Since I started to scan my own handwriting for my digital works, I have been inspired by the idea of incorporating words, letters and written messages into my paintings as well.
My trauma is so much about language. Words. The lack of them. Repetition. The tone of them. The temperature. Linguistic warfare.
I have always been attracted to words in paintings. Basquiat used it a lot in his paintings. David Lynch as well. Perhaps that is one of the reasons why I am so into early renaissance art – there are a lot of writings in them. I also have a soft spot in my heart for Mexican ex voto paintings (prayer paintings).
Mexican ex voto
Since I was a little girl, I’ve loved to write and make up stories. I got A+ on most my Swedish assignments in school. Writing has always played a big role in the way I express myself. But in my traumas there has been this underlying threat that I am not allowed to express myself through my writing. Especially not about the traumas. Using words in my art is a way for me to rebel against this threat – and a way to break free from the invisible chains I’ve been forced to carry for the last two decades. It is my statement of independence and a way of reclaiming my artistic freedom.
“There Are No Memories Of My Crying Bed” by Mia Makila, 2017 [digital]
The meeting with my new psychologist went well. Next time I’ll see her it will be in the dentist’s chair together with a dentist and a nurse. I’m not looking forward to it, but this is how it has to be done. Now I am at home, trying to relax and it’s the perfect moment to study the diary of Frida Kahlo. I am feeling proud of myself for confronting all my fears and obstacles and that pride is weaved into my healing process. It’s a great day and I’m happy to share it with Frida. We have both experienced so much pain in our lives, but just like Frida, I have used the pain as the raw material in my work. At least then, the pain is not a pointless suffering but a story to share with the world. This notion has kept me sane in situations where I easily could have been broken to pieces by other people. A suffering told as a story and not as part of the texture of my identity.
It’s early morning and I am soon about to meet up with a new psychologist specialized in dentist fear so that I can continue to go to the dentist. My fear is not so much about the dentist but about being ‘physically invaded’ in my mouth and feeling gagged. It is connected to my sexual trauma and I am sure this fear will find its way into my art as well. This is the reason why I can’t wear something tight around my neck, swallow pills and the reason why I am scared of suffocation. I hate that my traumas still have such a direct impact on my every day life like that. But at least I am working myself through it.
I have worked hard to boil down every issue I have that is connected to psychological codependency. There’s a lot of fear involved. Especially the fear of losing control. It’s one of the most common symptoms of people with codependency issues. Here are my biggest fears where loss of control is the theme:
Fear of illness Fear of insects Fear of unexpected and negative news or events Fear of abandonment
But there’s more to it than the fear. It is the consequences of having weak boundaries and taking on other people’s responsibility:
Being an easy target for love bombing (I call it ‘slurping’ – it looks like a positive thing but is extremely consuming and draining) Being an easy target for toxic relationships (being part of a very destructive psychological dance)
A loyalty crisis (not knowing if I should be loyal to myself or to other people) Being en easy target for psychological castration (a submissive disposition and walking on eggshells – ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t) Prone to psychological codependency (rooted in childhood)
Accepting the unacceptable (because of low self-esteem and poor boundaries)
The two categories of issues I have are both connected in the feeling of helplessness, powerlessness or being incapable of solving my own problems. But also to withstanding the external pressure of expectations and responsibility. They are both results of different childhood issues. The first category – the fear of losing control is based on the feeling of an emotional abandonment and feeling lost and vulnerable. The second category – where I lose myself to other people, is based on another childhood issue where I felt forced to be loyal and responsible and that didn’t feel natural and good.
I wish I knew more about Freud’s theories when it comes to these matters, I only have my own words for what I believe to be important details and elements to psychological codependency. I think for me, the best way to describe the state of helplessness I feel when these issues are triggered is a “psychological impotency”; an inability to have an affect on- or solve a destructive situation and to withstand heavy expectations and responsibility without losing my inner voice.
“Burning Vulva” by Mia Makila, 2010
When this type of vulnerability and powerlessness is triggered in me, I make a psychological regression. I go back to feeling like an infant. An impotent infant. My core is gagged. Censored. I am not free to be myself and to lead my own life in a potent way – or to feel the importance of my existence. In these situations I see that my boundaries are loose and flaccid, easy for others to bend or to ignore.
I wonder what my core would have let me say in all those situations and moments where I felt censored, impotent and unable to withstand outside pressure? Probably something like this:
– YOU CAN’T DO THAT TO ME!
– YOU ARE HURTING ME!
– I DON’T LIKE YOU!
– I DON’T HAVE TO LIKE YOU!
– YOU ARE MEAN!
– YOU ARE DISRESPECTFUL!
– YOU ARE IGNORING MY BOUNDARIES!
– FUCK OFF!
– GO TO HELL!
– DON’T EVER COME BACK!
– I AM NOT SUBMISSIVE TO YOU!
– STOP IT!
– YOU ARE ACTING LIKE AN ASSHOLE!
– I WANT YOU TO LEAVE ME ALONE!
– I WANT TO LEAVE NOW!
– I AM LEAVING YOU!
– YOU ARE NOT WORTHY OF MY LOVE!
– YOU ARE NOT WORTHY OF MY ATTENTION! – NEVER DO THAT AGAIN!
– DON’T PUT THE BLAME ON ME!
“The Core” by Mia Makila, 2016
As I am learning more and more about psychological codependency and how to deal with it, I am letting my core speak more freely and becoming more potent in my own existence. I am the only leader of my own life. I am the boss of my body, mind, heart and soul. My boundaries are more clear and I have new walls to protect myself from the heavy weight of other people’s expectations and responsibility. I used to feel a lot of shame and guilt but I have understood that none of that belongs to me. I was never the cause of someone else’s rage, irritation or aggression, simply because I existed. I was not to blame for making other people disappointed just because they had expectations about how I should be, act, talk, think and behave. I should not carry other people’s shame because they refuse to. I should not have to carry other people’s responsibility because they won’t.
I am only responsible for myself, my actions and for my own life. I have to learn to accept that I can’t control the world just because it has failed to keep me safe at times. I have to understand that I am not psychologically impotent or incapable of solving my own problems. Perhaps when I let go of trying to solve everyone else’s problems, I’ll be better at solving my own. I think I’ll try that for a change.
While studying the patterns of psychological codependency, I start to tear down my own world as I have known it to be. The things I used to consider to be signs of security turns out to be something completely different and what I used to think of as menacing looks less dark in the light of my new knowledge. It is confusing but fascinating. Little details suddenly works like keys to unlock the bigger picture – and the bigger picture ease the tension in the details. And I observe myself as a child with eyes of pure compassion and understanding. I follow that child into adulthood and observe her while she’s making all those bad decisions, making so many painful mistakes and I feel all the feelings she’s feeling – good and bad, and I can understand why she did all the things she did and felt all the things she felt. It wasn’t her fault. She was not to blame for making those mistakes. The only thing she is responsible for is where she is going from here. This is a beautiful healing process, even if I’m standing in the middle of the ruins of my old world.
I’ve had a really good day. I woke up early, watched a movie in bed, went out for a walk in the snow, made some errands, had a chai latte on the go – all while I was hurrying to return home because I felt so inspired and wanted to continue my work in PhotoShop. And once I was home, I got a sweet comment from my friend (and role model) Julee Cruise and I was suddenly reminded of who I really am, beyond all the trauma recovery work, the struggle to find a job, to find a place in the world. In fact, I already have a place in the world. I am me – and who I am and what I do is appreciated by other people, even by amazingly talented and successful people, like Julee. I am loved and appreciated by many people, even the ones I admire and look up to! And if they can see who I am and appreciate me for who I am and for my talent – so can I.
I am not the definition of my past. I am not a walking trauma. I am not a mediocre artist. I am not worthless. I am not tragic. I am not someone’s possession. I am not silly. I am not overreacting. I am not a victim. I am not responsible for other people’s happiness. I am not here to stroke other people’s ego. I am not a doormat. I am not weak. I am not a place for other people to project their inferiority or superiority complex. I am not a dumpster for other people’s intolerance and ignorance. I am not a blank space for them to fill with stupidity and rage. I am not even your idea of who I am.
I am not anything other than myself and only I get to decide who that person is. I define my own weaknesses and strengths. I have boundaries. Integrity. Value. Worth. Talent. Resources. Gifts. I am love. I am magic. I matter. I am courageous. I have wit. I am intelligent. I am kind. Warm. Open.
I am the opposite to who other people decided they wanted me to be. The opposite of their visions, ideas and expectations of who they thought I ought to be. Even when they tried to control me – and when they did – I was none of those things.
I am a lucky person, because through my art and writing, I get to show the world who I really am – and the world loves me back! It is the best love story I can think of. I am very lucky indeed.
If I ever start doubting myself again, I’m gonna remind myself of the way other people embrace me and my work – it is evidence that I can do whatever I want with my life and that life is welcoming my courage and ambition. So I just have to go on doing what I a doing; to be a kool cat, to make art, write and to love.
I have been sick again, sleeping the days away. I guess that explains why I’ve been feeling so tired lately. There’s also been a lot to process since my last therapy session. Suddenly, so much is starting to make sense. Behaviors, patterns, triggers and psychological sore spots. The therapist recommended a book about codependency, which I’ve ordered. All I need now is to learn how to deal with it – because in the end my issue of psychological codependency is a good thing – it means I am an empathetic and caring person who’s able to put other’s needs before her own, if necessary. The psychological codependency grew from an early feeling of guilt and responsibility for things which weren’t mine to feel guilty or responsible for in the first place. I get it now. It all makes so much sense. Why I lose myself to other people’s expectations, why I think it’s my responsibility to make everybody happy, to fix things, to sacrifice everything to be able to be there for others, why I’ve been reluctant to let go of toxic relationships, and how I could’ve accepted the unacceptable.
