Why is this getting worse rather than better? I felt better last week than I do now and I can’t bear it. Husband is just about to come home and I’m sobbing. I’m snotty and my make-up is trashed. Even he’ll notice that. And this is a man who hasn’t noticed me radically changing hair colour overnight or, more significantly, popping out for tampons in the evenings. Has he not noticed that for the past year my tampon consumption has mysteriously gone up and yet my menstrual cycle is the same? Suspicious? Yes, it’s totally suspicious but he hasn’t questioned it.

So maybe I’ve got through the anger stage and now I’m in the full-on grief. I could do without this shit. I’ve got enough grief as it is – grief over my failings as a parents, my failings in my career and my failings in my marriage. And the big one, my failure to be good enough for you to choose to be with me. I’m fucking riddled with grief and failings. I don’t need any more.


I thought that the first day and night would be the hardest. They weren’t. Ten days post break-up and it’s worse than at the start. Yesterday morning I only saw you fleetingly as you drove past. I felt relieved that I only had to endure that tiny bit of exposure. I went off afterwards and did all the things I needed to do quite happily until I got home and then I crashed and burned. I hated you, I hated breaking up, I hated myself, I fucking hated everything. This lasted all day and, when I woke up this morning, I was hopeful that I could press ‘reset’ and start today with a clean sheet. But no. How life likes to shit on you when you’re fragile. When I went to turn off my alarm on my phone I saw that I had a new Telegram message. You’re my only contact on Telegram so it had to be you. Wrong – it was that fucking irritating mum from school who I try to avoid but who always hunts me down. Email, Facebook, What’s App and now Telegram. The woman is tenacious, unlike you.

So, the first few minutes of today were a high of excitement followed by a massive drop of despair and disappointment. And to top it all, you were there on time this morning. I forced myself to say hello and then I must have asked how you were because you said fine. You asked me too but then my voice failed me and I shrugged and raised my eyebrows to signal ‘Absolutely devastated’. You then walked towards the gates behind me and then, when I turned to take Youngest Child down to their classroom, you said: “See you then”. You sounded hopeful, like you were waiting for me to say something encouraging. Why are you waiting for me to say something? There’s no point looking at me and expecting me to do or so anything. You’ve said that we’re over and we can’t talk to each other anymore. You haven’t emailed me or Telegrammed me. You haven’t asked me to have a quick chat just to see how I am. So, no, I’m not going to indulge you like I have so many times in the past, given you the prompt you wanted. I’m leaving it to you because, much as I’m struggling to stop myself from asking a question or emailing you, this is what you wanted. You wanted nothing more from me, which is lucky as I can’t give you anything. No chit chat, no pretence for other people. You were my best friend and the person I most loved talking to but now I have no words. I can’t speak when I see you and you should be grateful because once that dam breaks you’ve going to be drowned in the deluge.

A year ago

The first proper kiss we had was as good as I’d imagined it would be. Your lips were soft and your tongue was just the right amount of curious. You were definitely my kind of kisser – slow, gentle with a massive, building undertow of lust. We kissed for ages in your car and I was happy to do that and only that.  I’d waited such a long time to be up close to you that I wanted to take you all in while we kissed. We kept our eyes open and I constantly stroked your beautiful face. I could believe my luck. I was finally kissing you and touching you.

You moved things up a gear by reaching under my dress and weaving your way to my knickers. I felt your fingers, the manly fingers I’d looked at and longed to touch, slide under the flimsy lace and then inside me. I would have fucked you there and then but you were cautious. It was broad daylight and there were people around but I didn’t care. I’d have straddled you. Instead, I unbuttoned you jeans and sucked you off. No one could see that I was even there, tucked out of sight. I liked hearing the noises you made and you said my name just before you came. Then, once you’d come, it was straight back to business. You checked your watch and said it was time to go to work. I could see that you were all shaky and riddled with guilt as you drove off. I, bizarrely, wasn’t at all. I was high on you and hoped that you wouldn’t panic and call it all off.


