“People say, ‘But you’re alone.’ But I don’t feel alone. I feel very sparkly and excited about everything.”And yet, it somehow offered up a reset button.Freed from any obligation to find a mate (there’s an unspoken rule that you get a year off dating after a disastrous marriage), I sought the advice of a therapist.In the weeks after my husband walked out, I wondered many times how I could muster the strength to start anew.When Stevie Nicks was asked about being on her own, she gave one of the best answers I’ve ever heard.For the first time in many years, I no longer needed anybody to stand next to me offering reassurance.I realised that, while my mother had spent her youth working on becoming a person who could offer up the onion-like layers that Carol Ann Duffy describes in her magnificent poem “Valentine”, I’d spent mine trying not to miss the marriage moment.Perhaps I had previously just seen mates as the ones who occupied the waiting room with me, but now I sought people who would really understand me, people who would last.After all my uncertainties about my marriage, I wanted friends whom I could love properly and unthinkingly. In the fall-out from my marriage, I gained two new best friends – a male neighbour who would meet me at the pub that stood between our two houses and endure self-indulgent weeping, and a woman whose background is the opposite of my own but who echoes my thoughts in almost every situation.
I was told to have an interesting life and to find ways to be happy, and this never (OK, rarely) involved being introduced to eligible suitors.My mother would not be rushed into anything by the ticking of a biological clock. Then, at 28, I met someone who scooped me up and rushed me towards a future.