Have you ever wondered about all the upside-down crosses in my art? Well here is the answer, it might surprise you ❤ #miamakilastories (Instagram series)
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.
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:
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.
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:
- stress reducing and finding balance within
- focus (eliminating distractions and negative energy)
- understanding my value as an artist
- no doubting or hesitating
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Learning about this psychological codependency issue is opening my eyes to so many new discoveries about myself. Discoveries about my worst fears and my deepest desires. It’s perhaps even connected to my choice of not having any children. And why I don’t want to get a car, a house or a pet. Feeling responsible for someone else or getting something I have to be responsible for, is a heavy weight on me. I have been writing many times about my recurring nightmare where I suddenly realize I have a cat which I’ve neglected for a long time. I start to look for it and find it, all frail and weak behind a sofa. The fur is covered with eyes and it’s staring at me – begging me to take care of it. I feel so guilty and stressed. It meows and wants me to pet it, but I’m disgusted and reluctant to touch it. But I know I have to pet it, because I’m responsible for its survival. It is my duty to love it, to take care of it. As I’m petting it, I can feel the glossy texture of the eyeballs against my palms and it gives me the chills.
The core issue for me in my psychological codependency, is a state of crisis in the loyalty. Should I be loyal to myself or to the other person? If I make them happy by doing what they want me to do, then I feel good – even though I might not want to do it and in the end makes me suffer. At least it makes me a good person. If I choose my own happiness over other people’s wants, I upset them and they treat me bad because I’ve been a selfish person. That way I’m feeling unhappy even when I do what’s best for me – whether it’s a simple “no” or leaving an abusive person or a destructive situation. That is why I have been avoiding it – and why I’ve been loyal to the other person instead of being loyal to myself. To make them happy is to create peace but suffering, to make myself happy is to create possible abandonment and abuse – and in the end more suffering. No wonder I haven’t been able to feel happy or content in any relationship. It’s such a lose-lose situation.
The most romantic thing I used to know, were the words: “We are one. 1+1=1”. I can see how twisted it is now. And where that thought stems from. It is the formula of codependency and losing myself to someone else. That’s when I stop working with my art. That’s when I stop believing in myself. Where I no longer matter to myself. The only thing that matters is the “=1”. I thought I was being passionate, but I was just a textbook example of a classic codependency behavioral pattern.
When I look at this now, I can see that the false calculation of “1+1=1” is not the most romantic thing I know – it is in fact the scariest thing I know. Perhaps that is why kidnappers who build secret chambers in their basements to keep the victim locked away for years, is my number one fear. Once, Johnny and I had a conversations about our biggest fears. I asked him: “which of these three encounters would scare you the most: 1. An angry gorilla. 2. A hungry shark. 3. A psychopath looking for a victim to kidnap and torture.?”
Johnny wouldn’t want to meet the angry gorilla. He said there was after all a chance of surviving a shark attack and even escape the psychopath, but not an enraged gorilla. I had another answer: “I choose death over the chance of having my life and destiny in the hands of a psychopath. I can’t imagine any bigger horror than being completely powerless and dependent on the psychopath’s will and wishes. The suffering is a long process of depersonalization and psychological torture, that has to be more horrific than being killed in an attack from one of those animals. At least then you are ripped to pieces and dead in a few minutes or hours.”
I am not afraid of the dark, nor am I scared of monsters and ghosts. I create horror in my art, so it takes a lot scare me with superficial horror elements. That being said, I am scared of many things – but they are all related to a psychological tension where I feel powerless and not able to feel free.
I guess that is why the only thing that’s ever scared the bejesus out of me are the bizarre stories about the Fritzl case – and the kidnapping of Natascha Kampusch. She was only 10 when she was kidnapped and held in a secret cellar by Wolfgang Přiklopil. He made sure that she was completely dependent on him for survival (he was the only one who knew where she was, he was her caretaker and she needed him to be healthy and safe in order for him to bring her food and water, so she cared for him deeply) and he changed her name, shaved her head, made her do things against her will and abused her for more than 8 years until she finally escaped (and when she did, he jumped in front of a train). She survived it. She survived my worst nightmare. I have so much respect for her.
– My friend and singer/songwriter Eva Eastwood wrote this song based on our conversations about something we had in common; being codependent and being too entangled in someone else’s toxic behavior.
