Free to scratch

When I was a kid, I was allergic to almost anything. Milk, wheat, animal hair, soap and I have the most sensitive skin on earth. I was not allowed to have any animals (mainly cats) because my skin would act up. I would get bad eczema all over my body, specifically around my neck, eye, and stomach area. I was so light skinned (yellow-boned) and the allergies would leave bright purple (bruise-like) marks on my body.
People frequently worried that I was abused as a child, but I was just allergic. I remember when I was about 5 years old, my sister got a bunny rabbit and I was so jealous because I wanted a pet too.
One day I was playing in the courtyard, running around doing handstands. It was about 4 pm and while I was being mischievous, I saw a little black and white thing in the corner of my eye. When I peered around the corner, I saw the cutest little dog. She was lost and she was watching me being an idiot. I ran to her and rubbed her head and she loved it. I ran inside, got some food and water, and brought it to her. She ate, I rubbed her some more and then she ran away. The next day, like clockwork, she was back and the rest of the days thereafter, until my mother noticed me running to the gate with food and all excited.
It was too late to chase her away because I lured her with food and love and I could keep her. I named her Doempie (Doom-py) and she was my responsibility. I bathed her, fed her, and played with her. She was my best friend and when she eventually fell pregnant, she gave birth to 5 puppies. I was ecstatic. I had so much love for her and for her babies but at the end, we could not keep them and made sure they got loving homes. Doempie was my best friend and I had her for 13 years. In 2009, she was poisoned. I will never forget the day I found her little body; I came home from school during exams and as I walked in my study room, I saw her, laying in a pool of her own vomit. I dropped my schoolbag, fell on my knees, and cried.
My silly, little old baby was dead.
While I had Doempie, I adopted 2 cats and had countless bunny rabbits and a guinea pig. I was still allergic but I knew what I wanted and no allergy would stand in my way. My first cat, Nala was killed by the neighbour’s Rottweiler and my second cat Ariel was hit by a Porsche. I cried for two hours, I was inconsolable (for Ariel, Nala was an asshole). I had one bunny and my sister, Skye also had a bunny. We had no idea how active a bunny’s sex life was because, in a few months, we had a whole family of bunnies. Some ran away, one drowned and some were given away. In the end, I had so many pets, it was amazing.
I am proud of myself because I was hungry for something I knew I couldn’t have, yet I went for it. I was itchy, full of eczema and allergy bruises but I was happy. Seeing my animals gave me such joy. Being able to pick them up, kiss and hug them was the most important thing to me. Showing love to them was the most important gift I could give.
I knew that my mom would not buy me any pets but I knew I wanted them, so specialty was picking up strays, or just feeding random animals, hoping they would come back (and it worked). During my life of growing up, I lost that hunger. I conformed to life and turned into a sheep, and I guess that is what happens in life and in general.
We were all kids and we were all stubborn with what we wanted, in means of crying and throwing tantrums and we have lost that. Yes, adults throwing tantrums would seem funny but we have lost the urge to fight and stand up for what we want.
I became a people pleaser. I absolutely hate disappointing people and would just say yes to anything and if I said no, I would feel so bad. I would apologise for anything, even though I would not be at fault and a few days ago, I realised this and I realised how tired I am of it.
It is physically, mentally, and emotionally draining carrying such a big responsibility of not letting people down. I realised that I am a human too, like others, so if I say no or put my foot down for a change, then I should be able to, without any judgements.
Yesterday, I just felt a sense of calm over me because I know that I am changing and I am so happy. I want to cry and it is so weird but I can now understand how this constant need of not disappointing people, left me disappointed and so hurt. The hungry, risk taking, rule breaking Megan was put away and now she is back.
And I feel so free.
So, my message is:
1) Don’t conform to what people want you to do or be.
2) Be hungry, be curious
3) It is 100% okay to say No!
4) Don’t disappoint yourself.
5) Adopt some damn pets, man!

Featured image: colors come true dreams girl – Favim.com

ViNCENZO

I as if Tram line 8 paves the way for interesting people and experiences.

On the 25th of February 2017, after my last class of the day, I walked over to the tram stop called Belli. A tram came within seconds of my arrival, packed so I waited for another one. But a man got out of the tram with 2 luggage bags and a cigarette in his mouth. The one big luggage bag was black and the other cheetah print. He was clumsy as his bags were heavy and thanked a lady he was speaking to inside the tram. The mysterious man, average height, dirty skin, salt & pepper hair stood straight, looked to his left and then his right; that’s when he saw me.

