never married, over forty, a little bitter

the long shot

Somewhere near the beginning of this blog I wrote that, during a low point for me a couple of years ago, I discovered via Facebook that the man who was my first heartbreak had married “the love of his life” and they had just brought their first child home from the hospital.

Recently I ran into a woman (now a wife and mother) from that period of my life, and she said she had also had a romance with this same man, and when she ran into him a few years ago he didn’t remember who she was.  And, he looked terrible.  We had a laugh over that and over a few other men from that time period who were big studs then and now… not so much.

That laugh turned my whole perspective around.


Ultimately, we all have to decide for ourselves what constitutes failure, but the world is quite eager to give you a set of criteria if you let it. So I think it fair to say that by any conventional measure, a mere seven years after my graduation day, I had failed on an epic scale. An exceptionally short-lived marriage had imploded, and I was jobless, a lone parent, and as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless. The fears that my parents had had for me, and that I had had for myself, had both come to pass, and by every usual standard, I was the biggest failure I knew.

Now, I am not going to stand here and tell you that failure is fun. That period of my life was a dark one, and I had no idea that there was going to be what the press has since represented as a kind of fairy tale resolution. I had no idea then how far the tunnel extended, and for a long time, any light at the end of it was a hope rather than a reality.

So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged.