Thirtysomething

I love the intro music for Thirtysomething including the famous acoustic guitar -mandolin -coke bottle melody.

I’ve ordered a few seasons of the 80’s drama series Thirtysomething that I loved watching when I was younger.  I haven’t seen it in at least 25 years – and it’s weird watching it again when I am now thirtysomething myself.

Me, being thirtysomething

Some themes in the show feel really dated, while others are still relevant and real.

My twentysomething years were horrible,  the worst years of my life. I only have a handful of good memories from those years. Being thirtysomething have been about rebuilding myself and my life and creating a career as an artist.

Me, being twentysomething

 

I still have two more years left in my thirties, then I’ll be fourtysomething. I am really looking forward to it. Like a fresh start. A new era.

I know that I’ve come so far, I’ve reached places I never thought were possible to reach. I am the best version of me that I’ve ever been. But I feel like there still are some missing pieces.  I will look for them in my years of being fourtysomething. It will be the decade of exploration and conquests. I guess it is the nature of a person being twentysomething, but since I lost those years to trauma and PTSD,  I have to reclaim them.

Me, at the age of 27 (when I rediscovered my sexuality that had been ‘killed’ by my abuser and me at the age of 34 when I was having a life crisis and knew I had to lose everything in order to start over – leaving everything behind.)

Being thirtysomething is like building a bridge between the dreams you had when you were young and the reality of life as it really turned out while most of your dreams were crushed but also reinvented.

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Goodbye coach, hello friend

photography by Mia Makila © 2017

Narcissa, today – photography by Mia Makila

I have been resting all week, trying to collect new energy since I am starting my new job next Thursday. I am saying goodbye to an old lifestyle – both to the good and the bad that comes with being a free artist (but totally and utterly broke). Earlier today I met up with my job coach, who’s become a dear friend along the journey. I felt a little sad when I realized it would be the last time I’d see her like this on every Wednesday afternoon. She shared my feelings. “I think it’s sad that I won’t see you every week”, she said, “but now I don’t have to be your coach, now I am simply your friend.” It brought tears to my eyes.

Sitting across from her at the table, at times behind my camera, I couldn’t stop studying her face. There is so much life in Narcissa’s face. Her eyes are filled with sparkles but also with sudden hints of sorrow at times. She can look serious and playful at the same time. I love that about her. There is an intelligent depth and creativity to all her thoughts – always with various degrees of mischievous and witty undertones.

photography by Mia Makila © 2017

When I first started to see Narcissa once a week, to get consultation and support in my quest of finding a ‘real’ daytime job, I was in a pretty bad place. I had gone through many difficult processes in my therapy work – and my physical health was a mess. On our first session she said: “I see how much weight that other people have put on you, you carry so much that isn’t even yours to carry. I will help you unload the weight – and if you should fall, I am here to catch you.” She was like an angel. And she did not lie. She picked me up a few times until I was strong enough to stand on my own two feet.

A few months later, I started making art again, after my long hiatus (due to the awful creativity blockage). She had given me so much strength and confidence and it shows in my work too. There is a new focus in everything I do. Narcissa has taught me the importance of taking things step by step. That way, the focus is uncluttered and steady, instead of being directed at the wrong things, things that used to drain me of all energy.

“You are an inspiration to me.” She said. “What you have achieved in a short amount of time, is very hard and almost impossible, not all people can do what you’ve done. To have you as my client has been a true honor.”

photography by Mia Makila © 2017

photography by Mia Makila © 2017

Suddenly, Narcissa is bursting out in a big laugh. I try to get my camera ready for a shot, but I’m too slow. I get a picture of her smile. I love her laugh. It’s pure and real and comes all the way from her toes. It makes me feel happy.

