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.

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