Me, my name, and I.

To add to this list of things going wrong in my life, our microwave is busted, and we live off leftovers and homecooked meals in my house.

Oh well, I guess we’ll have to rediscover the art of reheating on the stove or oven until we can get a new one. Maybe by the end of the week.

It’s funny how stuff piles up isn’t it? C. S. Lewis observed that when things begin to go right they generally keep going right for a while, the same when things begin to go wrong. It’s like our life is a pendulum. The old saying for it goes “it never rains but it pours.”

With a slight dying down of my physical symptoms, my depression and anxiety and intrusive thoughts re-surged, this seems to happen every time, the two really seem connected.

But every time, I am starting to reach out a little more. To more people. Broadening my range of who I will rely on for help. It’s not easy for me to do that, as I’ve been burned many times even by Christians, by people who say they want to help but never call you or want to talk it out.

This is not an indictment against the Church itself, I blame this culture of distance and isolation more, we’ve forgotten not just how to support each other, but I honestly think we’ve forgotten what people even need from each other. Why else do so many self help books try to explain it to us?

It’s funny, I bet people from centuries ago would find it ridiculous. We humans have always advised each other about what others need, but we used to keep it to a basic religious philosophy with personal experience, not thousands upon thousands of options.

I think one of the only true differences between this age and the past is the options.

It’s actually interesting if you study communication throughout history, you’ll note how as it increases, so do people’s options worldview-wise. The invention of the newspaper and pamphlets basically was the reason the Revolutionary War was fought and won.

The telegram made the Railroad more effective and safer, and made War News easier to relay over long distances in a short time, changing how we fought wars.

And now computers and internet have made knowledge about anything and everything accessible to people who are barely literate.

The true change throughout the world is the swapping of ideas more easily and readily. You can see it as a good or a bad thing, but it’s a fact, and it’s not likely to go away.

I almost think this crisis has got us all thinking way too much on a global or national scale. If you think about how miserable other people are all the time, how can you ever let yourself be happy? Anne Frank wrote of that in her Diary while in hiding.

Personally, I only feel more depressed when anyone alludes to COVID. It disheartens me to be reminded of how everyone supposedly is discouraged and depressed.

I get the same feeling when I watch anime, maybe you other weebs have experienced this, but is anime not the most depressing crap ever? Even the happy ones can be depressing.

I think it’s the unfinished feeling of their storytelling, no problem even feels truly resolved by the end of the story, the message is generally, “they’ll just keep going with the same problems, for all eternity. Gleaning happiness briefly form others, but never forgetting their sorrow.”

Come on, that literally could be a tagline of an anime or manga.

Western stories are entirely different. Something gets resolved at the end, whether it’s sad, like most European stories, or happy like English or American stories usually are. At the end, you can say as Jesus said “It is finished.”

Oh sure, you know theoretically that the characters will live on in the fictional setting, but the story you need to know is over.

I think that’s why there’s arguably more fanfiction about anime and other Asian mediums, at least more that is constructing a cohesive storyline, and not just having fun with it and trying a few different settings out. I mean the 200+ chapter longs stuff. (The kind I write)

All my longest fan fics have been about anime or anime inspired shows. Save for one, but that one was done more sporadically in some ways.

There is just something so irrevocably depressing about the idea of going on forever trying and never quite succeeding, like a bird in the water toy.

I think anime is addictive for that reason, because it never feels finished, people always want more, most probably don’t even realize they are waiting for that ending. That’s why weebos hop from anime to anime, trying to find one that satisfies that need for a good ending.

Yeah, I know, one year as a weeb and I’m an expert? Maybe I’m wrong, but I know the affect it’s had on me is exactly what I’m describing, I am never satisfied, and if I like the ending, I still want it topped by something else, I still have something to be desired.

Unlike stuff in my country. I have wanted plenty of sequels for my favorite movies, but that has never made me unsatisfied with the original. Not like anime.

I imagine plenty of weeboos would be mad at me for knocking anime in this manner, or they’d sheepishly agree with me, sometimes they are surprisingly honest or self deprecating. They are also by and large, depressed.

I know maybe two who aren’t, at least I haven’t heard form them that they are, but I’m not sure.

And the fandoms have to be some of the most depressed sounding people I’ve ever heard.

Why am I bringing it up? Maybe you alredy guessed I see a connection between this and how depressed young people are in general.

Oh, I’m not blaming anime, though a lot of it is not helping. I think youth are drawn to it because they already are discontent with their lives. But I think anime magnifies it, I’ve noticed it much more since I started watching it.

The truth is, I don’t think young people actually mind being depressed that much. They are so used to it, it’s popular to gripe about it on line, and if you are the rare person who isn’t (not an anime person definitely) you feel no need to talk about it. Misery loves company, right? Contentment is quiet.

I never feel the need to write about it when I feel happy, because I am just happy, it’s when I am suffocated by sadness or fear that I need an escape.

I never am clear on what I’m escaping from exactly, a lot of empty possibilities that will never happen? Myself? Reality?

I got to say, young people are more afraid of spectral threats than we are of real ones.

We’re hiding out form the trouble in the world, the possibility of the apocalypse, the looming threat of society’s well being being left to us and the fact that we are not as a whole, the last bit prepared for that.

