"In that moment, I transformed from mother and ex-wife, to woman again."

It was the Commodore who did it.

Tall, dark and as slippery as engine sludge, he ‘lived on his yacht’, walked with out-turned feet, and told me the night we met that he was looking to cheat on his lover, with whom he cheated on his wife.

As encouraging as this sounded, I did dally with him (the wife was separated and the mistress dropped him) as part of the euphoria of Post-Divorce Second Adolescence*, until he introduced me at the Yacht Club as someone else and his (‘separated’?) wife turned up in tears on my doorstep. I asked her in, comforted her and dropped him.

He was a cad too far. There endeth my period of *PDSA.

Gael Jennings. Image via Facebook.


But before that overdue punctuation - oh, what adventures I had!

It had all started shortly after my marriage ended, with my dear cousin, always in my court and bounding around emanating love and hope.

“Here!”, she cried, whipping out some darkly exotic serviettes. “These can be for your first dinner party as a single woman!”.

I look at her in incomprehension. I would never, ever have another dinner party. I’d been with my husband for over half my life. We had been deeply married, and I was utterly committed to the lives and wellbeing of my children.

Yes, I’d wrangled myself free of the marriage, but now I was lying, panting with exhaustion and confusion on the other side, and how would I ever, ever resume any kind of normal social intercourse, as if nothing had happened?


My role was to steer my kids safely through this trauma, usher them through the rest of their education and keep their ‘family’ as rock solid and as similar to before as I possibly could. It’s interesting, the delusions which permeate us whilst in shock. Of course their life would never be the same.

A yawning chasm had opened in the cosy warmth of their existence, and forever after, ‘family’ would be different. Try as their father and I might, family occasions would become a subtle power play of proprietal claims for them. Family holidays would be split. Family dinners duplicated. Their father would remarry. They would have a whole new step-family.

Nonetheless, those serviettes remained unopened for 2 years.

"My role was to steer my kids safely through this trauma, usher them through the rest of their education and keep their ‘family’ as rock solid and as similar to before as I possibly could." Image via Facebook.


Then one night, my two eldest daughters took me aside and informed me it was time to ‘get back on the horse’. We spent an hilarious evening leafing through RSVP, a dating site. I was shocked, repulsed, scared, and mostly, intensely grateful to have them sitting there with me, encouraging me to actually see men again. Men had been completely invisible to me over the last two decades.

The alchemy of suggestion worked. I found myself on a date with a rather splendid dad from the local school. When we finally kissed, my hand shot out of its own accord as he turned to leave, clamped on his arm, and my mouth said “Come back here”. (I am still shocked by myself). (It was just for more kisses).


Have odes been written to the power of the first kiss after marriage? I was transported; the world broke into Disney lights, and dizzying adrenalin; top-hatted men danced across the stage. Helen Reddy burst into song. Roxanne from Moulin Rouge shimmied in my car. I sang all the way home. In that moment, I transformed from mother and ex-wife, to Woman.

Want more? Try: Why are a quarter of us having affairs when no-one wants to?

My daughters soon regretted their Horse lecture. My cousin moved to gifts of lingerie. I don’t regret a single thing. My Danish lover and I got lost in our ink-black suite at the top of a Thai mountain when the power to the island went out for 2 days; our waiter tried to find us on the huge dining room deck by his wavering torch, and all three of us fell about laughing.

He dinked me on the handlebars of his bike in Melbourne, took the train with me from France to Italy just to say goodbye, and was deaf in one ear from underwater rugby. He was a shocker; he’d only date women with a BMI of less than 22, and had cheated on both his wives, who, unaccountably, still spoke to him. But he was hilarious, adventurous, spontaneous, sexy and I had a ball.

Related content: “The upside of divorce is getting rid of your spouse.”


Then there was Leo, he of the sparkling wit, ready sweat, and serious brainpower, who invited me to hear his band, introduced me to all his friends, proposed a trip to Turkey, mysteriously went on a holiday to Thailand alone ( reeeally??), and dropped me when his separated spouse gave him the rounds of the kitchen when it turned out it was her friends that I had met.


And, just before the Commodore, there was Tim, the most gentle soul, whose heart was open, conscience clear, and is still my dear friend.

"My daughters soon regretted their Horse lecture." Image via Facebook.


In that two years I learnt more about men ( and myself) than I had in the previous five decades. I was older, more mature, and I was not invested in relationship; I could claim what I wanted and I could hear the mens’ stories, good or bad. All were gutted by loss of family. How they dealt with it was what distinguished them; some were careful and respectful; most were trying to hedge their bets; hold on whilst moving on.

Although I seem to have hand-picked some cads, all treated their children as precious individuals, not job-lots to argue over. Some ( like me) were in the grip of a second adolescence, fever pitch, as if it might run out; other were seasoned bastards. One was tender and caring. I suspect their lives will continue along these trajectories.

Read more: The pain of a broken heart is more brutal the older you are.

In time, sex without love and commitment became tawdry, and once that dazzle dimmed, I could see clearly how I could not condone keeping company with men who had knowingly hurt the women in their lives.

The last I heard of the Commodore was from his wife, a year ago, still trying to find him.