It is now time for us to say goodbye. She gets up from her chair, fetches her jacket and her sunglasses. This is it. This is the moment when I lose a wonderful job coach – but also when I win a new friend. I am so grateful for everything she’s done for me. I can’t wait to be there for her, like she’s been there for me. She gives me a warm hug and wishes me luck with my new job. Then I watch her go. She takes an old chapter of my life with her and disappears around the corner.

Goodbye coach, hello friend. ♥

photography by Mia Makila © 2017

© 2017 MIA MAKILA

A space dedicated to happiness

I just took the painting I am currently working on, in a new direction and it makes me feel really excited. Many good things are happening at the same time. I am breaking free in so many ways – both in my art and in life in general. I am standing up for myself and my artistic voice like I’ve never done before. I am demanding the freedom and respect I deserve  – and the space I need to grow as an artist.

I have been working on my Swedish writing project and it is a wonderful feeling to be writing something more substantial than blog posts. A little bit scary too. It is a side of my creativity I haven’t maintained in a long time. I was writing all the time when I was younger but since I started blogging (11 years ago), I haven’t been focused on any deeper writing projects – until now. Next step is to write a short story I’ve had in my head for almost 5 years. Can’t wait.

It has taken years to get to this place where I am using all the sides of my creativity and every resource. I am in love with all my artistic expressions. I love my life. I love myself. It is a beautiful time in my life. This is the beginning of the life I have dreamed of. The life I deserve.

I have worked so hard to be in this place where all the pieces of the puzzle come together to create a space which is only meant for me and my happiness. No one has the power to destroy it. No one is allowed to invade it. They can try – but for the first time they will fail to crush me.

All this is so very powerful.

The warmth of the light

I woke up early and while watching a Bergman movie in bed,  the morning sun is coloring my room in a warm light. My feet are cold but I feel the warmth​ of the light. It’s been an intense week. My life looks very different from last year. My old lifestyle is like a bad dream. Waking up from it, liberates many creative thoughts of how life could be, feel, look like. I am choosing what my life is. I am no longer a slave to the consequences of other people’s judgement, which used​ to be the base to my moods and limitations. I feel free. The only limitations I have, is the geographical distance to Johnny and lack of money. But I am working on it.

I used to have more painful problems in the past; when will X actually accidentally kill me while he’s choking me with his hands while he’s sitting on top of me. His hands are slim and cold but I am not sure they aren’t capable of being strong enough. Or, which humiliation will Y send in his first hateful text message of the day. Or; I don’t know who I am anymore because no one can see me. When I think about this, I am grateful for the nature of my current problems.

The morning light is caressing the walls and I feel completely safe. The day has just begun. My new life as well.

Learning the ABCs of trust

The weekend was magical. Johnny and I talked for six hours on Saturday. It is really possible to have a deep and meaningful relationship with someone on the other side of the world, it is just a matter of being creative and engaged in each other’s lives. As we were talking, Johnny suddenly said: “Merry Christmas Mia!” and for a moment I thought he had lost his mind. But then he sent me an email with screenshots of plane tickets to come and see me in December. “Ill be coming home for Christmas!”.

I was so surprised but happy. What a sweet and mischievous way of telling me. This time feels different. I have grown a lot since last time. I have accepted that he really loves me without feeling scared that is just a charade just because my previous relationships have been based on dubious attractions. Trust is so hard for me. Even yesterday my dentist said: “You always seem to believe that we are out to trick you and do things against your approval”. I guess he is right. I need to fix this, it is not a quality in myself that I like. It keeps me at a distance to people and a distance to life itself. Just like Johnny is now practicing the Swedish alphabet as the first step of learning Swedish so he can eventually move here, I am slowly learning the ABCs of trust. How to trust Johnny and his love, other people, life in general – and how to trust myself. All equally hard. But learning new things is always hard.

“The Wound” by Mia Makila

NEW ARTWORK!

"The Wound by Mia Makila, 2017, acrylic on canvas (50 x 61 cm)

“The Wound” by Mia Makila, 2017 (mixed media on canvas)

My new painting is finished! I put a lot of work into it and I feel great. This piece is very personal and has a lot of emotions mixed into it.

Here is what the first draft looked like:

My core expression is always found in simplicity, clarity and in the raw, captured emotions i wish to express.

Thicker skin

Writing in my new diary, the book of wrath, is truly liberating. And when was the last time I did something creative just for my own pleasure? I’ve become so used to the idea of publicly displaying all my innermost feelings and thoughts that the lines between what is private and public have become blurred and distorted. Keeping a secret journal is good practice. I can see how I have used wrath in my art as an outlet, but it’s always mixed with fear, like in my painting The Virgin from 2010. From now on, I want to separate the two emotions.

“The Virgin” by Mia Makila, 2010

I don’t like the fact that I am still so mentally fragile and sensitive to external negativity – but I have to accept that this is who I am right now and I know exactly why I’ve become so sensitive. It is not my fault. The same thing happened last summer when there was a wave of rape cases and sexual assaults, here in Sweden. It really got to me. That is when I made the two digital pieces about rape (The Little Man and Bones of Rape).

But I believe that once I’ve found the voice to my wrath and anger, it will be easier for me to deal with external dark energies. I don’t have as thick skin as other people. Just look at my paintings and you’ll see vulnerable layers of melting skin, rashes, open wounds and exposed nerves.

What I need is thicker skin and I think that’s exactly what I am working on right now with my new diary and being aware of how other people are treating me. The lack of rage and wrath has left me too vulnerable, too much of an easy prey for narcissists and abusive personalities. Once I am able to get really, really mad when I need to, instead of suppressing anger and becoming depressed and sad – I will be unstoppable in my creativity as well. I have a good confidence, but my self-esteem is still pretty shitty. I can’t wait to be able to throwing tantrums in the heat of the moment instead of keeping it all locked up inside and exploding hours later when I am all by myself and it’s too late to stand up for myself. It will be the crowning achievement when it comes to overcoming the traumas of my past.

The book of wrath

I am slowly learning how to allow myself to explore and express difficult emotions like wrath, rage, arrogance, positive aggressiveness and disgust, without feeling guilty or scared. Today I started writing in a secret diary – my book of wrath and anger, where I can start expressing the “dark energies” that’s always been repressed and forbidden for me to feel.

Down the wrong rabbit hole

My mind has been blank for almost a week. No substantial thoughts. No ideas. No energy. No flow. My creative focus is very fragile and sensitive to external negativity and it is still easy for me to be sucked down a destructive rabbit hole of fear and anxiety. I haven’t been able to work since the terror attack in Stockholm last Friday. I’ve been feeling low during the days and waking up in panic at night. This really triggered something painful deep inside me. A sense of a looming darkness. A notion that I am always close to another hateful attack, like in my trauma. I haven’t quite been myself in a week and I know it’s coming from this fear – the fear that feels so familiar and real. My PTSD is once again triggered and has taken over my everyday life. I need to shake it off.  I need to let it go.

Meditation and reconnecting to my core is all I need. I will be back when I am starting to feel like myself again.

My many lives

I am organizing files and folders on my computer and making important back ups for my digital art – and as I’m looking through old photos of myself and what used to be my life, I can’t help feeling emotional. I have lived so many lives. I’ve had so many personalities, fashion styles, boyfriends, lifestyles, attitudes, fears and dreams. Some of them were good, some really bad, but none of them feels like me. It’s a strange thing. It was me, but at the same time, it’s like those versions of me was a stranger. I can’t connect to her anymore, not on any level.

In some photos I can see confidence, in others I see signs of depression. I can trace my sexual energy going up and down throughout the years, depending on how close to my traumas I have been. Sometimes I am seductive and sensual, other times I am hiding behind a cloud of self-doubt and fear. I look submissive. I look happy. I look sad. I look lost. And only I know the reasons behind the various expressions and states of mind. It is like reading my life’s story just by looking at my eyes and studying my body language.

