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

Woman & Home - - In This Issue… -

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

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