All these insights are important in my process of independence. I am freeing myself from the weight of other people’s expectations and wishes – for me to be weak, strong, dependent, quiet, stupid, submissive, dominant or whichever role they’ve need me to play to fill the void in their hearts and minds. I am no longer a quick fix for their wounded souls.
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.
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:
- 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
- celebrate life
- 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.
“Nobody can make you feel or be anything for you. You create your own thoughts, feelings and moods. Nobody can crawl into your head and change your state of mind or the way you are feeling at the moment. You are responsible for what you allow to affect you and for putting a value to other people’s words – low or high, according to how much they mean to you. Who is your audience – your critics who don’t know you or the people who know and appreciate you?
My state of mind is my own responsibility – but I am not responsible for how other people might judge me or think of me. I just have to let it go. I am not on a mission to control how other people feel about me. They can love me or hate me but I choose to surround myself with people who make me feel good. I only listen to people who appreciate what I do or who I am – if they have criticism I know it’s because they want to make me grow, not to humiliate me. I don’t know how I could allow anyone to punish me for my weaknesses or for my strength – it is not who I am anymore.
I have integrity – therefore I don’t let other people’s opinions affect me.
I practice self-compassion – I am kind to myself and won’t put myself in any harm’s way.
I am aware of my thoughts and feelings – I become what I think and feel; if I think bad thoughts about myself I will feel bad and act accordingly.
I am an equal to all people – until they prove me wrong. If I feel submissive to anyone who doesn’t deserve to put me in that position, I will leave the relationship or the situation.
I am healing – therefore I have to be patient and accept that things will take time. Nobody has the right to judge my process of healing or put a label of what’s ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ when it comes to how I choose to approach this process.
I have boundaries – and it’s my responsibility for making them clear to other people but it’s not my responsibility if they choose not to accept them. If people don’t want or can’t respect my boundaries then I have to leave.
I am open to change – I understand that the same behavior will create the same results and that I can change anything I don’t like about my own behavior. It is never too late to change. But I can’t change other people and I have to accept that.”
– Mia Makila
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) .
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)
- 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
Someone recently asked me; “you already have all the keys to unlock your own success and happiness – what are you waiting for?” and I guess they were right, I do have all the keys to unlock my own success and happiness; I have the awareness, the will, the motivation, the knowledge and the focus. So what am I waiting for?
The answer is in my bad self-esteem and the way I keep doubting myself. I can’t use the keys unless I REALLY start believing in myself. The more I dig into the self-doubt and dissect it, the more ridiculous I think it is. I am talented – so why don’t I believe in my talent? I am smart – why don’t I believe in my own intellect? I am strong – why don’t I believe in that strength? I am beautiful – why can’t I appriciate that? It’s so stupid. Like it’s all there but I can’t reach it or I don’t want to – or like being able to see but thinking you are blind. Bad self-esteem doesn’t make sense unless you put it in a social context. I think people are OK with who they are and accept themselves when they are alone – but in relation to other people, they start to feel uncomfortable, inadequate, flawed and weird, especially if they’ve had bad experience with bullying, abuse, neglect or not being able to connect with other people. They start to doubt themselves. They focus on scarcity and all the things they’re lacking. They start to compare themselves to other people (a “never-win” game) and they start feeling bad about themselves. Then comes the avoidance, the isolation and the self-destructive behavior.
I know where my bad self-esteem stems from – but it’s easier to get bad self-esteem than eliminating it. It only takes one word, one action, one trauma to lose your self-esteem. But it takes a lot of hard work to get it back.
I’ve been brainwashed by some people to think I’m worthless, pathetic, incapable, stupid, weak and submissive (and by media to think I’m fat and ugly), so I guess I just have to brainwash myself back to normal. Because I’m none of those things. I have to increase the volume of the good frequency thoughts about myself and lower the volume on the bad frequency thoughts. In with the positive, out with the bad.
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.
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.
I see my top and it has a spectacular view.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Life is funny. It has happened many times that I’ve received an email from a stranger who’s following my blog, at the exact time I’ve needed to hear whatever they have to tell me. I am not religious nor do I believe in fate, but this is something that has meant a great deal to me, spiritually. Today it happened again. A kind person helped me fill in a blank space in my inner journey and now I know exactly where I have to go next. Stuck, my ass, now I am on my way again!