Romus and Remus with the Wolf
I can’t change the past. I am not blaming anyone. But the issue still remains – and I have to deal with it. In a way, it’s a good thing that Johnny and I are in this long distance relationship right now. I need the space and the time to figure these things out, because the psychological codependency is so connected to intimate relationships for me. I have been so scared of loving again, of accepting love. I have been so close to isolating myself from love and intimacy all together – even if it’s all I want in this life. But I can understand why now. How I’ve felt smothered by relationships and the expectations I imagine they bring upon me. Expectations I have of myself – to be able to meet theirs. But all I’ve felt is inadequacy and scarcity. That’s when I lose myself. I start playing a role. Giving up my own pleasure to serve it to others. Delivering whatever they want from me. I let them feed off me like I am piece of meat, without any private emotions and needs. Some have taken advantage of it, some where blind to it. Ignorant.
I played my part very convincingly – even I believed I was all those things they wanted me to be. Submissive. Disconnected. Loyal to their convictions and disloyal to my own.
My therapist said: “You have let other people feed off you until you haven’t had anything more to give. Like you thought it was your responsibility to nurse them with your milk. Whenever they wanted they could just suck it out of you. But they took it all until you were left all dried out. Now it’s time to cover your bosom, put on a good bra that is complicated for them to open when they try to get inside it – and to sit with your arms crossed to let other people know that you are not there to feed all their needs.”
I came to think of the old statue – Romus and Remus with the Wolf – and I got inspired to make my own version of it, perhaps in a painting.
Even though I have a good picture of what my issue is, it will take me a long time to understand how to deal with it. It is so deeply rooted. I have to remind myself that in the end, the essence of codependency is a good thing. It means I am a good person – but with loose boundaries. And that’s totally fixable. I just need to put on a bra.
After I launched the new site, I sort of crashed. I’m exhausted. So I took yesterday off to rest and collect new energy. I am finding clarity in so many things now days – in my creativity, my health and when it comes to love and happiness. I feel awake and present. Engaged with the world around me. Even though I lost a lot of things things year, the things I gained are priceless to me. And I gained them through each loss.
I lost some dreams. I lost a tooth. A lot of hair due to stress. I lost part of my family. I lost opportunities. I lost money. I lost both a sense of control and myself for a while.
With Johnny, earlier this year
But I also lost the last PTSD symptoms, which used to rule my every day life. I lost many destructive and false self images. I lost the connection to my inner Lolita, who used to love feeling submissive. I lost the survival strategies that made it possible for me to live my life without constantly being prepared for a new catastrophe. I lost my dance partner in the destructive, psychological dance of death. I lost a lot of stupid distractions. I lost the creative blockage. I lost the heavy burden of carrying other people’s responsibility and judgement. And all those losses have liberated me from so much fear, pain and suffering. It brought me closure. It gave me a chance to be myself, without being afraid to make other people uncomfortable. It made it possible for me to finally accept Johnny’s love without wanting to push him away – and for me me feel at home in myself, in my art and in the love I share with Johnny (no wonder my new digital piece is called ‘Homecoming’). It makes me feel more at peace. Balanced. Centered. More alive.
My new favorite photo of Johnny which he sent me last week, I feel so happy looking at his smile
I’ve had a wonderful weekend even though my health has been shaky. I’m getting more and more into the flow of creativity and positive thinking. It’s more natural for me now to think in terms of “what you think – you’ll become” instead of being sucked down into my fear, sadness or negative energy pits.
The important thing is to keep busy, to be balanced in rest/play and body/mind and working on my self-esteem. And I’ve been both busy and ambitious lately with making new artworks, creating a new website for my art, writing a plan for next year’s achievements and goals – and making research about neuro linguistic programming. I feel proud of myself.
And I know that before this year is over, I’ll finish at least 3 more artworks, my new art site will be launched (as a Christmas gift for my precious audience) and I’ll have a clear vision of what I need to do to be able to reach my goals for 2017:
reduce stress /get healthy
find balance between mind/body and rest/play
continue my process of independence
stop feeding the want and start nurturing the need
be creative and have fun with it
get more money so I can invest in new projects
plan art shows for 2018-2019
I know that next year will be amazing – even if the world is all messed up right now and Trump will become the new sitting President of the United States – but there is no one of nothing that can take away the optimism and newfound self-esteem that I’ve worked so hard for this year. That makes me feel powerful and it’s a great feeling after feeling vulnerable for a long time. What a victory. What a fucking victory.
At the end of every year I go through a list of things I want for myself and want to accomplish during the following year. That way, I can plan my life according to my wants and needs (although life has a tendency to make plans for me as well) .
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 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.
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.
If I want to let go of self doubt, I first need to define what I am doubting in myself and where it comes from. And it most likely comes from a judgment – but am I judging myself or am I projecting someone else’s judgment onto myself?
