hellO bOttOm

The lotus flower blooms most beautifully from the deepest and thickest mud.”

-Chinese Proberb

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Twelve years ago, over a romantic dinner with my husband, feeling more confident and happier than I had in years, I found myself saying, “I think I’ll have a glass of wine”. I had been sober for 18 years.

I had, over the years, made a mess of my life more than once, almost destroyed our marriage several times, and made some really (really) bad decisions. But I still didn’t consider myself an alcoholic. I was just someone who was better off not drinking.

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In a span of six months, I found out that this is one of the most dangerous things an alcoholic can think. I also learned that, yes, in fact, I am an alcoholic, and I can no longer, under any circumstances, play with fire. As gut-wrenching and “sobering” as it was to permanently close the drug and alcohol “escape hatch”, I chose to say goodbye to unconsciousness, self-deceit, and death, and said hellO to hitting bOttOm, again.

Bottoms bring us face-to-face with the things we are hiding from, the impact we are having on those we love, and who we are in this moment. Sometimes it’s a pretty painful and ugly picture. But the best thing to do at this point, no matter how scary, is to just keep looking.

In the looking, and all the hard work that comes with it, bottoms also have the potential to change the trajectory of our lives. They help us hear the wisdom of our hearts, support us to make choices that are life-sustaining, and put us in touch with the yearnings of our soul. In truth, hitting bottom is where real magic can happen.

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During the last 4+ years of navigating this chronic illness, I have found myself on my knees many times. It is only recently that I’ve been able to relish the richness of these ‘hitting bottom’ places. I have fought like hell to keep my head above water, but I’m realizing that sometimes being in the murk and mire is the best place to be. Really.

The bottom is not comfortable, pleasant or fun, but there is real wisdom to be found there. We don’t choose to hit bottom. In it’s wisdom, it chooses us. And I’m finding myself more and more grateful for each one. How else would I have begun to find my artist self, my natural pace, my deep desires, or the things that really light me up?

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The truth is I feel happier, more alive, more authentic, and stronger than ever before. It’s the kind of strength I’ve wanted my whole life. Strength that comes from the inside out. I never would have guessed it would take being at my weakest, to find true strength.

My dear friend Sharon taught me that life happens in moments. I’m really just beginning to learn what she really meant.

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Keep listening, dear friends, to the wisdom of your beautiful hearts. And if you happen to find yourself hitting bottom, in whatever form it may come, know it is a place of rich possibility and great love. Dive in if you dare, and find what is waiting for you there.

Be brave.

Be kind.

Be true.

l❤️Ve, vickiO 

P.S. I’ve recently completed 2 orders of my Bottle Bling art. Yes, ironically, I make art for wine bottles. Making them always brings me much jOy, and puts me in touch with what is good and right and true. (Insert eye roll here.)

I’ve realized that is what I have wanted from alcohol all this time. To feel good and right and true (and calm, smart, comfortable, strong.) And this morning, along came these words:

It’s not what’s in the bottle,

it’s what’s in your heart.

Yup, that works for me.

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18 comments

  1. Jill

    Awesome! You are being and living your best life now! Sharon is still watching over you and is so proud of how you have handled your journey. Hugs to you,and also to John. ❤️

    • vickioart

      Dear Jill, Thank you for your sweet message. Sharon is really still with me, isn’t she.❤️ Thanks for knowing that. Hugs to you and Rob💟

    • vickioart

      Thanks so much Cindy❤️ Hugs back to you, dear one! (If you sign up to “follow” me on my website, you will receive an email when I post to my blog😊 – usually once a month.) Thanks!

  2. Lynn West

    Vicki, I have always admired your courage and your deep wisdom. Meeting you several years ago, also gave me courage to go through some personal and health hell as well! You are a beautiful woman, and it’s with great pleasure to say, “I love you now, tomorrow, and wherever it may takes us in our Life Journey”! Thank you for you beautiful inspiration!

    • vickioart

      Dear sweet Lynn, I am so happy our paths have crossed on this always interesting life journey. Your strength, courage and humor have been an inspiration. It’s always important to have friends who will travel into the rich and dark places, too. Love you Brave girl❤️

  3. Debra Nelson Rogers

    Love this Vicki O – a brave story to tell – and another reason I take my “alcohol temperature” all the time. You never know when you might slip over to the dark side. I intend to stay in the light – but always want to make sure! Thanks for the reminder.

    • vickioart

      Thanks so much, Debra. I really am happy for the people who can drink responsibly. I wish I was one of them, but without a doubt I proved to myself that I am not. You are a wise woman to check your “temperature” periodically. Slipping over the edge is not fun. Thank you for your inspiration❤️

  4. Lisa M.

    I’m not much of a bible quoter, but “The truth will set you free” in John 8:32, seems to be a good fit for you! 🙂 And by being true to yourself, and finding strength from the inside out, you have been able to emerge out of your murky dark times to bloom large and beautiful like the lotus. Thanks for sharing your honest and inspiring journey of alcoholism.

    • vickioart

      Thanks, Lisa❤️ Yes, the truth continues to set me free. Thank you so much for listening, and encouraging my lotus self to bloom🌷 Hugs!

  5. Pamela Black

    Vicki, It’s so true that it takes times of deep despair to help us feel stronger and more alive than ever before. Thanks for being so open and vulnerable. You are brave and beautiful! Hugs!!

    • vickioart

      Thank you so much, Pam. I’m grateful that I’m able to keep learning from life’s ups and downs, and like you said, “be more alive than ever before”! I can’t stop thinking about your experiences at Lake Powell, and about how alive I would feel there. It’s definitely made my bucket list! You are brave and beautiful as well❤️ Peace, Vicki

  6. Lloyd Pentecost

    I hear awesome so often these days I don’t use it much, but there is hardly a word that describes better the visual richness of your work. You made me laugh, you made me cry, you made me think. The depth of your imagery is clearly a beautiful expression of your self and a treasure that you so freely share for all fortunate enough to see it and hear your story. Thank you for being and for all of your giving, Lloyd.

    • vickioart

      Lloyd, Thank you so much for taking the time to explore my website and art. Your words brought tears to my eyes, and some much needed encouragement to keep sharing. What a stroke of luck to meet you, and I will be stopping by the gallery to see your photography. Thank you for being such a kind and thoughtful soul in the world. LOve, vickiO❤️

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