I had my earphones in and was looking around the area while waiting for the tram.

This mysterious man starts walking over to me and I feel questioned. He asked me if it was some specific Italian area to what I replied, “No, this is Belli”. He asked if I speak Italian, I said no, I speak English and understand bits and pieces of Italian. Then he carries on to ask about background and what I am doing in Rome. At first, I was defensive and closed off because it is easy for some Italian men to get the wrong impression. Yet, for some reason, I spoke to him about my background and my current studies. I felt relaxed and trusting in him, for some odd reason.

I asked him about his life to which he responded: “My life is scary and I don’t want to scare you” For some reason I said: “Don’t worry, I don’t scare easily” (Hello dumbass) He looked at me, laughed and challenged my answer. Again…hello dumbass! I laughed and thought to myself, why did you say that? But I was curious and I needed to know his story.

He said he was born in Italy (I forgot the exact place) and at age four, his parents moved back to New York City. He went to school, tried to find a job and when he didn’t succeed, he found a loophole. Easy money, no bosses… why not try heroin dealing? He sold heroin among other drugs, such as cocaine as it was the most popular drugs to sell, especially to the wealthy elite. With the money, he made, he bought himself a nice apartment, nice furniture and a 9m for safety.

Obviously, with drugs comes sex.

He had a sexual partner, a Spanish woman named Julia who would come by his house for sex and drugs. They had a meeting agreement as his life was quite dangerous, she had to contact him before going to his house and in turn, he would know, for his safety too.

One day, Julia did not contact him prior coming to his house and knocked on the door. When he looked through the peephole, he saw her standing there. Angry he opened the door and started yelling at her, asking her why she came without informing him beforehand. Just then, a mysterious man came from outside and shot at him. He shot him four times.

Vincenzo then reveals his lower hip to me, showing his scar.

He fell back and tumbled over his coffee table, bleeding and in pain. He then reached for his gun and blindly shot at the figure before him. A bullet hit the man’s heart through his stomach and died immediately.

Afraid and hysterical, Julia starts sobbing and offers to phone the ambulance. Vincenzo yells at her and says she could be glad he doesn’t put a bullet through her skull because of her kid and then tells her to leave and never come back, nor contact the authorities.

He cleaned himself up, cleaned the room up and got rid of the body. He went on with his life and his dealing, never heard from Julia again and he was fine with that, however, 2 months after the ordeal the police show up at his house and arrest him for the murder of the mysterious man.

Julia snitched on him.

He spent 25 years in prison for murder and drug dealing. He completed his sentence and was a free man. He went on with his life, knowing that Julia snitched, he felt resentment but understood why she did it.

A few months after his release, the police tracked him down and deported him back to Italy, as he was born here. They allowed him to pack his possessions and flew him to Fiumicino airport where they told him that he is no longer an American problem.

Now he is in Rome, homeless, no money on him and a criminal record that will haunt him forever.

I felt such deep heartache. Yes, he took the wrong path in life and he knew better, but he will never get a chance to fix his mistakes. He will never get a second chance and one day, he might die and no one will care.

I realised how crucial it is to make the right decisions in life and to not find an easy way out. Life is hard and difficult and at times will be so unfair. I felt a sense of humility and empathy for him but I was happy that I didn’t brush him off. I am happy to have missed the other 3 trams’ that passed, just to hear his story.

Finally, I am glad that his story gave me more motivation to help people and realise that everyone has a story worth telling.

I greeted him as the 4th tram approached, shook his hand, and told him that I hope to see him again.

That is the story of the well-spoken, very animated, and interesting man named Vincenzo.

Featured image from Jim Hubbard Photo gallery on Pinterest  – Homeless Shoes Washington D.C (1986)

