Some people can handle guilt well, and can happily juggle more than one life.
I failed – the guilt was profound – and so began the painful but necessary process of erasing one and focusing solely on the other, the one that had come first.
I was fortunate enough to get another chance to do so, and I'm working at it now. Turned On By Lucy Dent (Doubleday, rrp £14.99) is available to order from Telegraph Books at £12.99 £1.35 p&p.
Call 08 or visit Telegraph Books The Big Short, the film adaptation of Michael Lewis' book of the same name about the causes of the financial crisis, opens in UK cinemas this weekend.
As I have come to learn, most of those who grow up in a dysfunctional relationship are condemned to seek them out forevermore. In adulthood, I had become a rather complicated girlfriend, each relationship beginning well, but then growing fractured and ending badly.
What drew me to the online world was the maintenance of fantasy.I met all sorts of people, from all over the world, older and younger, and each seemingly as desperate for a true connection as I. Should I be blaming my mother, or my – mostly absent – father for feeling that something was eternally missing? I was born to a woman that didn't much want children, and who fell foul to postnatal depression a good couple of decades before the term was even coined.And for a while at least, it all felt harmless and innocent, and fun. My father leaving didn't help, and for the first six months of my life I was placed with a notional "auntie", a family friend who became my surrogate mother throughout my childhood.When the time was right for both of us, we would work through our problems and come back to one another. I shed my regulars and concentrated on just one, a man younger than me by almost two decades.And it was harmless, until I fell in too deep and wanted more than his messages.
And then it was finished: our nest, our empty nest. I became addicted to the attention and craved contact with the men I thought I had come to know. But I found out it wasn't as easy as I had first thought. I quit decisively at first, then slipped up, then quit again, craving some kind of patch.