IF you told me this time last year we’d still be in this situation, I would have laughed – then probably cried.
I recall many moons ago we all thought the pandemic might blow over in a few weeks. Wishful thinking. It is the time of year for wishful thinking, isn’t it?
New Year, resolutions, hopes and aspirations.
I’ve never been one for resolutions. Always found them silly, vacuous, pretentious and nonsensical.
But surely, God willing, surely 2022 has to be a year that we can all look forward to with a bit more certainty and hope after the shocking past 22 months we’ve had.
Hope can be amazing. It’s often what keeps us going. And it’s all we have, right?
There were some big changes in my personal life in the past year. I made some big shifts.
The biggest was dipping my toe into the turbulent sea of dating. Nay, I may have gone in over my shoulders.
It was unintentional and if it hadn’t been for lockdown, I doubt it would have happened.
It began as a distraction and soon became a fascination.
Stuck at home with kids, not permitted to go anywhere, it was nice to strike up conversations with people, albeit virtually.
Turns out some of them were real and some considerably less so. But it was an interesting learning curve.
I was ready to mingle. I had a newfound freedom and, with my children being a bit older, a sense of independence. It energised me and catapulted me into a world of meeting, seeing, dating and having sex.
I felt like I was born again. I had a lot of great times but there were also some soul-destroying moments which left me feeling empty and often sad.
There were men who initially showed enthusiasm, positivity and willingness, only for it to be deflated like a giant balloon due to their fears, anxieties or — who knows? — panic.
I felt my heart race
Since my divorce three and a half years ago, I’d had no appetite for meeting someone.
I was not looking for a relationship. When you’ve been in one for a lengthy period, you crave space, time on your own, lack of commitment, freedom, a life devoid of boundaries and restrictions. An opportunity to breathe and spread your wings.
To be fair, for much of my life I’ve been in long-term relationships, one after the other with only brief breaks in between but barely enough time to work out what it is you really need and want.
What you want is often very different from what you need.
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I’ve always been a relationship person. I’ve loved the connection and the commitment. I’ve always wanted to belong to someone. To know there is someone who counts on me, someone I can care for.
If you have children, which I’ve had for the past 27 years, you’re constantly caring for and nurturing others.
You’re all too often bottom of the list because everyone else is a priority — and I think I always liked that. It’s always been in my DNA.
I had never really known anything else and would have felt lost if I didn’t have someone else to care for.
Perhaps that is why my commitment to a relationship was always so fervent. It was like a fire burning inside me.
Added to that was the eternal romantic in me constantly searching for The One.
I believed in monogamy and had it in my head we all ought to be with someone.
I can’t explain where this came from because I’m a child of divorced parents, so I never had a clear vision of a nuclear family.
With the advent of my third divorce, and the turbulence brought on by the devastating menopause, my desires and wishes changed.
This coincided with a pandemic, lockdowns and Project Dating. Finally, after three years of being single, I was dating.
I had a couple of encounters where I could feel my heart race, my face flush with the onset of promise and affection, and a sensation I might be heading towards something more permanent.
Since my divorce three and a half years ago, I’d had no appetite for meeting someone
It was those couple of “collisions” that have finally made me realise what I’m hoping for in 2022.
I don’t want to rule out any more brief encounters. After all, we all know meeting someone special is a numbers game. It’s crucial you don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
What I’ve concluded is that sex and fun is . . . fun. It’s liberating, exciting and confidence-boosting.
But it is not necessarily where I’m heading next year. I’m largely done with one-offs and rendezvous of brevity.
It was good while it lasted and it helped re-engage me with members of the opposite sex. It was enlightening.
But I want more. Fear not, this bird isn’t searching for another Mr Right. She isn’t looking to settle down yet again. She’s not looking for something conventional. I want something I never thought would be very “me”.
I’m hoping I can use what I’ve learnt about myself and others this past year to fashion myself some kind of relationship not bound by normal custom.
I am a fiercely independent woman and I do not need a man. I am happy in my own company, thank you. I’m not needy and I don’t chase.
