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My greatest fear is that I end up like them, or even more so than I already am.

When I celebrated my 40th birthday, not with my family but with a dozen friends, my father commented that even then (aged 70 or thereabouts) that he would never have been able to invite that many friends as he has never had that many. I felt superior and sad for him.

My parents have, between them about 3 or 4 couples as life long friends from school, university or first jobs. That’s it. My father broke up with his best friend in middle age as his friend left his wife for another woman and my father couldn’t understand or forgive him this transgression. My mother’s best friend was me and there were very few other people she confided in, and none that were hers rather than theirs.

My mother has what she always wanted after what must have been a catastrophic pregnancy as a single teenager: stability and safety. She wasn’t willing to trade that in when she discovered my father’s affair and she’s never been willing to rock the boat with him apart from the first few years of her marriage. So she’s played safe and has swallowed her own desires and feelings.

My father never acknowledged until the last 20 years that he had any emotions. Life was divided up into Stalinesque five and ten year plans, with things to achieve and targets. Each year was to be slightly better off financially than the last, with everything, holidays, days out, career moves, rigidly planned out to the last detail.

Spontaneity doesn’t happen. The thought of “it’s a beautiful day, let’s cancel plans and go…” never happened. My father took three months to make that fatal phone call that started the journey from friendship to an affair; even that wasn’t spur of the moment.

I too over the years have suppressed my emotions and desires, all for the sake of keeping the peace, not shouting in front of the children etc., did I mention I’ve never heard my parents raise their voices, not ever?

My parents have a very lonely life. They say it’s exactly what they want, with everything arranged just so, with holidays on a regular basis to provide them with stimulation but they have few friends and virtually nothing that challenges their thoughts, that provides fresh insight or excitement.

I want friends – I’ve been working on that but have some really wonderful people in my life whom I love deeply, and am not afraid to acknowledge it. I want to be able to do mad things and try to, as often as possible. I find that limited by my children and worry about that not being an excuse.

The greatest difference is that I am trying to face my issues, and change myself to become a better person, to listen to other people and be aware that my life can be improved and that I want it to. And that sometimes, going off-road is part of what life is all about!

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