The Myths of ‘Friends forever’ and ‘you are all that you need’

Just recently I was chatting on messenger with a good friend of mine. Funnily enough, we were talk about just that – being good friends. We decided we were on the verge of considering each other ‘old friends’ because we’ve known each other close to two years.

Two years!

I am beginning to think that Facebook and other social media should be measured in a special kind of time frame not unlike the measuring of ‘dog years’. This friend and I have never met, though we have spoken on the phone from time to time, yet she has blessed my life almost every day for what feels like forever (even though it isn’t). I truly think of her as a very special and important person in my life. She has outlasted almost all the friends I made from the group where I first met her online. So many have ‘passed away’.

I’ve been blessed with knowing and loving hundreds, if not thousands, of people in my decades of adult life. At least 50% of those have come into my life since joining Facebook back around 2007 – especially once I left to live in Bangladesh in October 2008 and it became my lifeline to all those I’d loved previously in my life in the UK. It also opened the world to me.

But just as many wonderful people have come into my life, so many have left it too. Sometimes that’s simply ‘natural wastage’ just like in the real world. Someone comes then they leave again quietly. More often than not though, they come in with a bang and then leave again with an even greater one – leaving damage and ruin in their wake.

For a tormented soul artist type like myself, such experiences are hard on the heart, scar you for life and, in the end, are just wearying. I have reached the stage where I think “here we go again” and sigh to myself when it happens now. After thousands of conversations over many years, I find I’m not alone in thinking this.

But being privy to the secrets and private lives of many, I have come to two very different conclusions about the lies people tell to others and tell to themselves. I will share these with you now.

When someone says “friends forever” to you, they don’t mean it

That sounds harsh, I know. But from what I see, it takes months and years of hard work, dedication and effort to build a relationship with someone which is special, deep and important to you.

It takes just seconds to tear it apart.

As someone with ADHD and, to make it worse, being a male, I find it impossible to see when or where the trigger will come, But sure enough, at some point, I’ll say something which will cause outrageous offence.

Last year, with three separate individuals, I made a light joke about something. In each case it was an obvious joke and was not out of character for me or even not the kind of thing the other person might have quipped about. But it lit the blue touch-paper as my father used to say and led to arguments which proved terminal. In two cases, some kind of reconciliation came to pass – weeks or many months later. But in one, the vindictive nature of what was said to me was so intense that I lost all respect and interest in that friend. I walked away and would never walk back. It’s not hatred, it’s simply not having the time and energy for someone who can go from loving nature and “oh we’re friends forever” to “you are the spawn of Satan” in a matter of minutes.

And it’s not me. This story is repeated over and over again with everyone. Introverts sometimes escape this a little. If you stay pretty much to yourself for most of the time then it’s harder for someone to get close to you and break through the superficial barrier we all keep for strangers. But even so, I know a lot of introverts and I still get the same stories – it just happens to them with less people, that’s all.

The fact is: Most people who matter to you right now will not be there when you die.

That’s not meant to be depressing. Honestly. It’s actually quite liberating. Enjoy those who are important to you today. Enjoy them now. Tell them they matter. Love them for who they are. Tomorrow, if they’re still there, love them again. But if they leave, let them go. Love them for who they were and the memories they’ve given you. Try to forgive those hurts that came in the final few minutes. And if, when you die, you still have people around you who really did make it to the end with you, then you will (I hope, God willing) have had many years or decades of appreciating them to look back on in your own final minutes.

Is this too much pain to bear? Should we just keep to ourselves and keep our defences up and not let anyone in?

No.

The myth of “I am all that I need to be happy”

Facebook brings many joys and memes can be part of that. I have nearly as many memes saved on my phone from looking on Facebook as I do actual photos. On my laptop I’ve collected hundreds, I’m sure.

Many of these memes online take the line that you should never rely on another, never give your heart wholly, never let someone destroy you, never ‘need’ someone in your life.

Wrong.

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

It’s not often you’ll get me judging how others choose to live their lives – your life is not my life and I can’t tell you what to do. But I draw the line when I see advice I know is actually dangerous. What’s worse, it’s having a cumulative effect on society which is going to ruin lives. Allow me to explain.

