Lonely at the top

I am feeling a bit emotional. Week after week I’ve been pushing through difficulties and health problems with a strength I did’t knew I possessed. I was so close to another depression, and it wasn’t long ago, perhaps only a month or so. I’ve done hard work and it has paid off. But liberating yourself from everything you’ve ever known to be real and true – old convictions and belief systems (which works as an engine for your behavior) is not easy. This process of independence has been really painful.

Many people experience an unbearable loneliness when they’re at the bottom of their lives. When they are heartbroken, ill or just lost. For me, it’s been the opposite. Whenever I’ve broken free from bad things or people, I’ve become more and more lonely, not because I’m isolating myself  but because I have grown out of my old world and the people in it. When I’ve reached a place of success and independence, I’ve felt both punished for it by people but I’ve also felt a sense of being without any guidance (the price of going your own way) – and it is such a foreign feeling and makes me feel anxious at times. When you are so used to being told what to do, what to be, what to think, feel or say, it’s hard to suddenly stand there without anyone pulling the strings, which are connected to your mind and body and makes you act exactly the way they want.

Silencio (digital)

Silencio  by Mia Makila, 2015 (digital)

When I’ve been weak, I’ve been rewarded and comforted. I’ve had people taking care of me, supporting me through life. I got used to it. And I forgot that it is my responsibility, not theirs.

I am not a victim anymore. I am not helpless. I am not powerless. My mind doesn’t have a puppeteer.  I no longer need to be what other people want me to be to them. No, correction; I no longer allow anyone to treat me like a puppet.

mia1

2010, Stockholm

I’ve grown out of many truths, worlds, relationships and roles. As I am becoming more and more me and less what other people have demanded me to be, I feel both liberated and lonely. But I guess everything has a  price. Even inner freedom.

I know my mind works on a very different frequency than most people. I know I am softer than most people, more open – and people refer me as “genuine” and I love that, and people seem to love it too – but it all makes me lonely because I don’t fit people’s expectations of me. Of me as an artist, as a woman, a Swede, a person of my age, or whatever. I am my own work in progress. I do things my way. I am weak at times and I am strong at times. I am not perfect but I’m not broken or bitter and that’s all that matters to me. I don’t need to be perfect and I don’t want to be perfect. I just want to be me. (I suddenly understand what Johnny meant with “just be Mia”).

I know that if I allow myself to grow out of this place of trauma recovery and healing and become independent and free – I will become even more lonely. But this time I am ready for it and I’ve accepted the deal.

Once I am ready, I’ll be reaching for the top. There is no other way to look when you’re at the bottom. That’s the good thing with being down there – you have time to figure out exactly where your top is and how to get there. Let’s call it the perks of being defeated by life.

I see my top and it has a spectacular view.

The danger of non-acceptance

I had a little breakthrough in my self-therapy yesterday. Psychological breakthroughs are equally tough to face as they are liberating. It means you have pushed through a wall – and acknowledged something that you haven’t been ready to admit to yourself before and suddenly you are so clear in your mind – and things finally start to make sense.

I'm not a crazy cat lady, I'm the crazy notebook lady! (self-therapy)

I’m not a crazy cat lady, I’m the crazy notebook lady! (self-therapy books)

As I am working with my self-therapy and making research and notes in my notebooks, I often return to the same conclusions, but always with more understanding or new theories which will add something important to the old ones. I gradually build a clear understanding of my own behavior and emotions – and then I can move on and hopefully change from the core out.

mia

notes from 2013 explaining the main movement of the ‘dance of death’

One thing that I keep coming back to is my theoriy about the dance of death (the destructive relationship, see older post here). I’ve filled notebook after notebook with theories and illustrations about the cycles of abuse and psychological submission/dominance.

The basic foundation to the dance of death is one person feeling submissive to another who’s acting like a victim that the submissive person is trying to rescue but being dominated and damaged in the process – and ends up a real victim (and the abuser won’t recognize or acknowledge the process of this dance which leaves the submissive person feeling lonely and powerless or doubting the whole experience).

A simple movement of a bad cycle going round and round but each time becoming more toxic and damaging for the person who’s trying to rescue the other (and the fantasy of what it COULD be like if the other person would change their behavior). A base for co-dependency.

66a3ee93f38a3c72c19472f75e3512aa

This is the first step in getting caught in a destructive relationship – and the reason why many women stay with men who abuse them (or vice versa). But there’s more. Here is a ‘destructive ladder’ I’ve found in my work yesterday:

  1. Lack of acceptance. I could not accept that the person I loved (and the victim I wanted to rescue in them) could ever abuse me or use psychological manipulation to put me down, to force me into a submissive position, to blame me for their damaging behavior etc, because that meant that I had to leave. The thought of leaving scared me so much that I’d much rather accept being treated badly. Because the abuser doesn’t want to take any responsibility for their actions or words – and their damaging behavior, I was left with all the guilt, shame and the heavy responsibility of blame. That makes it even harder to accept that the relationship is toxic and leaving the ‘victim’ I was trying to rescue is very difficult when you feel responsible. The lack of acceptance made me stay and paradoxically accept the abuse .
  2. Expectations. Instead of accepting reality, that I was being abused, I turned to my expectations that things would get better or that the person would change, that they would come around and understand what they’ve done and apologize, that I could change them and make them see just how toxic their behavior was, that they would suddenly be full of remorse and regret and cry and promise never to repeat their abusive behavior. Of course that never happened. The lack of acceptance made me stay and accept their abuse and the expectations of a future time where everything would be alright, would make it even harder for me to quit the dance of death.
  3. Responsibility / Guilt. Because I wanted my expectations to come true, I had to carry the responsibility all alone and not make anything worse by saying the wrong thing, by being confrontational or provocative, I had to adjust my own behavior and censor myself to not make the abuser angry or more hateful. Here is where I would lose myself completely to THEIR expectation of who I should be to them and the guilt I felt for being who I really was made me even more submissive and cemented my role in the dance of death even stronger.
  4. Blocking out negative emotions. Because of I had to live up to their expectations of how I should behave, what I could or could not say or do, to make them comfortable and happy enough so that they would live up to MY expectations of them (to stop being abusive and start being empathetic and loving), and because I refused to accept the real nature of the relationship, I had to block out the negative emotions in order for the ‘lie’ of the dance to go on. This repressing process of real and powerful emotions is very damaging and leads to a disassociative state, memory loss, depression, separation of the self and makes the dance of death seem natural and normal. It will take a long time to reclaim all these emotions if a dance would ever end.

tumblr_ny2sds2ci61s2af1uo1_500

And it’s not easy to disrupt the cycle or end the endless rotation of the dance. But I did, more than once. If I’d only accepted the reality of the situation and the destructive nature of the relationship, I wouldn’t have stayed in the dance.

This is one of the most important discoveries I’ve made in my self-therapy so far.

To be special and not ‘special’

xsf

Every day I surprise myself a little with my intellect and creativity. I was brainwashed and manipulated for so many years, to believe that I am stupid and incapable. That I am ‘special’ in that other way – ‘special’ like a freak. Manipulations are tricky and even if you are a smart person and even if you are very strong, there are ways for them to break you down and to groom your mind in order for them to match your thoughts with their twisted perception of things. It’s a slow process and you might not even register that it’s happening to you. And suddenly, you stop believing in yourself, you question your taste, your intellect and the value of your experiences – or you start doubting friendships, interests, hobbies, goals, dreams and desires. You lose the connection to the things you love – and instead it’s replaced by their judgment and vision of what’s right and wrong.