Do you have a missing connection in your brain somewhere? It certainly felt like you’d had an empathy bypass when I saw you this morning. You started wittering on about some domestic disaster that just happened and how stressful it is for you. You clearly wanted me to say something, probably something soothing and supportive. Oh, poor you, your life is so hard. But I’m not that person anymore. You decided, very suddenly last week, that I couldn’t be that person. And because of that decision, I can’t talk to you, let alone make supportive noises. I’m too hurt and sad to talk.  When I do look at you (and mostly I can’t because I know it will make me cry and also want you more), all I can see is massive rejection by the man who I thought I’d be with. I was willing to walk away from my marriage, fuck up my life and everyone’s around me for you. You weren’t but you still expect me to be all friendly and chipper. Maybe you want to keep the charade of polite friendliness up for the other parents in the playground. Or maybe you’re just a fuckwit with women. I don’t know. All I know is that I used to hate the weekends as I wouldn’t be able to see you. Now I hate the weekdays as I know that I’ll be crying all the way home from school and for the rest of the day.


I saw you again this morning for the first time since we broke up. I wasn’t particularly expecting to see you – I thought you’d do your trademark lightening drop-off and leave before I’d even seen you. But no, it couldn’t be that easy. On the drive to school, you pop up in my rear view mirror. I see your outline and feel a horrible mix of nerves and anger. For the rest of the drive, I’m mainly angry. When I go to park, you drive past me and this infuriates me even more. You are going to ignore me and refuse to face the music yet again. You are that horrible coward that I thought you were last week. Propelled on a little jet of hate, I steam towards school and then I panic in the playground. It’s early and it’s empty. Shit, I’ve got nowhere to hide. You stroll in and then the anger is gone. I’m absolutely devastated instead. I can feel my eyes welling up, my lips quivering and my voices starts to waver. I reluctantly stand and wait for the doors to open. You try to chat but I’m so choked up that I can’t manage it. Instead, I look down at my feet and let my hair hide my face. Tears course down my face and my nose drips. I try to wipe it away without you noticing but I’m not sure I manage it. When I eventually look up, you’re staring at me. I can’t wait for the doors to open. When they do, you turn and leave and I follow you and then turn away to drop off Youngest Child. We turn to look at each other at the same time but nothing is said. I’m not sure if you wanted me to say something or if you were grateful that I’d spared you any confrontation. Maybe you thought I was silent because I was pissed off. But I’ve had it with second guessing you and trying to work out how to behave so that you won’t feel pressured and will want to speak to me. And, the ultimate prize, see me.

When I finally walk back to my car, you’ve gone (of course) and I start to cry. I cry and sob all the way home. I cry as I’m tidying up the breakfast things and crap lying round the house. I cry when I get back into the car to go somewhere and then on the way back home again. I’m crying now and I hate myself. I hate that I let you make me feel this way. I hate that you don’t seem to care that I’m devastated. I hate that I’m going to have to go through this shit for the foreseeable future and when I do come out the other side, what will I have? The only thing I can think of is that I won’t have you.


A year before

His email back to me was perfectly polite and appropriate. Yes, my friend should look at your website and check out your projects to see if she likes your style. I email him to say thanks and throw in a question to keep the conversation going. I’m not even sure what I asked now. Whatever it was, it sparked more emails back and forth. It’s the most excitement I’ve had in years. With each email, we get less formal and more like our real selves. We snipe about other parents and find we hate the same people. We moan about playground politics, domestic life and everything and anything. It quickly becomes clear that we’ve got the same view on life, death and humour.

In those first few heady days, I’m constantly checking my phone like a teenager. I spend ages writing my emails and agonise waiting for him to email back. Bizarrely, we still don’t talk in person. Even if he is at school at the same time as me, he avoids me. I’m confused but assume that this’ll change at some point. As the days tick by, we get chattier on email. Then, suddenly, I mention the ‘p’ word – porn. I’m writing something about it. It’s at this point that he suggests we switch to another email account, one his wife either doesn’t see or know about. We switch and the conversation moves in an altogether different direction. It’s not vagaries about school or parenting. It’s lust and attraction. We took a while to get round to the subject but once we’re there, the gloves are off. I want him, he wants me. I say what I want to do to him, he says what he wants to do to me. And then it stops. He’s worried about what we’re doing and thinks we’re going too far. I don’t want to stop but I have to.

Summer holidays come around and I’m looking at a couple of months with no contact. It seems like an endless stretch of nothingness ahead of me. Much as I want the kids to go back to school – and I do, they’re moaning from day one – it’s more because I want to see him, rather than get my week days back. A couple of weeks in and I crack; September is too far away and I just can’t wait. I email him and we start all over again. This time we cross the bridge over into email sex. I haven’t felt this turned on in years and I feel like a different person. I’m not the woman who picks up kids’ pants off the floor, ferries people around to playdates and sorts out the car insurance, I’m me again. A person with desires and emotions that have nothing to do with satisfying my family. Instead of giving all my energy, time and emotion away to other less than grateful people, I’m lavishing it on my self and I feel alive for the first time in at least a decade. And I’m lavishing it on someone who doesn’t expect me to wash his shirts or make his dinner. It feels like a pure transaction.