Whether you take a theological view (from any of our major religions) or spiritual view or even a psychological evolutionary point of view, we were made to share our lives together. As I prefer the rational approach (mostly), I’ll describe it in this form but this article could be written spiritually or theologically and still reach the same conclusions.

It is true, deep in our genes is the solitary hunter figure, the person who needs to be alone to hunt, to watch only for themselves to stay safe and survive. But somewhere along the line we discovered the safety of making communities. It was easier to guard against predators, resources could be shared, babies survived longer.

When we are hurt, when we are attacked, we withdraw back into that hunter “I don’t need anyone” instinct. But we have long since lost how to survive like that for long. Everything in our make-up has geared us towards needing others.

There are some who have more of the hunter instinct and, sure enough, they do fine on their own. Such people are solitary and will die without a spouse or children and be happy with that. But they are rare. There are some who have destructive needs for others. These are the ones who find themselves abused by those who realise they can control them. Here, the hunter instinct is too little. Our urge to survive should kick in and it doesn’t. Again, such people are rare (though nowhere near rare enough) and they are not models for healthy living any more than the solitary types.

The overwhelming majority of us need others and it is healthy. We need at least one person in our lives who makes us safe, who accepts us, who cares for us, who won’t judge us or attack us unjustly in any way. Some, like me, look for that communally. I enjoy having a number of people to whom I turn for help, comfort and encouragement in times of sorrow and pain. For others, it is just one single person they need in their life to give that relief.

The advice that you are enough in life and you need no other is given either by those solitary types who don’t understand what it feels like to truly connect with another, or by those who are hurting and are writing or speaking in pride and haughtiness. It is a selfish piece of advice because it is flawed – if everyone followed that advice the human race would die out.

The fact is, I’ve seen people try to live like this after hurt. They can’t do it for long. Sooner or later, the loneliness and isolation comes to them. It is one of the key purposes of the punishment of prison that isolation brings repentance. Those who lose their freedom because of crime, in theory, choose not to commit crime again rather than be kept apart from their loved ones in future. There is a greater punishment – solitary confinement – so that even their communal relationships in prison are taken from them. It does not take a man long to break when they are completely isolated from others.

There’s nothing we can do about it: We need others.

Open wounds bleed

I would love to tell you that it’s all worth it, giving yourself to others, making bonds. But honestly, every single bond I’ve lost still hurts – even those from when I was a teenager. I don’t think I’ve ever completely gotten over the loss of a single person who meant something to me. Perhaps I’m just WAYYY to sensitive – that’s probably fair, actually – but most people I’ve spoken to about this say something similar. I wish I could tell you that there is a purpose to all this. But there isn’t. It’s just the way we are. We have to suck it up and accept it. To hide away is to wither away and die slowly inside.

But I will say this, or more accurately, my friend I mentioned at the beginning will say it. She loves sending out memes of her own (almost every day – she’s a bit obsessed ha ha, but beautiful). This one I wrote down and keep on my desktop:

Closure is overrated. Reopened wounds bleed.

For me, this is a ‘wow’ moment. We talk in terms of healing, of covering up the scars and so on. But actually, while there is a wound there is blood, and while there is blood there is life.

And perhaps that’s all we can ask for in this world: to be alive. So bring me pain – from that I can better appreciate love; bring me anguish – from that I can better appreciate joy; bring me the ends of friendships – from those I can better appreciate the beginnings of others. Bring me life – because death, quite frankly, can wait.

Friends forever? Actually some of these here are still with me now more than 25 years later. I’m the guy in the tie by the way 🙂

Writer and journalist D K Powell is the author of the bestselling collection of literary short stories “The Old Man on the Beach“. His first book, ‘Sonali’ is a photo-memoir journal of life in Bangladesh and has been highly praised by the Bangladeshi diaspora worldwide. Students learning the Bengali language have also valued the English/Bengali translations on every page. Ken has two new books coming out over summer – don’t miss them!

Both ‘The Old Man on the Beach’ and ‘Sonali’ are available on Amazon for kindle and paperback. Published by Shopno Sriti Media.

