They stand like witnesses to a lost era. Solid brick, lines still nice and square. I wonder if new floors and windows would be all they need, these abandoned houses. Who used to live there? Why did they leave? Why did no one buy a nice 2 story brick home? What led to the boards and the warning placards and the decay?

I suppose I could ask myself these same questions. Long ago, I chose to abandon myself just like an old brick row house that had long since passed it's purpose. I left emotions and being and conviction behind and I followed the paths others had broken ahead of me. I suppose that's how I became a nurse instead of a doctor: a PhD prepared professor instead of a clinical degree; how I became a mother quite by accident but slowly and surely let those responsibilities slide into the abyss of incapacity and unwillingness.

I sit in front of the 16th floor window.  The one that, ironically, still opens out to the street. The pavement glistens with rain many floors below and I am mesmerized. Somehow in this hotel room, accusations and invalidation have taken root once again; somehow, nothing else seems to matter.

But tomorrow WILL contain happy moments, carefree moments, even moments of satisfaction and fulfillment.  I WILL make it. My brain has tried to kill me before, and so far it doesn't fritz out badly enough that I lose myself completely.

So I walk away from the window and decide this is not about my own ugliness or failures at all - it's about those pathways in my brain that were ridden so often the pavement is wearing off. It's those slippery pathways I slide inexorably into, sometimes because of a single thought ("I'm not good enough" or "my place in this person's life is meaningless").

Today I'm paving new pathways. Today I refuse to slip into old patterns. When the ugly thoughts come, yes, I still think them. But somewhere mid-thought I realize I'm headed down that pathway again, and I stop and reassure myself and climb back up the hill to self-compassion. My therapist says eventually it will work. Eventually, if I train my brain to toss those useless, fictional thoughts, slowly I will go free from the prison of my own mind. Maybe someday, my brain won't try to kill me anymore.

Utopian? Yes. Unrealistic? Yes. Worth trying? Yes.