None of these versions of me is who I am today:

Photos from 2006-2012

Life math

There is something beautiful in leaving old processes to begin new ones. The space in between is filled with growth and courage – and works like a bridge for the new challenge. It’s poetic. I’m leaving my old life behind. The life of a starving artist, trauma recovery and building a new home for myself.

I have made a list of all the new processes I have in motion right now (all 9 of them) and orginized them in order of priority. I know what I have to do next and where I am going. You could say that I’ve finally got my shit together, three years after the break up where I had lost everything including myself. It’s been two years with Johnny even though he’s been my best friend for more than four. I stated to paint again two years ago after the 6 years of creativity blockages. Life is the sum of all the experience and dreams you’ve ever had. The mistakes you’ve made are just as important as the creative visions of a future self. They are the gravity for who you were, who you are and who you will become.

I can see all three versions of myself so very clearly. Right now I’m not so full of regrets as I was last summer. I’ve accepted my past and closed the door to the shame, regret and blame. None of that is important now. I’ve wasted too much time on the wrong things and people. I can’t afford more wasting. After all – I only have one life. Only one future where I can make up for two decades of endless tears.

Time for a new focus

I feel like I have healed more in these last 6 months than I thought was possible. I have been so focused on my inner journey and finding the way back to my creativity – but I am here now. Healed. Home. Making art.

It is time for a new focus. And I want to use all the knowledge I have collected on this journey and return all the love I have received from you all during the worst years of my life. I am full of gratitude and love.

The Swedish writing project I am currently working on is a perfect beginning of this new focus – on helping others, through what I learned while helping myself. I used to believe it was up to me to help everyone in need – it was the psychological codependency nerve being triggered by people who needed help. But this new focus is different. It is healthy and constructive. It makes me feel like I didn’t go through my personal purgatory for nothing. I don’t look for meaning in religion or external signs. I create my own meaning by never letting my wounds define who I am but simply what I have survived.

The Sunday and the muse

Spending this Sunday morning with watching the documentary about my favorite muse, Ingmar Bergman, by Marie Nyreröd. I feel such connection to Bergman’s inner world (not so much to his hot temper). To be able to move through many levels of reality at the same time. To constantly push the limits of the imagination.

The church bells are chiming and there’s a mild breeze coming from the window. It smells like spring.

I have come to a point in my life, where I am moving past the trauma recovery. I am healed to the degree that it no longer affects my everyday life. It will always be part of my history, but it has no power over me anymore. I won’t even try to describe this feeling of liberation and gratitude. I have my art and my new writing project where I can continue dissecting the psychological and emotional processes of trauma.

From now on, I will have complete focus on my creativity and career, especially here on the blog. Not only because it is important to me, but it is also the ticket to my life with Johnny. All that is needed for us to be together, is money.

 

The language

Since I started to scan my own handwriting for my digital works, I have been inspired by the idea of incorporating words, letters and written messages into my paintings as well.

My trauma is so much about language. Words. The lack of them. Repetition. The tone of them. The temperature. Linguistic warfare.

I have always been attracted to words in paintings. Basquiat used it a lot in his paintings. David Lynch as well. Perhaps that is one of the reasons why I am so into early renaissance art – there are a lot of writings in them. I also have a soft spot in my heart for Mexican ex voto paintings (prayer paintings).

Since I was a little girl, I’ve loved to write and make up stories. I got A+ on most my Swedish assignments in school. Writing has always played a big role in the way I express myself. But in my traumas there has been this underlying threat that I am not allowed to express myself through my writing. Especially not about the traumas. Using words in my art is a way for me to rebel against this threat – and a way to break free from the invisible chains I’ve been forced to carry for the last two decades. It is my statement of independence and a way of reclaiming my artistic freedom.