My blank space held the question “What is the opposite of ‘expectations’ (both good and bad)? How can I go on without feeling the weight of them?” The answer was embarrassingly simple;
So, there it is. Such a little word but with the complexities of a whole lifetime of trying to get there.
But at least now I’ve found a new direction for the path I’m walking on. Sometimes getting stuck is just one step closer to getting unstuck. Getting lost is one step closer to defining what home really is and where it is to be found.
With the concept of acceptance follows many steps of self-discovery and self-compassion. I am ready to work hard to accept the things I haven’t been able to accept before. I have to accept myself and my nature (and my body), my limitations, shortcomings, strength, my superpower, my talents, I have to accept reality, situations and people I can’t change, hearts I won’t ever be able to reach, I have to accept the love I am offered, I have to accept that I will always carry a big sadness within my soul but also to allow happiness inside, I have to accept that my past will always be a part of me but that it can’t touch me anymore, the slow processes of trauma recovery and that I can never live up to what other people want me to be for their own comfort.
To accept all those things is also to let go of worries, fears, stress, frustration and the sense of being powerless.
What this person did for me today with her email was not only to help me get unstuck, she also gave me hope that everything will be alright. As long as I am in a constant movement forward, everything will be alright – even if it means accepting being stuck for a little while and not being able to run wild but to take the smallest steps to be able to move forward.
I’m unstuck and hopeful.
What a beautiful twist to a bad day.
I’ve spent a couple of days with more visits at the clinic and making research about something that I think is the essence of most of my misfortunes; expectations. I have high expectations of myself, I expect bad things to happen when I feel vulnerable (PTSD symptom), I feel like I have to live up to other people’s expectations (that’s why it’s so hard for me to be myself around other people and why it’s so easy for me to lose myself and my inner voice), I create a dreamlike world full of expectations in my head and reality has no chance to live up to it – and I expect the worst outcome when faced with a problem (catastrophe minded).
This is a good topic for my research – and it’s a key to many locked places inside my mind. Maybe it’s even connected to my art and one of the reasons why it’s been so hard for me to work since I got a little successful 10 years ago, because I suddenly felt there were new and higher expectations of me – both from other people and from myself as well.
It’s surely one of the reasons why I stayed in all those destructive relationships – I was chasing their approval by trying to match their expectations instead of leaving when I felt like they didn’t appriciate me for who I really am. I call this chase the dance of death and now I can see how it’s deeply rooted in my behavior because I am so sensitive to the pressure of other people’s expectations. To not live up to them has made me feel worthless and not worthy of their love. And I’ve been rewarded for losing my self-respect while chasing theirs – and punished when I’ve demonstrated self-respect while going against theirs. No wonder I’ve become so messed up.
But I am not that innocent, I have high expectations of other people too, and I’m especially brutal with the expectations I have of a partner, mostly because I am so sensitive to what I’ve experienced in my past relationships. As soon as they disappoint me, I think I am close to a new betrayal. And that’s when I freak out – and things get complicated.
Trust and faith are good tools to overcome this fear of betrayal, but it’s hard to trust when you have a damaged soul. I’m doing my best. I’m trying not to expect it. To not look for it. To feel like I’m on to something. Expecting betrayal can make you slightly paranoid and leads to unnecessary suffering. I’m happy I am now aware of all this, it will be so much easier to overcome it.
I had built so many expectations before Johnny came here, what we were supposed to do, places to visit, we would be happy and enjoying every minute of the two weeks we had together. I was blowing up expectations like balloons. But reality popped the balloons when I got sick and we couldn’t do all those things or visit all those places together. I got frustrated and annoyed so I couldn’t feel happy all the time. My expectations transformed from the light and pretty balloons to the heavy weight of a ball and chain, tied to my ankle like a reminder of what a failure I was for not being able to live up to my own expectations. Johnny saw this and made me see how silly it is. I had created my own sense of failure after creating expectations where there’s no room for the unexpected or any reality. Johnny thinks the best way to stay away from expectations is to have the attitude of “engaged improv” (to be spontaneous and present). I like that. But it’s hard to change from being someone who’s all about trying to control life by building expectations (good and bad) to the relaxed and bohemian ways of engaged improvisations. But it is a motivation to let go of any form of expectations. Mine or theirs.
There are so many ways to break free, both mentally and emotionally. I’ve gone through many phases of self-liberty and independence lately. And I’m gonna continue until I feel like I can live my life without having any weight of my past holding me back.