updated 11/01/2010 AT 1:00 PM ET
•originally published 11/01/2010 AT 2:20 PM ET
Ricky Martin put on a brave face last March when he revealed to the world that he is gay.
But behind the scenes the singer was caught up in a maelstrom of emotion, he tells Oprah Winfrey in an interview airing on her show Tuesday. On the day he sent out an e-mail announcing, “I am proud to say that I am a fortunate homosexual man,” Martin says he first felt “numb” and then “relieved.”
Then, he said, the magnitude of what he’d done hit him.
“When I realized, okay, I just pressed send, whoo I was alone,” Martin, 38, says. “I was in my studio alone for a minute. My assistant walked in and I just started crying like a little baby. I started crying.”
Martin is father to 2-year-old twin sons, Valentino and Matteo, via a surrogate and says his kids are the reason he felt he could no longer sidestep questions about his sexuality.
“I couldn’t take it anymore,” he says of the decision to come out. “It was too painful. But I guess the most important thing is my children … When I was holding them in my arms I was like, ‘What, am I gonna teach them how to lie?’ Whoa, that is my blessing right there. Then, when I was holding my children I said, ‘Okay, it’s time to tell the world.’ ”
For an excerpt from Ricky Martin’s new memoir, pick up this week’s PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday