Apr 20, 2018

26 Arbitrary Rules for a Better Life

  1. Return everything you borrow.
  2. Never be ashamed of who you are. If it must be changed, work for it. If not, fuck it.
  3. Respect everyone, no matter their opinions, personality, skin colour, sexuality, gender, job, friends, favourite type of sandwich. It doesn’t matter. When you respect others, they respect you back. If they don’t, don’t get down on their level.
  4. Be kind.
  5. Be gentle but agressive when necessary. Take a stand. Fight for what you believe in.
  6. When someone hugs you, let them be first to let go.
  7. Wear whatever the fuck you want.
  8. Don’t hate anyone. Hatred drains you and holds you back.
  9. Sing and dance freely and often. Alone. With friends. In the street. In the shower. Wherever and whenever.
  10. Create things. Write, paint, whatever floats your boat.
  11. Make time to read a good book. And not just the ones you must read; the ones you enjoy too.
  12. If a street performer makes you stop walking, maybe he deserves the reward.
  13. Keep the secrets people trust you with.
  14. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.
  15. Don’t dumb yourself down.
  16. Keep quiet if what you are going to say is neither useful or kind.
  17. Talk to the newbies.
  18. If you have a chance to do the right thing, do it.
  19. If you’ve made your point, shut up.
  20. Thank the bus driver.
  21. Know how to cook at least one good meal.
  22. Alone time is important.
  23. Don’t just wait for your turn to talk. Be a good listener.
  24. Don’t litter. The trash can is right there.
  25. You’re never too old to need your parents.
  26. How someone feels does not depend on other people. Someone can always have it worse, but that doesn’t invalidate how you feel.

Apr 15, 2018

Getting past the fear of commitment in a relationship, or in other words, stop pushing me 'cus I'll get there eventually

     So, a lot of people have commitment issues. My aunt told me once, in a conversation, that she too isn't very fond of commitment - my home-owning-in-a-relationship-for-15-years-mother-of-two-aunt. To me, this seems to prove that even people who have trouble with commitment aren't doomed to end up alone, in a messy rental room filled with the few things they could buy with the money they made in a variety of low paid jobs, because they could never actually decide on what carrier to pursue. This seems to prove that even us, commitment-phobes, can get there eventually.
     Now, when it comes to relationships, I imagine this can be quite hard to grasp if you're one of those people that jumps into commitment head first. Still, you must realize that what might seem like no big deal to you, might represent a really big fucking step to someone else. And if you don't quite get it, that's fine, but you still need to respect that.
     Let's talk about me now (how interesting, I know). When you (yeah, you know who you are, although you might never read this) told me that you needed to tell me something, I told you I knew, and that I wasn't ready, neither to hear it or to say it back. Hell, I told you from the beginning that this was an issue. I warned you from the beginning that when you wanted to say it, most likely I wouldn't be ready. You said you would wait for me, and I said that wasn't fair, and to myself I thought "what if I never get there? what if I just can't feel that way? about anyone?". I know you said I didn't have to, but I told you I wanted to be able to say it back. I said I wasn't comfortable. 
     And then you still said it. Over text, none the less. Even I know this is supposed to be said in person. And I wasn't fucking ready. I couldn't handle it, I had a fucking panic attack because I WASN'T READY. I don't even fucking know if I have any right to tell you to hold something like that to yourself. What I do know is that I wasn't ready and that it hurt both of us. Shouldn't I have a right to tell you I'm not ready to hear it? Even if I have no right whatsoever, is this fair? That I feel like the biggest bitch in the world for not saying it back? That you feel guilty for making me feel so anxious? That I can't look you in the eye? 
     I must be a robot, if I can't understand this overpowering need to tell someone you love them. I've never felt that way, but even with crushes I never said anything. Maybe I'm a master at hiding the way I feel. The point here being that I Just Don't Understand why you have to Say It to Feel It. Isn't this supposed to be something good? Why must you "come clean"? Why can't you just feel it?
     Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe I'm a fucking robot and I just can't understand because I can't feel it. Maybe I never will. But I never liked someone in my life the way I like you. I trusted you. For fuck sake, how dramatic - I trust you still, obviously. But I feel cheated that you said it even though you knew it was going to upset me, and I feel so fucking selfish for not saying it back, and for not answering for so long. The thing is, I can't decide whether or not it's okay for me to be upset about this. 
     Am I just turning something beautiful into something ugly? 
     Are we both just unable to understand the way the other feels? 
     Will we ever be on the same page?
     Will we ever be okay? 
     Will I ever get there, or am I just gonna keep hurting you?

