Grow the Muck Up

Chronic remorse, as all the moralists are agreed, is a most undesirable sentiment. If you have behaved badly, repent, make what amends you can and address yourself to the task of behaving better next time. On no account brood over your wrong-doing. Rolling in the muck is not the best way of getting clean.

This was originally a Facebook picture sent to me by Bryn, saying that it would make a good writing prompt. I agreed with her, and told her I’d give her my take on it.

I disagree with this statement wholeheartedly, because sometimes the bad behavior is not resolved without sitting in it. Knowing it. Seeing all sides to all stories. Ruminating on everything that’s gone wrong and what you could have done to make it go right. I think that you cannot move forward without exorcising your past, and to box up those feelings of remorse is to repeat them regardless of your good intentions.

Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. Cliche and true…. as in, there’s a reason it’s a cliche.

I agree with the self-improvement part, that you should work toward wholeness, but it doesn’t come without a period of mourning, because most of the time, when you behave badly, it strains or ends a relationship altogether. Because where would the conflict be if you were only hurting yourself? Most people aren’t even aware of self-sabotage, but they for damn sure recognize when they’ve hurt others, because the reaction is not limited to internal turmoil.

I also think that in the present society, people package emotions the same way they clean up when guests are arriving in five minutes and they haven’t had time to clean all week… just stuffing everything into cabinets and closets and forgetting the mess is even there. And then, two years later, another guest needs to use the linen closet and opens it, unaware of the bale of hay that’s going to be dumped on them when the door arcs backward.

Diving into the wreck is the same idea as Marie Kondo’s The Magic of Tidying Up. When you clean up your house, it should be all in one go because there has to be a dramatic change in your attitude- that if it is nice, you’ll want to keep it that way… and that only cleaning small messes at a time will keep you from relapsing, because you’ll never want to go back to the way you’ve lived before.

Does that play to your emotions at all?

Not everything you do is going to need that amount of cleanup, because once you’ve excavated your inner demons, you won’t want to go back to living the way you did, which I’m sure is this person’s point of view. But you cannot acknowledge your own inner angel if you do not acknowledge your own inner asshole.

Some people do relapse, because we are all human and fallible and messy and divine at the same time. Our range of emotions is not small, and very few people are willing to spend time with it. How you feel on the inside radiates to your circle of influence, and if you treat yourself like crap, you’ll treat others that way, too… another selling point in not berating yourself, but at the same time, how do you get out of the muck if you’re not willing to tell yourself the truth? How do you even know what to repent for? How do you know what amends you need to make? How do you deal with the sometimes inevitable truth that amends don’t mean shit? I mean, you’ll feel better, but they might not.

Sometimes the deep, dark recesses of our minds need to be explored. You can’t grow flowers without tending the muck to begin with.

To me, the quote above makes everything too simple, because it doesn’t address how you’re supposed to address the task of behaving better next time… the process and hard work it takes to break a cycle that may have lasted for years. Promise does not come without pain.

In the bulb, there is a flower.
In the seed, an apple tree.
Unrevealed, a hidden promise
butterflies will soon be free.
In the cold and snow of winter
there’s a spring that waits to be.
Unrevealed, until its season
Something God alone can see.

Natalie Sleeth

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