09/10/2012 02:25 pm ET Updated Nov 10, 2012

The Story I Told Myself

When I was young, I married a man I didn't love. I had believed in fairy tales and dreamed of my Prince Charming arriving and carrying me off from the fourth floor walk up that I lived in with my parents. I married on the rebound -- a bad, bad way to start a marriage -- and also because he pursued me endlessly. The more I rejected his proposal, the more he asked, and then one day in a moment of resignation I said yes. Within hours, he magically appeared with a magnificent 3-carat diamond ring, something no one in my Bronx neighborhood had ever received. My parents were thrilled. Their daughter was marrying a "well-to-do man." Before I could say, "I've changed my mind," a reservation at a hotel in Manhattan was booked and the two families met and discussed who would pay for what. There was no turning back.

Ironically, the young man that I had wanted to marry asked me to break the engagement and marry him. I loved him and the problem we always had was that we were very young when we started dating and while I was ready for marriage, he wasn't. I agreed that I would end my engagement that evening. I tried so hard to tell my fiancé how I felt but he insisted, "Love will come." He made me go home and sleep on it. When I told my younger suitor I hadn't broken the engagement but I would do so the next day, he lost his guts and once again chickened out.

I went through with the wedding, determined to be the best wife I could be. He was a good man who proclaimed his love for me constantly. I started feeling content. We bought a pretty little house and I had an adorable little girl. A couple of years later, I became pregnant with my second child when my husband and his family lost everything they had financially. We were totally wiped out.

Throughout the next twenty years, I discovered that I had married a child -- albeit a man eight years older than I. His only motivation in life was to "get rich again." I tried so often to make him see that having tons of money wasn't everything in life. Couldn't he appreciate that we had two wonderful children, a roof over our heads, food in the refrigerator and each other? He would not let me look for work outside the house because that made him feel like less of a man, and I did everything in my power to keep him happy and to keep peace in the home.

I often say I spent the 70's asleep. I found if I closed my mind to all the turmoil, I somehow could survive. All I prayed for and cared about was that my children would be safe and protected. I could deal with anything thrown at me, "just leave my kids alone" -- that was my mantra.

Someone I know says we all have our own story and believes that we can change our story. I agree, because I did just that. I woke up one day in my 40's and realized I had to take control of my own life. could no longer depend on my husband or anyone else to do this for me. Crying in the shower wasn't going to help me or anyone else. I -- who had always been weak -- could no longer continue that way. And one day, just as I had impulsively said yes to his marriage proposal, I said, "no more." I could no longer go to bed each night with heart palpations and shaking hands. I didn't know how I would support my girls and myself, but I knew had to end my marriage. In my heart, I knew I had given it my best.

My new story started when I went out into the world and found a job that brought me more joy that I had experienced in 20 years. I fell in love with a much younger man. Some of my friends were aghast. I didn't care. I didn't care what anyone thought except the two of us. I had found my real Prince Charming. In the years we spent together, he gave me more understanding and more love than anyone could have ever wished for. I was the kid in this relationship in many ways and he the grownup. He allowed me to deal with emotions I had bottled up for half a lifetime. He allowed me to be me. I had alway been the person who pleased everyone. had never allowed myself to discover who I was and what my needs were. I never thought I mattered enough.

I married a man almost 10 years older than I who was kind and sweet until he lost what he thought made him a man -- money. He had an image of me that wasn't real, and he never wanted to find the real me.

Now, I know what it feels like when someone you love calls you in the middle of the night and tells you they love you and miss you. My attention is all his. My second story will stay with me for the rest of my life. I don't have enough time to change it nor do I want to.