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.