The Chihuahua effect

You know when you hear a small dog yap and yap and when you look at the situation, it is the smallest dog thinking he can take on a larger dog. But when that large dog had to stand in front of the small dog, it would run back to its owner, hiding, tail between its legs. That sums me up.
I like to regard myself as an opinionated but quiet person and when a situation overpowers my quiet nature, I scatter.
Story time, I was on a bus on the way home from Termini station the one evening. I got on the bus I needed to be on and took a seat. While I waited, I put on my earphones and went on Pinterest to kill time. When I looked up again, the bus was sardined. The bus driver then got into the bus and we left.
We drove down Via Nazionale and I looked out the window and watched the people as they shopped. Next moment, the bus driver made a sharp right turn and most of the people catapulted to one side. One woman grabbed my leg to find her balance and soon after apologized. I told her it is no problem and asked if she would like to have my seat, seeing that she was a bit older to which she said that she would be getting off at the next stop. Listening to my music and gazing out the window, I felt someone touching my leg again. I thought it was the same woman and brushed it off.
The woman got off at the spot and after a while, I felt my leg being touched again but I could make out who it was as the bus was so full, so I pulled my leg further away from the aisle. This person was determined because my leg was being rubbed again. I tried to see who it was only to find an older man, about mid 50’s rubbing my leg. I was petrified because A) My Italian is not good B) I am a young woman on a bus at night C) I am a foreigner; would anyone help me? I was not too close to my home, I can’t walk because it is dark out and all the busses are full as it was peak hour.
At first, I thought, should I scream? Should I be quiet? So, after a few minutes of thinking how to approach this and formulate an understandable sentence, I flicked his hand off my leg and said *translated* Excuse me? Stop it. Thinking he would stop or at least apologize but no, Hugh Hefner decides to spark up a conversation asking me where I am from. I look at him, fix my earphones and look out the window again. He taps my leg again, this time asking if he could take me out for dinner.
Here is what bothered me:
Yes, I am a stranger, as they say, in this country and I do realize that many foreigners come and go into various countries, including Italy, for ulterior motives but what his right mind made him think that I wanted him? I was properly clothed, I listened to music and I was in my own little bubble. Yes, I am not from here but that doesn’t give him the right to assume that I’d magically be interested in him or the fact that this man, old enough to be my father, would think that I would accept his offer of dinner.
I told him that I don’t understand him and to stop. Then he kept insisting that I was lying to which I answered, “Oh yeah, sure” then he tapped my leg again and I looked at him, deep down petrified and as loud as I could speak, I told him to stop it or I would phone the Carabinieri and I opened up my phone log. Magic! I got the attention of the bus driver and a few patrons (who took note at first and did nothing, as I thought) He told me not to be like that and that we can be friends, so I start dialing 112 then he decided to get off. The bus driver yelled something in Italian to him as he got off and I just sat there, shaking, trying to figure out what just happened. I wanted to cry.
As I arrived at my stop, I was about to get off and the bus driver asked if I was okay, to which I answered yes and I thanked him. I got off the bus and walked home as fast as I could, luckily my house was not too far from the stop. I then realized that after dark, I stay inside, unless I am with a few friends.
I always thought that I would be this tough girl, acting like Lara Croft when a situation such as this occurred, but to be honest, I have never been so scared in my life, aside from how spiders make me feel, so what do we do?
Well, it is important to know your emergency numbers and to not be scared and speak up and to have the heart of a Chihuahua, regardless of how small you think you are.

Feature image: Saved from Pinterest, user @d.extry

To resolute or not to resolute?

Christmas is over and the New Year is approaching rather fast. To think, Halloween hardly passed and the Christmas decorations were up and all it took was 24 hours and it was over. While families were able to spend time together and feast on many different dishes, the one big question still hangs over our heads… What is your New year’s resolution?

I have had so many and committed to them for the first 3 weeks of January and by the time those Valentine’s decorations were up, my resolution was out the door. Yes, I always want to diet and lose weight but then I happen to drive past a McDonalds or a pizza parlour and my promise is basically, non-existent. So, do I “commit” to another resolution this year or do I just carry on as I always do?

 

chrissy-teigen-instagram
Chrissy Teigen Instagram

I have always wanted to lose weight (and I am sure many people do) but I never truly supported the idea of other than just wanting my body to look like Rihanna’s but that is not a good enough reason. Crying into a donut and wiping your tears with a burger, won’t make you healthier, nor give you the body that you wished for. Money won’t just fly into your bank account if you don’t save. Happiness won’t come to you if you are not happy with yourself first.

That is why this year, I am going to start by acknowledging my promise to myself and remember why I set that goal and why it is important and I guess it is something that everyone else should do too.

When in doubt, ask why?

I am still trying to figure out what I want to achieve in the year 2017 and how my decisions will benefit me in the long haul and with that, promise myself to stick to my promise.

I hope everyone enjoyed their festivities and family time. I hope that the New Year will bring prosperities, good health, love and acknowledgment of life.

Happy New Year. May 2017 be great

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Cover photo feature: littlefluffycloudsblog – WordPress.com

Let’s talk empathy

If you read my previous blog, you would notice how I express my empathy towards many things. Last week, I spent the day with my mother as she went to *Fabio’s house. He is an alcoholic and my mother goes to his house bi-weekly to check up on him and to see if he has enough food, clean clothes and so on.

