Trundling Through the Murky Bog
March 17, 2023
Eri Ikezawa (she/her/hers), Low Entropy Volunteer Writer
I truly believe one of the greatest disservices you could do to yourself is convincing yourself that healing is a clean incision — bloodless, neat and tidy. But just as even the most medically gifted surgeon cannot promise an operation that is stress-free and bloodless, healing takes dedicated perseverance to ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible.
With that in mind, I have grown to realize the importance of recognizing that healing isn’t linear. I compare this process to the quest of scaling a mountain, which can involve dips, ridges and plateaus, but is ultimately a continuous excursion up to the summit.
In my experience, it is during those drops that people are most likely to keel over, knees aching with the effort of suffering through their mental trials and tribulations. For example, I have borne witness to people returning to the comfort of a toxic relationship, or falling into a pervasive, all-consuming depression when they encounter trying moments — after all, people are simply creatures of habit. It is only through repeated exposure and practice that we can learn to swim through tempestuous waters.
For me, I can appreciate how experience has had a role in my understanding of the healing process. When I was younger, I would really struggle with eliminating toxic people from my life, ostensibly based on the premise of loyalty and affection for the person. Reflecting on this, I understand that it was misplaced dedication — it was simply a reluctance to change the status quo as I knew it.
Each time I emotionally eradicated the presence of toxic people in my life, I grew to understand that following the siege comes tranquility. It was as though the rampant cacophony of an untuned orchestra finally ceased to exist, leaving me with the surprising serenity of silence.
Of course, there are times where I reminisce, thinking wistfully back to the good times of shared laughter, memorable conversations and many other salient moments. During those arduous blips, I often must convince myself that yes, I ultimately made the appropriate choice in the circumstances and that no, the sense of guilt and sorrow does not equate to wanting them back in my life.
I mention all this anecdotally to exemplify how, with every difficult decision we make with our ultimate happiness in mind — final destination, nirvana — there are pebbles that we step on with our bare feet. And there are sticks and branches over which we trip into a murky bog, sullying our freshly washed white clothes. There will be unexpected red lights while we try to speed hastily towards recovery — perhaps we will hit every red light for miles upon miles.
But this is where the true lesson comes in, something I’ve learned through trial and error. All of these inconveniences and blunders are disturbances in our expedition to the peak, but we mustn’t resign ourselves to defeat solely because we become temporarily discouraged. We must trundle and drudge onwards, because we can make it past all the jump scares and horrors of our past mistakes.
As I get older and become more immune to rejection and failure — framing them as notches of experience rather than catalysts leading to implosion from dejection — it becomes increasingly clear that our perspective is the captain of our lives.
If we put on a lens of pessimism or cynicism, we may never leave the dock at all. Alternatively, if we are altogether unrealistically optimistic, we may lead ourselves into a devastating storm, completely ill-prepared. As usual, it is the temperate balance — staying pragmatic — that will allow us to be as prepared as possible for any unwanted surprises, while still lending us the courage to drift past the first buoy.
With this allegory, my point is that it takes a certain level of optimism and daring to dedicate oneself to the journey of self-healing and self-development. But if we are expecting the process to be polished to perfection and exuding the varnished gleam of a new veneer, we will inevitably be disappointed.
The message I want to convey is never to stay discouraged when you are trying to heal from any situation that injured you. It is unrealistic to believe that there won’t be moments of despair and grief from whatever ails you, but after nursing the wound for a time, you must get back on your feet — however little you want to. The longer you stay stationary, the more your muscles will atrophy, your bones stiffen and your will disintegrate.
To avoid stagnation, my personal suggestions include finding solace in whatever pocket of friends and family brings you enough comfort to ease your worries, but who are also gently firm enough to ensure you take accountability and initiative in your journey. I also endorse spending enough time with yourself and with your thoughts, so that you will be able to introspect on what lead you to your current status quo and how to progress on to the next chapter. And if you find yourself thinking yourself into exhaustion or anxiety, escape for a little bit. Read a book, listen to some music, watch a movie or show, walk your dog, try a new hobby you’ve always been interested in — there are so many options!
So, to summarize, I suppose it all becomes down to one single cliché — never give up, even when the going gets tough.
My name is Eri Ikezawa and I have an extended minor in psychology and a major in linguistics. I’m still on the path to quelling questions about myself and the direction I want to head in, but in the meantime, I have always wanted to find a way to help others and contribute to a community dedicated to personal development and self-love.
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