The first and the last

I just woke up from a strange dream. I was in an old and abandoned SPA facility with a friend. It looked like a tiled circus tent with bright colors. We looked around and found a staircase to another floor, where an old lady had a dusty record store. There was a door to a garden in the store. I was carrying a naked wax doll into the garden and put it on the grass. Suddenly she came alive and her body became warm and she looked at me with her eyes wide open. She started to scream. I picked her up and held her in my arms. She made resistance. She wanted to escape but I wouldn’t let her. Her heart was beating so fast. She was strong, but I had her locked in my arms. I tried to soothe her and hush her while sitting on the grass with her facing the garden. I could feel it working. Her heartbeats were finally slowing down. “Good girl. Your name is Echo”. I said. Then I woke up. I could write a story based on this dream, it was like a seed to something creative.

Yesterday I spent the whole day in PhotoShop. My wrist is a little sore today. But I am having so much fun. At the moment I am working on two pieces about houses and they will be the last ones. I need one house where my story begins – where my trauma started, The working title is “Genesis”. And then I need one last piece where the story ends. It will be a love tribute to my home with Johnny.

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“Out of the Nothing Box” by Mia Makila, 2014 [digital]

I think I am done with the houses now. I started making them in 2014, right after I had left the man and the house in Stockholm. When I became ‘homeless’ in so many ways. I don’t feel homeless anymore. Not in any way. So it’s time to wrap up the digital suite about houses.

I feel like I am entering a new phase in my creativity. My skills are improving so fast and my ideas are bolder and more complex. I am also using more contrasts in my work. It highlights the rawness of my style.

Today is International Women’s Day and I am celebrating it by refusing to be held back by anything or anyone. Not by my critics, not by my fear and not by my own past. When I was living in that house in Stockholm, I felt censored and I held back so much of what was me. It’s very uncomfortable for me to look at my art from that time. They are ridiculously foggy and submissive to the viewer. You can hardly see anything more than a pastel colored mist.

Here is “Tess” from 2012. You can see how I’ve worked up the contrasts in the first version and the original, foggy version:

More foggy works from 2012:

You can almost follow my journey through confidence and bad self-esteem just by looking at the palette in my art. It went from fiery to foggy and now I am all about contrasts.

Work from 2006:

its_all_in_my_head

“It’s All In My Head” by Mia Makila, 2006 [mixed media on canvas]

I will rest my wrist today and spend the day doing other things. I just can’t seem to shake off that dream. Echo is hauting my mind.

My birth

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I am taking a day off, just relaxing and contemplating. The creative flow is amazing but I have to make sure it’s not adding stress to my life. I haven’t worked this hard in years. It is good to feel swept away by my creativity – and to feel a little out of control at times. To let my imagination and creativity lead me and not the other way around. This is the reason why I have never felt truly lonely in my life – because the creativity and my imagination has been my companions. The times of a deep sense of loneliness only comes when I am not creating.

Next month I will take part of a panel discussion in Stockholm about horror, but nothing is more scary than watching the Trump administration at work. I feel like I can’t add anything to the world of horror that is not already coming out of Washington at the moment.

My self-therapy work has shifted from dealing with themes of my past to solely dealing with plans and strategies for future challenges. I now have a step-by-step plan how to get out of my current situation of being broke to reaching a more successful place – and a list of necessary resources I have to use to be able to do it:

  1. self-discipline
  2. stress reducing and finding balance within
  3. focus (eliminating distractions and negative energy)
  4. understanding my value as an artist
  5. no doubting or hesitating
  6. patience

Since I have a plan, a strategy and a list of must-have resources, I simply have no excuses left, to stay in my comfort zone of isolation. I am pushing myself out into the world like I am giving birth to my own life.

My Birth by Frida Kahlo, 1932

“My Birth” by Frida Kahlo, 1932

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.

Leaving the girl behind

I have been craving silence for a few days. I needed both the time and space to get through a process of reliving childhood memories and to look at family patterns in an absolutely honest way. Honest to me. This is my truth and I don’t share it with anyone else. Looking at something that way can make you feel really lonely – but it’s necessary for acceptance and understanding. It is part of the healing process.

Me, having fun in the waves

Me, having fun in the waves (ca. 1986)

When it comes to breaking familiar and destructive patterns – in behavior or in relationships (or both), they are often rooted in the childhood and that’s where you have to start looking. I can see that both my present anxiousness and fear has been part of my mind’s texture since I was a little girl, trying to please adult people and family so I could avoid being scolded or the source of anyone’s rage.

Anger, rage and yelling still makes me highly uncomfortable and anxious. I am now able to follow this fear of anger throughout my life – and perhaps it is a reason why I have such trouble with expressing it. I do express it through my art though. That is where I feel safe enough to confront my own rage and explosive energy. But even in some artworks, I’m holding back by using smiling demons or a sense of humor.

Baby Blue

Baby Blue by Mia Makila, 2014

Going back to find the root of this fear of anger has been healthy and it’s worked like a catharsis. I have never been able to understand the nature of rage and anger in my life. I could not fathom how I could be the source of such rage. An in my adult life, I have been victimized because of it – but also attracted to it. Subconsciously I have been trying to find it in different men so I could try to control it, master it and tame it. But it just created codependency and a deeply submissive disposition –  and it made me repress my own rage even further down.

I have a lot of unexpressed rage. I only get angry when I feel safe in a relationship, if I don’t feel like I am allowed to get angry, I will push it back and it disappears – or I guess it doesn’t really. It is still there but I don’t have access to it. Only in my creativity where I am able to explore it in a safe setting where I feel in control.

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A photo project from when I was a teenager – I worked with themes of vulnerability and fear back then too

I was a happy little girl. I loved the freedom I had in my mind where I could create any world of magic and control reality – because I could not control real life. I had a good childhood and I was deeply loved. But there are wounds and flaws in my childhood, just like in any other person’s childhood. I did not feel seen in my fear of anger – and I stood completely powerless in front of it. It makes sense now why I’ve spent most of my artistic life creating little girls and vulnerable creatures. I have been seeking comfort for my childhood fears and an outlet for the vulnerability I felt as a young girl. I’ve tried to rescue other people because I felt like I wasn’t rescued in moments of fear. I have been looking in all the wrong places for healing until now.

It is quite impossible to change anything if you are not becoming aware of the wound. It is impossible to change if you are not willing to sacrifice the overcompensation, the false identity that is masking the wound, self defense mechanisms and survival strategies. Only by sacrificing the certainty of knowing who you are and daring to look for the roots of your suffering,  is it possible to change. It is very painful, it takes a lot of effort and time – but it will eventually lead you back to something that feels absolutely true and genuine. A feeling of coming home. Safe and sound.

I am leaving the little girl behind because I am providing that comfort for myself now. And my art will always be a place to explore the things that makes me anxious and scared. I am lucky to have such a playground for my repressed emotions. That way, I am never really lost in them – but only one brushstroke away from healing.

The Rage

The Rage by Mia Makila, 2012