I’ve noticed that I start to doubt myself when I feel vulnerable and therefore weak. But it’s strange because I don’t see vulnerability as a weakness so why do I feel weak when I am being vulnerable? It is of course one of the most common misinterpretations that showing yourself vulnerable makes you weak, it’s why men don’t cry and why men think a woman who are vulnerable makes an easy prey and take advantage of her. But if you think about it – isn’t it more weak to not be authentic and to numb emotions because of fear of being judged as weak by others? You can’t be authentic unless you are vulnerable – you can’t make authentic art if you’re not willing to get undressed and embrace vulnerability. In fact, “vulnerability is where fear and courage meet” (Brene Brown). And a man who takes advantage of a woman in a vulnerable state is more weak because he’s going after an easy prey instead of showing her respect and empathy. To me, that’s so weak. To think you are strong because you take advantage of what you consider to be something weak. It’s also gross.
I started to think about how and when I feel weak.
I feel weak when I disappoint my parents. I feel weak when I am not perfect because I fear other people’s judgment. I feel weak when I can’t live up to other people’s expectations of me. I feel weak when I am sick or in a bad place. And when I feel weak I feel worthless, stressed, not worthy of love or happiness, I feel unseen, lonely, abandoned, unsafe and hurt. So basically – when I’m not ‘perfect’ in the eyes of others (especially in my parents’ eyes). That’s when I start feeling weak and worthless. Not worthy of love. That’s when I start to doubt myself – but since it’s very hard to be perfect and live up to other people’s expectations, I pretty much doubt myself all the time. No wonder I’m having a hard time with this.
So then I started making lists.
Lists of what I THINK my parents definition of when I’m being weak – but also how I define being weak. And I got some surprising results. Not only did I pinpoint their definition of a weak person (and it was so much to live up to in order to be a ‘good daughter’ – totally exhausting!) – but I also found that my own definition of being weak, had nothing to do with my own weaknesses. It really surprised me.
Here’s my list of what a weak person is to me:
Doesn’t want to look at themselves on a deeper level
Scared of being authentic and genuine, scared of meeting their true nature
Afraid of the uncomfortable (confrontations, conflicts, difficult truths, emotional challenges, personal growth, change, bursting bubbles etc)
Unempathetic people or people not wanting or caring to connect with other people’s feelings, thoughts, behavior or situation
Opinions unsupported by knowledge
Losing oneself to other people’s expectations (yes, that I’m guilty of)
While studying these lists, I can see that I don’t share the same idea of weakness as my parents, even though I’ve tried to live up to their vision of what a strong person should be and look like. I’ve not been following my own ideals. I’ve been on the wrong path for so long – but what I relief that I found this realization so I can start following a new one. My own.
I have felt weak when I’m not living up to other people’s expectations even though I don’t share their idea of what those expectations mean to me. My state of perfection is not the same as theirs. My definition of weakness is not the same as theirs. My idea of strength is not the same as theirs. So why try to live up to a perfection that I don’t even feel connected to? I don’t even like perfection. In fact, I loathe it. Look at my art. The characters are all flawed. They are not perfect. Their skin is falling off, their features are asymmetrical, they have scars and wounds on their bodies and they sweat, bleed or pee themselves at times.
“In Heaven Everything” is Fine by Mia Makila, 2012.
I have to stop trying to be the perfect me in the eyes of my parents, my audience and any other people – because I have my own definition of perfection, strength and weakness. I know my limitations and weaknesses and I’m working on them so I can overcome them, one by one. What more could be asked of me? Are the people who are judging me doing that? Are they working hard to overcome their own weaknesses and shortcomings like I am doing? Or are they judging because it makes them feel stronger? Do they judge others because they are afraid to be judged themselves? Or do they judge other people like they are judging themselves?
I will continue to work on this theme because it’s an important discovery that will liberate myself from other people’s judgment. Their judgment has been a dark cloud on my sky for so long, it’s time to clean the sky and bring back the clear blue colors and the warm light.
My sleeping habits are back to normal and it makes my health improve faster. I’m listening to classical music and trying to relax as much as I can. Stress is a sneaky thing and since the physical symptoms are so connected to the psychological mechanisms of being under too much pressure, it’s hard to treat it with medicine – the best thing is to meditate and do the things that makes you feel good. For me that’s taking walks, listening to classical music, laughing, meditating, being creative and using my imagination, being around positive people and embracing the love I have around me.
My stress is so easily triggered when my trauma wound is exposed (PTSD is after all a stress disorder), when I encounter aggressive or highly negative energy, when I start to doubt myself and feeling like I’m not good enough – so that’s what I have to work on right now. I’m so used to being judged by people (close to me) that I’m confused about the whole thing – for me being judged is the new normal and it’s become all twisted. I need to sort it out.
The self-doubt is without a doubt (no pun intended!) my biggest obstacle in order for me to reach the next step in my self-empowering process. It’s like this big meteorite that comes crashing into everything I’m building for myself. It’s destructive. Once I stop doubting myself, I will start to believe in myself more – and then nothing or no one can stop me from reaching any of my dreams and goals – not even myself.
It’s like waking up from a nightmare, but it wasn’t a nightmare, it was my life. At times I’m experiencing emotional vertigo when I think about all the stupid mistakes I’ve done in my life. Why did I always make the wrong decision? For what reason did I waste my talent and time – and myself, like that? I’ve already been writing about this, how I regret my whole adult life and everything in it until now. It is without bitterness though, I know it’s not been totally wasted – it brought me here. To this amazing place of enlightenment and growth, to my very core. But I can’t help feeling sad when I think about it.