D K Powell is available to speak at events (see his TEDx talk here) and can be contacted at dkpowell.contact@gmail.com

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I know why you have the nightmares

demons-angels

I know why you have the nightmares

Why you fear a demon hoarde

I know why you seek the light

But cannot find the Lord

I know why the peace evades you

Why the universe is still

I know why you wish it speak

And share with you its will

I know why you seek the angels

But find no presence near

And why you think you’re all alone

Why silence is all you hear

I know where your future lies

And why you dream of love

I know what your secret is

Your prayer to God above

I know why on running to

You really run away

I know why you fear the truth

And bid the lie to stay

I know why you spurn the good

Destroy the gifts you’re given

I know just how easy now

It is to be so driven

I know why you prefer the wind

Be lost inside the storm

I know why the earth should scare you

And you shudder at the form

And I know why I cannot tell you

The answers you seek to know

For I know just how to make you crumble

To bring you nought but woe

I know why I will not tell you

Why I’ll protect you to the last

Why my love for you is never-ending

Even though it is the past

 

I know why you have the nightmares…

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Scarred.

Written by a talented and lovely young friend of mine. These words need to be heard by at least one person I can think of right now. They are on point.

Inking The Thinking

conceal-scars-640x250

I scared you. The knowledge I had of you, scared you. I became the personal diary you never wrote. You could see the ghosts of your past reflected in my eyes, each time you looked into them. I became a reminder of what you were trying to forget. My comfort with you, scared you. You dreamt of coming out of your shell, greeting the world like you used to but the fear of being trampled upon pushed you inside again. You had lost the real you within yourself. You did not want to be reminded of it. Not by me. You thought it was easier to push me away. At least, you could still stay safe in your shell then. You wouldn’t disappoint anyone again. You wouldn’t worry about hurting anyone again. It would be just you and your memories. You wouldn’t have to owe anyone anything again. That was…

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Special Announcement: Another TV appearance

For those of you who have followed this blog for many years you have enjoyed/suffered/ignored both my writings and my photos well beyond the call of duty. Recently you’ve also endured seeing me on camera too. What you haven’t seen though is much of the woman who is lovingly referred to in these pages as ‘Wifey’.

Last year I gave my hugely successful TEDx talk on “The Importance of the Global Village”:

Then recently I appeared on NTV, interviewed by Abul Hasnath. The 45-minute show was split into three sections as below:

At the time I remember thinking “I spent more time talking about my wife than I did about me!” Well, at long last, for those of you who might have wondered what kind of woman has put up with me all this time and what is she like to talk to, Wifey is finally making her TV debut!

We are being interviewed by IQRA Bangla TV’s Ishaque Uddin this coming Thursday at 6 – 7:30pm GMT. The show will be live which is pretty scary for both of us but, all being well, you’ll get to hear from the horse’s mouth just what my other half did out in Bangladesh for five years and what drives and motivates her.

You can set your sky boxes to record Sky channel 825 for 6pm or watch live at the time and enjoy seeing us squirm! If you live outside of the UK or don’t have Sky you can watch live on IQRA’s website – www.iqra.tv/iqra-bangla/ – or wait until the programme uploads to Youtube (I’ll share the links eventually!)

Writer and journalist D K Powell is the author of the bestselling collection of literary short stories “The Old Man on the Beach“. His first book, ‘Sonali’ is a photo-memoir journal of life in Bangladesh and has been highly praised by the Bangladeshi diaspora worldwide. Students learning the Bengali language have also valued the English/Bengali translations on every page.

Both ‘The Old Man on the Beach’ and ‘Sonali’ are available on Amazon for kindle and paperback. Published by Shopno Sriti Media.

D K Powell is available to speak at events (see his TEDx talk here) and can be contacted at dkpowell.contact@gmail.com

Posted in Bangladesh, community, LAMB, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Confession: I am a man-whore

The title says it all: I am a man-whore.

Should I be ashamed of this? It is, I confess, a dirty secret. I can’t help myself. It’s like a fixation in me. And I’m getting ever more desperate because I’m not getting the hits that I crave.

It’s always been there – since I was a teenager at least – the need to satiate my lust. It hasn’t gone away. What’s more, I’ll do it with men and women, I’m not choosy; the young and even if they come old and crinkly. Whatever ethical creed or religion, I’ll take them and fill my need.

But no, I’m not ashamed. In fact, I wish there were more like me out there. You see what I pimp myself out for unashamedly I’m actually quite proud of. Put simply:

I am a conversation whore

Like I say, I can’t help it. Like Dexter from the hit TV series I go prowling for my next hit, my ‘dark passenger’ always with me. I go looking for a good conversation. I scour Facebook, Twitter, the Blog-o-sphere, real life (of course) – everywhere; all the time looking for intelligent, meaningful, deep, entertaining, thoughtful and thought-provoking conversation.

