Tag Archives: self-confidence

Out of the shadows and into the light…

What makes you squirm uncomfortably? Often somewhere in our squirming moments we tend to find ourselves.

Personally I have this issue with helplessness and receiving care; usually because I confuse the two.

If people care for me I think they believe I need their care because I have some flaw, something I can’t handle myself, and they pity me and want to help. It’s a most humiliating feeling.

As a kid I thought the only reason most people cared for me was because I’d lost my mom. I was bullied and my step-mom wasn’t particularly nice to me so when people were nice I assumed it was pity, because so many people weren’t nice to me, meaning I must have some fault. Otherwise, why was I constantly rejected?

I even had this idea my mom hadn’t loved me – she refused hugging me the last time I saw her, then she died without leaving behind any letters left saying she loved me. It was not a good 24 hours of my life. And afterwards there was a huge hole inside of me and I didn’t know how to fill it. Being cared for by someone hurt when you could lose them, so my six year old self thought.

What’s more, my dad always encouraged me to better myself, so on another plane, I had this idea love was related to achievement. The only times I felt love was real was when people said “I love you, but…” Because then I could keep the idea of being flawed. If they seemed to just randomly love me, without pitying me (i.e. they actually seemed to care), I thought them stupid, or blind…take your pick.

Together with some early on rejections on the love front (try having your emotions and rejection trumpeted to a whole school when you’re fifteen – I blushed for a week straight), I’m not very good with emotions. I simply don’t want to confess to having them (not even to myself), because I think they cause trouble.

This has manifested in different ways in my life. First I became shy as I figured it was better being rejected for who I was not, than showing my real me. Then I wanted to change that and ended up always trying to prove my own strength. My can-do attitude. My willingness to perfect myself. My fiercely independent spirit. I feel safe when I’m independent. I feel in charge.

As my principal in drama school would have said, I’ve gone from using one cover (shy) to using another (independent). Being the seeker I am (and being as miserable as I was) I’ve always worked on myself though. I wanted to find happiness and happiness has a lot to do with self-love, loving people and letting them love you back. So I’ve worked on it. And recently what made me realize there’s a way to go is the “being cared for” thing.

When people try to care for me beyond my comfort level three things might happen: I feel suffocated (I can’t accept the care), I feel embarrassed (clearly they think I need help), or I think they’re being ridiculous (i.e. still thinking people blind to the real me). In some cases, I might also question if they’re doing it just to later embarrass me by telling me it wasn’t real (it really was very traumatic being fifteen, OK). If I actually want to receive the care I feel completely helpless because I don’t know how to. This leads to me wanting to be alone so I can feel powerful again and I can turn mean in the process of pushing people away.

Due to this I have had a tendency to fall for aloof men – men I connect with intellectually and/or physically. I don’t have to open up emotionally, because they’re like clams (or well, you know, a little bit clammy at least). They’re never completely into me, which means I don’t truly have to ever lose them. They won’t look after me, so I won’t feel stupid.

When I dated caring men in the past, it was always men I didn’t really have a connection with, so they never got close and I remained safe and aloof.

In a nutshell: the guys I liked didn’t care and the guys who liked me I didn’t care about.

Now, I could blame this on fate, or I could look at the common denominator in all this: me. I choose to look at me.

This year I’ve decided to turn everything in my life on its head, including my emotional life. I will do the things I fear the most. Like opening up socially in the place I call home, instead of waiting to go to places where I feel anonymous and safe. I will professionally go where I’m the most scared to go, because I care the most. I will also only date caring men I care about AND have a connection with. It will probably make me wanna puke, run for my life and feel like a claustrophobic person stuck in an elevator, but I’m determined that the only relationships I will have are soulful ones. In fact, I want everything in my life to be soulful – my work, my home, my kids, my friends…

For so long I’ve wanted to be the person who didn’t care, who didn’t feel, who just went on adventures and ran off with the circus. Well, whilst I do like the adventures and I’d happily join a circus for a while, I’d like to explore caring. Right here, right now. I’d also like to explore being with someone. Someone who would go on adventures with me; near and far. Someone I could create a home with, but also have freedom with. I like being independent, but I don’t like being a fool. And I’ve been a fool for long enough.

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The withered face of love and addiction…

I had a spectacular experience today. I saw the face of love. It’s the most beautiful face I’ve ever seen.

The year before last two friends of mine relapsed into drugs. One sent me a message, asked for help and went to rehab. One spoke to me at length about being sober and having no problems, didn’t ask for help and didn’t go to rehab. It didn’t matter how we pleaded. Eventually I stopped seeing this person, not because I wanted to, but because I knew I couldn’t see them alone anymore because they couldn’t be trusted alone and because I had so much going on and couldn’t keep putting myself in a position where I had nightmares about other people’s lives. And that’s what I used to do. I’d wake up in a sweat dreaming about overdoses.

There was also a part of me that felt I failed. I failed to get them help. I failed to make them realize they needed help. I failed to get hold of the resources we needed to get them help. I felt I wasn’t good enough. In fact, that year I felt I didn’t bring enough to anyone, because everyone was struggling. I was overwhelmed with disasters in every direction and it was more than I could handle.