Möja, Stockholm archipelago, 2011 at a friend’s wedding
I know it’s a little extreme to regret a whole life, but it’s how I feel. I don’t regret making the art I’ve made though, so there’s that – except for the creepy-cute cupcake drawings from 2012 (career low-point):
Even if I’m writing about my past right now in this very moment, I’ve stopped looking back. Ever since I had closure on something really difficult, I’ve closed the door to my past. But I just can’t shake this feeling that I’ve wasted so much time. And it’s been so many years since I went to trauma therapy where my life started to change for the better – year by year. The process of trauma recovery and growth is very slow and takes a lot of strength and will. I feel proud of myself. If I look at this process, year by year, I can see all the important steps I’ve made:
1998-2008 – living in total chaos with abusive relationships, traumas, self-abandonment and playing different roles to make other people happy, being stressed, depressed and lost while my art career takes off and I have a little breakthrough and success (which won’t last long) 2009 – my creativity blockage starts, feeling mentally paralyzed, moving to Stockholm to escape my problems, it feels amazing for about 6 months 2010 – giving up my art career and losing myself completely, depressed and isolated
2011 – diagnosed with PTSD 2012 – trauma treatment at Danderyd hospital, breaking the creativity blockage by starting to work with digital art 2013 – another trauma treatment at another clinic, experiencing a big wake up call, feeling like my whole life is a lie, wanting to break free but don’t know how to because I have no income and nowhere to go 2014 – breaking up with my boyfriend, leaving Stockholm and my old life behind, moving back to my hometown to start from scratch because I’m broke and kind of homeless (living temporarily in my parent’s house) 2015 – creating a new life for myself by taking control of my situation – finding an apartment, work rehabilitation, self-empowerment work by making research and self-therapy, shaking off an old thinking style based on fear and avoidance. Painting again. Starting a long-distance relationship with Johnny from California. 2016 – Finding my inner strength, reconnecting myself to my body and core, start using my intellect and stop belittling myself to make other people feel more comfortable around me, creating boundaries and being more clear about them, getting my anxiety and stress under control with meditation, acceptance and a new sense of awareness. Making important closure so I can move on and leaving my past behind (killing the last PTSD symptoms).
What will 2017 mean to me and my journey? I can’t wait to find out. I hope 2017 will be about finding a job so I’m able to invest money in new art projects. The money issue is really the last problem I have yet to solve, the only thing left from my past to take care of. It shouldn’t be that difficult. I’ve come a long way since everything in my life was a cluster of chaos, stress and fear. This is why I am able to regret my past 20 years without any bitterness. Finding home is not easy, but home is home. And I wouldn’t want to be without this discovery for anything in the world. I am home. What could be more satisfying.
The “Getting to know you” musical scene from “The King and I” (1956)
Part of my process of personal independence is to feel safe in myself. And for that to happen I have to fully reconnect with all my parts – and to define what feeling safe is to me. I sat down and tried to understand what feeling safe within myself means to me – in this way I’m also getting to know myself better, especially my body which has been like a stranger to me during all the years I was suffering from PTSD and separated myself from my body to be able to survive.
Being safe in my mind:
Be present, relaxed, rested and at peace (through meditation and personal growth), self-compassion, trust myself, believe in myself, know I am capable of dealing with difficulties; trusting my intellect, intelligence and my wisdom, understand that my past is no longer real and it can’t touch me, not allowing other people to judge me, not allowing other people’s opinions to affect me, not taking on other people’s responsibility.
Being safe in my heart and soul:
Be Mia (always), be honest and genuine, protect my soul and don’t waste my intimacy on anyone who doesn’t deserve it, only trust the trust-worthy, speak from the core of me, express myself through my creativity and don’t hold back or censor myself, push out the negativity and toxic energy, celebrate my strength, resilience and courage and be wise about using them well, don’t depend on other people to feel good or worthy, don’t try to rescue other people or depend on other people to rescue me, only rescue myself when needed, feel proud of who I am, nurture my true nature, fill my life with purpose and meaning, let love inside, don’t be scared or try to protect the heart if the love is pure, accept myself and both my strength and my weaknesses.
Being safe in my body:
Take care of my body, live healthy, be kind to my body and treat it with love and respect, listen to my body, trust what my body has to say, let my body rest, heal, express itself and have fun when it wants to, accept my body – accept its beauty, flaws and vulnerabilities, feel proud of my body, don’t see the body as a stranger, get to know it and make friends with it, only let the right people come close to my body, don’t let anyone take advantage of my body, express my sexuality when I feel connected, don’t punish my body or let anyone else punish it, don’t self-sabotage my body, don’t feel ashamed of my body, meditate daily to keep it from being tense, celebrate my body, be grateful that I am healthy and alive, feel privileged to have a functional body.
