When Love Kills Love
This is the title of a song written by Klaus Meine and Rudolph Schenker from the German rock band The Scorpions – and I pick this song, particularly, to illustrate how the word "love" can make or break a man in Thailand.
Stick wrote a very insightful analysis of the word "freedom" as applied to life in The Kingdom, on Sunday night's column (20 April 2014) – comparing it to "freedom" as known in some other places. He questions how those who say they feel "free" in Thailand can do so given the restrictions applied to ex-pats and other visitors by The Authorities. Personally, it doesn't bother me at all – I am always grateful for whatever time I am granted to stay in The Kingdom because I am very aware of how jealously Thais guard their sense of identity and ownership of that unique piece of land called Thailand.
Everything comes down to a trade-off in life – and nothing is ever perfect – so I guess it all revolves on how individuals see life as applicable to their own circumstances and needs. What suits one person can very well be the antithesis for another – that's just the way we humans are constructed. As most who have read some of my subs will realise, I place a great deal of emphasis on words in song lyrics – call me a poet, I guess, because that is how I think a lot of the time – in allegory, metaphor and analogy.
The word "love" means many different things to many different people and it is too-often used loosely to describe feelings that are not really "love" at all. I am as guilty as the next person for using it to describe my feelings for Bangkok and Chiang Mai – but perhaps I should be using other terms such as "fondness", "affection", "devotion", "attachment", "yearning" or any number of other synonyms. However, the truth is, most of those do not feel strong enough to describe the feeling – and certainly not so when applied to interpersonal relationships. The word "love" makes a very strong statement – therefore it should be used wisely. These four lines – the first verse of the song – say a lot:
Suddenly I think I always knew
I had my share of mistakes – made quite a few
Finally I know and that's for sure
I don't look back in anger anymore
There are many living in The Kingdom who have come to Asia to escape lives filled with bad experiences in finance and in love (I won't even touch on the fugitives) – and, having encountered disappointments again at the hands of a bar-girl who "was different", find themselves in a situation no different to what they have tried to leave behind. I guess the operative word is "expectation" – but many of those expectations are completely out of touch with reality. For those in this category "love" (or the expectation of it from the wrong place) certainly can figuratively-kill "love" and replace it with cynicism. Yet, I am reminded of one line from the writings from Desiderata (by Max Ehrmann): "… Neither be cynical about love – for, in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass."
But the chorus of the song asks:
When love kills love
Will someone rescue me?
When love kills love
It's cutting through so deep
Unfortunately, all too often, we are on our own with that one – and seeking solace of like souls in a bar environment is really not the place to be looking for solutions or, most certainly not, for help or rescue. Let's get real – nobody can "rescue" you – you're on your own, my Bucko.
Then comes this short bridge:
Well life goes 'round
And upside down …
It's pretty mad
That's putting it mildly – more like a roller-coaster with a faulty computer system in control, hell-bent on your personal destruction. All points of reference go missing or get out of whack and you end up not knowing which way is up or down – but mostly, it is down.
I particularly like these lines:
How can we choose
When all we lose
Is all we have?
Yes, it does feel that way at times – loss of finances and possessions, loss of partner, loss of pride and self-respect – all gone – sometimes driving the "victim" to alcohol abuse or, worse, to dependence on legally-prescribed psychotropic medication. That is a dead end, for sure – but, under strict supervision for a short period, may return a state of relative normality if coupled with some cognitive therapy. I can speak with direct experience on this subject of my last 6 months in Chiang Mai, back in 2005 – and well into 2006 back in Australia. I remember sussing out supplies of Alprazolam (Xanax) from "under the counter" without prescription in Chiang Mai – and reinforcing that with copious amounts of Singha and the nightly shot or two of Mekong, followed by Mersyndol Forte (Codeine and Doxylamine Succinate with Paracetamol <not available in Thailand>) and an antihistamine or two. I should be dead – and, at the time, wished I could have been <smile>.
Of course, Xanax is now a restricted drug in Thailand – withdrawn from general pharmacy availability and only available by prescription from Government-authorized pharmacies and hospital dispensaries. That really is a good thing – as it is a very-dangerous agent of addiction that can result in seizures or even death. It was primarily prescribed for "panic attack" disorders but often misused as a normal sedative, more potent than Valium. Valium has a half life of 20-40 hours while Xanax has a half life of only 12-15 hours – often causing the user to pop an extra one more than prescribed when the effects started to wear off. The other reason for the withdrawal was that it had been used on a number of occasions for "spiking" drinks for date-rape.
But all things pass with time and things do become better. I weaned myself off the Xanax, back onto Valium and then nothing at all – I was free – and I have never gone down that road again. Admittedly, it did help to be prescribed a couple of short courses of SSRI or SNRI antidepressant medication while coming down off the Xanax – but even those should be looked at as short-time (6 months) therapy.
It is so easy to lose all we have – but one thing I never lost was the ability to believe in "love" – and that love is still there for Thailand, Bangkok, Chiang Mai and the significant person there (in some reflective form) who is no longer part of my life. I can look back on it all, philosophically, and accept that many decisions are made without full knowledge of the information needed to act in a logical manner – and there is no anger attached to anything that happened to put me in that place where I never will be again. I regard that period as a positive lesson.
Contrary to the theme in the song, "love" has definitely not killed "love" from my perspective. I found it again in Bangkok with somebody who has changed my life in so many positive ways – yet I still hold some lingering feelings of love (tempered with reality) for that person who was so significant to me, way back in 2005. Sometimes it still feels as if it was only yesterday. If I had the chance, would I do it all over again? From the self-indulgent side of the mind, that would probably have to be a "yes" <stupid, stupid> – but, hopefully, tempered with a more realistic approach and appraisal of the "end game". On the other hand I can, fortunately, engage the logical side of the mind and, having experienced what I now have, I would call myself an idiot to even contemplate placing myself back in those same circumstances that were present in the Chiang Mai of my past.
Possibly the most significant verse of the song is this sentiment:
Suddenly I wake up from the dream
Someone tells me I've been talking in the sleep
Finally I know and that's for sure
I don't believe in daydreams anymore
Amen – with a written guarantee – you can sure take that to the bank!
"Love" doesn't kill "love" – it is the one emotion that is Universal, Eternal and good. Bad decisions, insufficient data and poor choices figuratively-kill "love" – but awareness is the tool that you need to enable you to survive and re-stage for the next exercise.