The things you hear when you listen carefully

Royalty Free Image by RawPixel | Source

I’m white. I can’t imagine what people of color go through.

But I listen when they tell their stories. I also listen to what white people are saying. I listen very carefully.

For those of us who listen, this is a horror show.

I’m not a racist, but…

A few years ago, my country (Bulgaria) hit the international news in Europe because, during a soccer game with England, the Bulgarian fans were taunting the Black English players with Nazi salutes and monkey noises.

Fines were issued, formal apologies were begrudgingly given. Mostly, Bulgarians were offended. We think of ourselves as very tolerant. …


Understanding the “Socialist” in Hitler’s National Socialist Party

Public Domain Image of Adolf Hitler | Edited by author: Armband Swastika vs Hammer and Sickle

“It’s in the name,” people point out. “Nazi” is short for Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, which translates to National Socialist German Workers’ Party.

But it’s more than just the name.

The party elevated the concept of Volksgemeinschaft (people’s community), increased the power of government, and had very prominent members who advocated for labor unions and the nationalization of private property.

Then again, in June 1934, Hitler unleashed his paramilitary against his political enemies and purged the left-wing members of his party. In other words, he killed, imprisoned, and exiled the same people who were advocating for socialist reforms.

So what was…


Next time you point a finger, point it accurately

Public Domain Images of Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin | Collage by author

“Communism lives. This is what it does to people.”

That caption was posted by an Evangelical Christian friend of mine, from a Southern US state, as she shared a video of several Roma families being forcefully evicted from a homeless center in my home country, Bulgaria.

I am friends with these families and had been fighting against the eviction. I was grateful for her effort to raise awareness. But also, I had to send her a private message and say,

“Hey. The Roma families have been under attack by racist, fascist policies from the government that has been in power…


Humanity is found where we deny it

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

“You turn into a different person the moment we walk out the door,” my boyfriend told me once, soon after he arrived in my native country.

“How so?”

“You’re on edge. You harden up. As if you’re expecting something bad to happen.”

Hearing this was one of those eye-opening moments: like I was a fish and I was just told I’d been swimming in water. It’s been all around me, all my life, and I could only now tell it apart.

I’m not talking about the run-of-the-mill aggressions you run into in all big cities: the catcalling, the slurs, the…


Strangers can’t tell you how to help yourself

Image by StartupStockPhotos from Pixabay

When you see an article such as “Here’s Why Being Yourself is Bad Advice” or “Do This [random thing] and It Will Change Your Life” or the endless “7 habits” and “6 traits” listicles about successful, unsuccessful, happy, and miserable people or, my personal favorite, “X mind hacks” to achieve this or that — when you see those articles, what do you think will happen when you click? What is the best possible thing they can give you?

Change your life? Come on.

Tell you something new? Doubt it.

Give you a fresh perspective on something? Maybe. …


The Megan Meier and Lori Drew case that ended in a death

Megan Meier (left) and Lori Drew (right) | Public Source Photographs | Image edited by author

You know the “mean girls” trope. You’ve heard — or worse, experienced — how female bullies tend to use psychological rather than physical warfare. How they seek out where you are most vulnerable, how they undermine your confidence, how they work to isolate you, erode your sense of self-worth and identity, push you to self-loathing.

For many children, school becomes a war zone. They age out of it with emotional wounds that bleed for years, if not decades.

But what happens to the bullies? Do they grow up to be good people? Do they stay the same?

In the case…


Depression only goes away when you look it in the eye

Image by Grae Dickason from Pixabay

For several years, I suffered from debilitating depression. I’ve heard all the “Just go out more,” “Just smile,” “I’ve had it worse than you” platitudes from what were, then, my closest people.

Today, I don’t suffer from depression but I sometimes get depressed. I’ve learned to welcome these seasons, regardless of whether they last one day or one week.

“Depression is like a woman in black. If she turns up, don’t shoo her away. Invite her in, offer her a seat, treat her like a guest, and listen to what she has to say. ”

Carl Jung

What does it mean to be “depressed?”

From the outside…


Yet again, it all comes back to the Nazis

Image by Tori A from Pixabay

In 2016, two cars crossed paths on a central road of the Bulgarian town Radnevo. A group of four men emerged from one car, a group of three men emerged from the other. They locked into a physical fight. The group of four severely beat up the group of three. Lungs were punctured, skulls were fractured.

Once ambulances and authorities got involved, it became clear that the group of four were Roma and the group of three were white Bulgarians. The Roma were rushed to jail, the Bulgarians to the hospital.

But this was far from over. News of this…


There’s only one answer to that: “It’s none of your business.”

Image by Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

A woman I’m friendly with and who I see about once a month, said to me last year,“It’s time for you to have kids. Come on. I’ll hassle you about it every time I see you.”

She kept her word. Every time I saw her after that, she would urge me to have kids, tell me to stop procrastinating, and throw in a “Come on!” as if I was a distracted farm animal that just needed to be nudged in the right direction.

But she’s not the worst I’ve had. …


How to tell if cutting your ties is the right decision

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

A few months ago, my father was dying. Both he and my mother had COVID. They both ended up hospitalized. He didn’t make it.

During this time of crisis, I was the one getting updates from hospitals and calling relatives to keep everyone informed. One of the people I talked with daily was my one surviving grandparent — my mother’s mother.

During one of our calls in the “early days” — when they were both very sick but still at home — my grandmother did something very typical of her. She said, “Well, your father is weak, you know. The…

Martina Petkova

I tell stories about history and the human psyche. Let’s connect: https://martinapetkova.com

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