Apr 29, 2017

A poem about trust

Gustav Klimt

i thought girls' lips would taste like cherry
but yours tasted like honey, sickening sweet

fuck off.
i may taste like poison
but you are the one who has been poisoning me
except -
you tasted sweet.

- Carolina P.

Apr 26, 2017

A Long Letter to a Lousy Father

     When I was a kid I used to adore you. You bouncy belly was the best pillow. You built the best and most amazing sand castles. But thats not enough, is it?
     I'm sorry that you couldn't understand that what makes a good father isn't how many presents he puts under the Christmas tree. To be honest, I've recently started to question if you always were a lousy father and I just never noticed or if you actually were a good dad at some point and something just went terribly wrong along the way. Whatever happened, you are not a good father. You will never understand, because you're one of those people that will just never admit to themselves that they are wrong. You just can't bring yourself to think that what went wrong in your life might be your fault. Or maybe you don't even think something went wrong. I don't really care anymore. 
     I couldn't have written this letter two years ago. I was too angry and too confused as to why someone who should be loving me and taking care of me would say such mean things. But you know what? I'm not really angry anymore. And I'm not scared like I was before that. However, I don't think I've forgiven you either. Oh no, I think that what I feel is much sadder: indifference. My friends sometimes ask me things about you, especially new friends, like why we don't talk anymore. And then they suddenly look really worried and they add "Do you mind me asking?". I've always said no, but when I look back I'm not sure how much of that was true. But nowadays it certainly doesn't make a difference. You certainly don't make a difference. 
     Before starting to write this, I had decided that I would not tell you what you've done wrong, because I've told you countless times and I'm sure you can't recall any of them. If you still don't want to see it, I don't think you ever will. However, it doesn't seem fair that I don't tell you (once more) when I stand behind this letter saying what some people might say are terrible things to say to a "father" (if you still call yourself that). Not that you can complain about anything being unfair, when you live alone in the house I grew up in when you never even helped to clean or cook. But still, I'm gonna tell you for the last time. So pay attention.
     You are a bad person. I don't give a shit about how crappy your childhood was, I was your fucking daughter, just like my mom was your wife before that, and you still treated both of us like a piece of garbage. When you talked to me, I could see you calculating everything you were gonna say, trying to  find that comment that would destroy me on the inside. And sometimes you hit right where there was a crack and everything shattered - don't think I couldn't see you smile when you saw that my eyes started to shine when I tried not to cry. I saw.
     All the things you said about my mom, all the comments you casually made, as if it was normal for you to talk badly about someone I loved - those I excused. I was scared and wanted so badly to be okay with you, so I stayed silent. But I never agreed with you either, and you saw that as you see everything in life: if I wasn't with you, I was against you. So you attacked me, you pushed me more and more against the wall with your nasty comments until I couldn't breathe, and instead of pushing you back, I shrank, to make more space for you. Oh, you took so much space and I was just a tiny little kid. For a while I thought it was normal for you to treat me like that. I thought I deserved it - after all, as you had reminded me countless times with you nasty subtle little comments, I was fat, stupid and a bitch. At one point you even told me that people just pretended to like me. If no one else liked me, why would i, right?
     Do you wanna know how I knew you didn't give a shit? You stopped bothering to have dinner with me and my sister. You didn't give a shit and you probably never knew that most nights I threw my food down the toilet or through the window because that day you said I was fat. Shit, I would go days without eating. You never knew why I spent all my time out of school sleeping, why my grades went to shit or why I would spend recess alone because I didn't want the few friends I had finally made to see me cry.  
     How do you think I felt when after practically a year in therapy insisting that everything was okay, something suddenly clicked and I realised the problem was you? You had been screaming at me for panicking about going in by myself - you probably don't even remember that, do you? That day probably didn't mean anything to you, because it was so common for you to scream at me when I panicked. Anyway, the psychologist saw and started asking me questions about you and suddenly I lost control and everything came out: tears, relief and the truth I didn't know I knew. I was trying to clean up a giant mess without knowing why it was there or why it kept coming back, but when I found out I could finally clean it. And I knew for sure you didn't give a shit about me when you tried to take me out of therapy because "I didn't need it" - I'm not stupid. I knew you were fucking pissed off because you realised I was getting better and that meant I was conquering the space you had stolen from me. 
     All of this, all of it, is a shame, because you have influenced me in more ways than I would like to admit. Not just the good stuff, like your love for music - I have some of the messed up parts of you in me too, which is something that I'm trying to workout.
     Towards the end, things got a bit bitter, I admit, and I didn't behave as I would like to have when I look back, but then again, how could it have been any other way? I excused you a thousand times and it was never enough.
     Mark my words: never have I ever thought that what happened was my fault. And sometimes this made me wonder if I wasn't just like you, incapable of admitting that I can be wrong. But that couldn't be true either, because I've apologised for being wrong a lot in my life, even when I wasn't, but I can't recall a single moment when you said to me "I'm sorry, I was wrong". The idiotic half-excuses you make up when you feel lonely or when you need to show off your "perfect family" somewhere don't fucking count, because those only last until I remind you that I have not forgotten what you've done. And then we go back to the start again, in an endless loop. Well, fuck that. 
See you around, I guess. 