It might feel the same to the fox but again his conscience kicks in and we’re off again. Off again, in fact, until the first day of term when he stops me outside school (finally) and says he’s been hoping to see me.



I feel like I’m weakening a bit today. I had to stop myself driving past your usual weekend haunts, if only to catch a glimpse of you or, even more pathetically, your car. Just seeing your car used to give me that jolt of excitement and anticipation. If I saw it on the way to school I knew that we could walk into the playground together, chat while we were waiting for the doors to open and then walk back to our cars together. I’d get the maximum daily dose of you. On the days that you had rush off to work straight away I’d feel shortchanged. A whole 24 hours would pass before I could see you again.

I’m glad I managed to put a brake on seeking you out today as it’d only lead to yet more disappointment. Having said that, I’m not sure that you would start things up again; you went to the brink of being found out and you were really scared. Scared enough to pull back and cowardly enough not to tell me.

Despite being angry and hurt, I obviously still love you. If I’d managed to forget about us in five days then it definitely wouldn’t be love. Crush or a need for excitement maybe but not love. I’m still seeing you in everything I do and everywhere I go. I was watching a TV show with Husband last night and there was a sex scene. It was awkward because I didn’t want it to give him any ideas but equally it made me think of you. I loved having sex with you. Your body is unbearably lovely. Your smooth, defined chest, your hard stomach and solid thighs. I never got the chance to lavish it with the slow adoration it deserved – you were always straight back into your clothes the second you’d come. I’d love to have spent an afternoon caressing all your curves and ridges.

You always said that our bits fitted together perfectly and they did. Like they were made for each other. Just like us. Shame you didn’t give us the chance to experience the real deal for the rest of our lives.




I find it depressing that the only way I can deal with this sadness is to be very angry with you. I’m angry that you promised we’d be together, that you said you loved me more than anyone else, that we were perfectly matched. That I’m your best friend. I’d like to think you meant all those things but how can I? For eight months we endlessly told each other how much we loved each other and wanted to be together right up until Monday night. And all the while you knew that you were going to walk away. When did you decide that? I can see now that you were gradually pulling back. I hardly saw you for the last couple of months. We last had sex in January or maybe early February. I’ve had more sex with Husband than I’ve had with you this year. And I avoid that as much as I can.

I’m angry with myself too. How could I let myself go through all of these terrible highs and lows? I’ve been on constant high alert waiting for my phone to ping or for your car to appear in my rear view mirror. It’s been bloody exhausting. Surely by now I should know better. I’m middle aged and I’ve had therapy for fuck’s sake. All those thousands of pounds and hundreds of hours raking over the past were totally wasted. I’d have been better off saving that money to spend on a male escort for when I’m single again. Knowing how rubbish I still am with men makes me think that I shouldn’t ever get into a relationship again. I’m just not good at them. They always leave me feeling worthless and unloved.

So, in the future, I’m going to stay away from men and contract out the sex. I can guess what you’ll be doing. You’ll still be with your awful wife living your awful life. You’ll be just like that friend of yours, who almost left his wife ten years ago but then didn’t and thinks about the other woman every single day. I suppose that’s what happens when you’re a coward.

A year before

I’m still pondering the fox’s strange behaviour when, for a change, I’m just reaching the bottom the stairs on my way out at school the next morning and he’s just coming in. He clocks me but says nothing and bolts up the stairs. When I look back, though, I can see he’s staring at me, at my arse in particular. He sees that I’ve seen him checking me out and he quickly looks away, embarrassed.

