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Return. Sunday April 30, 2017

The Chapel was built to service a mining community that has long since gone. It was a house of prayer on Sundays, and a school during the week. It hosted countless people whose lives had been more testing and arduous than it's possible to imagine from a cosy twenty-first Century perspective. People came here to celebrate and commemorate, to test the depths of their Welsh roots buried deep in slate and soil, to learn what they could, to have perhaps a better life than their forebears.

I was there as a tourist, looking back on the history that surrounded me, the distant field walls weeping stones, the roofless gables and rutted trackways. But I was also looking back to the childhood holidays we shared in Wales. The seemingly endless, intimate summer days, of crabbing, visits to castles and A&E, of bike rides and walks and bird song and salt water and candy floss and tears and sand and stars. It's a nostalgia that I sought solace in. A life before I had to worry about job security, payments on the car, ageing parents, loneliness and dreams that died in the thinking.

But in my case, as with many others, the past is not always a safe place to go back to. The sun and warmth fade, give way to memories less welcome. The rooms we thoughtlessly left thirty years ago as children now, as adults, are furnished with odd angles and dark shadows, dimensions warped and voices stilled. Our past is something we revisit with caution. I went to the Chapel hoping for comfort in my history. Instead, I found something as broken, roofless and rutted as the landscape.

True, I'd had issues with my meds, and the dizziness I experienced without my sertraline made me realise just how foolish a cold-turkey farewell would be to my 100mg friends. I didn't feel safe though, and chose to leave the Chapel before the clouds became too thick and penetrate. Back home, with the curlews and the Sea, I regained something of the stability I missed in Wales. But the darkness followed. It always finds me.

I am reacquainted with my medication, no longer dizzy. But the self doubt and loathing linger, the challenges of daily life increase. Each day that I get up and go to work is a little victory. The giddy days feel like I've won a lottery. But they are becoming scarce. Sometimes the future does feel bright. I have to remind myself of that. That summer was once warm. That birdsong and sand and salt air are free and plentiful.

Face forward. To a future with walls, roofs and open tracks.

The Old Man and the Sea (TOMATS)
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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Mary Wednesday Sun, Apr 30th 2017 @ 12:29am

One of the best pieces of writing I've seen for a while, TOMATS. I respectfully offer you my curtsy. I walked with you in that chapel and into your childhood with the only later seen dark places, and then with you again to the restored bright light and the curlews. You are right; we cannot and must not attempt to revisit the days of childhood or youth; far less cling onto them. As L.P. Hartley says, "The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there." I wish you well with your medication. I hope you find beauty in the present and hope for the future. And, damn: you can't half write (I hope TOMATS is a pen name for a writer of some renoun). This piece is just glorious! Thank you for lifting my soul by it.

Sally Sun, Apr 30th 2017 @ 8:28am

Wonderful writing, very vivid, and the visual images you provide a treat, Tomats. I too am nostalgic for such a childhood... but I have also reached a place in life now where I am contented. Happy, even. Mostly. The dark clouds do descend and envelop me at one or two times of the year, surprising always how vicious the difference between them, & the sunfilled days . Night & day, good and bad. And seemingly unalterable...They just are. Life's like that. So the phrase "Make hay while the sun shines "
chimes with me. I do what I can while I can.
Good luck to you, Tomats, and don't be lonely, if you can help it. I for one have met some great, like- minded people through joining a club. Could you look into a special interest club or society perhaps? Thank you for reaching out to us today. It is much appreciated.

Orangeblossom Sun, Apr 30th 2017 @ 8:52am

Thanks TOMATS I also found your blog gripping & evocative. It is sometimes difficult to live in the now but well worth it.

Brum Mum Sun, Apr 30th 2017 @ 9:30am

TOMATS, what a stunning piece of writing! You took me back to your childhood holidays and helped me reminisce about mine. As I was brought up as a Methodist the chapel seemed very familiar. Thank you for helping me think about these holidays too. I find myself attempting to recreate the good ones for my kids too....this year a trip to the Lake District and Wales! Finally and more importantly, I hope the return to medication leads to stability and an appreciation of what is good now. I cannot do without my meds and have long given up trying too. Keep writing, please.

