Unapologetic

Hello, from me!

I woke up this morning feeling a little more energized – and I’ve had a great day at my job, making graphic design work in PhotoShop all day. Of course, I had no desire what so ever, to open the software on my computer once I got home. But I will dedicate this evening to my Swedish writing project and to enjoying some classical music.

I am thinking about how lucky I am to have found a job with such amazing co-workers. It was so important to me while I was looking for a job – to find a place in the ‘real world’ where I feel accepted for who I am – both as a person and as an artist. I have had too many bad experiences of bad workplaces where I felt completely wrong and ended up looking like a freak because my mind works in such a different way. I know I love ‘too much’ – too easily, too intense and to happily. It might intimidate some people. I know I am creative in everything I do, in every area of life and that it can be overwhelming for people who ‘numb’ their creative nerve in order to get through life without any inner chaos. I am also aware that I am loud about who I am and I demand the space I need – and it is provocative for some people. But I am not going to apologize for these things anymore. I feel proud of it and the people I have in my life right now are celebrating those qualities with me. I feel so grateful.

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Reinvention

I am now into the groove of working full time at the furniture store. Daily meditation keeps me balanced and focused. Although I haven’t been making any art after work, I am taking a little break – I have made almost 20 works already this year so it is time to clean the palette and reload my creative energy. It’s just ridiculous that I only have one single digital piece left to finish in order to wrap up the new collection. At least I know that I am so close to starting a new process – the beginning of a whole new vision to follow. It excites me. I have always loved endings – to finish something that has come to an end. I’d much rather throw things away than I’d buy new things. It is strange, since I am sensitive to abandonment and losing things I hold dear. There is just such a freeing power in the relief of getting rid of something old and dead. Old beliefs. Dead relationships. Distorted self-images. Decor and masks that hide my true nature. It is liberating to leave all those negative things behind. The difficult thing is to go through the pain of realizing what is missing, of accepting what has to go and what I need to say goodbye to. I don’t know why I am so scared of losing the things I love, because the truth is that every time I have lost something dear to me – my life has improved and I have felt more free and closer to my own core. It is such a mysterious paradox. Perhaps because I do embrace endings, is why I am not obsessed with the concept of Death. I am not afraid of Death – although I am very scared of the thought of suffering while dying. Not only physically but also emotionally and spiritually. I have died so many times already in my life. I have been resurrected many times too. Reborn. Deconstructed. Reinvented.

I see my life as an experiment. I don’t take myself too seriously and I am deeply grateful for the things I have and for the people who are generous enough to share their hearts and lives with me as well. It is important to be humble and understand the correct value of things (and to let go of the unimportant) – only then is personal growth possible.

The reinvention of the self is painful but the most rewarding experience in life. To get rid of the heavy weight of fear, rage, resentment or the emptiness of numbing and self-abandonment, is like suddenly understanding how to breathe with the soul. And when you breathe – you live. You love. You create.

When you live, love and create, both on your inner journey and also in your work, there are no limitations for what you can achieve. And you are free to reinvent yourself over and over again until the experiment has come to an end. We are all free like that. But it comes with the responsibility of actually asking the right questions. Who have I become? Who do I want to become next?

“The job of the artist is always to deepen the mystery” ― Francis Bacon

Photo of me by photographer Jonas Tetzlaff, 2010

There is so much I want to do now once I will have money again (starting at the end of the month). I have been broke for almost a decade, which means I haven’t had the chance to invest money in bigger projects or had the chance to travel or do anything other than to survive. It is crazy how I’ve been trying to avoid the subject of money. It has always been a source of distress and pressure ever since my abusive marriage, where I was forced into a financial submission. It has also been mirroring my bad self-esteem and sense of low self-worth. The lack of money has been the last tie to my past, the last cage to escape. I am free now. Finally. I know I am worthy of success and happiness. I am submissive to none.

My plan is to buy some new furniture and plan for my life with Johnny in this apartment. I want him to feel at home, and I will create the perfect home for both of us. Johnny is a writer, so I want his to have a little library, and I will have a studio corner instead of a whole room until we’ll find a bigger place.I will arrange for a local thrift store to come pick up some old furniture, I want to get rid of the fragments of my old life that I still surround myself with. My rent is really cheap so I don’t want to move right now, it will give me the chance to invest money in my creative projects. Making art shows, buying props and things for my photography ideas and to save up for bigger investments. I have so many ideas I want to embody and transform into artistic expression. I have so many dreams to catch.

This is not only the beginning of a new life – it is also a time where I am changing as an artist. I want to be more focused. Tell better stories. Dig deeper into the metaphysical mysteries. Be bolder. More honest. Learning how to be more raw yet more subtle. “The job of the artist is always to deepen the mystery”, Francis Bacon once said. That is exactly what I wish to do.