In this way I am able to reconnect all my parts and stop being dependent on external things or other people to feel safe. If I’m going to liberate myself completely and become independent in areas where I’ve been scared to leave my comfort zone and unnecessary dependency, I have to remember all this. I have to reprogram myself so that this will overwrite the self-destructive thoughts, feelings and behavior that stems from the wound I have in my soul. It’s time to heal it, once and for all.
“Getting to know you, Getting to feel free and easy When I am with you, Getting to know what to say Haven’t you noticed Suddenly I’m bright and breezy Because of all the beautiful and new Things I’m learning about you Day by day.”
I’ve always been skeptical when it comes to self-help books – they are too close to spiritualism and it makes me feel uncomfortable. But when my job coach lend me a copy of “Heal your wounds & find your true self” by Lise Bourbeau, I got a bit blown away but how accurate she pinpointed my personal experience of my inner wounds, where they are rooted and all the negative things they’ve brought into my life. Bourbeau points out 5 inner wounds and the masks they create in us so that we can live with the wound without confronting it. It’s like having a wound on your hand and disguising it with a glove, just so you can’t see it anymore – but it’s still there and only getting worse and worse over time and you’ll end up with a bad infection.
My inner wound is abandonment (rooted in my childhood) – and my mask is dependency. It all makes so much sense now – why I’ve stayed in destructive relationships, why isolation makes me ill, why my fear of love is so overwhelming and so many other irrational thoughts, feelings and behavior. All these new insights made me feel liberated and my healing process has been steady and productive – I am moving beyond so much crap that was rooting in this wound. Even my creativity blockage triggered this wound when I abandoned myself, my art and all the ongoing projects and paintings. I’ve abandoned myself just as much as other people have abandoned me (mentally, physically, emotionally, sexually etc) – or perhaps even more.
My job coach gave me a great gift by lending me that book. I wish everyone could read it and find the answers to their misfortune and suffering. The book helped me get closure – and I started to take care of my wound without covering it up with dependency. It’s scary and wonderful at the same time – the process of independence. That’s what I’ve been doing all year. It can be a long process, but boy is it worth it!
I’ve been painting, meditating, watching films and drinking tea. It’s a good day. It’s been a good week. A good month too, so far. Johnny and I are getting closer. Hearing his voice through the earbuds while closing my eyes, almost transports him here, next to me. There is no static between us. No interference. Only love.
I’ve never let any man come this close before. It used to terrify me, this closeness, even though it’s been my highest wish to be really close to someone. But I am not afraid anymore. I decided not to be. It was that easy. But getting through all the obstacles so I could make that decision was very difficult.
When we talk, we float into each other, melt together in the silences and through the laughs and we’re cleansing our hearts together, deep inside our invisible home. I know it will take years for us to be together in real life, but it doesn’t change anything. I feel happy. I feel close. Our intimacy outsmarts the missing and the frustration.
Next year will be so different from this year, I can already sense it. This year was all about letting go and to accept what I’ve never been able to accept. Next year will be about finding the pulse of life and getting in sync with it. I want to lose weight. I’ve had so much extra weight on my shoulders for a very long time, and it shows in my body as well. I want to feel beautiful. Healthy. I want to celebrate my femininity. My raw female power and strength. I want to do, to be, to make, instead of healing through the intellect and meditation. Next year will be my first real year as a person, without the traumas or the fear. I’ve worked so hard to get there. I am so close. I am so close to finding life. To letting myself go – without inhibitions. I am so close to whatever reality is about, without the dark edges around it.
“Hysteria” by Mia Makila, 2006 – mixed media on antique photo
I’ve come to a very important place in my self-therapy work. I’ve found the root to all my traumas and emotional wounds, and it goes back to my early childhood (where every bad thing seems to be rooted for all of us). It’s all coming together now. I’ve disentangled the knots in my mind and unlocked my heart. And I’ve faced my demons and made friends with them (there is no point in trying to kill them off, it won’t work).Through meditation, my own therapy work, and a little help and support from other people – I’ve found clarity (awareness) and it has been the key to an acceptance that has led me to this new spiritual liberation.
I don’t feel the need to complain about my issues anymore. I can’t blame my misfortunes or suffering on others because I can see that I was part of them too. I allowed it to happen, I invited it into my life when I accepted the unacceptable, when I abandoned myself and when I gave permission to other people to treat me badly. I don’t hate my abusers, I don’t hate myself – hate has no place in my heart and it doesn’t serve any purpose in my life. I only need to hold on to the lessons I’ve earned from going through all this, and it will work as the guiding light on my continuing journey forward.
It should never be about what happens to us, it’s all about how we react to it – and what we learn from the experience. This insight will kill any form of victimization and unnecessary suffering. What we allow is what we’ll suffer. Acceptance is the key to the healing of a very old wound that’s been neglected for too long.
The meditation has taken me to places I never thought I would experience -and I’ve only just begun exploring it. The sadness is leaving me. Perhaps I’ll always carry a sadness inside, but I feel like so much of it is fading. Finding closure has brought me to a new phase of acceptance and the meditation brings me peace. I am healing. In fact, I am overcoming the process of overcoming a trauma. I am moving past the darkness. I am slowly coming out in the light. Which is ironic, because the days are getting shorter and it get s darker and darker every day here in Sweden. Today I walked in the first snow of the year. But it’s not cold in my heart. On the contrary, I feel so filled with love and warm light. Perhaps the days of my emotional purgatory is finally over. I have accepted, released, and found closure – it was all I had to do to start breathing again. It was so hard to do – but now it feels like everything comes easy, like I was stuck and now I am liberated from it and I’m just going with the flow of life.
I’ve had a couple of extraordinary experiences through meditation lately, but I am keeping them private. What’s important is that I am now free to focus on other things instead of dwelling, worrying, obsessing and feeling scared and anxious. It’s all over now. Everything will be OK, I have cleaned out every nook and cranny in my mind, soul and heart. I no longer carry anger, bitterness or fear in there. I know what I need to do to get to the nest phase of healing, and I have so much to look forward to. This is all kind of surreal, considering how close I was to a new depression just a few months back, it is magical if you know how many years I’ve spent crying. I don’t have anything to cry over anymore. I have problems just like anyone else, but I’m no longer weighed down by my past. I never thought this day would come.
But it did come – and it’s an extraordinary feeling. To be free that way. Free of the heavy weight of a trauma or two.
Reconnecting with my body, especially through meditation, is an extraordinary experience. I am exploring the sensations of pain, pleasure, touch, rest, relaxation, anxiety, tension and release as if my body was just handed to me and I wrapped myself in it for the first time. Where have I been? Where do I disappear to when I’ve been dissociative and lost within myself? Meditation is helping me heal and to stay connected between mind and body. But it’s a foreign feeling. I feel young. Like I am a teenager, discovering myself in a new, adult body. I guess I am overcoming the Lolita thing in many ways. I am so done with her. I’m growing up and I am enjoying the sweetness of my second youth.
“Felicia and the Fellatio” by Mia Makila, 2013 – dealing with bodily trauma in my art has helped me a lot to reconnect my mind and body
But there are some dark emotions that goes with the sweet. There’s a lot of anger and disappointment towards myself, when I think about all the danger and discomfort I’ve put myself and my body through. I forgave myself a long time ago, it’s not about blame or guilt. It’s simply a reaction to becoming a whole person again. To understand the value of my body, mind and heart. To acknowledge what I like, dislike and what makes me feel good or bad. I didn’t have the freedom to do that in my past. My body has never really belonged to me until now. When I was I child it belonged to the Doctors and my parents for the various examinations and treatments for my eczema that I had all over my skin. In my adult years it belonged to the men. I was acting like a good girlfriend and thought it was my duty to serve them whatever my body could provide, but I never asked my body what I myself wanted and needed. And I ended up in abusive or negtlective relationships which both traumatized me and my body in many ways, and I had to split them apart in order to survive. Then the destructive disconnection followed. the self-abandonment. The dissociative states and the self-destructive compartmentalization in order to avoid any cognitive dissonance.
This new self-discovery and self-compassion is so healthy, even though it also opens up these places of anger and sadness. It’s part of the healing process and I have to go through it.
I’m still having a cold but I’ve felt so good all day. I’m healing a little more every day and I’ve eliminated all the negativ energy in my life – if there’s ever any negativity now, it’ll be coming from me and then it’s my responsibility to change it. This is what it’s like to be in control of your own life – to invite only the things you want and need in life, and to shut out the rest. It is very hard to do, because you have to have an open and present consciousness and awareness – both are natural but we are not raised to use them in the correct way, so it feels foreign and weird at first. Ignorance is a bliss, just like denial. To be aware means to take responsibility for everything that happens to you, both the good and the bad (but not responsibility for other people’s abuse and judgments) and it also means a willingness to accept or/and change things that used to be under the surface, as they are emerging into the light.
But I’m still on my inner journey.
Awareness is the first step to any change. If you want to change yourself or your life, you first need to know what needs to be changed. You need to be aware of it. If you want to quit smoking, you need to be aware of what damage it does to your body (and wallet). If you want to be more happy, you need to use your awareness to understand what makes you unhappy. Awareness is an open mind – and an open core. To look at things from an authentic point of view – to dare looking at things in a raw and real way. I am not scared of this nakedness and the awareness that follows. It’s the opposite that scares me – the illusions of love, safety, security, the false sense of happiness, the perfectionisms of dreams, the pressure from expectations – and the twisted self-images. I want it real. And it only gets real through an active awareness and an open consciousness. That’s what an awakening is all about. I wish everyone could experience that in their lifetime. It is possible for all of us. If we only dare to open up to the possibility that we don’t know much about anything at all. Only then can be start a lifelong exploration to learn the truth about ourselves and our purpose in life.
