The language

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).

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]

My day with Frida

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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.

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The invasion

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.

The impotent core

"The Truth" by Mia Makila, 2008, acrylic on canvas

“The Truth” by Mia Makila, 2008

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

“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:

– NO!
– 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, acrylic on canvas, 81 x 100 cm

“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.

The beautiful ruins

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Studying psychological codependecy

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.

Reminding myself of who I really am

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.

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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.

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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.

The importance of a bra

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

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.

The reward

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

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.

What a beautiful reward.

The year of joy and peace

Recent photos from my phone:

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:

  1. reduce stress /get healthy
  2. find balance between mind/body and rest/play
  3. continue my process of independence
  4. stop feeding the want and start nurturing the need
  5. celebrate life
  6. be creative and have fun with it
  7. get more money so I can invest in new projects
  8. 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.

My wishlist for 2017

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) .

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This is my wish list for 2017:

  • Break dependency cycles (health care system, parents, job coach, therapist etc)
  • Become my own authority figure (be my own Goddess) and never be submissive to anyone
  • Find balance within myself and between body and mind
  • Structure my time and practice self-discipline to find a better tempo in my creativity
  • Meditate every day
  • Remember law of attraction – “What I focus on I shall receive”
  • Be more clear about my boundaries
  • Practice ‘superficial’ so I can be more social (not everyone wants intimacy like I do)
  • BE PATIENT!
  • Control my thoughts and steer them in the right direction (kill negativity and victim mentality)
  • Stop:
    expecting
    over-analyzing
    overthinking
    worrying
    doubting
    judging
    interpreting
  • Live in the moment and enjoy it
  • Stop feeding the WANT and start feeding the NEED
  • Stop being a slave to my own fear
  • Find some joy in things I consider boring
  • Feel grateful for the things I have and for who I am