We drove for about 15 minutes to Matelica, through this beautiful small village between the mountains and I was in awe. So much beauty!! We pull up in a parking spot and walk a few meters to his house. The glass in the door, was broken (apparently, Fabio felt depressed and smashed it) My mother opens the door and there are about 15 very steep stairs that lead into his house, which we climbed while my short stumpy legs felt the pain and burn.

As we reached the top, I noticed the strong smell of old cigarette smoke, sweat, dirty dishes and a hint of wine in the air. I casually walked to the window and opened it. My mother greeted Fabio, he is originally from Albania, moved to Italy a few years ago for work, very sweet guy. She introduces me to him and I say hi. The tall man standing in front of me had dirty hair, wrinkles along his eyes, stubble and has impaired vision in his left eye. He has been sleeping on the couch, too scared to sleep in his bedroom which is another flight of stairs up, due to the recent earthquakes.

When he saw my mother, his face lit up. He had company for the next two hours. It was there, where I just wanted to go wait in the car and cry.

Soon thereafter, my mom scolds him because on the kitchen table was an empty box of white wine, the sink was full of dirty dishes and the floor was dirty. She tells him to that he is capable of not living like a pig and to clean up after himself when he proceeds to laugh and say he knows. I decide to do something, so I start doing the dishes. He offers me a glass of wine, which I politely decline and smile. He asks me a few questions: how old am I? Where am I from? What do I do? Which I tried to answer the best I could in Italian, while horribly butchering some phrases. I told him that I am studying communications and psychology when he tells me that doctors think he has schizophrenia and gave him calming drops to take when he starts ‘acting up’. He shows me the bottle, which is almost empty and explains that it doesn’t work and something about angels. I looked at him, quite puzzled and gave my best understanding nod.

In the background, my mom was asking him what he ate? When he took a bath? How is he feeling and what has he been doing? He answers her questions and while I was doing the dishes, I could see if his meal time version corresponds. He has been eating canned lentils with tomato pesto and pasta, most of the time and some egg and a bit of meat. My heart broke, just a little more. He jokes and tells my mother that the last time he took a bath was in August. My gullible mother looks at him in total shock and I start to giggle, he looks at me and laughs. He tells her that he is joking and that he took a proper bath two weeks ago… wait, what?!

He looks at my mother and says, no one cares about him. Everyone is just using him. My mom reassured him that she cares, that is why she is there and people do care about him but he needs to stop drinking too. I looked at him, trying to muscle a convincing smile and he asks me for my name again. I give it to him and he completely butchered it. I told him to just call me, Meggie. For some reason, my Welsh name is very hard to pronounce. He then asked if I would like ice tea, I accept and that’s when he then got up and went to the shops to get us some iced tea.

I looked up at my mother and just stared at her for a few seconds. I then proceed to tell her that I feel so sorry for the guy. Alcoholic or not, I feel so sad for him. From what I gathered, both his parents passed away and they meant a lot to him (he has pictures of them on his wall unit) and he has a brother who lives in the same village as him, but never visits. He was attacked by his own nephews, for money and landed in the hospital with severe damage to his head. Consequently, they are in prison but they only cared for his money and nothing else. He turns to alcohol because that is better than facing reality and while I don’t agree with his actions, I cannot help but feel sorry for him. Like heart wrenching, bad break-up bad. I tried to put myself in his shoes. He is depressed, an alcoholic, the most important people in his life are dead and his brother doesn’t care about him, his money yes. But not him. Did I mention that the only time his brothers’ family were interested in him, was when he was in the hospital, but just to find out if he was alive or not and how his life insurance payout works?

While I know that alcoholism is not the answer, I cannot get him out of my head. I cannot imagine being that alone in the world. I cannot imagine my family not actually caring about me and making it that obvious and I cannot switch off my empathy. My mom and I got into a debate, she also feels sorry for her but says there is no reason to turn to alcohol. I get it. I do, but put yourself in his shoes. He has no one, apart from the people that look after him, only for him to get his insurance money, because of his hospitalisation, but no one goes to his house to check up on him, make sure he eats or just sit and talk to him. If my mother didn’t agree to go to his house, twice a week, where would he be?

I also feel that, had the people (other than my mother) that “take care of him” invested 10 minutes of their time on him, they would rather put him in a rehabilitation center for his addiction and get a psychologist to talk to him. Find out what his issues are and carry on from there, I truly believe that he would get better. But dumping him in a house, giving him a weekly allowance to take care of himself will not work. He is not strong enough to stop and especially if he doesn’t have that support. Telling him to stop drinking, won’t work. It is like telling a dead heart to start beating.