I have so much inspiration. I have watched this week’s episode of Twin Peaks twice already. I am still too drained after work to be able to work at night, but I will eventually find a balance between work and rest. It is all about finding balance. In everything. That is how you are able to maintain a lasting happiness.

I feel grateful for everything I have in my life. The good thing about overcoming hard times is that you’ll never take anything for granted again. Not happiness, success, money, love or peace of mind. It is truly beautiful and rare to be able to share a short moment in history on this Earth. To experience the deep mystery that is life.

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.

Hide and seek

Spring is playing hide and seek. It is sunny. It is snowing. Melting. Sunshine. More snow. I am always sensitive to seasons changing and I have a hard time adjusting to the various climates right now. I have weird dreams at night and I remember the smallest little details. It’s not pleasant, but I will use them in my art for sure.

“The Queen” by Mia Makila, 2007

Everything I do right now, is connected to my creativity. I live and breathe art. I study art, I am making sketches, research, scouting locations for more photo projects, painting, writing, networking with other artists. I feel like I have overcome such a barrier lately. Sure, this feels like my natural state – but it wasn’t that long ago that I wasn’t making art or even planning projects and visions. I have already fulfilled my new years’s resolution to “find the pulse of life”. I feel it. I am the pulse.

My self confidence is growing. The self-esteem as well, but it takes longer for it to grow. What other people stole from me, I have reclaimed. I am still struggling with my sexuality and how to trust, relax and free myself from bad associations. But I am working hard to heal myself in every way possible. I have always used my ambition as a self-empowerment tool – it keeps me afloat even in times when I am deep into self doubt and despair.

Just like spring – my self esteem is playing hide and seek at times.

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.

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

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 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.

out_of_the_nothing_box

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

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

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

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

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

More foggy works from 2012:

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

Work from 2006:

its_all_in_my_head

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

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

The metaphor

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It wasn’t until I got to Stockholm that I realized how much my anxiety and fear still rule my life. I find it hard to do anything outside the comfort zone of my apartment and familiar routines, without a sense of being out of my depth or losing control. I haven’t always been like this. I really lost something very important in the house I lived in for almost half a decade in Stockholm. Perhaps that is why I keep going there in my dreams at night – looking for something. Maybe I found what I have been looking for, in this very realization itself. My tummy is constantly sore and bloated, I have to keep an impossible diet to keep it balanced. And my tummy is where my fear and anxiety live. A few years ago, I was dating a psychologist who said; “your body is a metaphor for your state of mind” – is my irritable bowel just a metaphor for my anxiety?

When did I become this anxious, so self intolerant and stressed? I guess it is the consequences of years of losing myself to other people’s expectations and never feeling like I am good enough – not to others or to myself. I am sad about this development and that I’ve become emotionally crippled somehow. I think much of this anxiety and fear comes from the fact that I am still broke. I feel utterly vulnerable in situations where most people don’t. I have grown out of this “state of emergency” that I found myself in after I left the man and his house in Stockholm, almost three years ago. A time where I didn’t know who I was anymore. A time where I didn’t have any place to go. I didn’t have any job or any money. I didn’t have any self esteem. I wasn’t making art. I was completely without a home, in every sense of the word. This is what I am trying to express in my new collection of works.

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2014, the week after the break up, homeless in many ways

I still have a lot of work to do when it comes to reducing emotional stress and fear. I just need to keep pushing through it with confidence and courage. With will and determination. I don’t want my bowel to be the home to so much anxiety that it will control my life. I don’t want to feel vulnerable. I don’t want to be broke anymore. I don’t want to feel anxious because I have to be me outside my studio. I want to be me all the time – and be relaxed in it. I want to live – fully and completely. I want to celebrate life instead of feeling intimidated by it. I want to be friends with the world outside myself without losing myself to its pressure.

But I also have to accept that I have limitations, whether I like it or not.

My birth

unnamed-12

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

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.

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 impotent core

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

“The Truth” by Mia Makila, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Burning Vulva

“Burning Vulva” by Mia Makila, 2010

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

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

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

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

“The Core” by Mia Makila, 2016

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

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

Leaving the girl behind

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

Me, having fun in the waves

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

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

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

Baby Blue

Baby Blue by Mia Makila, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Rage

The Rage by Mia Makila, 2012

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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

The nature of bad self-esteem

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.

Lonely at the top

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.

Silencio (digital)

Silencio  by Mia Makila, 2015 (digital)

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.

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2010, Stockholm

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.