I’ve had the experience of living in many different places in my life, different countries, and each time the experience offered me a gift, in that it unlocked a part of my personality that I didn’t know before. Among the things I’ve learnt are to be able to feel a deep connection with nature (Nepal), social confidence (Dubai), and adventurousness of spirit (Amsterdam). But living in Turkey has been a different experience. What I’ve mainly got to experience is strife, personal struggle, blocks, frustration, anger—difficult feelings, and many difficult personal experiences to back them up.

But now I want to ask myself: Are these dark experiences themselves a gift—but an unexpected gift, a gift that allows me to see into my own shadows and to the dark recesses of my mind? All the gunk in my mind that I’ve shut off and not accepted about myself? I’m wondering if the experience of Turkey is showing me that.

To point out here: I’m not going to spend my whole life living in Turkey if I continue to feel all these conflicted, difficult emotions. I will definitely move on. But at the moment, I’m wondering if I can change my attitude to living here by noticing the projections of myself that I may be making when I talk about Turkey and Turkish people in negative ways.

When I initially came to Turkey, I had one very amazing week when I fell in love with my boyfriend, and it was great, and everything was wonderful here and exciting. And I couldn’t wait to come back. But after my first trip to Turkey, everything changed. Every time I came back, there would be personal-life drama in the way, blocking my relationship and even blocking my ability to remain in the country. So, many times, I’ve questioned: Should I even be here? It’s too hard to be here. There’s so much going wrong. Should I even be here? Should I just stop coming because of the struggle? And I always felt divided about that, because I loved my boyfriend, and I wanted to come back, but the struggle and hardship were showing me that maybe this was not a good place for me to be.

The initial struggles with me being here in Turkey are over now, but I feel that they influence my whole outlook on the country and the people. And because of my own negative experiences, I don’t have a good impression of the culture or of the family life here.

Among the things I’ve experienced while being here: being cast as the outcast character, the bad influence that has to be excluded and shut out. I’ve also experienced controlling behaviour from people in my life. Not from my boyfriend. But other people who should have no stake at all in my life were putting control attempts on me. And this was something that was triggering me and making me react a lot.

When trying to make friends, I have also experienced that people can be unreliable to the extent that it just seems pointless: Why bother? Why even bother trying to make friends when people are so unreliable? And if you’ve been following my previous posts, you’ll know that I said, I declared, that everybody in Turkey—almost everybody in Turkey—is either a half person or a hollow person. So I wrote off the whole country and said that it’s not possible to make friends here, essentially, because everyone’s a half person or a hollow person.

And now I want to look into my projections about living here to see if I’ve actually been talking about myself. So what I did is I wrote a list of the things that I say about Turkish people. And what I’m going to do now is turn around each of the statements to see if it’s also true about me.

I’ve said: “Turkish people are controlling.” Yes, I’ve definitely experienced this in knowing Turkish people. For example, I have experienced being told how to cut my tomatoes up in the right way—that kind of petty, controlling behaviour (plus much worse things I won’t go into here). Now I’ll turn that around and ask, “Am I controlling?” I have to admit that I am controlling: I’m very controlling about what I will do, when I will do it, how long I will stay, whether I want to go or whether I don’t want to go. I’m extremely controlling about that sort of thing and I am very fond of saying,“no! And before I lived in Turkey, I could avoid a lot of that behaviour, because my life was always a lot more independent, which meant my controlling ways could mostly be hidden from both myself and others. As soon as I wanted to go home from somewhere, I could leave easily and find my own way home. So I wasn’t so much aware of how controlling I am about everything I will do and I will not do. But I don’t think that I’m controlling of other people. I’m happy for other people to do what they want as long as they don’t impose what they want on me too much.

I’ve also said, “Turkish people are all half people or empty people.” Am I a half person? A half person is someone who doesn’t really want to connect, someone who pulls back when the feeling of connection is possible. I have been a half person in the sense that I’ve decided some other people were half people, so I couldn’t be bothered making any effort to see them anymore. I retreated from bothering to see those people because I’d decided they are half people. Yet despite this half person kind of behaviour on my behalf, my full connections with people that exist outside of this country were always something instantly felt and known between us: I feel that these connections are of a much superior quality even from the beginning to anything I have so far experienced in Turkey.

Am I an empty person? I could be an empty person in the sense that I’ve become such a hermit that a lot of the time I can’t even be bothered to try. I can’t even be bothered to try to establish connections with people.

I’ve said: “Turkish people are brainwashed.” Am I brainwashed? I think I have to admit here that there are things that I don’t yet know, and I may definitely have blind spots that I can’t see about myself. So with humility, I have to accept my own capacity to be brainwashed in ways that I don’t realise.

