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:

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“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.

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“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

1+1=1

Natascha Kampusch, before the kidnapping

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.

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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.

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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.”

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The story of Natascha Kampusch and her life in a tiny cellar, told in the film “3,096 Days”

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. 

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 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.

Notes from my notebook

“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?

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Stockholm, 2012

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

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