I digress.

I’m trying to figure this out because I want not only to be saved from this horrible trend of depression and discouragement in my age group, but I want to be able to pull others out of it. I get heavy hearted when I think of the amazing, sweet, kind people who feel like they are crap because they have depression and anxiety and mood swings.

I wonder if I was the only one who struggled with this, would I feel better? It would suck to be a loser (as I’m sure I’d feel like I was) but it’d be encouraging to know most people aren’t like that and there might be a way to be normal.

Jesus said “I did not come to call the righteous, but those who know they are sinners.” and “it is not healthy people who need a doctor” But being healthy is meant to be nomral.

(Is it even normal anymore? Seems everyone has a diagnosis of something nowadays. A lot of it is neurotic too.)

Well, I am not trying to add to the depression. I want to suggest that a lot of it is just… false.

Not that the feelings aren’t real, of course they are, but I know half of what I get depressed over is not reality. It’s what I fear my reality is, or will be. But in a moment of clarity, I know it’s not true, and probably never will be true.

Getting depressed over how dark the world is is easy, but it’s not based in Reality.

The World is Dark, the world has been dark since the fall, but people have never derived their joy from the world, if they were smart, but form each other and from God and from doing good work. Solomon wrote that that is the best thing to take Joy in.

Everything in the world is vanity, without the Love of God to give it meaning.

The most lasting man made things are the ones that reflect God’s Nature the most. Beauty, Simplicity, Courage, Glory, even Terror, all feelings God invokes in us, and symbols of those things have stayed with us.

I don’t write to you as someone who’s got this figured out, I’m seeking it. I’m trying to find how to Live. I am sure at least it involves getting outside myself and my own head, forgetting what I think I know about coping with my life, and embracing what God actually says.

All of which seems impossible, but God is a God of the impossible.

In the words of many Christian songs, I am reaching the end of myself. I am running out of my own ideas. And whenever I really do finish, I think I am gong to find God waiting there, and it’ll be clear at last, what I only got glimpses of up till this point, it’ll be in full color.

I must be so close now, if I can even guess that’s the end of all this.

I think if I had that revelation, I would not need medicine, or therapy, because those are for people who have not yet found it, but are still looking.

I am waiting to me other people my age who feel this way, who will encourage me to think that way, who are not willing to give up and succumb to the depression of the world.

I get really tired of it you know, not just of being miserable, but of thinking of what a nuisance it is.

I literally get anxiety about driving the new car I wanted for ages and was so grateful to get, yet I can’t take it out many days without feeling afraid I’ll crash it, either on purpose or on accident.

That really ticks me off, because it’s a gift, and I want to enjoy it, and how dare the devil try to ruin that for me.

I go to hang out with kids and I feel sick, or I feel sad or out of it, even if I felt fine beforehand. and I just get so freaking ticked!

I wish this anger was enough to propel me out of this mindset, but anger does not destroy fear. I can still feel that chain to it, even if at times I almost forget it.

Hannah Hurnard describes that well in “Hinds Feet on High Places.”

And anyone who’s been set free knows that you know when you know that you are free, when that last shred of hesitation has gone from your mind. When you have stopped drawing back.

Maybe it takes a thousand baby steps outside your cage before the door really slams shut behind you.

I don’t know.

But I am not content to just get a patched up version of wholeness. Where I can function, but not flourish. I know I could probably have that, if I took pills, and was willing to be selfish the rest of my life, always taking, never giving except when it didn’t feel like a risk, I could take the easy route.

I could have gone in for that a long time ago, I’ve considered it, and while it may be a step in the future, too many people park there who don’t need to.

I still want to me mad enough to believe God actually does heal us completely, and set us free. I know people He’s done it for, I’ve read the stories, I want a piece of that. Why should I settle for less than the Best?

Why should I settle for less than what God would give me, if only I would receive it?

Oh, but I do.

You all don’t know how often I choose to feel worse than I have to. I’ve done that for many many years, and been warned about it before. It’s sad.

And I want to stop doing that. I’m tired of treating myself like I deserve that. I may not be able to fix myself, but I don’t have to sabotage the help I do get.

Lastly, if you’ve read this far, here’s a fact about me I haven’t mentioned here before.

Natasha is my pen name, but my first name means “Joy” or “Rejoicing.”

It’s always struck me as ironic, from a very young age, how I never felt happy. If I did, it scared me. It wasn’t joy.

Someone even once told me that, they were one of my peers. And my father used to mock me for it all the time.

I’ve experienced joyous times since becoming saved, but many times my name still felt entirely inappropriate, yet people have prophesied for me constantly throughout the years that I will have so much joy.

And year after year of not seeing it, I wonder, “what the heck?”

And now, dealing with serious depression, anciety and helath problems, I want to laugh.

But… I heard at an event I was at that “if you struggle with depression, you’re meant to walk in Great Joy, if you struggle with fear, you’re meant to walk in Great Faith.”

Supposedly, one of my gifts is Great Faith.

Funny, isn’t it?

But at some pint, ladies and gents, you have to decide what you believe. Yourself, your family, your fears… or God.

I fight it, but at the end of it all, I have always chosen God because I know that is right. Paul or Peter said “Let God be true and every man a liar” (meaning not that all men are liars, but that that it is better to think that than for a second to think God could lie, because then we’re all lost).

So, I will keep doing that, and keep you posted for whenever my breakthrough finally comes. Until next time, stay honest–Natasha

Where I’m at.

What a month last month was for me. Crazy.

It’s not usually a good idea to list the bad things that happen to you, but sometimes you have to in order to just appreciate that you got through it.

So, in the course of a month, I:

  1. Got rejected from at least 3 job applications after an interview.
  2. Got a mouth infection (not fun) and had to be on antibiotics that made me feel nauseous.
  3. Had a huge attack of intrusive thoughts.
  4. Had a huge attack of anxiety about all of the above
  5. Then got what we think was mild food poisoning, along with my sister, and had a 2nd period in one month, a weird phenomenon that happens sometimes and made me feel even sicker.

Still recovering from that last one, but I am feeling better. Still I felt so sick I barely ate anything for 3 days and just managed to eat a little better yesterday. Don’t know if it was hormones, allergies, bad food, or some unholy combination of all three.

Somehow, even after all that, I still have felt closer to God than before.

I don’t think God gave me all those problems directly, and with prayer, thankfully, some of them are going away, but God didn’t just lift them off immediately either.

It’s ironic that a lot of my problems are self-inflicted after the intial issue that wasn’t in my control.

I eat less when I’m stressed, so the more worried I get about feeling unwell, the less I want to eat, and the worse I feel as I get hungrier.

I worry so much about making it worse by eating, I forget that not eating makes it far worse.

My sister asked me why it bothers me so much to think of throwing up, and I didn’t really have an answer. It just always has. Even if arguably that’s not the worst thing ever ( I hate it), what I hate most is how ill I feel before and afterwards. It gets to where I’m more afraid of the idea than of the reality.

It goes back to when I was a kid and felt sick a lot because of anxiety. I would try to figure out what kind of sick I felt, and obsess over it, but I’d think “as long as I don’t throw up it’s not the worst.” I’d pray, begging for that. When I’d feel better a few hours later, it was relief.

The thing is, it’d ruin my time, whatever I was doing. All I wanted was to be at home, curled up with a book, or by the toilet, even if I knew nothing was going to happen.

I guess I never questioned if I could be any different. After I got older and my faith got stronger, this problem went away for the most part, but it rears up every now and then with my allergies, or stress, or PMS. I rarely ever actually get sick, even colds, but I freak out any time I think I might be.

So, getting sick twice in one month has me tripping, you can imagine.

At least, it would, if I let it.

But in another way, God used both these experiences to show me how deeply I worry about health. And let it steal my peace and joy any time I have a glimmer of sickness, real or false.

When I get worried, it’s hard for my body to heal anyway, or to even want to. I almost don’t want to try, for fear it won’t work, because then…then what? I guess I feel I couldn’t handle it.

The reality is that’s not true. As with most things, this fear is mostly just shadowy illusions, not based in what’s likely.

I can’t even say if having physical symptoms is worse than emotional. Some of you who have mental illnesses probably think you’d trade for a physical one in a heartbeat, or it might be the other way around. Every problem seems easier to deal with then our own.

Well, our struggles are tailor made for us, I think, in more ways than one. I inherited this struggle with my health from my Grandparents, like with so many other fun things I deal with. I had two who were obsessed with their health constantly.

My dad also constantly felt bad, and just lived with it, never feeling he deserved any better.

Now, me, I’m trying to kick all this. Not that I beleive I will never get sick, but that the same constnat problems I’ve had my whole life can go away.

I know that not every problem goes away, but so many of mine are stress related, and being stressed isn’t a state of mind I want to stay in.

I doubt most people think of me as a stressed person, who know me. I don’t come off that way, because external things rarely upset me as much as other people, my battle is always inward with my own issues. It’s hard to explain that to people.

God showed me how much I think of this stuff. And I am getting a glimmer too of how often I pity myself.

My dad always pitied himself, but he wasn’t compassionate to himself, and I can act the same way. I will feel sorry for myself for going through all this, and beg sympathy of people, but I will be hard on myself at the same time, with a frustration toward my body for not cooperating with what I want and not letting me do what I want.

As if what I want is always best. It seems better than doing what I used to and embracing it as an excuse to hide, but perhaps the pride of thinking I know best is not really better, just different.

Yet, after the first day of feeling really sick, to the point where I dry heaved and gagged, but nothing came up, my sisters and I prayed, and then I got up and danced around my living room, feeling better, but not completely, and I did manage to eat a little after that.

I didn’t get that bad the other days.

But I thought, I would have never done that in the past. Somehow, I felt fine, even though I didn’t feel fine. How is that possible?

God is weird sometimes.

I don’t know how all this will end, I’m learning as I go. I don’t even know how applicable it is for anyone but me, the reasons people struggle are so different.

But my thought it, maybe all this is happening now so I don’t spend decades of my life with the same problems as my dad had. Always thinking I couldn’t do anything about them.

