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. …


Even though there are many other examples of pure evil

Brandenburg Gate | Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Many things existed before Hitler came into power. Here are a few.

  • Racism
  • Bigotry
  • The desire of human beings to feel superior to others
  • Genocide
  • Internment in labor and death camps
  • Dictatorships and tyranny
  • Hunger for war, glory, and conquest
  • Cruelty
  • Systemic dehumanization of others

All of these have existed for centuries, all over the world. They didn’t start with Hitler and didn’t end with Hitler. They keep happening today, right now, at this very moment.

But Hitler has become the face. And his Nazi regime is still used today as a catch-all label for the far-right.

And what’s most…


I haven’t had to worry about him for 12 years but I did have to worry about myself.

Image by S. Hermann & F. Richter from Pixabay

Mondays always stood out in my relationship with my ex. He was addicted to diazepam and would take a dozen pills once a week — on a Monday.

Initially, I dreaded Mondays. The diazepam removed all personality from him — he was blank, idle, barely conscious. He would just stare into one spot or watch TV or sleep.

Over time, Monday became my favorite day of the week. Because it was my day off. The one day I didn’t have to worry what he’ll do or what he’ll say.

Every day besides Monday, he drank. Alcohol didn’t put him to…


Written by a white person

Photo by Tsvetoslav Hristov on Unsplash

“You know how they beat you?”

“How?” I asked with dread. He had just told me about how he was picked up by the police one time and held for the entire night, without any reason or formal arrest. “Beatings all night,” he’d said, “then they tied me to a pipe and opened the door. It was mid-winter. I had pneumonia in the morning.”

To me, this is the kind of trauma that will take a bottle of wine or a therapy session to open up about. He, on the other hand, was sharing it as any other fact about…


We’re not that different, people

Photo by Goashape on Unsplash

“Is there such a thing as a shy extrovert?”

“Are introverts depressed?”

“Do extroverts ever shut up?”

“What is holding introverts back?”

These are just a few questions I saw online today, confirming that our perpetual confusion about each other continues to live on.

People talk abut introverts and extroverts as if they’re a scientist observing a wild animal. “Why does it behave this way?” “What does this mean?” “Ah, I think I know what it will do next.”

It’s not that complicated, guys. We’re all human. Even the introverts.

Let’s make things simple by letting go of the 3…


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…

Martina Petkova

I tell stories about history and the human psyche.

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