Jacobs Ladder

“This being human is a guest house. Every morning is a new arrival. A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor…Welcome and entertain them all. Treat each guest honorably. The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing, and invite them in. Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.”

I’ve read this poem, The Guest House, by Rumi, many times, but this morning my yoga teachin’ sister read it aloud in class and I heard it for the first time. Something resonated and shuttered at the same time in my heart.
A guest house is such an acutely accurate representation of the place I live now, the home I’ve created within my grief, that I’m in tears, and on my knees today, bowing again and again and again to the miraculous transfiguration that pain has granted to me.
There is so much that I wish I could explain and so much that I simply cannot explain and hold so dear and sacred that I would not want to dilute the potency of. What I can tell you, what I want to say, is that as grief unfolds, so too does the unequivocal truth and reality of Isaac’s manner of death begin to spread through my veins. The inability to comprehend and subsequently accept Isaacs death has, I believe, been replaced by a deep and abiding awareness, accountability, and determination, in equal measure in this moment that I hold very close and tenderly with unconditional love and the fullest expression of forgiveness for myself that I’ve ever known– and with an inability to close my eyes on things I can no longer unsee. In myself. In the world. As each ‘guest’ arrives, each is equally embraced. I feel them all. I learn their names and the purpose of their visit like it’s my job (because it is). When I turn too coldly or too favorably toward one guest over another, I pause, I retrace my steps to find where I got lost, I begin again. This is how I stay fully present and (at least partially) sane. This is the only thing that works for me right now.
I am fascinated to observe my relationships and interactions with family, friends, clients, and people I run into. As my requirement for emmeshment dissolves, I no longer micromanage everything– this has actually allowed some relationships to flourish naturally, free from force of will, allowing for beautiful expansion that arises organically from recognition of similar frequencies/intentions/choices, effortlessly. But I can sense that this way of being in the world is making me not everyone’s cup of tea– something I think I used to strive for in earnest, though unconsciously. I am a little too intense for some people I dearly love– some have concerns, some maybe think I’m actually crazy, maybe even selfish–some have spent zero time trying to ask or see or understand where I am at in my grief or my life. Still others just keep keeping their distance, which used to feel like rejection and secondary grief. But I can see the space as a gift now. Room to be– space to hold the all of this enormity.
Teachers are emerging from the ether at this point; there is barely an hour where I have not been shown again and again and again the urgency to keep my heart open, ESPECIALLY when the instinct is to contract and recoil. I have never experienced this level of deep firm rooted clarity and yet I frequently feel as though I am on drugs–(for the record, I’m utterly sober almost 11 months now). I feel a heightened/altered awareness, double vision, spacey and ungrounded but elevated. Instead of asking the world to tell me what the fuck is “wrong” with me or to attach some label or meaning or telling myself a story, good or bad about it, I am simply allowing myself to bear witness to this busy guest house inside of me. I don’t think I have ever felt more stable– not because of steady emotions, but rather because as each emotion rises within me, it is so clear that my mind is on a magic carpet ride through wild terrains, chaotic cities, bucolic fields– despair, elation, fear, reverie– but me? I’m right here– I am not freaking out about any of it. I can see the importance of my mind trying to make sense of the world, I can see how it always has through every high and low in this lifetime. I can see how it created belief systems around all those stories. I was blind, but now I see.
It doesn’t matter what I see– if I broke it down I think it would just become another part of the narrative my mind constructs in pursuit of linear perfection. What matters, the reason I’m writing this, is because I am genuinely excited curious and open to life– a brand new state of being for me at the age of 40&11/12ths. It isn’t a perfect state. There is no fucking happy and tidy ending here to my grief, and no answer or key or path to follow. I didn’t arrive “here” with a message of wisdom from “there”.  What I am is drawn like a magnet, pulling me toward something I cannot see or imagine or stop– an inevitability. Perhaps it is death. Perhaps it is repentance or karma or fate. Perhaps it is some version of enlightenment. Or intuition. Maybe it is nothing more whatsoever than simply my life force– the simple act of choosing to live a life that is inclusive of every guest that knocks on my door, and getting out of their way, and letting them in and building a life around what each of them offers me.
Sometimes it feels like I am spinning in a giant drain. I have no idea where I am headed. If there is a way– if I’m supposed to know the way or need a way. But I don’t feel confused–  in fact I feel primal– instinctual, guided from an inner knowing that I am trusting unabashedly because I can feel a connection to its essence and rhythm, not its words.
I’ve been a fight or flighter for as long as I can see back. I didn’t used to know that it was possible to feel everything and not react. I didn’t intend for any of this to happen because I didn’t know this was even an option for me or anyone else.  I only know that for the first time– and I’m pretty sure it is the first time ever in my entire life history– that I am not afraid one little bit. This isn’t naïveté or arrogance. I am not haughty. I am not defying life to bring it on. I am simply and very humbly aware of the grand shit show at work in my mind. And grateful that for today, atleast, I can, I am able, to experience this as separate from who I actually am. And that is a gift. And I would be a damn fool not to be grateful for this gift. Even if the cost of this gift has been everything I’ve ever known and held dear. To see is freedom– however fleeting that freedom may be, or how permanent. I resolve, for now, for as long as I can, for as long as I remember, to not attach myself to any stories or illusions about what it means to see, what I see, or why I can see. This is the most significant understanding I’ve experienced even as it dissolves into the next understandings to come.
Do you see it too?

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.

1 Comment

One thought on “Jacobs Ladder”

  1. That moment you are reading something and a line just strikes you to where you stop and write it down…”I am simply and humbly aware of the grand shit show at work in my mind.” I see this becoming one of those viral memes, mistakenly credited to abraham lincoln. I love it ❤ thank you for all of your insights. Even to those of us who are not experiencing things in the same way… well…”once in a while you can get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right”. Love you! Xo


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