I've been noticing a recurring thought of being trapped. Trapped by people's requests and perceived expectations. Trapped by being the stay-at-home spouse, trapped by the dog's incessant need to be walked. Trapped by the mere thought of launching a business, much less DOing it. Trapped by any request by anybody to do anything that wasn't already on my to do list. Oh, and trapped by my to do list.
This trapped feeling even manifested into the form of a mama raccoon trapped in my porch ceiling yesterday, desperately trying to build a nest for the impending birth of her offspring—trapped there because we had the brutishness earlier in the year to remove the dead, hollow, about-to-collapse-on-the-house tree in the back yard where she built her nest LAST year--and we thought that was so cute! That was then, but not now, and not here where the chewed and clawed hole in my eave revealed large animal poop and pink and blue insulation fashioned into a nice comfy rodent home.
Clearly, I had work to do, lest I manifested anything more threatening than a raccoon nesting in my mind. Further, any even slightly sane person would look at my privileged, low stress, love-filled life and want to slap me hard back to my senses. Absent that person, I got curious. I went on a quest, starting with this bit of internet wisdom:
The ‘questing’ heroes of the chivalric romances – Gawain, Lancelot, Galahad – were called ‘knights-errant’. To ‘err’ meant ‘to be wandering in search of something’. The linguistic migration of the word ‘errant’ from ‘a noble quest’ to the ‘incorrectness’, ‘deviation’ and just plain ‘wrongness’ of ‘error’ is a powerful indicator of the cultural stigma against ‘quest-ioning’ and curiosity.
Curiosity is following a quest-ion.
Curiosity is a dynamic of ongoing inquiry.
Curiosity is a virtuous cycle of recurring, adaptive questioning.
-Nik Beeson, curiosityculture.com
Being naturally curious, and a bit desperate, I dove into the trapped feeling in full-on quest-ioning. Instead of indulging, blaming, justifying, and shaming myself and others, I asked the trapped feeling why it was there, what it had to tell me. I poked the trapped feeling with questions and what ifs. I turned the trapped feeling on its head, looking at its opposite, questioned its truth. The more I questioned and allowed curiosity to guide me, the more I gave up my justifications and attachments and misery. Eventually, my quest brought me to this:
I am most trapped by my own thinking about my people and my commitments—not by the people or the commitments themselves.
Bringing curiosity and adventure to the party makes any situation feel better, more inspiring, and insightful.
It's OK--in fact, extremely wise—to establish and communicate boundaries, i.e. where I stop and you begin.
The situations where I was feeling trapped were actually about me not declaring and owning my chosen roles as soulmate, entrepreneur, coach, writer, and committed friend and mother. I had violated my own boundaries, my own sense of self, by not protecting and nurturing space to be creative and curious—and not honoring my authentic relationships with others. I see now what there is to communicate, to declare, to give up, to make amends for, and—above all—to stay curious about.