Using my notebooks of therapy research as the base for a new personal mythology in my art.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.