What I hope for is someone in my life willing to appreciate and respect me for who I am. Someone honest and dedicated to some form of “us” — but an “us” that isn’t living together or in each other’s pocket.
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I don’t need someone to take my children on. I don’t need help changing lightbulbs. What I would like is to be loved and cherished while doing all the fun things life can unfold.
I want laughter and good times without the argument over who is loading the dishwasher tonight.
I want trips away. I want a love affair that will last only for as long as it is meant to.
I am not searching. I’m not needing. But I sure as hell will be ready when it arrives.
My intention is not to march into 2022, making it my year and raising expectations.
I’m hopeful. I shall walk in quietly — but a little assumingly.
No angel, but she's my hero
ONE of the most captivating dramas I watched last week was the BBC’s A Very British Scandal, a dramatisation of the society story surrounding the divorce between the Duke and Duchess of Argyll in 1963.
Sublime performances by Claire Foy and Paul Bettany, but an apt telling of a true story where a woman was publicly shamed for, fundamentally, being “highly sexed”.
The duchess, Margaret Campbell, had many lovers. She enjoyed sex and, in her own opinion, she was very good at it.
And regardless of her husband’s numerous infidelities and cruel behaviour, it was she who was discredited, humiliated and ridiculed for her love of intercourse and intimacy.
I would like to think things have changed over the past five decades, and to some extent they have.
We are more willing to discuss the fact that women can and have the right to enjoy sex as a recreational pastime.
But essentially much of society still finds it a somewhat uncomfortable concept.
We are definitely heading in the right direction and hopefully the next generation of women can feel more at ease – like I certainly do – about expressing their desires and passions without feeling shame or exclusion.
So, I have found myself a new heroine in the former Duchess of Argyll, who passed away penniless and a social outcast in 1993.
She may not have been an angel, but what a trailblazer for owning her sexuality at a time when being sexually liberated was a cause for stigma and scandal.
I have a new Xmas
THERE can’t be many whose Christmastime was untouched by flaming Omicron.
A member of my family, albeit one who doesn’t live at home any more, contracted this deeply frustrating variant, which meant said person would not be out of isolation until Boxing Day.
There were tears all round as if the world had come to an end . . . until we had the genius idea of moving the Christmas plans around a bit.
And I have to confess it has been an enlightening festive period, if for that alone.
We (meaning “I” because, quite frankly, I am the boss of Chrimbo) moved Christmas Day to Boxing Day, which meant something glorious happened.
After a busy, fraught Eve, I then had a day of doing sweet bugger-all on the actual day.
Instead of having to get up on Christmas morning, hungover, to perform yet another catering miracle of turkey and trimmings, I got to slob on the sofa in my comfies, watching films and eating leftovers.
Now, I’m a stickler for tradition. But this change meant I actually enjoyed Christmas Day for the first time in a long time because I wasn’t run ragged.
It also meant I could look forward to the following day without feeling like I’d just done an Iron Man event.
Sometimes man plans and God laughs, and changes have to be made.
And I’m quite excited that a new tradition may have been born.
Number's up for feeling your age
FIFTY Shades star Dakota Johnson, 32, said in a recent interview that she feels both 26 and 48, because she’s had “a lot of life in her life”.
By this, she implies that she lived a lot in her younger years and therefore feels “older”.
I hear her. Although, obvs, I’d dispute that 48 is old as a young bird myself who is about to turn the corner on 55 this year.
I’ve always struggled with the concept of age. I had to grow up very young due to family circumstances.
I lived with a dad who often forgot he had a daughter and was thus left to my own devices to drag myself up.
Then, of course, I settled down really young, married at 23 and had the responsibility of both a family life and a successful career, which meant I didn’t engage in the normal “stuff” young people do.
I simply had too much responsibility on my young, tender shoulders.
In short, I’ve lived my life back to front, because nowadays you’ll often find me hanging around with younger people.
I’m electrified, motivated and invigorated by their energy.
So no, I don’t feel 54. I don’t know what 54 actually means.
My head is now in the place it should have been when I was in my twenties.
Having said that, my love of rum invariably means I wake up the morning after, look in the mirror and see a 74-year-old.
But such is life.
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