My mind, in those days, was a slum. The buildings there were crumbling, decrepit, forgotten homes to rats and cockroaches. Broken windows housed broken thoughts as punshiment for crimes I did not commit. The streets were piled high with emotional garbage and baggage, a pothole became an impassable crevasse as my mentality turned toxic and dark.
I was worthless. As depression, my friend and constant lover, moved itself into every rotten high-rise apartment and drove me closer to the ground, I conjured my own demons and invited them to take up space, move in and get comfortable. No one could hurt me as much as I hurt myself, no one could destroy what I had built as completely as I could. In a thick red book, I recorded every imagined transgression I committed. I starved myself because to nourish my body was to acknowledge the good still left inside. I would not give my body what it needed to keep going when the only thing I wanted was to stop breathing, stop living, stop taking up space.
My mental forest was hastily paved over so nothing could grow there. Hot asphalt burned every living thing and the fertile grass could no longer reach the sun and so expired and languished underneath the pavement. A voice once used for singing and laughing was reserved only for screams. A heart once used for kindness and love grew hard and small until it became nothing more than a useless tumor inside my chest. My hands, once used to stroke and comfort and form chords along the neck of my beloved guitar wielded razors and thumbtacks and steak knives and scissors and learned to use them against the bad blood inside my disgusting veins. Eyes that once sought beauty in nature looked no further than my naked form in the mirror, judging and hating and welling up with tears.
In those days, I was never good enough.
But sometimes, if the conditions are just right, a flower will grow on the sidewalk. Resistant to the barrier between earth and light, it will fight its way through the tiniest cracks in its quest to bloom. In a place where nothing should grow, where every precaution has been laid down and every chance destroyed, you will suddenly find a bright blossom raising a floral middle finger to your challenges. In that place, in the rubble of my mental city, I began to bloom again.
My bitter eyes fixated on that small glimmer of hope and I began to water it. As I tore away the cement with my vicious fingers, I was distracted from self-harm. I was busy, I had a spark of life to save. To my surprise, under all the roads and sidewalks I had built to smother myself, the forest of creativity within remained green and fertile.
I evicted depression from its towers, forced the demons to leave. I tore down every monument to self-hatred I had built within my mind and discovered the beautiful world inside. No matter how hard I had tried to ruin everything, burn it down and leave nothing but ash, it had lived on in secret, in spite of my attacks and made stronger because of them.
My mind, these days, is prime real estate. Forest and city entwined, built with monuments to inner strength and self-love. Golden towers house my happiest memories and the only resident is positivity. Instead of rats and cockroaches, there are butterflies. Each pane of glass painstakingly restored and clean streets I can wander. And the forest, where my well of creativity makes its home, is green and alive and wonderful.
No one can destroy what I’ve built.
Not even me.