When I remember 2018 I will remember it as the year I spent on the ropes and backed into a corner. I got a few punches in, but my bruised and swollen eyes often had me swinging at the wrong things. It was the year that I proved the old adage “hurting people hurt people” true.
In some ways the hot summer days spent at Mayo Clinic were comforting. Every time I walked through those doors I felt like I could stop fighting because I was there for them to take care of me, something at which I am an award-winning failure. Under their care, they took care of hydration and sometimes food. I had zero responsibility to seek life- giving nutrients on my own. Under their care, the pressures of life- particularly work pressures -were absent. So, when the doctors landed at “gain weight” “control stress” and “take this pill for that” I was thrown for a loop because the answer for my physical well being rested squarely on my shoulders.
It meant I was responsible for life giving nutrients. It meant I had to “take care of Amy” and I was reminded of advice I so often give to others “put your own oxygen mask before trying to assist others”. Relieved that I was going to be ok, I left Jacksonville and started driving west. That trip is always weird to me because I leave a place I’d known as home my whole life to go to a place where my house is and a lot of people I love. I had a lot of time to think on that drive. I made mental lists of nutrient laden foods. I was determined. My determination was only outmatched by my gratefulness that I was leaving the Mayo Clinic in MUCH better shape than the vast majority of people.
So August was ushered in with a lot of standoffs with food, nausea was my ever-present friend and peppermint became my favorite essential oil. Desperate for control, every morning I’d step on the scale just praying it didn’t go down. But I was l shocked at my reaction when the number on the scale began to increase. I’d argued against an eating disorder for months, and I truly know it didn’t start that way, but I found myself in unchartered territory. I became obsessed with that number and I attempted to become a master at life giving nutrition. Still on the ropes, I needed strength to hit back, and to hit my real enemy not my perceived ones. While I have always been fond of control, the need to control that number on the scale was new territory for me as I’ve never been obsessed with my weight and have always been a little heavy. I would be lying if I told you that I didn’t love dropping clothes sizes and a number on the scale I don’t even remember weighing in my life. One thing was true: I understood that regardless of the story of the scale, my body was wrecked by malnourishment; my stomach attacked by inflammation and emotions hijacked by stress- relentless stress. I understood that I had to fix it but that meant genuinely taking care of myself– a concept that is foreign to me as living in Dubai
I found my phone more silent as I simply didn’t have the energy to keep and stay in touch with my friends. I needed every molecule of oxygen I could get. There wasn’t any extra to give away. Several of my friends and family checked on their “strong friend” and when they did, I didn’t try to fake it. There is one particular text conversation with my friend Joy that reads like my personal manifesto to destroy myself as well as a crisis of faith. I regretted that conversation the next day because that conversation was about as real as it gets.
Crissy had been bugging me to read “A Rumored Fortune” by Joanna Davidson Politano. It’s historical fiction and a little out of my lane, but Crissy was insistent so I finally gave in and started the book.
And just like Becky Wade’s “Falling For You” I can describe this book to you as a work for fiction covered with the truth of the gospel.
“Force a vine to struggle and you give it a better chance at life. For any vine that has to reach its roots deep into the soil to find water and cling heartedly to the guide wire against the wind will have a firm anchor to withstand any climate” A Rumored Fortune
Struggle-a word I don’t like very much and I certainly am not a fan of the actual experience. While some of the struggles late in August were due to my desire for control of a number on a scale, the initial health struggles were merely a symptom of a much greater problem. I was not using any guide wires, much less the Ultimate Guide Wire. Being forced into those struggles made me find that Guide Wire, it made me seek Water that would feed my dry soul, one that had been on the ropes and in a corner for far too long.
I thought I was a fine living off the nutrients of everything and everyone except the True Vine but my God loves me too much to let me wither up and die at the hands of the wrong attachments to people things and accomplishments. So the pruning continued. I was reminded of the beautiful scripture regarding vines and branches and the relationship between the two.
“I am the Real Vine and my Father is the Farmer. He cuts off every branch of me that doesn’t bear grapes. And every branch that is grape-bearing he prunes back so it will bear even more” John 15:1-2.
Sometimes the only peace I got during those hot summer August days were the times I opened this book, and with every page, my God met me there.
“The appearance of death of a vine does not mean the end has truly come, every vine has its winter but when you cut below the stiff surface you will find life” A Rumored Fortune
While it certainly felt like the rope was finally going to break and I was going to fall to my death, I managed to get out of the corner.
I went looking for signs of life in my broken body, heart, mind and spirit. Clearing out the winter struggle continues to feel extremely selfish to me. But, with every bite of food, drink of water or good nights sleep I’ll begin to feel alive again. I’ll begin to experience the sweet nectar of life that comes from the true Vine. I hope to stop looking for empty nutrients that I can provide. I have to remember that the appearance of death does not mean that the Vine died, it is an opportunity to dig a little deeper and remember my attachment to the True Vine. And find life, under the damage of winter.
I am beginning to focus on living life as a loved and cared for offshoot of the Vine that gives abundant life. Not the kind of sugar water from an IV bag but from soul feeding nutrients that woke up my senses and reminded me that I don’t have to live life alone. I don’t have to fix everything. I don’t have to control everything. Because everything I need is holding on to me. And while I don’t like the pruning, I would need the precious truths of my life- giving Vine, because 2018 had one more punch for me. And the rope broke, as did my heart. And the first place I went is to my Vine.