even though he didn’t take anything. I felt violated. But at least once I sat at my desk and started working, my mind was distracted for a little while.

To make matters worse, on my way home that evening, I noticed a a reflection on my windscreen I hadn’t seen before, then I realised I had a cracked windscreen, a crack that was about 12 inches long which would need the whole windscreen replaced. Another thing I had to deal with!

That evening I felt lost, alone and extremely vulnerable, I needed someone to talk to who understood me. There was only really one person who knew me well enough to know how to handle me and that was my ex-husband so I sent him an email and asked if he could call me the next day. In my message I gave him a brief overview of what happened but I really wasn’t sure if I was important enough for him to make time for me anymore. His response, which arrived the next morning, was far better than I expected. He said he’s be able to call when he was getting ready for work, with the 6 hour time difference, that would be around 1pm which fitted perfectly with my lunch break. As good as his word, he called. I got to speak to the person that used to be my rock, he was empathic, supportive and everything I needed him to be. For the first time since we split, he made me feel that he still cared about me despite the divorce. It was a defining moment for me and I sincerely thought that at some point in the future we could return to being friends, because that was always the one thing I didn’t want to lose.

My next but of bad news came the following day I had a phone call from the holiday tour company. The Australian tour I had chosen and had set my heart on had some terms and conditions changed for 2019 and would no longer accept the single occupancy arrangement and was withdrawn. On the very same day it had been windy and my garden gate had somehow got wedged and I couldn’t open it which meant I had to take my wheelie rubbish bin through the house and out through the front door in order for the rubbish to be collected. Along with the fact that at the time I was dealing with notifying all my mothers utility companies that she had passed away, I was overwhelmed and cracking under the strain.

As with the last couple of years, I was participating in ‘Dry January’, and despite my bad start to the month, I managed to maintain my willpower and avoid alcohol. During the last week of the month, I was glad that it was only a few more days and I could open a bottle of wine that I felt I desperately needed. I had also been chatting to a new ‘match’ on Tinder and made a tentative arrangement to meet up for a drink on the 1st Feb, but it didn’t go quite as I expected!

My first date of 2018 & too much wine!