Dec 19, 2016

Books that come from where I do

     Hello guys. You probably don't know this, because I don't think I've ever told you (ups): I come from this little country right at the edge of Europe: Portugal. 
     As many tourists have told me, it is a lovely land, with amazing landscapes and places to visit, but it's more than that: it's an incredible country with a fascinating history. All kinds of people have walked through the places I grew up in, bringing new products and traditions from everywhere around the world for centuries. 
     Portugal has existed independently since 1143, which means its history is much longer that some other country's. Today, it still has its problems, like every country does, but - as always - it's also the homeland of great artists, including writers. I decided to share with you today three amazing books that come from the same place I was born in. 
     Two of them are books I read when I was younger, and that I still reread and recommend to people my age because they're so good; the last one is a bit more complex, and it relates more closely to Portugal.

The Tree 
by Sophia de Mello Breyner Andersen

     The Tree is a wonderful book that I used to read all the time when I was younger, and that still impresses me when I read it today. It tells two different stories, both set in Japan. The first one (that shares its title with the book itself) is about a village that grew around a tree and what the people in the village did with the wood when the tree started to rot and die. The second one, my favourite, is called "The mirror or the living portrait". This absolutely beautiful story full of emotion tells us about a girl that looked so much like her mother, she believed the mirror her mom gave her before she died was a living portrait of her, with which she spent entire days.

The White Planet
by Miguel Sousa Tavares 

     The White Planet is also a book I read many times when I was younger (but not too much because it used to give me chills), although I haven't read it in years. Just like The Tree, it's a book for kids as much as it is for adults. It tells the story of a group of astronauts that are lost in space and being pulled faster and faster by a mysterious force; when they've lost all hope of returning home, they take pills that will allow them to sleep and have a painless death... but they don't die. Instead, they discover something else. 

by Fernando Pessoa

     This is a less childish book from a more international author (I even found an English Version here). Fernando Pessoa is considered one of the best portuguese poets and he wrote both in English and Portuguese, so you should have no problem finding some of his work. This is the one I recommend. Message was published for the first time in 1934, when Portugal faced a period of oppression, so Pessoa wrote this anthology, where every poem (or practically) is dedicated to an important figure of Portuguese History, mostly people that still symbolise our spirit nowadays. This book takes a bit of knowledge about portuguese history, as there are many references to events and people I didn't know about myself, but you don't have to worry about that, as many editions of the book come with little explanations on the side. Besides, these are still wonderful poems when read by themselves, so you can just read one at a time and enjoy them, without putting too much thought into it. I'll leave one here:

Myth – nothing, everything. Brute 
Sun throwing skies wide
Is a myth, brilliant, mute –
The dead body of God

Living and nude.

This man who here came ashore 
Was by way of not being. 
Came? Was here before.
Did us proud by not being. 

Made us, what’s more.

So legend trickles, tries 
To seep into real life. 
And runs, can fertilise. 
Down below, life – half 
Nothing – dies. 

