I had to cross the river. I could build a bridge. Bear wordlessly remarked that I could always wait for a log to float by. Or I could just say fuck it and cross the river as if I were fishing. I rolled up my pants – as if that would do anything – and stepped in. Downstream there were a row of boulders and rocks. If I lost my footing and was swept away, I’d at least be swept into one of those and would have a (bruising) chance to catch myself. The riverbed was slick with rocks, logs, and holes. The water was cold, fast, deep, and had the consistency and color of grey-blue-black sludge. The things I had internalized from others were the largest rocks and logs, causing strange currents and obstacles, but the sludge? That was mostly made of the toxic beliefs and habits I’ve piled on myself, whether for survival or otherwise. I remember recognizing some things that came from other people and wanting to ignore the rest. Bear walked on my left, seemingly unbothered by the deepening sludge, strengthening current, or anything, really. 
“Yes, but most of it is yours.” Bear was right. 

Halfway through the river, I was up to my chest in sludge. It was so cold, fast, and relentless. At the same time, I was acutely aware of being in the room with Rebecca, of my hands sweating, of my quads shaking and shoulders tensing. I was physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted – and so cold. It was so hard. It seemed as if every step was getting more difficult, as if the sludge was getting thicker despite the current getting faster. Pausing, trying to catch my breath but unable to even bend over due to how deep the sludge was, I realized. This was cold, but I was full of light, and I was already cold – even with my physical body sweating and a space heater in that room. So why not just keep going? 

With my next step, I was on the other side of the river. Disoriented. 

“It's over?" 
Bear tilted their head. “It's never going to be as hard as you expect." 
It wasn’t said in an " it'll be easier" way, but rather, that I don't know always how hard something will be, and I don't know what I'm capable of.
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