In 1999, after two proposals from two different men, I opted with the "third is the charm" rule and married man No. 3. He was tall, handsome and just starting what would be a very successful career. For my part, I was tall, slim, attractive and well educated with a PhD to boot.
I did not realize it then, but I was just his "trophy" of a wife. I was a "thing" that was there to keep him company at dinner, dress well for parties and, in general, create a home and living environment conducive for satisfaction of his appetite, sexual to gastronomic.
Life was not great, it was not even good. Yes, I did get to go to many different places, I ate at all the top Zagat-rated restaurants around the globe and I got to shop 'til I dropped of boredom. But that was all, there was no conversation, no communication, not even any friendship. Instead, what I could always count on were put-downs, a cold shoulder and silent treatment whenever I did not do what was expected of me.
As an attempt to create some sort of bond and to satisfy my lifetime want of a child, after two years of marriage, I became pregnant. What a joy my son's birth has been to me, I cannot even begin to relay!
But on the marriage front nothing changed. All the baby responsibilities and joys were mine alone and though I had the ability to hire help, I felt the stress that comes from expectation. I expected a better partner than I had and wanted a better family environment than what I could expect.
So after six years of marriage, I left my husband and moved with my son to a one bedroom apartment. I went back to work and started over. During the one year that it took for our divorce to finalize, my husband did not contribute $1 in child support. He did not initiate visitation with his son and he never asked how I was doing.
I went into debt and was more fearful than I had ever been for my future -- we were living in Manhattan at the time and the costs of private pre-school and child-care were taking a toll.
But things did not stay cloudy. I did get an excellent job offer from a company headquartered in the same state where my family resided. Although my husband took me to court on the issue of my relocation and prevented my ability to move until the divorce was finalized, my employer worked with me on the logistics. Three months later, my husband negotiated a settlement with me that allowed me to relocate and made me the sole legal guardian of my son.
Though I took less than my equitable distribution of the marital assets to negotiate my freedom, I am today free, happy and stress-free. I thank God everyday for making my life what I consider to be a living miracle. I also thank my friends, my two closest friends, for sticking by me, calling me constantly and always offering any help, advice and a listening ear during this time in my life.
Now, some people could wonder, why did I stay so long? Well the truth is I did have two chances to leave my husband before but I was too insecure to believe that I could make it on my own. His success, his money and his successful portrayal to me of myself as someone who could not hope to find anyone better than him trapped me in the marriage. After I had my son, I succumbed to his statement of "Who would want you? You're nearing 40, your looks are fading and you have a baby." Ironically it was my baby that revealed "who would want me."
I did not want my son to grow up to be like his father. I did not want him to not understand women and even worse have no respect for women or his own mother. My son gave me the strength to change my destiny and to carve out a new life which I did at the age of 40. I am 40 and I know who wants me, ME. And that is the best person to be sitting in judgment and admiration of what I have to offer.
It has been a long road in some respects but I have so much time still ahead of me to enjoy the benefits of what I have learned and to enjoy my new found confidence in myself. Yes! I do wish that I was as strong and confident 20 years ago, that I had been self-realized, confident and self-assured, but I know that having gone through what I have in the order I have has added to my life.
I am the sum total of all my experiences and I love who I am today, fat or thin; stunning or dull; smart or dumb; these are all characteristics that only I can properly assess to myself.
-- Madhavi V.