Curiosity May Have Killed the Cat…

…but Curiosity saved my life.

Not too long ago, I asked my boyfriend a question. He responded with an eye roll and agitation that implied “That’s a stupid question.” I immediately felt a heavy and dull pressure in my heart. My brain went fuzzy and I felt dizzy. This scenario is nothing new.

One of my biggest pet peeves is when someone eye-rolls something I’ve said with the implication that my question is stupid. And yes, it is possible to eye-roll verbally.

So when this incident happened, and I began to feel that familiar dull pressure, I thankfully had enough energy to sit with my inner kid/self. I began to dialogue with her and checked-in with what she was feeling and what she wanted. It felt like a long slow process. I was really uncomfortable and had to consciously breathe a lot whenever that dull and heavy pressure emerged again. It was tempting to stop, but I realized that I could either dialogue with myself, or talk to my boyfriend about what just happened, knowing full well that it could lead to an argument. So I chose to stay present, compassionate, and patient with the hurt part of myself.

Through this dialogue, I asked my hurt child self: “Why did his reaction hurt you?”

Her reply: “Because I just asked a question. I am a curious! I like asking questions!”

“You are curious! I love that about you! So, what do you want?”

“I want to be able to say things without being yelled at.”

“Ah! Well you know what? You’ll have that. You’ll have that with me. And when you don’t get that from others, I’ll be here for you.”

As soon as I said those words, it was like she beamed with happiness. “Really?” she said, with a “I get to have that?!?” sound to her voice. She was so happy. What was a bonus, was that instantly, the heavy and dull pressure on my heart lifted. I thanked her for her words and honesty.

When I opened my eyes  and came back into the present, I felt lighter. My boyfriend’s reactions no longer mattered and I could move on in the knowing that my curiosity was valid and needed no justification from or to anyone.

After processing this with my therapist and sponsor, I realized that my curiosity was an aspect of me that I lost connection with a long time ago. I lost it when I was a young adult trying to survive in the world. For me, trying to survive meant that I needed to walk a rigid path towards stability and predictability. This required that I take as few risks as possible. There was no room for curiosity.

Whelp, flash forward to my late 30’s and that rigid path led to a breakdown (that’s what happens with rigid things, they break). Through my healing journey I learned that when I surrender my control, I open up to possibilities that I couldn’t see because of my clinging to rigidity.

Surrendering and understanding that I don’t have the answers was a major task. It required a willingness to try. This willingness to try required being curious. So, I began the journey of walking an unpaved landscape full of endless possibilities with a “let’s see” attitude. Some things were great, other not so much. Along the way I learned what a Higher Power meant for me, and my faith and trust began to grow. Had I not been willing to be curious, things would have been much harder.

Even now, if  am really stressed, my perception narrows and I begin to believe that I can control the situation and make it better. What’s different is that I am not consumed by these moments. The intensity has lessened, and more often than not, I remember to surrender. I practice self-care, reach out for support, and re-connect with my Higher Power.

So I understand why my boyfriend gets frustrated when I ask seemingly stupid questions. If you haven’t surrendered the illusion of control, then curiosity is scary and threatening, especially in times of stress. I want to be clear that I’m not saying that it’s okay for him to be dismissive of me. What I am saying is that I have taken the focus off of him, and brought it back to me. In doing this I am able to get clear on what I need, and can approach him from a grounded place in myself.

Re-connecting with my curiosity has felt blissful and loving, as if seeing an old friend for the first time in decades. My curiosity feels integrated and I am beginning to understand that once you integrate a part of yourself, you are less likely to compromise it.

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