Todoroki and Breaking Through Ice and Fire

To say that the Todoroki family in My Hero Academia is broken is an understatement. The father, Enji (know to the public as Endeavor, the number one hero), was abusive to both his children and wife. He’s trying to mend his ways, but the damage he left is much more akin to that of a villain than a hero, with the fiery wreckage including a mother who has lost her sanity and children in various stages of forgiveness, with the MHA Wiki article on the Todorokis describing it best:

Natsuo hates Enji and has not forgiven him for the treatment he gave them all those years. Fuyumi has the best relationship with her father out of all the children and wishes for a normal, well-adjusted family. Shoto himself now has a mixed opinion on Enji, thinking highly of his hero work, but poorly as a parental figure. While he does not expect to be ever forgiven by his children and wife, Enji does wish to make up for all the wrongdoing he has ever caused to them.

That said, their situation is immensely better than it was several season ago—hard to believe, I know, but viewers of the TV series understand. Todoroki, confronted by Deku, came to accept the strength he’s inherited from his father, and afterwards started making inroads toward both accepting his powers and starting to repair the bonds with his mother (easy) and father (harder), the latter of whom is now patiently trying to become a better dad and a better man in general. Healing is happening (as demonstrated by Todoroki’s more chill and helpful demeanor), but it would never had occurred had he not talked (or yelled) things through, if only on the surface-level, with his classmate.

These two were still not on the same page mere months ago.

Todoroki’s storyline reminds me much of how I’ve lived my own life. I have burns as well, though not as obvious and deep-scarring as Todoroki’s or maybe yours, dear reader. And yet, as comparatively light as they might be, I’ve avoided processing them for much of my life. Actually, that’s probably less accurate than to say I’ve avoided processing these pains with others. Like Todoroki, I’ve let these pains burn within until I’ve become cold as ice.

Here’s the problem: When I avoid sharing my pains with other loved ones, and particularly trusted folks who can give me an experienced, intelligent, compassionate, and truthful perspective, I’m allowing an organism live and develop, a festering gobble of feelings that likely moves in one of two directions matching Todoroki’s two sides (and possibly alternating between)—a fiery anger or bitterness that keeps healing from happening between those that inflicted pain on me and myself, and within my own soul, and a frozen wall that blocks out the possibility that forgiveness can occur.

Strangely enough, these feelings, that can snowball without one realizing it, are built on pride. It’s not likely most of us wouldn’t want to move forward, to heal and forgive, but we’re human. The tendency for me, at least, is to remember incidents and people at their worst and the times they most deeply connected with me, which is usually when they’ve hurt me. And my pride lifts me up to a higher estate than it should, which reinforces the righteousness I feel, and thus also an inability to forgive and move forward.

Right now, I’m dealing with such toward people as a group instead of individually. Fiercer on some days and weeks than others, though raging particularly strong the last few months, are my feelings toward my former church. Despite how much people there loved me and how critical it was for both in my salvation story and then later growth as a Christian, I only see the negatives and hurt that the people there caused me. The smoke in my eyes in the form of said pride keeps me from seeing my own role in such matters; I’m also too busy coughing on the smoke of bitterness to duck down low, where I can breathe in humility and begin the process of forgiveness.

Todoroki remembers the hurt in difficult moments; these are not memories that are easy to move past.

But I’m working through it. A little. Kind of like Todoroki, I don’t speak about it a whole lot, but there are movements here and there. For him, he did it via Deku, and he’s slowly letting more of himself become known to his classmates, who remain surprised when he asserts himself, but are now, I think, seeing him as just a regular guy instead of this remarkably powerful, out-of-their league, cool individual. And I’m assuming, as well, that some discussions happen at home between the Todoroki siblings and maybe in the quiet as he spends time with his mother.

Personally, I share a little bit about my bitterness, usually as I give context for some other struggle or some praise, with friends at my church now. And when I do, I feel my heart moving toward the place it should be, more like Christ’s—further along in truth and in humility. And healing is happening, though my heart sometimes returns to anger when I fall back to my old nature, letting the acrimony burn instead of choosing love.

And that reinforces what my mind knows but which my heart must more full embrace—it’s only when I get out of myself that I’ll be able to become a better man, that I can grow and mature like Todoroki, that I can be kinder and more self-sacrificial like Endeavor has. But I can’t get there myself—like both those men, I more rather make a mess of my mental state when I try to go it alone. So here’s hoping that I progress by letting others in and sharing with them, by being authentic and humble. And here’s hoping the same for you if you’re struggling, stuck the valleys of bitterness and hate, or sometimes drifting low and sometimes recovering, for you’re in good (and sometimes bad) company—you’re there with Endeavor, Todoroki, and me.

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