Things are starting to come together, bit by bit. It is strange how the concept of ‘law of attraction’ works – and it really does work, just like karma but in a more substantial and profound way. It’s basically ‘what you think, you’ll become’ or ‘you attract what your mind is focused on’. I know this works because I’ve used the power of focused, positive thoughts many times to achieve past goals. The difficult thing is to hold on to the positive energy and not letting any poisonous and negative energy take over. The law of attraction doesn’t only work in your favor, it is just as powerful and active when it comes to absorbing, collecting and sending out dark energy. If you think in a negative way, you’ll attract more negative energy.
I don’t care for new ageand I don’t believe in new thought philosophy, I don’t belong to any spiritualistic movement, but I do believe in law of attraction because I’ve seen how it works for me. Both when it comes to receiving success and happiness, but also getting stuck in very bad and destructive places. I was responsible for attracting both the dark and the light in my past. If I felt self-destructive and negative and I got stuck in a destructive and negative place. If I wanted success and happiness, I found it by working really hard to get there and by letting go of the darkness. This has been like a cycle, attracting the good and the bad, depending how I’ve felt about myself at different times in my life – when I’ve been in control of my own destiny or when I’ve let other people control me and my life.
The difference between the concept of karma and law of attraction is that karma is based on what you deserve and what you’ve done to deserve the good or the bad, while law of attraction is all about what you allow to happen, how you deal with things and what you attract and focus on. Karma is saying what happens to you is simply a punishment or a reward from fate, like it’s all out of your hands, almost like the energy of karma is God. When it comes to law of attraction – you are your own God or Goddess, creating your own fate by attracting what you want and need to be happy and positively stimulated. If you attract bad energy, it’s not a punishment by a higher power but perhaps you are punishing yourself. Believing in the law of attraction means taking full responsibility for everything you attract. Light, dark matter, shit-storms and success.
And it all starts by changing the way you think. It all starts with a slight shift inside your mind – and a will to change whatever that has to be changed. Otherwise, you won’t attract anything new.
I am starting to feel very hopeful, like my hope is more resilient now – balanced between a new acceptance and a forceful will to get [the hell] out of this place where I’ve been stuck for some time. But even though it’s been frustrating, I’ve learned a lot about myself and how my body and mind reacts to feeling stuck, stressed and powerless. I know when and how I get into a vulnerable position where I lose my self-esteem and faith in myself – where I lose my faith when it comes to life in general. Therefore, I will be able to save myself from ever becoming this vulnerable again. It is a comforting thought. Dealing with economical, mental, physical and emotional vulnerabilities at the same has been the heaviest task I’ve ever had to take on. But at least I am doing it. I am working my way through it all. I am grateful to myself, for being strong enough to do all this without giving up or giving into the fear or the helplessness I’ve felt at times. I can’t believe I was so close to giving up, only a week ago. I didn’t know that finding closure in the most painful place was so important. Now, I regret that I didn’t do it sooner, but perhaps I wasn’t ready to do it then. Everything happens for a reason, every decision leads to a new place – and the lack of making one is one of the most dangerous traps in life. It makes you stuck. Miserable. It makes you stay when you should go. It makes you tolerate things you shouldn’t. It makes you scared of the light instead of the dark. It weakens your inner voice. It kills your hope.
I am out of all that now. I’m finally feeling hopeful. Now, it’s up to me to do something about this new hope. Otherwise it’s a waste of strength and positive energy.
This has been one of the heaviest times of my life and I have been forced to get totally naked in front of myself, other people and in front of life itself. It has been hard. In fact, at one point, I thought I wouldn’t make it. What I’ve needed is closure and this weekend I’ve found the first real breath of closure. But I almost destroyed myself in the process. I guess this is why writers always save the biggest battle until the end of the story. Closure and overcoming something difficult means facing the biggest fear – the biggest pain. To face your own mortality and purpose in life. Are you destined to be controlled by something or someone else or are you destined to be in control of your own life? Would you survive standing up for yourself in one last battle of taking back what’s yours? Would you be able to live with the consequences of making a difficult decision? You might go a whole lifetime avoiding to ask yourself these questions, avoiding the final battle, the difficult confrontation and making the painful decision, but then you would never really find true happiness within yourself. There would be a shadow hanging over you, a lump in your throat, a heavy rock on your shoulders. And it would slowly poison your heart and soul – or worse; it would numb them.
What are you willing to endure if choosing to avoid closure? What are you willing to lose? Who would you become if you choose to avoid standing up for yourself – and who would you become if you did?
These questions are terribly difficult to answer without actually doing something about them. By taking action. By doing everything in your power to find the answers. To fight the right fight. To fight your fight. To get your life back. Your self-worth. Your self-esteem. Your future. Your peace of mind. Your power. Your freedom.
The answers would always lead you to a place where you’d finally start ruling your own world.
My digital piece “Fleurs de Fringe” in progress, adding a dandelion today – why?
Here’s why (1:37):
The flower of hope. A flower that can survive the darkest of times, that can find its way through concrete and asphalt to blossom and thrive. Today, I feel like a dandelion. I am so fragile but I am still here, looking for a way through the dark and hard surface of life. I want to grow. To feel beautiful and strong. And to live and not just survive the hardest of times.