I hit rock bottom then found my inner strength three women who have bounced back
Meet three readers who have each taken a major blow to their confidence – then bounced back in a big way
My confidence is sky-high. I’m finally living a balanced life
‘My divorce knocked me for six’
Victoria cumberlege, 54, is a floral designer.
She lives near Winchester with her second husband, marc, and the couple have four grown-up sons between them.
When a marriage ends in divorce, whatever the reason for its failure, you feel at rock bottom. you question everything and ask what you could – or should – have done differently. I got married at 21 and was in awe of my first husband, who was 12 years older than me and a highly successful businessman. I was encouraged to stay at home – we didn’t need the money – and for many years I was content to be a housewife.
I focused on the children and didn’t really notice how much my husband took the lead in everything, from driving the car to our finances. but by the time the children were in their teens, the balance of power felt too skewed. being so reliant on someone gradually chips away at your confidence, damaging your respect for each other, and I began to feel trapped. My husband was – and is – a good man; he just wasn’t right for me. When I left in 2009, he wrote me a card saying he understood I needed to be set free – which was precisely the case.
leaving when my confidence was so low was difficult. It took me several months to pluck up the courage to go – there was so much to sort out and I just couldn’t imagine how I would manage. I’d been out of the workplace for 25 years, I was computer illiterate and had no credit score, having never owned a credit card or had my own bank account.
the first thing I did was educate myself about finances
– I opened a bank account, learnt about investments, shares, how to get the best deals and where to put my money. It was very exciting and liberating to see my name on a credit card for the first time. I also taught myself how to use a computer. Plus, as I’d always been interested in politics, I began volunteering locally, leaflet-dropping and canvassing.
It was while I was doing this that I met Marc. I wasn’t looking for love but, as is often the case, being happy in your own skin is appealing to others. Friends and family noticed the change in me straight away – I’d always been socially outgoing, but now I was relaxed, instead of trying to please all the time. Marc and I spent hours and hours together leafletdropping and canvassing. I found him very warm and he made me laugh. He’d
been divorced for 10 years but had a great relationship with his boys, which I admired. We talked and talked and, over the course of 18 months, fell in love.
In 2011 we married. these days my confidence is sky-high because I’m half of a brilliant, functioning partnership. there’s no power struggle, we work as equals. Marc has the utmost confidence in my abilities – it was he who first sowed the seeds of the idea that I could start my own business. With my passion for flower arranging, my need to work and my wish to be independent, going it alone made perfect sense. I researched the faux flower market, got a good team around me and built my website.
In 2014 Eternal blooms by Victoria launched, selling and hiring out flowers to corporate businesses. I make bespoke arrangements and specialise in preserved roses. In the past 14 months I have tripled my turnover. I finally feel I’m living a balanced, happy life. I am proof that confidence can not only be rebuilt, but can soar after divorce. >>
Victoria runs a faux flower business, with support from husband marc