Here is a list of things some people close to me have manipulated me into believing:

  • that I am not a real artist, it’s only a hobby
  • that I have bad taste in movies, literature, music and just bad taste in general
  • that I am too naive to be smart and strong
  • that my seduction is an act, that is something to laugh about
  • that I am incapable of being independent
  • that I’m too stupid to be taken seriously
  • that I’m too short and small as a person to be of significance
  • that I’m unintelligent because I use my creativity and imagination where other people might focus on logic and ‘inside-the-box’ -thinking.
  • that I can’t have sex because I demand too much of my lovers (to be connected, sensual, seductive and expressive)
  • that I don’t deserve to be happy
  • that I don’t deserve to be successful
  • that I don’t deserve to express my sexuality
  • that I don’t deserve to be popular
  • that I don’t deserve to be loved
  • that I am selfish
  • that I am egocentric
  • that I am ugly and gross when I put on some weight
  • that I have no value as a writer
  • that I am not allowed to call myself a writer
  • that I should not be heard
  • that I should not be seen
  • that I am tragic because I’ve been depressed
  • that I am difficult because I’ve been struggling with PTSD and traumas
  • that I am a problem because I suffer panic attacks
  • that I am a social misfit because I have a lot of integrity and don’t engage in social activities
  • that I’m worthless

.

DSC_0091

My art is the biggest part of who I am – it’s not a hobby nor does it make me a freak

.

The list is not a collection of my own words – these notions doesn’t reflect my own perception of myself. So I’ll let it all go. I’ll never look at myself that way ever again. I’m out of the manipulations. Their spell is broken. I am beautiful. Smart. Talented. My art is amazing, not a hobby but my legacy to the world. And I am special – in a positive way and not as a freak. Well, I don’t mind being called a freak if by freak you mean ‘I’m proud of who I am  without apologizing for it!’. If so – then I’m a very proud freak!

My declaration of independence

road

I am at the end of the road on my old journey, and before I can begin a new adventure – a new journey within myself, I have to have closure on this one. I am in the process of letting go, of old behavioral patterns from a time I was abused and they worked as defense mechanisms and survival strategies which were helpful at the time but now they are nothing but obstacles and mental scars I have to heal by changing them. It’s like I am rewiring my brain.

I am also letting go of a distorted self image that the abusers created for me through their manipulation and psychological abuse. It includes the way I let them do that to me, allowing them to destroy almost all of me. Not all the way, because I am still here, stronger than ever. Stronger – but also more vulnerable and sensitive to aggressiveness and stress. I am letting go of the aggressive and passive aggressive type of people I was so attracted to in my past – and the destructive relationships that was a result of that.

I can use the things I am letting go of, as my declaration of independence. A manifesto for my future, for who I am becoming and perhaps it can inspire you as well.

I am letting go of

  • Inviting people inside who are warm and welcoming and in the next moment they are cold and full of rejection.
  • Allowing them to be superior to me and I am forced into a position of a submission.
  • Power games / power struggles.
  • That they refuse to listen to what my voice has to say and to my needs and wishes and that the relationship is all about their wants and needs.
  • Being a slave to somebody else’s mood swings or selfish wishes.
  • To believe I have to be responsible for other people’s bad behavior and feel like it’s my fault that they can’t control themselves around me.
  • Inviting people inside who intimidate me or who I feel I can’t trust because they scare me with their unpredictable behavior.
  • Worrying about not being good enough.
  • To be ‘spellbound’ by other people or emotionally kidnapped (part of manipulation) so I lose myself and my identity.
  • To be in something that doesn’t feel right, to do things that doesn’t feel right.
  • Be part of any “dance of death” with someone – in a toxic dance where I am being attacked and forced to defend myself all the time.
  • Allowing anyone to have power over me or to demand things from me that I am not comfortable with.
  • Allowing anyone to punish me.
  • To feel like I am owned or trapped by someone.
  • To obey someone’s wishes because of their intimidation or punishments.
  • To feel too scared to be able express myself and my needs.
  • Trying to heal or help self-proclaimed ‘victims’ and grown up babies (a victim never wants to be helped even if he’s asking for help, because then he can’t be the victim anymore and that’s how he gets what he wants).
  • Allowing anyone to drag me down to the dark trauma-pit again where I am sucked down because they force me to feel that familiar position of being helpless and worthless.
  • The disease to please.
  • The idea that I only deserve to be loved if I sacrifice something inside myself.
  • Doubting myself and my value.

Once I can let go of all this (it might take some time to rewire the brain), I have a clean space in my mind to begin a new adventure.