A Modern-Day Cinderella Nightmare
2 mins read

A Modern-Day Cinderella Nightmare

Twenty years ago, a dress changed my life. I was living a modern-day Cinderella nightmare. The villain: my physically abusive husband. Instead of worrying some prince would never rescue me, I agonized over how to leave my pseudo soulmate without dropping out of the MBA program I needed to secure a future free of bruises and erratic terror.

In the middle of this drama, a long-standing upper crusty friend took me to New York City.

Over lunch at Bergdorf Goodman, she gave me a pep talk (cue picture of Marine drill sergeant) on how to leave my husband.

Then she bought me a teal blue Ferragamo suit that cost five times my monthly rent.

Poof! Just like my own personal fairy godmother.

I’d never worn a designer outfit. I’d never even had a pair of designer pantyhose.

For months, I wore that dress to every job interview. By spring I had five offers with signing bonuses, guaranteeing me the money I needed to leave my husband when I graduated school.

For years afterwards I wore the Ferragamo for important dates and killer presentations. It made me feel strong enough to accomplish anything, including reinventing myself.

Fast forward to this morning.

While packing for a women’s leadership conference, I decided to pull out the Ferragamo ensemble. Ten years have passed since the last time I donned it. I’ve been married to another, decidedly nicer, husband for 15 years. I’ve had three babies and a 45th birthday and more dream jobs than I could have ever dreamed up.

Ladies, I couldn’t get the skirt over my thighs.

No problem, I told myself.

I’ll just wear the top with some slick black pants. I’ll update the Ferragamo with a modern mom look!

I couldn’t button the jacket over my chest.

When I looked in the mirror, I saw a frumpy stepsister trying to pass for 20 years younger.

I had OUTGROWN the Ferragamo.

To my shock, I didn’t moan and wail. Instead I laughed a little. I’m so old and wise, all I felt was a brush of sadness as I took off the jacket and looked at the label that used to inspire me.

I don’t need my magic suit anymore. Somewhere along the way, it lost its powers of enchantment. I guess I absorbed its fairy dust into my soul as I found my own strength and real happiness. It was another kind of shock to look in the mirror and realize THAT.

Think I’ll look for a deserving young Cinderella who needs a fairy godmother – and her own, gently used, enchanted dress.

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