I do not feel like not going to his house again because I feel so horribly sad when I look into his eyes and see heartache and there is only so much I can say, but that would make me like the rest of the world. The life that we live in has become so greedy. Every man for himself and will only help if it benefits them. I hope that in the near future I could try to help him. I don’t believe that he should be given up on, he deserves a second chance.

 

empathy
Empathy: Unknown artist. (Source: Google images)

 

Food for thought:

“No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care”

― Theodore Roosevelt

 

*Real name withheld

The chronicles of the introvert

For years, I have struggled to openly and spontaneously talk to people. I always thought, ‘there is something wrong with me’ or I am anti-social and so on. Most of my friends would say, “You are not an introvert, dude”, but I am and it is fine.
I found the courage to sell or get rid of everything that I have and move. My one big inspiration was and still is, my little sister, Skye. She is the total opposite of me. When she says, she is doing something, she does it. She makes friends so easily and says whatever is on her heart. Because of her strong personality, a lot of people would say she is rude or too forward, but at least you always know where you stand with her and I admire that.
I never sat down and tried to find the root of why I am so quiet and introverted and to be honest, I still don’t know exactly, but an hour-long Skype call with my little sister (by love, not blood) broke it down for me quite a bit.

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Me and Skye back in the day.

Yes, I am introverted. That is okay. It is fine and it is part of my personality and I shouldn’t change that to conform to people’s expectations. I should embrace who I am because you cannot change who you are to please others. Too many people change themselves to please someone else, but what about you? I am sensitive and have a lot of empathy towards people, towards animals, towards anything and that is a wonderful trait to have. I believe in love, not this “on show” stuff that we see online, but true meaningful ‘till death do us part’ kind of love. I believe in equality for both man and woman, I believe animals should be loved and I believe that everyone deserves a second chance.

When I was a few years younger, people would say hurtful things about me and I would put on a brave face and take it, however, almost every night I went to bed, crying my eyes out. In traffic on the way to and from work, I would cry. When I took a shower, I would cry. I hated crying in front of people, simply because I realised that (some, not all) people thrive on your failures, to feel happier about themselves. A lot of those people are still in my life because I don’t want to accept the fact that they are 100% mean. A few years ago, I felt alone and relationships made it worse too. I met people who I know, truly cared for me, possibly loved too, but I was scared and pushed them away. I pushed them away. I was living an unhealthy lifestyle, internally. I had abandonment and trust issues and that is something that I had to work on, alone. No one knew this, except for me and because of my issues, more stories were spread about me. In my final year of school, I supposedly had two abortions. Was told that I would be a single mom by the age of nineteen, that I was childish and wouldn’t get too far in life.
All those hurtful remarks broke me inside, bit by bit and I would cry and try to prove people wrong. But that is exactly the problem! I shouldn’t be proving anything to anyone except for myself. I know who I am now, I know why I am the way I am. I walk around Rome or the school campus alone and it is not because I think I am superior, it is just who I am. I keep to myself and I am working on myself daily. I a pretty freaking proud of myself, too. Skye told me about the Four agreements to personal freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz and already, it has already helped me to feel more confident and at peace with myself. They are four small steps but they speak volumes and I am going to embrace it.

  • Be impeccable with your word, speak with integrity. I am going to stop doubting myself and stop thinking that there is something wrong with me, but rather embrace who I am. Keep doing what I do and exude love, wherever I go. Forgive those who have hurt me and not dwell on the past.
  • Don’t take anything personally. I don’t ever want to feel like a victim again. It is draining and tiring. Their words are a projection of who they are, not of who I am. Some people have their own internal problems and do not know how to cope with it, other than hurting others and that is okay. Never allow yourself to suffer under their tongue.
  • Don’t make assumptions. Ask questions and express yourself, don’t ever think that you are not deserving because you are. Every person is. Like the famous proverb says, “To assume makes an ass of u and me.”
  • Always do your best. Under any circumstance do your very best, whether you are feeling down and unmotivated. Your best could motivate someone else to do their best and so the chain will flow. With this you will stop judging yourself, abusing yourself and regretting the things you have accomplished. Whatever happened in your life, just let it go. Don’t hold onto it.

Thank you Skye, for believing in me and pushing me to become a greater person.

(Source: Don Migue Ruiz, The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom)