I was always free…
I met him online and married him less than three months from the first day we met. I never thought or intended to get married.
I was never that girl who played wedding with her barbies.
My plan for my life was to be a nomadic artist traveling from country to country until my visa ran out. I went to the North Carolina School of the Arts for high school and had a stint in Peace Corps teaching art in Ghana, West Africa. In my mind, I was more than prepared to feed my wanderlust. What I had not planned for was life’s winds taking a major detour and turning in a direction I had not planned. So when I found myself leaving a job as a product designer because I was miserable there, living at home with my parents temporarily, I thought THIS is my chance to have the original life I intended.
I was in the process of picking out my first country to start my nomadic journey when we met. During that interim of transition, as social media chatting was beginning to blossom, I met my ex-husband through online chat rooms. Ironically enough, he was living in Virginia where I went to school and when I finally met him in person, his best friend and I knew each other from college. After our brief courtship we married. Fourteen years and five sons later (two sets of twins and a middleton), we both realized it was not going to work much longer. So early one morning after a very brief conversation, he packed his truck with his clothes, computer equipment and left.
I was left jobless because I had quit teaching as a college professor after the last set of twins were born. I was in the process of losing my house and had five sets of eyes staring at me expectantly for all their needs.
It was not so much that he left, it was the way he did it that felt wrong. Now, let me footnote this- in no way do I blame him. In a lot of ways he did me one of the biggest favors ever by leaving.
I had been stifling myself and playing small in order to stay in my marriage.
During the three years that I have been divorced, I have secured a job I love teaching art and fashion design. It was a challenge because I worked for three months on a very humble salary while they tried to figure out how I was going to fit into this position. I had not yet started my advanced degree so I was wondering and praying as well. Fortunately I found an amazing master’s program in Art Education that allowed me to secure my job, get my Georgia teaching certification and my master’s degree simultaneously. I completed my master’s degree in Art Education while single parenting, working full time as a high school art teacher and being a full time student. I graduated with high honors.
I cried more nights than not. Living most times off of less than three hours of sleep but still expected to perform fully. In the fray, somehow, I have been out of the country multiple times to England, Ireland, Wales, France, Italy and Kuwait feeding my wanderlust and have plans to travel more. I think my kids even see that when I ride the friendly airways, I come back refreshed and a better mother because my spirit has been satiated. Happily my adventurous side reemerged and I have began to play again! I have skydived and zip-lined and tasted amazing wines. I have published 4 more books and participated in a few art shows.
Somehow his leaving made room for me to fully be more of who I already was.
I have loved and opened my heart to be loved more deeply and on a more intense level. Now that I know what I want, it is easier to identify what I do not want relationship wise.
Divorce is not always the terrible ending many people portray it to be. It can be a beautiful beginning. It has the potential to set the pace and turn the page on a life much different than you may have imagined but that does not have to be a bad thing.
It is all about how you look at it and approach the new life placed before you. I have never been one to look at the path most easily traveled. I tend to forge pathways for others so even on the days where life is chaos and I do not think I can take another step, I always do. Another day comes and offers opportunity for me to step into my own greatness as a mother, a friend, an artist and whomever else I choose to be on that particular day.
I have always loved myself and now that love is more profound because I am being that wildflower among roses I always knew that I was.
No one gets married with the intention of getting divorced. I would not wish that ending on anyone but in my case it actually made me a stronger person who is living life more fully than I ever did when I was married. Will I marry again? Yes. Hopefully if the right person comes along but in the meantime I am very content working on being a better person and loving who I am becoming.
Artist, Author, “Artivist”, Ambassador of Joy, Visual Griot
V. Kottavei is an art teacher of over twenty years. Her primary objective as a professional, working artist, writer and teacher is to instill the love of art among children and in doing so, encourage them to use their imagination and creativity. She wants children to recognize that art exists in every aspect of the human experience. By encouraging artistic expression of the inner self and the outer beauty surrounding us, she endeavors to guide students in developing their latent talent through technical advice and creative inspiration. V. Kottavei hopes to encourage the next generation in their journey of artistic self-expression.