Maybe it’s necessary to learn this now, to prepare for my calling. Certainly it’s interesting how much God can teach you just from living everyday life. Some of us go on big soul searching journerys, some of us stay home and live ordinary lives for 20 years till one day God tells us to move, like Abraham.

Whichever it is, I guess I’m learning, like Paul, to be content with where I am at, to believe it’s where I need to be, and God is growing me through this. Even if it seems painfully small at times.

Though, G. K. Chesterton thought that the ordinary things in life were the most enchanted.

I guess I’ll end with that thought, until next time, stay honest–Natasha.

Anime Bondage: Fairy Tail

It’s been awhile…hey. 😁

Well, I think anime fans, sorry, weaboos, might laugh at me for using Fairy Tail as an example in this series.

I’ll admit Fairy Tail is on the lighter-hearted side, this is more about an anime trope that fairy tail introduced me to, but I’ve since realized is common.

It’s really pretty sad how common it is, and unquestioned.

For lack of a better term, I dub this trope the “I am too much of a sinner to be happy.”

In Fairy Tail, the character who fell under this trope was Jellal, who also happened to be criminally underused, and the other half of one of the better ships.

Saltiness aside, I was a bit surprised.

As someone who’s grown up on American media, and English Fairytales, I expect happy endings, pure and noble characters, and positive messages.

While anime features characters so relentlessly good they’d almost meet George MacDonald’s standard of the “common good uncommonly developed” it is a lot darker as a rule than our stories. Happy endings are hard come by and can feel rushed and incomplete compared to the rest of the story.

I started to like anime because it showed very real problems and made love and goodness the answer to them.

But I started to get frustrated the more I realized anime is incomplete also.

Here’s the skinny on Jellal if you don’t know:

Jellal is a villain in season 1, but he’s being controlled by another character. he began as a very brave, kind, and noble boy of around 8, and in a moment of weakness to hatred, was possessed by dark magic from a different villain looking for a victim.

Jellal goes on to try to kill all his old friends, and resurrect the Black wizard Zeref, causing a lot of pain and suffering along the way.

Later he survives being blown up (like you do on anime) and loses his memory. he meets his love interested again and tries to prevent a catastrophe. Then gets arrested and imprisoned. About 6 years later (time skip) he gets out and forms a group of former villains turned good guys to try to atone for their sins.

At this point he meets up with his love interest, Erza, again, and turns down her offer of a relationship and forgiveness. Telling  his new friends that for someone like him, love is out of the question. Love and happiness.

He then spends most of the show running from just that, and treating his own life as negligible. At the end he is told he should try to live to make Erza happy. We’re given a hint that he intends to do this, but it’s not shown.

Now, I’m happy it worked out in the end…but the pattern went on for a long time. It’s gone on longer on other animes. Including freaking Naruto (almost done with that finally.)

The reason I would call this attitude of self-inflicted punishment bondage is because it does not even work, even if it were acceptable.

No one ever changed themselves by punishing themselves.

I’m more concerned with how unchallenged the idea goes on anime then that it appears in the first place.

It’s even on my favorite MHA when Iida chooses to leave his hand injured until he can deserve healing.

It’s a very real struggle people have. My dad is one of them. In the past I’ve wondered about it myself, if I need to punish myself for things.

I remember it was humorously explored in one of the Anne of Green Gables books, the 7th one, Rainbow Valley. Where four children elect to bring themselves up by implementing rather creative punishments whenever they do something wrong. It does not work.

Interestingly, the Bible has strong words to say about people harming themselves, and treats the idea of self punishment as rather abhorrent.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 “Don’t you know that your body is a temple that belongs to the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit, whom you received from God, lives in you. You don’t belong to yourselves. You were bought for a price. So bring glory to God in the way you use your body.”

Leviticus 19:28 “You shall not make any cuts on your body for the dead or tattoo yourselves: I am the Lord.”

In 1 Kings it says of the prophets of  Baal “And they cried aloud and cut themselves after their custom with swords and lances, until the blood gushed out upon them.”

This worship practice is not something you’ll find God telling His people to do.

Now, we are sometimes told to repent in physical ways, dust, ashes, sackcloth, fasting, but there is no health damage in any of this.

The same applies to emotional damage. Making ourselves miserable is discouraged by the Bible.

In speaking of guilt, Paul says “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” (2 Cor 7:10).

After repenting initially, we are supposed to receive God’s forgiveness, and give up thinking about our sins.

We no longer need to be haunted by regrets.

The reason for this is that God takes even our mistakes and uses them, once we’ve repented, to bring us into more freedom. We have to take sin seriously in order to want to be free of it, true repentance is not wallowing in guilt, but acknowledging how serious sin is, then trusting that God can deliver you from it.

There are many christians haunted by regrets, but that is not biblical. Some churches have taught it because they misinterpreted the teaching of the bible…or ignored it.

In my experience, actually, it’s not the chruches fault. A christian chooses to live in regrets.

I have had, since becoming a christian, been mostly free of regrets. Early on I embraced the idea that I do not need to beat myself up anymore about my past.

Probably because I watched my dad live that way for years, and saw how little good it did, and then had to deal with him imposing that on me because we treat others how we treat ourselves.

I let my past go, I only wished he’d do the same. I still do.