“There Are No Memories Of My Crying Bed” by Mia Makila, 2017 [digital]

Crossroads

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So much is happening right now. My life is changing. I am changing. But there is this one thing left. One little detail. And I am at a crossroad. There is one decision left to make before this process of change is absolute.

I’ve faced a lot of tough decisions already this year. The most important thing is that each decision is leading me forward instead och backwards or back to where I am right now. It means taking risks and a leap of faith – to be courageous and strong minded. I’ve had a dark hole in my gut for a while but it is gone now since I’ve faced some tough questions. It’s funny how the body is a great companion in times like this. It really talks to you and make sure you stay on your path. All you have to do is listen.

I now have a plan how to get all the bits and pieces of my broken life and career to come together. It has been a long journey to get to this point. A very long journey. But I’ve learned so much on the way.

How to survive a trauma. Then overcoming it.

And now – leaving it behind.

To push the button or to not push the button

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Shakespeare asked the very profound question of existence in his masterpiece Hamlet. I’m experiencing a Hamlet moment myself right now. I have come so far and I’ve worked so hard to get out of the PTSD – and my life is now completely drama free and absolutely calm. I don’t have to live in fear of being attacked by anyone. I feel safe and happy from within. I have moved passed the darkness and stepped into the light and I am my own safe place in the world. I have a man who loves me unconditionally. I am working with my art again – with confidence and a lot of my precious mojo. I have everything I need. Yet, there is something missing. Like one last detail. One last thing before I am able to reach all my dreams and goals. But I can’t figure out what it is. There is still a question mark in Hamlet’s existential formulation. It’s not answered.

Me, 2007

My job coach asked me yesterday; “Why can’t you see who you really are? I could kill just to have one of your many talents! To have your wit, your creativity, your open mind, if I could write like you, make art like you or if I was eloquent like you. You want to reach the top and you are one elevator ride away from reaching it, but it’s like you are standing on the first floor and won’t push the button to get inside it. Why don’t you want to push the button, Mia?”

Her words hit a nerve and I felt uncomfortable. “I don’t know”.

To push the button or to not push the button? That is the question. And the question is an obstacle. Why am I even questioning it? I’ve worked all my life to catch this elevator to take me to the top.

“What are you so afraid of?” she asked me.

“I don’t know.”

“Well, figure it out.”

And I will.  I want to push the button so badly.

Am I afraid of this?:

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or of this?:

Perhaps that’s the real question.

One step closer

It is a cold day and I can’t seem to get warm even if I’m buried under the blankets right now. Perhaps I’m getting sick again.

I’ve been working on two new digital pieces lately and they are very personal. The more I am letting go of the past, the more raw material I find to use in my art. What a nice reward. And the more distance I get from all the pain, the more details I’m able to add to my personal mythology. It’s hard to see such charged details while still being deeply connected to the pain. It blinds you.

My therapist thinks I’m making such good progress that we are starting to wrap up the treatment. Learning about codependency has been a great breakthrough for me in my therapy work. So much is starting to make sense now. It will take me a long time to learn how to deal with this issue but there is a lot of information to find about codependency, so I don’t really need a therapist to guide me through it.

I guess this is a little step closer to becoming more independent – and complete.

How to create a positive distance

My notes about how to create emotional and psychological distance to painful things took an unexpected turn during my meditation last night. In my meditation I asked myself how can I create distance to the painful things and my brain answered by creating a scene where I was putting all the painful things inside a closet marked “the past”. I closed the door and brushed myself off and added; “it’s not that complicated”. I smiled. Then I asked; “but some of that stuff is not in my past, it’s happening right now.” I heard an answer: “then pretend that it is. I am sure it is connected to the past and to the PTSD anyway”.

Of course, I just haven’t seen it before. It’s such a magical experience to find clarity and answers through meditation. I added this to my notes and I could finally create a strategy to get the distance I need. It’s simply about prioritizing. About being aware of your thoughts and emotions and label them into three categories – are they connected to the past, the present or the future?

Living with PTSD makes you prioritize the past because you don’t know how to cope with the trauma in it. So you relive it and recreate it through flashbacks, memories and nightmares. You don’t see a future because the gravity of the past is too strong. The present is hijacked by the thoughts about the past and you are fighting to survive each day, so it has a low priority. I made this to demonstrate this theory:

But since I’ve been recovering from PTSD I don’t feel the strong gravity of my past anymore. It’s there when I encounter a trauma trigger (could be a smell, a sound, a song, a situation, a place, a person, an object etc) but I can fight the gravity and snap out of it pretty fast now. I try to be present and the meditation is a great tool, as well as the awareness.

I try not to think about the future too much because it makes me feel frustrated and worried at times. I try to be here and now and to be grateful for the things I have in my life at the moment. I am not looking for the ‘next rush’ or obsessing about unattainable things. If I did, I’d probably go insane because I still have many obstacles to overcome before I have access to it.

So I think the key to creating distance to painful things, is knowing where they fit on the timeline (past-present-future) and then remember their proper prioritization (no/low/high). It will work as a GPS for the mind and will create a distance and a disengagement for the things with low or no priority and provide a clear focus and energy for the things which are high priorities.

Shame

I am still recovering from the histamine headaches and I haven’t had the energy to work or write for a few days. However I need to go back to painting soon because I don’t want to lose any momentum. I also have some promotional work to do and I have to answer some interview questions for a French online magazine.

In the meantime, I’ve been making research about strategies to control my moods and state of mind. I think finding a way to get distance from things that makes me upset or sad – things that are draining my energy and stealing my focus. But how will I find distance to these things? It’s easier said than done. I have to disengage, disconnect and unfocus when it comes to negative situations and people, and that doesn’t come natural to me. But I think it’s healthy and good to learn how to be unaffected by negative events and energies.

skam

While making research about these things, I have been watching the Norwegian success series SKAM (Shame) just to see what the hoopla was all about –  and it’s really good. It makes me (feel really old) think about my own high school experience and how shame was such a big part of those years. You felt shame about your body, your behavior, the way you walked, talked, about how you lived, your parents, your sexuality and about how other people looked at you – or didn’t look at you. I wouldn’t want to go back to being a teen. It was damn hard.

Me during the last year of high school

graduation photo

In high school I was a loner but accepted in my class. I was dealing with a lot of difficult things at home and I spent the last year of high school taking all my classes at home because I was very ill due to psychological stress. It was the same year I met the abusive man. I would say that my life spiraled down from there. I lost my innocence at the age of 18, or perhaps life lost its innocence to me at that time. Since then my life has been difficult and hard but I’ve found a way back to love, happiness and inner peace. I feel very grateful. Whatever I lost back then, I have replaced with something new and extraordinary. I was 18 when it all started to fall apart and now I will be 38 in a couple of months and creating a new world for myself. And in between there were 20 years of suffering but also a journey to enlightenment and awakening. Who would I’ve become without those 20 years? Who would I be now without this journey of rediscovering myself? I am not remotely interested in the answer. Somehow, I wouldn’t want to change anything because the journey was necessary for me to become who I am today. I do feel a lot of regret looking back but at the same time I know that I could only be where I am today because of what I have survived.

A confusing process

The histamine headaches are bothering me again and I’m in bed trying to relax. I guess I’ve been eating something with high levels of histamines without noticing. Well, this gives me an excuse to catch up on my reading and to study art all day.

The headaches could also be connected to the process I’m going through right now. I don’t quite understand it myself at this moment, but it’s like the happier I am, the more anger I feel about things that I used to ignore or find acceptable. This is confusing and frustrating. While taking walks I find myself in a defensive mode and going back to situations where I’ve kept the anger inside, and in my mind I’m now recreating them but being strong and verbal. In reality, I didn’t say anything. I kept quiet and tried to be smooth and flexible so that the attacks would end quickly. I never wanted to make anything worse, so I wouldn’t stand up for myself when I really needed to.

