I Turned My Personal Heartbreak Into Career Success!
When Sarah Grant's husband left her for her good friend she was devastated. But with three kids to think of falling to pieces wasn’t an option. Here Sarah, 62, shares her inspiring story of self discovery.
Fourteen years ago, my life as I knew it was suddenly shattered. I had suspected for months that there was something going on between my husband of 19 years and my good friend, but I suppose I just didn’t want to believe that either of them would do something like that to me. So, I ignored my gut feeling as I didn’t have the confidence to address the issue, which was a big mistake.
My husband was a good man in many ways. A great cook, he’d clean, iron and was brilliant with the children. Our friends would say, “Aren’t you lucky that he does all these things?” But they didn’t have the full story. Inside my heart was crying out.
The truth was he was very controlling emotionally talking down to me, gradually stripping me of any self-esteem or confidence.
I wasn’t even allowed to have access to our finances… he would give me what I needed for groceries and nothing more.
It was confusing though because at other times he could be a kind, caring man who did some lovely things for me.
So why did I put up with it for so long? Well, I just didn’t feel I was worth anything more. Plus, I had my three children to think of.
After a particularly horrific dinner at my ex-friend’s home where she had openly flirted all evening with my husband. I knew that something was going on.
We agreed to a three-month trial separation after which he made it clear he was leaving me for good. Four weeks later my worst fears were confirmed… he and my friend were having a relationship.
I never confronted her and when she wrote me a letter, I didn’t open it. I just returned it with a message saying that I had no interest in reading it. I needed to put it all behind me rather than deepen the wounds.
But, inside I was still stunned and heartbroken to think that they could actually have done this to me. My instincts had been right all along. In that moment I knew I would never ignore my instincts again.
My main concern was supporting the emotional needs of my children who were 12, 13 and 19 at the time.
I was in a very dark place for two years following the split. I had terrible anxiety and panic attacks. All my thoughts were magnified and out of control. I even had visions of bad things happening to the children. I didn’t even want to talk to my friends’ husbands in case they thought I was now after them! It was a terrible time.
This whole experience left me with very low self-esteem and I felt totally worthless, always questioning: ‘What if?’
It was about 18 months to 2 years before I started feeling better. I began to realise that by putting on some makeup, doing my hair and wearing clothes I loved, helped boost my confidence enabling me to face my new world. Yes, it was a future full of uncertainty but, I could finally see it was also an opportunity for an as yet unknown adventure too.
I found a job working two days a week in a nearby Danish clothing shop and discovered a passion for dressing women. I realised I was actually good at it and people would ask me, “Why don’t you become a personal stylist?”
At first, I was reticent as I thought it was the kind of career that might be considered rather shallow. What would my friends think? Those self-doubts were just beneath the surface still!
It took me two years before I found the right company to train with as an Image Consultant. By this time my confidence was beginning to grow. It was a fabulous company in Warwick where I made some wonderful friends. One of them even came to Canada with me to celebrate my 60th.
I also did my NLP course (neuro-linguist programming) which taught me how to live my life with newfound confidence and self-belief; something I am still working on!
I draw on what I have learned to help my clients too, as confidence is not only about the clothes. One lovely lady wouldn’t wear trousers, because her father had told her years ago, when she was still a young girl, that she had a big bottom. She had held onto those beliefs for 50 years!
We did an NLP exercise together and it worked! She now wears trousers confidently! It’s this part of my job that I love as much as the styling. It really feels great to empower other women.
I now know that becoming an Image Consultant is far from shallow… feeling confident in your own skin is such an important part of our emotional wellbeing as women. My approach is holistic – I appreciate we all have different personal reasons for seeking out styling help and we all want results which mean something to us individually.
Who would have thought at 62 I would be living this whole new adventure? My take away from all of this is…it’s never too late to follow your dream.
Two years ago, one of my friends, Aly, who had always loved my cooking and baking, suggested I should apply for the Great British Bake Off …. I thought really? I love baking but didn’t put myself at that level. Still, I applied and although I wasn’t accepted, it was a big step for me and it also gave me a “light bulb” moment. I realised that I could consolidate all of my passions: baking, cooking, nurturing and styling by hosting Luxury Styling Retreats from my home in Kent.
Another of my passions is sewing and five years ago I even made it to the second round of the Great British Sewing Bee. I nearly had a fit! I couldn’t believe it! Sadly, I’ll never know if I would have made it any further as I pulled out so that I could see my son rowing for GB in Italy for the under 23’s. I certainly wasn’t going to miss that experience! But these are things I never would have had the confidence to do if I was still in a relationship with my ex-husband.
And remember that niggling gut feeling I had about my ex girlfriend? Well, I realise that she has inadvertently given me a gift …the confidence to listen to my own intuition. I do this all the time now. If something doesn’t feel right, I don’t do it!
This also applies with clothes. If the piece doesn’t feel right, then don’t buy it. I always ask my clients, how does it “FEEL” in all aspects of life.
My children are so proud of how I have forged ahead and love knowing that their mum is a swimmer not a sinker! They are always so supportive of everything I do and that feels great.
These days I only see my ex-husband at family or friends’ events. I am polite and always say “hello” but our brief conversations are limited to discussing things involving our children. I genuinely no longer feel any bitterness towards him.
As hard as it was at the time, I realise that it was the best thing that could have happened to me because I am now living a truly authentic life. A life that I love, supporting women with their journey of self-discovery through my Image Consultancy and NLP business, actually listening to them, which is so important. I am learning more about my business every day and it’s exciting to be building something I believe in and feel passionate about.
These days my soul feels so happy and sings every morning when I wake up. My journey is still evolving and who knows where it will take me but I am loving every minute of it because now I finally believe that I am worth it.
Sarah’s Top Tips To Surviving Divorce
1. Make sure you grieve as this is part of the healing process.
2.Find your own happiness and don't rely on others
3.Let go of the past as this won’t serve you
4.Focus on the positive in your life and you will get more positivity coming too you
5.Love yourself for who you are
6.Get that makeup on, do your hair, put on clothes that make you feel great and stand tall.
To follow Sarah on instagram: @iamsarahgrant
For her website and to find out more about her luxury styling retreats go to: www.sarahjanegrant.co.uk