And so, when it comes to the self-punishment thing, I just can’t get on board.

From a logical standpoint, nothing is really accomplished by choosing to keep yourself either injured, or emotionally empty.

One might say ” I do not deserve love.” But welcome to the human race. None of us do.

Love is not about what you deserve, it’s about what you need to be a full person.

Jellal never has much success atoning for his sins while he is doing it out of guilt, the few times he does it out of love are when it ends up working out. Contrast it to Erza, who learns earlier to start forgiving herself and living out of love, and has success after success against impossible odds because love’s power fuels her.

The bondage of guilt is one any honest human being has to face, but we do not have to stay in it. God’s forgiveness sets us free if we just ask it.

And human forgiveness is good too. Honestly, more people need to learn to accept each other’s forgiveness and quit worrying about it.

Perhaps I leaned more on the christian side for this, but I can’t separate my idea of forgiveness from my faith.

Christianity is a very free religion in that way. The only one I know of that says guilt can be completely gone, that you can no longer require punishment, and can live free and happy no matter what your past is.

Until next time, stay honest–Natasha.

Anime Bondage: Naruto, (final part)

Hello readers, I’m back with the final part of my Naruto Bondage (though not the last part of this series, I’ll be moving on to other animes after this.)

You all seem to like this series so far, thanks for the support.

This time I want to talk about MC himself.

Again, I have not finished the show yet. So I won’t discuss how I feel about it. I’m using these characters for examples, not reviews, I just don’t want any fans to think I’m criticizing or praising the show itself for anything except a portrayal of the issues.

With that out of the way, let’s begin.

I was gong to just talk about Naruto’s fox spirit problem, but with Shippuden, I’ve come to realize in technicolor that his issues are two-sided.

In Naruto, the OG show, the Fox Spirit inside Naruto was treated like an eccentric old bachelor living alone in his weird mansion, Naruto could sass it and it complied, briefly, it almost seemed like it might get fond of him.

While it was less freaky than Gaara’s problem, I did think it was problematic to portray having a demon inside you as a chill thing. I love MHA, but Tokoyami’s quirk really can’t be taken too seriously without very disturbing implications.

I have been greatly satisfied to find it was treated as an actual problem in the follow-up show, and very accurately.

Naruto begins to struggle with the Fox spirit tempting him to use it more, it’s getting stronger every time. Hurting his body now, where it didn’t used to, and now controlling him, whereas he used to retain his own mind when he used it.

The fox goes form being mildly annoyed when Naruto uses it, to tempting him too. It seems like a bit of a shift, but it’s reasonable to think the Fox realized it would have more freedom if Naruto began to lose himself to it, and so began to actually wish him to rely on him.

I want to note that this show portrays beautifully a very overlooked truth: You are what you rely on.

The Bible says “Do not be deceived: God is not to be mocked. Whatever a man sows, he will reap in return. The one who sows to please his flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; but the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.”  (Galatians 6:7-8)

If you sow to the flesh, you are entrusting yourself to it, and you reap destruction. If you sow to God, you reap life.

The fox spirit tempts Naruto based on his flesh, his weakness is feeling he is never enough. He fails to save the people he most wants to save.

Yamato (I do not remember his real name) tells Naruto that he needs to save Sasuke with his own power. That he can do this and does not need the Fox.

Naruto, horrified at how he’s hurt people he loves by using the Fox, agrees, and from thereon begins to resist the Foxes’ efforts to take over. He does not always succeed without help, but he begins digging himself out of the hole.

It was shown with Gaara that he also did this, he began to choose not to tap into the power.

The show interestingly made the statement that free will is involved with the corruption of the Jinchuri (the people with demons in them.)

Naruto also is shown to be in contrast to Sasuke here, in that Sasuke was also cursed, but chose to rely on that curse and corrupt.

In real life, with demonic activity, the question of free will is tricky. Demon possession is horrifying mostly because it undermines a person’s free will.

Usually, at one point, the person opened a doorway, as we call it, and allowed it to come in. In that moment they sacrificed their free will. hey had a choice, you can choose to lose free will like you can lose a driver’s license, by making poor driving choices.

However, like I said in my Gaara post, someone can have a curse put on them by someone else, and it not be their fault that they suffer from the problem.

The Bible says a curse without a cause falls void (Proverbs 26:2). And as a popular christian children’s book, Punchinello, put it “The stickers only stick if you let them.”

It is sadly true that human beings could not be cursed if we had no sin. Sin breeds death and allows curses to have power over us. Most people activate curses by sinning. If we were all pure, it wouldn’t matter.

Gaara, Naruto, and Sasuke all deal with this in their own ways. Gaara was never given a fair chance to control himself, but he chose to make it worse by playing along. When he chooses to stop, his curse becomes weaker, and eventually, he gets freed from it entirely and gets a new life. (Literally, it was awesome.)

Naruto has a harder path because it does not seem likely he will lose his curse any time soon. He’s trying to manage it the way people mange mental illness…with about as much success. Good days, bad days, trying to live his life despite having that hang over his head.

But unfortunately, he has other issues the curse only makes harder.

Naruto’s emotional scarring about Sasuke becomes more and more of a problem with each time he fails to get Sasuke back. He blames himself each time for not being powerful enough.