I’ve talked about my issues with the lack of anger before but it seems like I’m dealing with them without putting too much work into it. It is an automatic response to my new self-compassion and feeling safe and strong within myself. I’m safe now to let it come out, a little at the time. This is also good practice, to learn how to stand up for myself and being more clear about my boundaries. So even if the anger comes from feeling genuinely happy and even if it’s uncomfortable to deal with the emotions that comes with it, it’s a positive process.

Both my mind and body are screaming “NO!” and “STOP IT!”. Like echoes from all those times when I didn’t speak up or when I allowed other people to hurt me. But like any other process, I will walk through it with grace until I’m on the other side.

The luggage

I keep waking up from these dreams about being at a New York airport and losing my luggage on the way to the city. In the dream I feel panicked. I am not sure if the dream is just a dream or if it’s a nightmare. If the message is about leaving the past behind (my emotional baggage) or about forgetting about my resources. Am I panicking because it feels unfamiliar to live without all the fear, the pain and the suffering – or because I forget about my strengths and talents? Perhaps it’s simply a dream about me losing my luggage on my way to New York City. Of losing control. But I always wake up feeling like there’s something missing, something important.

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I am in the process of letting go of my emotional baggage. I have a little distance to it now. Where I used to feel sad, I am now feeling anger or indifference. Some things will always be painful and unfair but I have accepted the fact that I can’t do anything about it. I can’t change it. I can’t go back and undo it. I can’t affect it. I can’t make any sense of it. At least now I can live without the heavy weight of wanting to change it. I guess this is exactly what the serenity prayer is all about;

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“give me the serenity to accept the things i cannot change, courage to change the things i can and wisdom to know the difference.”

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I am also learning how to harness the inner peace I feel when I am meditating so I can use it as a resource whenever I want and need to. There are a lot of different techniques to do this and I am studying them to learn how to be in control of my own emotional states and moods. No external force can make me feel anything unless I allow them to. That’s the key. It is hard to master because it is easier to base the behavior on reactions instead of controlled resources. But to master it is like always carrying a suitcase full of serenity and strength.

Maybe my dream was a reminder of both these processes.

My day with Frida

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The meeting with my new psychologist went well. Next time I’ll see her it will be in the dentist’s chair together with a dentist and a nurse. I’m not looking forward to it, but this is how it has to be done. Now I am at home, trying to relax and it’s the perfect moment to study the diary of Frida Kahlo. I am feeling proud of myself for confronting all my fears and obstacles and that pride is weaved into my healing process. It’s a great day and I’m happy to share it with Frida. We have both experienced so much pain in our lives, but just like Frida, I have used the pain as the raw material in my work. At least then, the pain is not a pointless suffering but a story to share with the world. This notion has kept me sane in situations where I easily could have been broken to pieces by other people. A suffering told as a story and not as part of the texture of my identity.

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The invasion

It’s early morning and I am soon about to meet up with a new psychologist specialized in dentist fear so that I can continue to go to the dentist. My fear is not so much about the dentist but about being ‘physically invaded’ in my mouth and feeling gagged. It is connected to my sexual trauma and I am sure this fear will find its way into my art as well. This is the reason why I can’t wear something tight around my neck, swallow pills and the reason why I am scared of suffocation. I hate that my traumas still have such a direct impact on my every day life like that. But at least I am working myself through it.