Dec 17, 2016

Soldiers are Little Boys

German soldier scared in battle

     So, I've been to Italy recently. During a very well planned week, I got to explore Venice, Chioggia, Bologna and the little islands of Torcello, Mazzorbo and Burano. I had a wonderful time and I can't wait to go back. But no one wants to read about the positive things, right?
     When me, my sister and my mom were in Bologna, visiting the University, the tour guide mentioned that some of the buildings had been destroyed by bombs during the second world war. Now, you might think I'm stupid, because it took me a while to realise I was in a country that fought for the Axis powers. You're probably thinking "what about that?", and I'm not sure I can explain properly what shocked me so much about this, but I'll do my best. 
     First, you need to know that my country didn't participate in WW2 (well, officially at least). However, I'm still very used to thinking of the war as a fight between the good guys and the bad guys: Allies vs. Axis. I've always thought that this is a very narrow way to look at what happened; after all the winners in wars get to write history as they seem fit - but it's still hard to have a good image of the Axis powers when they can't be separated from one of the biggest tragedies in human history (I'm talking about the Holocaust obviously). So, in my mind Allies = good and Axis = bad. 
     But suddenly, it wasn't that simple. I was surrounded by people who were supposed to be bad, hearing about their losses to the "good guys". This whole experience made me realise something I think I already knew. Alliances like the Allies and the Axis are ruled by the big guys, but the men who die in the fields are all the same, no matter what side they're on. They are fathers who want to go back to their kids. They're young men who left their little brothers and sisters behind. They're husbands who only want to be held by their love once more. No matter how old they are, they're little boys who want their mamas when they realise they will die miles away from home.
     Wars happen because of a shockingly little number of people, but they're fought by everyone they drag behind.

Dec 7, 2016

My Self Care Checklist

     It's important to do things for you only and to build a stronger and healthier relationship with yourself. This is my Self Care Checklist, with all the things I do to feel better both physically and mentally. You can adapt this list to your needs and tell me if there is any other thing you do to take care of yourself. This list is meant to be something you can comeback to when you need a boost but also something you put to practice everyday. Also, this is aimed at everyone, whether you just feel like crap today or you battle with bigger problems like anxiety and depression (although this is meant to treat the symptoms, not the cause).

These are the things you should do everyday to take care of yourself in the long term.

Taking care of yourself starts with taking care of your body; being hydrated and being healthy instantly boosts up your mood and your confidence in the long term, much like exercising. I've noticed big improvements in every area of my life since I started doing this.

Whatever it is that's stressing you, stop if it's too much. If you've been studying so much you can't even look at your textbooks anymore, stop; go for a walk, watch a TV show, or if you want to just give yourself a weekend to relax. If you're just in a bad place and don't fill like facing people that day, don't - stay home, clean your house, watch a movie - just don't let avoiding your problems become a habit.

If to you that means going for a walk or running 10 kilometres, it doesn't matter. Do what suits you best. Exercise makes you feel better both physically and mentally because it releases endorphins into your brain - it is known to be a good therapy for depression and anxiety.

Write, paint, draw, write music, do whatever you want to express yourself and how you feel. Doing this daily keeps you from bottling up things and exploding (or imploding) later. Keeping a journal is a great idea, or you can do what I did and create a blog.

This isn't easy for everyone (it isn't for me) but getting enough sleep is super important to get you ready to face the entire day, to feel energised and to be in a good mood.

Sometimes you are feeling particularly shitty and you just need to distract yourself and sheer up.

If something is troubling you, get it off your mind. First you need to be calmer, then you can deal with the problem. Clean the house, watch TV, read. A good thing to do is spend time making your room a space that reflects your personality, by hanging up drawings, rearranging furniture, lighting candles, whatever you want, because you're not only keeping busy but you're creating a safe space.

It really helps if you talk about your problems to someone, but if that's not something you are ready to do, or you just don't want to, talk to your friends and family about something else. Just being with them will make you feel better, I promise.

When I feel down, I start craving hugs. Snuggle with your family, friends or a pet. Physical affection makes you feel warm inside and helps you let everything out.

Spend some time with yourself, doing things that benefit you. Take a long bath with a lot of bubbles, candles and music. Read a book or just close your eyes and relax. Moisturise after.

Something happy or soothing preferably.