I’ve said: “Turkish people are unreliable.” Am I unreliable? I have been unreliable, particularly in the last few months, in the sense that sometimes it takes me a long time to reply to friends who email me, and also in the way that I constantly change my mind about the things that I want…or think I want.

I’ve said: “Turkish people manipulate in their friendships.” Do I manipulate in my friendships? Metaphorically speaking, I washed my hands of some half people and pushed them away. But importantly, I did not do this so that they desperately came back after me. Unless I have a blindspot in this regard, I do not think I have been manipulative here with anybody in Turkey on a friendship level. In previous times I admit I have manipulated in friendships, though it was generally unconscious.

This brings me now to looking at myself and the ways that I have changed since I’ve been living in Turkey. I’ve come around to stop reaching for connection all the time in my relationships with people. And I think this is a good thing, actually, because when you’re always reaching for connection, it’s like you need something off the other people. You’re looking for the other person to fill a hole in yourself. Now that I’m not reaching for connection, I think it allows me to have fewer expectations of people and therefore to feel less disappointed by people—about their being unreliable, or whatever their limitations are. If I am not reaching for connection with them, it doesn’t bother me so much.

I’ve stepped much more into my hermit nature—the hermit nature that I thought I had got away from or cured or something like that. So I spend a lot of time by myself on my interests, and I don’t feel that this is something that needs to be fixed about myself now. If connection comes, and I make friends, then I will allow that to happen. But if connection doesn’t come, I don’t resent having to spend time by myself.

I now also talk much less. When I’m around people, I’ll be more quiet rather than entertain and try and take control of the situation and take the limelight through talking. This has mainly come from my not understanding the language—or as I should better say: not speaking the language very well. And this is a positive shift as well, rather than having that need to dominate by talking. The circumstance has made it so that I am more listening or keeping my thoughts to myself rather than blabbing them out.

I’m also less needy. I don’t need a lot from anyone now.

I’ve also stopped repressing anger. I’ve had a lot of panic-attack, meltdown freak-outs, which I couldn’t ignore while I was here. And whereas before, anger was something that only ever leaked out of me, and I didn’t naturally express, now I’m much more comfortable with expressing my anger. I don’t mean terrorising other people with my anger; I think that’s wrong. But at least expressing my own anger to myself is something I’m able to do now.

These changes are not things that people in general would desire. But for me, I think that they were needed, because on the whole it means that I’m searching for less outside of myself, and I’m more real with myself, and I can see many, many more of my own shortcomings—things I wasn’t aware of before I moved to Turkey.

When it comes to making a decision about my future, I’m often confused, because my time in Turkey is a struggle and I have so much resistance regarding it. I’m often confused about that, and this makes me want to leave and get away as far as possible or to go to one of the places that I know I like.

But I think that wherever we go, we cannot ignore the problems that are happening in the world at this time. Certainly, there are nice places where we can go and we can forget and we can escape them for a while and live in denial of them. But for people who care about these things, we can never fully get away from them.

One of the things that bothers me about living in Turkey is the political situation: living in a police state. But after thinking deeply about this, I’ve realised that, were I to go back living in England again, I would not be able to get away from these problems either, because England is more of a surveillance state now. Everything you do is watched and checked; there are various petty rules I could go into. I have to go into this in another post. But life in England is controlled and life in Turkey is controlled—just in different ways.

And another thing: If I went back to England, I would be dealing with a lot of political correctness and feeling that I can’t talk about certain topics, and being challenged by people for expressing my opinion and so on and so on. And I don’t have anything like that here in Turkey. In a strange way, I’m able to express myself more freely here than I could were I in England. This would not be the case were I a Turkish person talking about Turkey; but as an English person taking about matters at home, I do feel much more free.

So, setting aside my objections to the way Turkey is being run, if I were properly participating in any place in the world, I would also be seeing limitations in the government of that place. They might not be as strong and as in your face as I experience here, but they would certainly be there were I to scratch the surface of any culture or place in the world. That said, I think the true art, wherever we happen to be living, is to find a way to live and be as free in as we can wherever we are, no matter what the political situation is.

Perhaps in future, I will again decide that I want to forget and I want to go and live in an easier place. And indeed, if my struggles continue on and on, and hardships continue on and on in Turkey, then I will say, “OK, well, now it’s time for me to accept and time for me to leave.”

But there’s one more attempt I need to make here. And that is to question whether everything I’ve been perceiving here is all just a projection of my own mind and my own problems and the things that I can’t accept about myself. It could be easier said than done, but I’m going to try it by examining the ways in which I may unconsciously be projecting my own issues onto Turkish people as well as the situations I find myself in.