Over the next couple of weeks, the intensity of our silent glances on the stairs reach fever pitch. I can’t wait to get to school in the morning, which is a first. Usually the process of getting the kids out of the front door is so stressful that I put it off for as long as I can. Now I’m hustling my kids out of the door on the dot of 8am. On the way to school, I’m checking my rear view mirror for his car. I find myself parking my car near to his. It doesn’t matter what I do, though, because he won’t talk to me or even look me straight in the eye. Despite the continuing weird behaviour, one thing is clear: I totally fancy him. He has lovely crinkly laughter lines round his beautiful blue eyes. He’s got full lips and a nice straight nose. He dresses the way I like – good jeans, retro trainers or hefty Chelsea boots and faded old surfing t-shirts. I find myself imagining what he’d look like with his clothes off. I imagine he’s got a hard, flat stomach, a smooth hairless chest, lovely muscly legs and tight arse. I imagine he’s a good kisser, especially with those lips, and not one of those horrid men who kiss with the pointy lizard tongue. I imagine his kisses would be long and slow, the kind that sent me into a frenzy of lust when I was young and that I don’t get now. Husband isn’t much of a kisser and though he’s not got the lizard tongue, he doesn’t do extensive kissing. It’s a kiss, kit off and down to business. I imagine the fox would snog me for hours on the sofa.

As the weeks tick by, my desire for him goes through the roof. I’m thinking about him nonstop. I’m getting at 6 and getting the kids out of the door in the morning as I don’t want to miss any opportunity to see him, even though I know it won’t come to anything. A lesser (read, saner) person might have given up by now but there’s such a charge of something electric between us that I feel that I have to carry on. I need to speak to him to find out if it’s just that I fancy him physically or if it’s something more.

Although nothing’s actually happened I feel like I’m pursuing him. And he’s certainly acting like someone dodging a stalker. In the end, I’m sitting at my desk at home and I finally crack. If face-to-face doesn’t work, then maybe email will. I google his name and, judging by the almost complete lack of any information about him, he’s not someone who wants anyone to find him. The only lead is his picture on a company website. It’s at this point that I have to decide if I want to be that mad predatory woman, the one who tracks down someone she fancies and emails them. I’m 43. I thought I’d be a better person at 43. Someone who is happily married or at least happy and mature enough to settle for the best she can get rather than chase a fantasy. I didn’t think I’d be staring at a screen, debating whether I should or shouldn’t email a dad from school. I peer at his tiny square photo and try to extract a decision from it. Is he really as gorgeous in the photo as he is in my mind? I look at his profile. Is it the profile of someone I’d instinctively get on with, let alone want to strip naked and fuck on the spot? The answer to both is no but photos and profiles can be deceiving. I should know; I won’t post a photo of myself without a heavy filter and the right angle (from above and from the side so that you can’t see my big nose wonks to the right).

I get up and make myself a coffee. I empty and refill the dishwasher. I put a load of clothes on to wash. I walk the dog. It’s getting close to 3pm when I have to leave to collect the kids. The distraction hasn’t worked – I’ve been itching to email him all day. I’ve tried to rise above it and reason that I’m an adult, I’m a married woman for fuck’s sake. Talk about playing with fire. I’m smoking a cigarette while juggling a giant bottle of lighter fluid and a flame thrower. If this goes wrong, I won’t just be singing my eyebrows. I’ll be scorching the ground round me for miles.

The kitchen clocks ticks through to 2.57pm and I decide that I can’t not do it. I sit down and bang out a casual email. Hope you don’t mind me contacting you, a friend of mine is looking for an architect (this is true so I don’t feel as terrible). Before I have the chance to change my mind, I hit send and then it’s gone. It’s 3.04pm and I’m late for school.


I’ve got through two of the big break-up hurdles – the last conversation and the first night after it. The last conversation, or message exchange in our case, was painful. I was full of resentment that you could break up with me that way but then, by your own admission, you’re a coward. That’s where we differ. I was ready to go for it and you were always hanging back. Anyway, that’s all blood under the bridge now. Last night you drew a line under this. And the most hurtful thing is that you didn’t say that we might be able to be together in the future. Yes, you love me, yes, you’d love to be with me but no, you’re not even going to commit to a vague future God knows how many years down the line. How could that not hurt? I thought you might try to soften the blow with a distant promise of something but no. Of everything that went said or unsaid last night, that was the most difficult to carry round with me today.

I think tonight is actually going to be harder than last night. At least last night I thought you might message me. Tonight I know you won’t so I’ll probably end up sitting on the stairs till far into the night crying again and then go to bed and stare at the ceiling for a few hours before it’s time to get up and do it all again. Whoever said that bullshit about better to have loved and lost… was talking absolute shit. It’s hard to love and be rejected. I wish I hadn’t kissed you or stroked your lovely face or held your hand or felt you inside me when I looked at you and whispered that I loved you. How is experiencing all that better than not experiencing it all?