Leah Sun, Apr 30th 2017 @ 12:29pm

I echo what others have written, you have captivated our attention with this well crafted provocative piece.
I have always felt negative about my childhood but in reality there was more happy than sad so memories can't always be trusted. Very envappy(envy and happy) of you way with words.

Cyndi Sun, Apr 30th 2017 @ 12:30pm

What beautiful writing. So vivid and honest. It reminds me, "your past is not your future." Medications are a challenge. I too wish I could do with out. But they bring me much balance, until for me, they stop working. The body and mind are fascinating pieces of machinery. Having experienced symptoms of Mental Illness, it is, occasionally (?) a challenge to stay in the healthy neighborhoods of my mind and memories. In AA they suggest Do not go upstairs alone, it is not a nice neighborhood. You are not alone. Peace.

The Gardener Sun, Apr 30th 2017 @ 5:11pm

I echo all the others, so evocative. I am apt to live in the past - to avoid the bitter 'limbo' of the present, where my husband's illness virtually keeps me in fetters. I MUST remember all we have done together, that life has been good to us, rich in friends family and experiences (even if not all good). Going back is an awful risk - Mr G had a family holiday just after the war on the Gower peninsula. All our married life he could not wait to show it to me. It was ghastly - raining, of course, sand dirty grey - horrendous huddle of sea-side shanties. I think his memory was warped - he also relates a holiday of a month (his father was a schoolmaster) also in Wales, non-stop rain. He remembers learning to read in self defence, as parents and brother had noses in books. I would not go back to Bali or Corsica - had super times there, but now so spoiled. This is the cry of the travel 'snob'. As more and more of us want to get away from our fellow men lovely, unspoiled islands are sought to install all the furbelows required by the very rich.I hope you find light - and for me, watching the sea (and the bonus of curlews) is the most therapeutic thing I know. And if it's rough, and has white horses, even better. In surfing areas, the roll of a great wave, just before it crashes over, when the inside is green and translucent is one of the great beauties of nature - and time does not spoil it!

Lexi Sun, Apr 30th 2017 @ 8:07pm

Such a beautiful piece of writing. Thank you. At times I also have the opportunity to revisit a past of warm memories, but at the same time I am afraid of revisiting and tripping too many wires, because I know they linger there as well. I was also intrigued to hear that you left the pills behind. I just decided to leave mine in the proverbial medicine cabinet too, a couple of days ago. I am checking in every hour it seems on my mental wellbeing. Please keep writing. It is a joy to read your posts. xo Lexi

Dragonfly Sun, Apr 30th 2017 @ 9:19pm

Beautifully written. I wish you well and please do write again.

Jane SG Sun, Apr 30th 2017 @ 9:41pm

Holidays in Wales were one of the highlights of my childhood. Too painful to go back now. Thank you Tomats for this lovely writing

the room above the garage Sun, Apr 30th 2017 @ 10:04pm

Goodness. A sigh of contentment. I wrapped myself in to an old blanket and sat by the sea in twilight and saw, smelled, spoke, touched and heard every word. For as long as you can express yourself this way, the scarcity of good days actually does not need to register. "Our past is something we revisit with caution"...very much so. I see it as a see-saw with a mirror...we revisit good things, and we sometimes find them with the shine removed, the future may look bleak but there is shine to be found if we turn it the right way. Thank you The Old Man and the Sea, that was a gift. Love from the room above the garage x.

Hopeful One Mon, May 1st 2017 @ 6:53am

Hi TOMATS- a beautiful piece of writing,immediately marking you out as distinctive writer. To me going into the past or worse living in it, is a total waste of time. Its a spider's web or a prison one visits at one's peril. The past has told you all it knows.Unfortunately it has a powerful pull enticing us to believe that by somehow rearranging the facts will produce a different outcome.

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