To the point where he pushes himself beyond healthy limits in order to get stronger. He is obsessed and driven, to where he will not rest, and finally ends up hurting his own body in the process.

The absolute insanity of it is that his friends and teachers allow this, they even encourage it, shrugging off the consequences because “Naruto can handle it, he’s got stamina.”

At no point so far has he been told it’s a bad idea to desultory himself on Sasuke’s account.

I do not know if he is later, but I find that it has gone on so long already to be disgusting to my sense of wisdom.

The same thing happened with Sasuke. Kakashi waited until Sasuke was already ready to kill Naruto to tell him revenge might not be the best plan ever… long after Sasuke was past the point where that might have helped.

And it’s horrible for Naruto himself.

Naruto lives in guilt and shame over never being enough. It actually ties into his complex still left over from being an outcast. Nothing he ever did was good enough for Leaf Village to accept him. He was isolated just for being cursed.

Now he brings that into how he views Sasuke. He projects his own feelings onto Sasuke, and thinks it’s not right if he can be free but not free his friend.

It’s noble to want to help your friend, but if you are willing to destroy your own life over it…you have a problem.

Naruto however, is hardly an unrealistic example here. There are many people who sacrifice themselves for others in a way they shouldn’t. In my own family, it was what contributed to years of an abusive cycle.

That may be why I feel so strongly about Naruto’s case. I have lived to please and help someone who would neither be pleased nor helped, and I have damaged myself a lot in the process. I’ve seen my family damaged themselves even more than me.

Thank God we are beginning to heal, but it took so long.

I blamed myself too for not being better at loving, I had to realize that if someone will not receive love, it doesn’t matter how good you are at it. God himself cannot help someone till they receive it from Him (directly, of course He is always helping us in other ways.)

So, I know all about Naruto’s problem. And I know it’s common.

I will put this kind of bondage down to two things, neglect and abuse.

Naruto was abused by having a demon sealed in him. You could liken it to how all of us are programmed with bad behavior by our parents, at least if we have parents with issues.

Naruto was then neglected for most of his life, ad still is because people thing he is stronger than he really is. His strength is often brittle, and superficial. While his true strength is not nurtured by the people around him.

This combination would give anyone unworthiness issues. Naruto simply puts himself on the back burner.

I do the exact same thing. I shelve my needs in favor of my family’s.

I am so glad that I have God, because I do still take my needs to Him, even when I don’t to others. And if you take your needs to God, you will still get healed, even if God and people combined is faster.

But people alone is an imperfect solution, and for Naruto it’s not even a viable one most of the time. There’s a couple people in his life who would help hi,m, but he pays the least attention to them.

It’s not his fault, for it all comes of what he is used to. You tend to go with what  feels normal to you. If being treated meanly or neglected is normal, you’ll hang around people who treat you that way.

I know I have. To me, that was just how people treat me.

If you are blessed enough to meet someone who treats you better, and you like theme enough to let yourself get sued to it, you are one of the lucky  ones.

Often it has to be a choice to start seeking out better relationships.

What I would say in Naruto’s case, is that the best thing for him is to finally admit he is valuable enough for what’s been done to him to be worth getting angry over. He needs to cry about it. For himself, not for his friends.

He needs to start saying he deserved better.

And he needs someone to come alongside him and help him to stand by that.

For me, that’s God. I don’t think anyone else is as good, but even human beings can bring immense healing to each other.

The last thing, is that, Naruto (and us by extension) needs to let go. He can’t save everyone. He does not need to save everyone. We human beings are not the savior of the world. That position is filled already.

It is in God’s hands whether people are saved or not. And it also is on each individual themselves.

And it is not his fault. It is not your fault if someone in your life refuses help. Whether it’s your sibling, your child, your parent, your friends, your spouse, they have to want it.

You cannot make them want it. You cannot do that for them.

That’s a good thing.

And once you accept that you are merely human, you can begin to heal.

That is all for this post, until next time, stay honest–Natasha.

 

Anime Bondage: Naruto–3

Okay…time to tackle Sasuke…

I know if you’re done with Shippuden, you probably like Sasuke again. I’ve not started Shippuden yet, so bear with me, this will not be a very positive look at his character.

(I know he gets redeemed people, but it’s one freaking messed up origin story just the same. Oh, also, sorry if you didn’t already know that…but trust me, you’ll want to know it ahead of time if you’re going to endure hundreds of episodes of frustration.)

I’m not going to go into the myriad of things about Sasuke that I do not like, a lot of it is likely going to be changed anyway. I can’t speak for the future, so I’ll just sound stupid if I try to.

But the subject is bondage, so I want to talk about two things. A:  How did Sasuke get into bondage? and B: What did it do to him? Or, what is it? If you will.

I know that thousands of fans have no doubt assessed why and how Sasuke fell from grace, probably to the point where other fans hate the mention of it. I am not going to hyper-analyze everything, no worries. (frankly, it’s not worth the energy.)

I’m just going to highlight a few things:

Sasuke starts off as your typical emo anime boy, less likable than Todoroki (MHA fans) or Gray (Fairy Tail Fans) or whatever nicer version you happen to like (Naofumi from Shield Hero anyone?). But he wasn’t awful. I liked him up till season 3 or so.