Reading fiction distracts you, but reading some happy non-fiction can work too. Just read something you enjoy.

These distract you just like books do, and there's a practically endless supply.

Sometimes something really bad or frustrating happens and you need an escape; others times it's something you've been dealing with for a while and you feel like you need to let some of the rage and frustration out. These are ways to do that.

When I was in a less good place mentally, I did this a lot when I was alone. Remember that safe space I told you to create when keeping busy? You can use it now. Go somewhere where you can't disturb anyone and nobody can't disturb you and just scream as much as you want. This helps you get all the frustration out if you need to, but you shouldn't let things bottle up to this point if you can.

Hitting something does for you the same thing screaming does: it let's all the frustration out. You should hit something soft so you don't get hurt, of course. Smashing play-doh also helps. Again, you must take care of yourself over time so you don't get to the point where you need to do this.

Yes, this counts as self care. My therapist once said to me that although some people certainly have it harder than others, practically everyone could benefit from therapy sessions. If you have a problem you can't deal with on your own, there's no shame in asking for help, no matter how small it is. Psychologists are professionals who are trained to analyse how you feel from an impartial point of view, find the cause and help you solve the problem. If you would go to the doctor because you broke a bone, you should also go to the doctor if there's a problem with your mental health. I'll say it again: all the things on this list can help you treat the symptoms of something you might have going on, but they can't treat the cause.

     We all deal with how we feel in different ways, these are just a few things we can do to take care of ourselves. I hope you find them useful!

Dec 3, 2016

The purge of self-hate

   I like to think that I’ve come a long way when it comes to loving myself and my body, but sometimes something pops up and I get scared that insecurities just never really go away. 
     Sometimes I tell my friends things I hate about myself. They slip out because I feel the need to say what they’re thinking. They always deny it, and I get embarrassed because I don’t want them to feel like I’m fishing for compliments. Most times I’m not even expecting a reaction. I’m just letting it out. 
     The thing is, they shouldn’t even be denying anything - it reinforces the idea that any of the things I'm about to say are bad. I hate them because that’s what I was told to do by others who were told the same. I hate them because at one point my self-esteem was so low I decided everything about me was gross and now I can’t get it out of my head. My friends shouldn’t try to convince me that what I think isn't true, they should try to convince me that it’s okay not to look like a supermodel. Not that I don't know that, I do, but I, like many others, have been so conditioned to chase after a perfect body that when people say something like "oh, you look so thin!" I can't help but smile, even if I think that shouldn't be neither a good or a bad thing. 
     So, that's what you need to know to understand where this is coming from. This post is a purge: I’m letting everything I hate out, so I can let everything I love in. This is not gonna be very positive, so you might want to skip to the end.

The official list of reasons why I hate my body:
I’m not pretty
I’ve got chubby cheeks and they’re always red
My boobs are small and look like teabags
I have stretch marks all over and they’re not even the pretty ones
I’m more cellulite than human
 My hips are huge and my thunder tighs make me feel like an elephant walking
I’m not tall, which makes me seem rounder
Not matter how much I exercise or how little I eat, I always look disgusting.
My butt is squishy and shaky and so big it keeps knocking things over
I’m so pale I look sick but when I do tan I look dirty
My nails are ugly
My hair is always gross
My arms are so fat they never look good in t-shirts just like my legs don’t look good in shorts
My face, fingers, neck, stomach and back are fat
My shoulders are wide as fuck
You can’t really see my knees when I’m standing because of all the fat.

     It’s a bit hard to preach body positivity when inside you still think about yourself everything you say others must not. But this was my purge. I will try to keep these thoughts out of my mind, and hopefully I can look back at this in a few years and be happy about how I feel about myself then. I advise you to do the same. You can do it right down there in the comments, in a notebook, in your blog, whatever. Just do it. Purge. Let it out so you can move on to being better.

Dec 2, 2016

Writing for nobody

     This is a relatively new blog, and my audience is inexistent. This post will most likely get lost among the others. Obviously I hope to get some feedback in the future, but for now, this feels refreshing. So many people I knew personally followed my last blog that I felt censured. I couldn't express myself, because all the feelings that I wanted to write about, I was hiding from them. It feels good to have a corner on the internet where I can just say the stuff I want without worrying about who is reading it. 

26 Arbitrary Rules for a Better Life