But like all good tarts, I’m choosy about company. I am, I like to think, a high-class hooker. I’m not interested in inane chatter, sending (and definitely not receiving) dick pics, childish humour, what you watched on TV tonight or who did what or said that. No, I go looking for something which grabs me at much deeper level. Something to make me feel I scored a hit like a drug user shooting the best on the market into their veins.

I had a hit the other night. It was a real-life one. Out for a meal with a couple of old mates. Did nothing but tell each other they were wrong about whatever political conviction we had. With Teresa May having just called a snap general election in the UK a few days ago, the whole world seems to be abuzz with it all. We debated all night and did so with wit and humour and good-natured camaraderie thrown in. It was awesome. We probably emptied the restaurant with our “you’re so wrong, HOW could you believe that?” comments thrown across the table – but we loved it.

I enjoy many wonderful conversations with friends across the world every day. The joy of enjoying a certain degree of ‘being known’ as an author is that you get to meet a lot more people. From the very deepest of secrets, to the most public of joys, I get to enjoy conversations of every kind of topic from intelligent, capable, interesting people who also abound in care, loyalty and empathy. The fact that more people want to see me, interview me, have me speak at events and so on is immaterial to me – they are opportunities to meet people and make new friends. I don’t care who supplies me with my drug.

But conversely it’s made me harsher too. I haven’t got time for time-wasters: the ones who show off to impress you, or want to find out all about you, or just want to flirt a little, but who actually aren’t that interested or aren’t that interesting after a while. The ones who choose to have entire conversations just using emoticons. The ones who initially won’t leave you alone with chat but then suddenly never get in touch with you – for weeks and months – because they can’t be bothered any longer, but when they do expect that everything will be the same. That’s not the same as those you’ve known and loved for a long time where you’ve always come and gone over time in each others’ lives and you can just pick up where you’ve left off – those people are untouchable. They never leave my heart. I’m talking about those who wade in obsessively and then suddenly couldn’t care less any longer. I ditch such people now, and I don’t let them back in once they’ve gone. That shit might feel good for a while, but in the end it leaves a sour taste in the mouth.

On Facebook recently I’ve found it harder to find the conversations I crave. It feels like everyone has taken the principle of Twitter’s 140-character message to heart. People pop in, say hi, then leave again. I do it too – most of us do I’m sure. But I see that as the equivalent of meeting someone you know in the street. It’s a quick catch-up before you both carry on your way. But if that’s all you get then that person becomes little more than an acquaintance. That’s fine, but you don’t have the rich, deep conversations with acquaintances as you do with friends.

And friendship can be an instant thing. Recently I got chatting to a person living near Manchester. The connection was almost instantaneous. We’ve been good friends for quite some time now and nothing seems to be wavering with that. Now I’m old enough and experienced enough to know that friendships can go to hell in an instant over some argument, tiff, disagreement or misunderstanding but, as much as it is possible to allow for that and predict the future, I’m hopeful that in a year, two years, five years plus, we will still be friends. Who can tell? I’m hopeful nonetheless. The point is, just because we met online doesn’t mean the friendship ain’t real. Sometimes you just click with someone and it works.

So yeah…I’m a conversation whore and a junkie. I get my fix on intelligent and interesting talk. I don’t care if you hate me for it, it’s who I am. It’s an addiction I don’t want to lose.

This, for me, is very true. Ghastly though those ‘share if you believe this’ type memes are…

Writer and journalist D K Powell is the author of the bestselling collection of literary short stories “The Old Man on the Beach“. His first book, ‘Sonali’ is a photo-memoir journal of life in Bangladesh and has been highly praised by the Bangladeshi diaspora worldwide. Students learning the Bengali language have also valued the English/Bengali translations on every page.

Both ‘The Old Man on the Beach’ and ‘Sonali’ are available on Amazon for kindle and paperback. Published by Shopno Sriti Media.

D K Powell is available to speak at events (see his TEDx talk here) and can be contacted at dkpowell.contact@gmail.com

 

Posted in community, Culture, Life | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments