As fate would have it, I went about the dating experience backward. Rather than build up to finding The One, my first date post-divorce transformed into a steady, euphoric relationship.

There was so much that was good about it! The Master and Commander was so smart and so interesting. He helped me in so many ways. He shared simple recipes to help me learn to cook. He put snaps on my purse when the zipper broke. He assembled my new china cabinet when it arrived from Wayfair in 48 pre-fabricated pieces. He repaired the broken frame of my leather couch and installed a new showerhead in my bathroom. He supplied my kitchen with the means to brew loose-leaf tea, with fancy salt-and-pepper shakers, and with a high-end can opener that will still be around when my grandchildren are grown. He gifted me with a lovely, wooden box for my essential oils and treated me to fancy dinners at restaurants I may never dine in again. More than anything, he brought out an element in me that had been crushed by betrayal—desire. God knows if I will ever experience desire like that again. (I sure hope so!)

If only…if only that flash of impatience I had seen in his eyes upon our first meeting had never returned. If only it had never come to be directed toward me. Occasionally at first, and then with increasing regularity, the Master and Commander stole my joy with his impatience over my perceived ineptitudes. The easygoing relationship turned to my walking on eggshells. I have concluded, generally speaking, that a seriously awful childhood results in some deep-seated issues that affect adult relationships. The M&C is a prime example, still haunted, and therefore shaped and even governed, by his past. After all, if you’re not happy with yourself, you’ll never make someone else happy. And therein lay our problem.

Six months after we met, I had to let the M&C go. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done—harder even than walking out of my marriage. There hasn’t been a day in the three months since that I haven’t shed a tear over the loss–perhaps because it there was so much that was good about it. He embodied all of those heroic traits I find irresistable. Yet I know I did the right thing in releasing him. I want the kind of love I have written about in my books. I want to be respected for my intelligence and my compassion. I deserve that.

So, here I am. Back in the dating game after a promising false start. The M&C says he is going to work on himself and come back for me one day. I have to say, my heart flutters hopefully at the thought. However, having become pragmatic in my later years, I won’t hold my breath. Onward and, if not necessarily upward, at least in a more peaceable direction, I go.