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Everyday I feel like a miner.

I search every nook and cranny for evidence of…life? I’m not sure that I know what I’m looking for, only that I’m seeking.

When I was in my early 20’s I had this recurring dream that I was swimming through the universe, but rather than stars, it was a cosmos of books. I kept passing by multitudes of them, reaching toward a golden light, always just beyond my reach. Coincidentally, or not, I was obsessed with buying books in real time, books that I would start and set down and grab another, and the cycle continued. I read some, but mostly I gathered them. I found at the time that some were beyond my understanding or didn’t apply to me. But I was drawn to books that referenced “the dark night of the soul” or “suffering as a path to enlightenment”. Books on Sufism, books on world religions, yoga, meditation, chanting, self help, self awareness, consciousness, goddess traditions, women’s empowerment, affirmations. If you stood at my overflowing bookshelves, you would see a seekers heart made visible. I remember wondering what suffering meant; I remember thinking that I hadn’t really lived yet because I hadn’t experienced life altering challenges. I’ve begun a journal so many times I can’t even count and I used to buy a new one every time I got a new idea up my butt. And I wanted to be a person who could hold her own in conversations about big ideas.

I was so hungry for a place in the world, and in my own head. I hungered to occupy space that I wasn’t even certain existed. 

I think I have always been this way. Curious and strange as a child, fascinated by wayward and rebellious artists and activists as a teen, drawn towards mysticism as a young mama. At some point in my late 20’s I simultaneously reached a point of saturation and depression, and subsequently drawn into a need for deeper understanding of and compassion for mental health; my own and everyone else’s. 

Always teetering on the cusp of change. Change change change. Stronger faster bigger better. Different. Not enough. Not good enough. Not smart enough or skinny enough or strong enough. Not enough enough. 

Despite all this yearning, I believed in one thing about myself. I believed that all my reaching was because I wanted to be the best mama possible for this supernatural boy I was raising. I was even certain, once he was born, that all my seeking prior to his birth was in fact preparing me to be his mama. That I was being sculpted in preparation for this wonder boy. And I spoke about it to my closest confidantes– all of his life. I felt a conviction about it. 

So early in his life it seemed clear to me that he was special. I know how that comes across– perhaps especially now. But it was earnest and innocent, and built entirely on devotion as well as a sense of pressure that I was responsible for his future soul and that I couldn’t believe my good fortune as well as the fact that “someone”–God or whoever, entrusted me with his care! And that I couldn’t fuck it up.

And I did fuck it up– believe me when I tell you that. And I don’t mean because he ended his own life, though I also do mean that. But not in the obvious ways.

I’m still, @ 3 months shy of 40, not great at self responsibility, much less responsibility for the care of another, especially the care of another’s soul. I struggle daily to show up without the cacophony of my mind infusing every right, left, center move I make. Grief has not helped, but let’s be honest, I am, as my beloved therapist likes to point out, a wild bucking brave unruly rebellious untamed horse. It isn’t even intentional, so much as innate. A part of my DNA, or atleast a result of my conditioning. 

It has taken me many moons to stop believing deep in the corners and caverns of my heart and mind that I set Isaac up for suicide because of who I am on the inside. And it is inside this space that I have learned to truly sit with a sense of understanding that has, for now, stopped all the striving and simply settled into a quiet knowing. An unarticulated calm that is not hell bent on defining everything. Acceptance of the full range of colors rather than the insistence on black or white. Either or. A space for ands, as I have come to call it. Permission to be. Grace.

Right after we lost Isaac, I had the strongest sense that all the “work” I had “done”– reading, counseling, seeking, changing, purging, excavating, had been preparing me to survive. Now that you, dear reader know the back story of how I arrive always at a sense of purpose for whatever I am currently facing, a cold becomes a lesson– you can see how I might naturally arrive here. But that could diminish the profound revelation at work within me. Because nothing about the experience of losing Isaac was natural, so a natural sense of a compass from which to gauge my place in the world was not a rational landing spot. It was more of a “wow– so THIS is what EVERYTHING was about.” If that makes sense or not, isn’t really my focus. In fact it is really the point! It untethered everything I had attached myself to and placed me, at last, at the feet of truth.

This one thing has never altered since that moment. It is absolute– no ands ors or buts. Even with the ground no longer beneath me, this is all there is.

And so the task is no longer swimming through the endlessness of yearning to find my place in all of it. The task is truly to just be wherever it is I find myself. To stay within all of it, to hold myself no matter what.

Life brings so much to our threshold. Like a cat brings a mouse to the doorstep in the morning after a night on the prowl. My state of mind is a constantly shifting thing. This morning alone I have felt the deep pleasure of a good stretch throughout my entire body, I have cried at the pile of laundry still sitting on Isaacs bed at his fathers house. I have smiled as a cardinal perched on a limb outside my window looking at me. I have looked at my calendar suddenly full from effort I made to fill it and felt nervous about the responsibility I’ve cultivated. I’ve considered attending and then resisted a calling to go to church. I am at the mercy of my ever changing, merry go round moods and impulses. I’ve sat to write about it. And yet I am whole and complete within myself and able to take it all as it comes with the trust that I will follow my intuition into each chaotic feeling and come out with what serves me at my core rather than worship, for lack of a better word, the yanking momentum that strives to keep me out of orbit from the truth of who I am. 

I am alive. 

I get to experience the fear, loss, struggle and suffering, as well as the sweetness and pleasure and joy. And what it all means? What does it mean? It means I am here, for awhile, on a planet full of life, with things and people and feelings. And a choice. 

And I choose to feel and be all of it. And stop judging myself so harshly. And just allow the soft animal within to experience love in all of its forms. Here. A dot on a map.That to me is what “all of this” has been trying to teach me. 

And that is everything. 


*wild bucking brave unruly rebellious untamed horse in a moment of surrender*

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Published by: christinaryanstoltz

I write to touch the supple center of unguarded ache~ To release myself from the pressure of not knowing how to move forward from the unfathomable loss of my beloved son, my beautiful boy Isaac, to suicide, of not knowing how to release my grip on of the past, both the worshipping of it as well as the beating myself up for it, and letting go of the need to know what I could’ve done or what on earth I will do now. I write to heal.

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