He starts to get he typical emo arc of learning to care about friendship, and balance out their darker tenancies with strong loyalty to a select few people. Very common in anime.

Then, also common, he gets stuck with an evil power he didn’t really want, at first. But the allure of it slowly begins to corrupt him.

What is interesting, and horrible, about Sasuke’s fall is that not all of it is his own fault.

Both of the main villain of the series screw with his mind directly. One gives him a cruse mark that feeds of hate and fear and anger and corrodes the person who has it every time they use it.

The other traumatizes the crap out of him twice. In a way no human being should be put through.

Sasuke’s mind snaps, understandably, and though he is healed from the mental strain, the effects on his soul play out in a way that was very painful for everyone involved.

I really don’t like the punk, but I am going to be fair to him. It would be impossible to survive that unscathed, even uncorrupted, without a lot of help that he does not have available to him.

You see, in dealing with trauma of my own, I’ve found only God can really take the poison out of it. In Naruto, God is not often acknowledged. And no one would know that He can heal.

It may surprise the non-christian, or the legalistically raised christian to learn that the bible describes God as the Comforter, Near to the Broken Hearted, Binding up their wounds. The Healer, The Protector, and of course, our savior.

In the bible, it might surprise you to know, easily half of what the people who cry out to God in the major books want to be saved from is emotional turmoil.

Sure, it’s awful to have people trying to kill you., but the sting of despair, of being neglected and alone, is far worse. That is what the prophets, David, and people like Hannah, Hagar, and Abraham and Jacob, are always asking God to help them with.

I know I spend more prayer time begging God for help with my pain than with my real-world problems…if those two things are really different.

I pity Sauske, for being on an anime, and not having access to such help.

You may laugh at me for thinking about it that seriously (trust me, I’m light for a weeabo) but what I can’t laugh off is that Sasuke’s story is something that happens to many, many people. Only, he has the rare blessing of friends who do not give up on him and who risk everything to try to get him back.

Sasuke’s story is not painful because it is rare, it is painful because it is common. Though most people have not had their family massacred (in the West, that is,) they have had their home lives destroyed. There’s a little of Sasuke’s past in my story, probably in yours too. Who had not felt alone? Abandoned? Neglected?

If you haven’t, man, you’re so lucky.

A theme on Naruto is that a child who’s left alone will get twisted by their grief.

I don’t really like that the show always goes to extremes with it, as it gets kind of hard to believe after awhile, but I agree that loneliness causes you to develop weird habits.

I dealt with loneliness a lot as a kid. And, I still do. I still cry about it.

The truth is, we just rarely love each other the way we should and the way we would like to be loved.

Maybe we don’t care, maybe we don’t know how, maybe we just can’t.

Sasuke fell because he had the same problem as everyone, but not the solution. The solution all of us can have, if we search for it. Our pain will drown us if we do not seek a life line, and God is the only life line that never breaks on us.

Now, briefly, what did Sasuke lose? What did bondage do to him?

It’s important to know this, because until you know what you lost, you will not know what to ask for.

Sasuke is warned that he will lose himself if he uses the corrupted power. He is not able to resits the temptation because he has no strength of soul, and never did. But, unlike the usual fare on shows, the curse does not take away your ability to think, or reason, or fight….so what does it do?

The answer seems to be that it takes away your heart.

Not to overthink it, but I noticed that the more Sasuke used it, the less compassion or guilt he had.

This also is real life, people. You may suffer mentally form your baggage, but even if you escape that, your heart is going to be damaged.

It’s not your fault. The only time its our fault is when we could have healed, and we chose not to…like Sasuke.

(I could do a whole part two on the other problems with Sasuke’s choices, but I am trying to focus on how he got into bondage, not on what he did once he was in it, and that’s two different things. I’m trying to prevent it getting that far.)

Well, that’s all temporary anyway. But there are those who never recover once they refuse to heal. I’ve known them, you probably do too.

So, if you take away nothing else, my plea for this post is that you will seek to heal, and not to stay damaged.

The answer is very simple. God is near to the broken heated. With people who are in bondage simply from trauma, going through healing, prayer, and inviting God to bear that burden with them is the answer. How it will look for you specifically will depend, I can’t speak to that. There’s a lot of good resources about it, I recommend checking on John and Stasi Eldredge’s writing and teachings.

Until next time–Natasha.

Anime Bondage: Naruto (pt 2)

Well, no one read the first part of this yet, but far be it form me to let that deter me from writing what I want.

Heck, I’ll read it if no one else will.

So…

Sasuke is the worst. But I think he’s of a different kind of bondage than the other three I mentioned, so I’m reserving him for a separate post.

I’m still talking about how to deal with bondage you didn’t really choose, and with that, we have two characters left. (Probably not the only two on the show, but I like these ones, so let’s do this.)

Neji Hyuga:

Neji’s story is somewhat like Gaara’s. As a kid he was born into the Branch part of the Hyuga clan, he was branded with their special curse mark so that he would always have to protect Hinata, the daughter from the Head of the Clan, who was Neji’s father’s twin brother.

