This post continues the theme of previous posts concerning full people, half people and hollow people. And I’m adding to the previous discussion a new group of people: the hermit people. The hermit people are those who have been saddened and hurt by their experiences out in the world, and they have withdrawn from the world to become hermit people.
I’ll begin with a story that I’ll come back to later. When I first came to Turkey two summers ago, we went on holiday in a seaside place. And in that seaside place, there’s a man who lives in a cabin by a lake. For a very long time, my boyfriend has been going on holidays to the same place where his family have a home. So he knows this man who lives in a cabin, and he told me about the man. He said, “Oh, he lives alone and just keeps to himself.” And my boyfriend always talked about it like this hermit man has a great life—in touch with nature. He goes fishing and lives right on the lake; and there aren’t any other people he can see there. He lives in a simple way, in a simple cabin. And my boyfriend was always charmed by the image of this kind of life.
So he knew this man who lived in the cabin. And sometimes when we walked to the beach, if we passed close by the hermit man’s cabin, the hermit’s dog would really be scarily and viciously barking, like: “Rrrr…Rrrr…Rrrr! Get away! Don’t come close! Don’t come close! Don’t come anywhere near here!” And it was such a scary, frightening dog, that I would really jump every time.
So, before I met this hermit man, I was thinking, “What kind of man lives in this house with this really scary dog that’s always barking?” And I was just thinking, “Oh, this must be a strange kind of guy.”
And then one day I met the hermit man. I went inside his cabin with my boyfriend. And he really surprised me, because I expected him to be a mean person. Why else would he have a vicious dog like that barking all the time outside? So I didn’t really want to go to this cabin, but I was completely surprised when I did meet the man, because he was so generous, attentive, kind, accommodating, and seemed to be so grateful and happy that my boyfriend had come to visit. And I sat there not really understanding anything, but I was comfortable sitting in a chair with a view of the lake, and I had a nice cup of tea—Turkish tea and everything. And it was so peaceful to sit by the lake in this man’s cabin. The cabin had a special kind of energy to it—it was so tranquil, it was so peaceful. And it’s not something that I experienced on that lake in general. It was this place on that lake where this man lived.
As we went to leave, the hermit man gave me a gift: a crab claw, which he had made into a piece of jewellery. He had put a clasp on to the crab claw so that it could go onto a necklace. It was such a wonderful gift, and he gave it to me in such an unassuming way. He didn’t make any fuss about giving it to me. He just very quietly said, in Turkish, “I want you to have this.” And it was really…it was a wonderful gift to receive, because he made it himself, and it summed up the experience of going to that cabin. It was something that I will always remember. And I did wear that crab claw for a very long time after I got it. I think I wore the crab claw continuously for about a year.
In previous posts, I have said that Turkey is a land of the half people and the hollow people: there are no full people here, they don’t exist. And this has brought me a lot of frustration and hurt during my time in Turkey—not just with Turkish people: also with people from other places in the world who live in Turkey.
Without question, I can say that, of all the places I’ve lived in, this is the hardest place to reach that feeling of connection with people. I’ve had enough experiences to prove this to myself now: that in Turkey, it is hard to find full connections with people.
I’ve now turned my thoughts to asking myself the question: Why might there be so few full people in Turkey, or at least so few people open to developing a full connection? And the answer, I think, is that full connections cannot exist in relationships where there are manipulations of any sort. You have to stay in your own business if you are to have a full connection with someone. If you don’t stay in your own business, you are invading that other person. And, because of the lack of boundaries in a full connection, that’s undesirable and smothering and absolutely not welcome.
Of course, there’s manipulation in relationships all over the world; I’m not just blaming Turkish people for that. But, from my experiences in Turkey, having spent a lot of time here now, and having observed the friendships that people have, I can say that getting into other people’s business is culturally accepted here. Having an opinion on another person’s life—how they behave, how they act—is culturally widespread here.
On the level of families, parents are much more in their children’s business. Parents much more have expectations on what their children decide to do in their lives. I’ve also experienced lots of not talking to people: pushing people away from you, blocking them out of your life, because you’re not happy with the choices that person made in their life.
Now, as I said, this happens all over the world, but, from my experience, this kind of petty manipulation in relationships is a lot more normalised here. People might do this kind of thing to family members or to their friends: for a couple of weeks, block them out completely, turn on them. And then after, they start talking again. And when this kind of thing happens, this is a power-game manipulation so you get the other person to do what you want. This kind of thing is considered normal in Turkey.
Now, in response to my previous article about full connections, some people disagreed and said that it’s normal to have a full connection with some people and a half connection with other people, and to be a hollow person with other people you know. This is not what it means to me to be a full person. Being someone who’s able to have full connections means that you are willing to share that degree of openness and truthfulness and acceptance and non-manipulation with people in your life—not just one person, not just one person you’ve known from childhood. It means that you are open and able to do this if other people come along who are also open and able to do this.
Perhaps you have lived in a place, or you’ve had experiences in your life where you have not met any people like that. You’ve met some nice people, you’ve met some good people, and yes, you have friends. In particular, you may have friends you’re close to from childhood. You have relationships like this, but for them to be full relationships, you have to be past the stage of manipulating the other person, controlling their life, invading them, invading their thoughts, lying to yourself, lying to other people. You have to be completely past that to get into the full-connection stage, where that kind of depth of connection is even possible in relationships.
So whether there are any full connections in your life also has to do with how much you have worked on yourself to get to the point where you don’t manipulate, where you don’t invade, where you don’t push people away because they’re not doing what you want. So if you’re honest with yourself, and you recognise that you haven’t reached that point yet, you might have your answer: you might understand why you don’t have many full connections in your life.
On the other hand, at least in my experience in the world, living in different places, there are very, very few full people. And in some places in the world, there are even fewer full people, and that is because different cultures have different expectations on the people who grow up within them.
So if manipulations and turning away and telling lies are considered normal in your family or in your wider culture, there are not going to be many full people coming out at the end of that, we would imagine. But the thing is: reflecting now on my experience in Turkey, I have realised that there are people here who are capable of full connections, or who are full people, except they become like the hermit man living by the lake, who has given up on seeking full connections with other people—perhaps due to too much disappointment, too much hurt, too much disappointment with the world. The hermit people are the ones who, for some reason in their life, decide to turn away from human society, because so much of human society comes with petty manipulations, telling lies, turning away from people and punishing people because they don’t do exactly what you want.
So it seems to me now that in Turkey there are people who are capable of full connections, but many of them are hermit people. They are people who stay in their house a lot of the time; there is not so much opportunity to meet them; and the friendship branch isn’t really extended. So you might meet someone whose company you can enjoy, and you get an eye-to-eye sense with them that they are a full person; but at the same time, their life is not really open to inviting any new people in.
I myself am living a hermit life here in Turkey. At the moment, I’ve mostly given up. When I do socialise and go out, I just take it in the moment however it is, and I’m not putting a great deal of effort into reaching out and trying to form bonds with people.
When I travel away from here, and when I meet my full-connection friends that I have in different parts of the world, then I’ll switch out of my hermit mode. But, for the time being, on the basis of my experiences so far, until I am proven wrong, I am mostly going to take the hermit track. But I’ve reached a point now where my hermit way is not angry at other people. My hermit way is not even really that disappointed. My hermit way is more a case of: I will participate socially, but without any expectation, or any reaching for full connections. If it comes, it comes; that’s great. But if it doesn’t come, I’m OK. I’ve got my hermit life, and I’ve got my full connections elsewhere.