The impotent core

"The Truth" by Mia Makila, 2008, acrylic on canvas

“The Truth” by Mia Makila, 2008

I have worked hard to boil down every issue I have that is connected to psychological codependency. There’s a lot of fear involved. Especially the fear of losing control. It’s one of the most common symptoms of people with codependency issues. Here are my biggest fears where loss of control is the theme:

Fear of illness
Fear of insects
Fear of unexpected and negative news or events
Fear of abandonment

But there’s more to it than the fear. It is the consequences of having weak boundaries and taking on other people’s responsibility:

Being an easy target for love bombing (I call it ‘slurping’ – it looks like a positive thing but is extremely consuming and draining)
Being an easy target for toxic relationships (being part of a very destructive psychological dance)
A loyalty crisis (not knowing if I should be loyal to myself or to other people)

Being en easy target for psychological castration (a submissive disposition and walking on eggshells – ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t)
Prone to psychological codependency (rooted in childhood)
Accepting the unacceptable (because of low self-esteem and poor boundaries)

The two categories of issues I have are both connected in the feeling of helplessness, powerlessness or being incapable of solving my own problems. But also to withstanding the external pressure of expectations and responsibility. They are both results of different childhood issues. The first category – the fear of losing control is based on the feeling of an emotional abandonment and feeling lost and vulnerable. The second category – where I lose myself to other people, is based on another childhood issue where I felt forced to be loyal and responsible and that didn’t feel natural and good.

I wish I knew more about Freud’s theories when it comes to these matters, I only have my own words for what I believe to be important details and elements to psychological codependency. I think for me, the best way to describe the state of helplessness I feel when these issues are triggered is a “psychological impotency”; an inability to have an affect on- or solve a destructive situation and to withstand heavy expectations and responsibility without losing my inner voice.

Burning Vulva

“Burning Vulva” by Mia Makila, 2010

When this type of vulnerability and powerlessness is triggered in me, I make a psychological regression. I go back to feeling like an infant. An impotent infant. My core is gagged. Censored. I am not free to be myself and to lead my own life in a potent way – or to feel the importance of my existence. In these situations I see that my boundaries are loose and flaccid, easy for others to bend or to ignore.

I wonder what my core would have let me say in all those situations and moments where I felt censored, impotent and unable to withstand outside pressure? Probably something like this:

– NO!
– YOU CAN’T DO THAT TO ME!
– YOU ARE HURTING ME!
– I DON’T LIKE YOU!
– I DON’T HAVE TO LIKE YOU!
– YOU ARE MEAN!
– YOU ARE DISRESPECTFUL!
– YOU ARE IGNORING MY BOUNDARIES!
– FUCK OFF!
– GO TO HELL!
– DON’T EVER COME BACK!
– I AM NOT SUBMISSIVE TO YOU!
– STOP IT!
– YOU ARE ACTING LIKE AN ASSHOLE!
– I WANT YOU TO LEAVE ME ALONE!
– I WANT TO LEAVE NOW!
– I AM LEAVING YOU!
– YOU ARE NOT WORTHY OF MY LOVE!
– YOU ARE NOT WORTHY OF MY ATTENTION!
– NEVER DO THAT AGAIN!
– DON’T PUT THE BLAME ON ME!

"The Core" by Mia Makila, 2016, acrylic on canvas, 81 x 100 cm

“The Core” by Mia Makila, 2016

As I am learning more and more about psychological codependency and how to deal with it, I am letting my core speak more freely and becoming more potent in my own existence. I am the only leader of my own life. I am the boss of my body, mind, heart and soul. My boundaries are more clear and I have new walls to protect myself from the heavy weight of other people’s expectations and responsibility. I used to feel a lot of shame and guilt but I have understood that none of that belongs to me. I was never the cause of someone else’s rage, irritation or aggression, simply because I existed. I was not to blame for making other people disappointed just because they had expectations about how I should be, act, talk, think and behave. I should not carry other people’s shame because they refuse to. I should not have to carry other people’s responsibility because they won’t.

I am only responsible for myself, my actions and for my own life. I have to learn to accept that I can’t control the world just because it has failed to keep me safe at times. I have to understand that I am not psychologically impotent or incapable of solving my own problems. Perhaps when I let go of trying to solve everyone else’s problems, I’ll be better at solving my own. I think I’ll try that for a change.