They’re cousins, if you’re confused.

Neji’s a pretty big jerk when he’s introduced, and goes on about destiny more than Pyhrra Nikos, and with a pretty twisted view of it. He thinks it cannot be changed, that we are stuck in certain roles, because the curse mark prevents the bearer from rebelling against the head family.

Neji’s a gifted Ninja, but feels he will never get to pursue that as he would choose, but as has been chosen for him. and resents that his father died to save his uncle.

It’s a messed up story, like most of the character’s are, and it wouldn’t be anime if people didn’t have daddy issues and tragedy in their past.

But Neji’s is resolved rather quickly, and he begins to become a better person, after embracing the path of forgiveness, and deciding to try his hardest to live his own life.

As far as spiritual matters go, that’s an excellent way to begin.

Neji’s story is a prime example of something called Generational Sin. Another anime, Fruits Basket, is pretty much devoted to that subject. And I know I mentioned it before in another post.

Generational Sin is a sin that passes from person to person in a family. The parents teach their children, who teach their children, who teach their children. Often the sin is started by one bad seed, and becomes a pattern over the course of just two or three generations.

Feuds start because of this.

And if it’s strong enough, the Sin can become a curse.

A curse doesn’t have to be bad luck, or even being forced to be evil, in fact, curses are far more often being given a tenancy to a certain self destructive behavior.

If you hear something enough times, and don’t actively resist it, you start to believe it.

Kids who grow up being told their stupid, and won’t ever succeed begin to live in a way that guarantees they won’t. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I think, really, almost all prophecies are self-fulfilling, what we speak effects what will happen.

Neji’s Curse Mark works as a visual representation of hos Family Curses operate. They are all about control, you can’t do a certain thing, you can’ be a certain things, you have to act a certain way.

And this has nothing to do with what class you’re in, all that’s superficial. I’m talking about things like holding onto a grudge, criticizing people constantly, addictions, anger issues, deceitfulness.

People used to get branded by what family they were. IF you read any book from the 18th or 19th century, chances are you’ll see references to someone from a family who’s known for dishonesty, or sluttishness, or pride. It’s all over L. M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables series, for instance.

And if you try to break out of your family pattern, as C. S. Lewis points out in The Four Loves, the family will bring down all their force on you to get you to conform.

This has occasionally worked in someone’s favor. Pressure to be good is not always a bad thing, if the person retains their individuality even so.

Neji’s cousin Hinata is, despite her position, a kind person who doesn’t seem to blame Neji at all for his resentment of her. Though she eventually learns to stand up for herself.

Within families, there are usually a few individual who break the cycle. For whatever reason, they don’t fall prey to the temptations the other members do. Much might depend on how well they understand why those temptations work.

In the example I’m using, though so far it hasn’t been explained, one could infer that Hinata simply noticed how the Curse Mark and the system in place was cruel, and bred resentment. She noticed that hatred and mistrust were at the center of it, and she decided not to be full of those things. She’s far from fully understanding, but she’s not cruel.

Neji himself realizes that part of the Curse’s effectiveness is making you live by it, by hating people so much that you have to be forced to help. His own father realized that if he chose to protect his brother, then the Curse wasn’t making him do it by force, and so, in way, he was free.

In Spiritual terms, Family Curses are hard to break without self awareness. But once you realize the patterns in place, it can be simple. It’s not easy.

In my own life, I have a father who carried on the curse of resentment and fault finding with me that he learned form his own parents. Despite hating that they did it, and recognizing it was bad, he has not yet shaken it off himself, or come to really understand why it was so destructive, and so he put it on me. We do what we are taught.

But, I’ve chosen a different path. It’s no good to just vow never to be like your parents. You have to dig deep into your own soul, you have to learn why your parents fell to these sins, why you yourself are tempted.

It’s no good denying it, we like to think we’d never be like our parents, but we inherit their weaknesses.

The good news is, those weaknesses can become our strengths and our children’s strengths if they are exposes and turned around.

I have had tenancies to tear people down and take a negative approach to things, much like my father, and to wallow in self-pity instead of responsibility.

It’s been hard to break that, because if he got away with it, why can’t I?

But, I don’t want to be that person.

I’ve had to dig up the roots of why I do this, for myself, and not just blaming my dad for every bad habit. After all, it’s not his fault I’m tempted to bet he same way, that’s my own nature, wanting to take the easy way out.

And, the Curse, unfair as it seems, is the easy way out. Change is hard, and it’s often discouraged by your family.

When Christians address Family curses, we break them off, but we also focus on healing from the pain. Because the pain has to be healed if you’re going to start moving forward. Forgiveness is a big step to healing the pain.

Forgiveness isn’t just about letting your family off the hook, that’s not what it does, forgiveness is not hanging on to their actions, because that keeps you tied to them.

I forgive my dad, because he’s my dad, and because I will not let him dictate my life anymore by blaming him for everything. I don’t ignore what he did, but I don’t cherish it either.

Neji does, thankfully, realize this. For him, breaking the Curse would be a simple matter, since he’s already let go of it.

I’ll get more into what happens if you don’t let go when I tackle Sasuke, and a character from a different show also, but for now, thanks for reading–Natasha.