I often thought myself unwanted growing up and I tried to compensate by bringing something I knew was wanted. I brought my skills and my talents. So when I can’t bring that I sometimes don’t show up at all. That year when everything fell apart I felt so inadequate, so “not good enough” that all these old wounds started bleeding, without me even realizing it. I just retracted into myself, as I often do.

Today I bumped into my friend when visiting another friend, Tony who has cancer, and we laughed about old times. I also told them I want to see them. I want to speak to them.

As I asked them to have coffee with me old memories of having coffee with them flashed through my mind – one time them telling me their life story which is the most heartbreaking story I ever heard, I almost puked; another time me trying to convince them to see the light and move away from abuse. Mingled with the memories another image popped up; an image of me once again trying to make them see something. To convince them to find happiness.

With that image came fear and despair – fear I’d fail; fear I’d turn into some preacher; fear for them and the path they’re on. And that’s when something hit me; this thought telling me I love them smashed the other images to pieces and my fear melted away. I was reminded that the only thing I owe anyone in any kind of relationship is to love them, not save them. I can’t. It’s not up to me. I can tell stories about other people; about myself and my journey. I can do all of that, but it’s not my job to change them. All I owe the people in my life that I love, is love. And I can give that, even if I can’t give anything else.

Naturally, there are other elements to a relationship and if someone is hurting themselves you are likely to step in and get them help, but you can only do so much. By the end of the day you have to accept them for who they are and where they are at on their journey. You may not even be able to be too close to them if they are acting destructively, but you can love them.

As this came to me there was also a huge sense of acceptance – to love someone regardless of how they choose to live their life. For me that is pretty big as I was once a control freak who believed success and therefore love was granted if you perform well. As mentioned: skills and talents. In fact, one of my biggest fears growing up was drugs. I thought becoming an addict was as low as you could go; totally losing control of yourself. And if you don’t like yourself very much and fail, then you fail again to prove just how shitty you are for having failed in the first place and that means if you were to take drugs, chances are you wouldn’t stop. As I didn’t like myself very much growing up I stayed away from drugs like the plague.

I can’t cure Tony of his cancer either and for a period it really pained me that I didn’t have the funds to do something to change his life, his food (or lack thereof), his worries. It made me sick of myself as I felt someone that ill should be a bigger priority than some of my other projects.

You can help Tony here through Indiegogo/Generosity

I think sometimes my own fear that I can’t do enough and be enough means I avoid something. That feeling of helplessness and an ability to suffer on the behalf of others make me avoid it altogether. I haven’t been to see Tony for a while – I saw him today, because I realized he wants to see me. Even if I can’t bring miracles. Even if I can’t bring skills. Even if I don’t always know what to say.

Sometimes I avoid calling my grandma, because I can’t cure her loneliness and I feel guilty because I don’t live in Sweden. After mom died my grandparents on both sides helped raise us. And I feel I owe it to her to bring her the happiness she brought me. The safety, the stability that I now try to bring to kids here. But whilst I can give her my love, I can’t give her my life.

Today I simply saw love. I saw how you love people even when they don’t love themselves. I saw how you love the imperfect. I saw what it means to people that you love them. I saw how I’ve sometimes avoided giving love as I felt that love alone wasn’t enough. That I had to do and be something more. I saw how I often haven’t loved myself. I saw love for myself.

I saw love in a torn person’s face and that made me see love everywhere.

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The turned on life…

Last night I went to this event. On a rooftop. Music playing. Tropical winds blowing. Stars twinkling. The silhouette of mountains as our backdrop. It was beautiful. I was happy. I was happy because I felt free. Like there were no thoughts hampering me, or holding me back. I wasn’t shy, nor trying on any attitudes to hide my fear, I was just there taking in life. I was alive. Truly alive.

And as I stood there chatting to a group of people this man goes: “You know you are a very pretty woman. A very, very pretty woman. You really are pretty you know.” A few minutes later he repeated this and when he said goodbye he said so again.

When you meet someone you don’t know what they’ve been through. You’ll likely make some assumptions. To me hearing those words last night was like a breeze of kindness sweeping over me. Not because I think I’m ugly and needed to hear I’m pretty, but because someone cared enough to compliment me.

I grew up being bullied both at home and at school. As a kid I could live off a compliment for months, because I didn’t get that many. They were like a hope – a beacon of light – promising me that maybe, maybe I was worth something after all. Most of the time I got to hear I was a geek and I should shut up, or at home that my step-sisters were fabulous and I was not. It took me many, many years to build up my confidence and heal my wounds. It took me many years to be happy just being me and trusting that there truly are kind people around.

A compliment I often receive these days is hearing I’m the most interesting person someone’s ever met and that I live the most astounding life. I feel both proud and like a bit of a fake when they tell me that though. I may have done interesting things and learnt a lot along the way, but that doesn’t mean I was happy all along, or that my day-to-day life was much more than being married to my Mac (work) or working my ass off to help some children.

I always focused on my career, because I was less scared of that. I had confidence in my abilities, but not in myself. And I love what I do, so I kept thinking I’d be happy the day I have artistic freedom – when I can run whatever projects I want. I was so frustrated having to do other things to make a living I invested all my free time in trying to build a career for myself running my own business, working on charity and making my own movies. Yet, it was always my excuse – you guys go have fun, I’ll go and work. And somewhere along the line I had enough – I want to live, not just try to make it.

I will always work double hours, I have no doubt, because I really do love the projects I run, but I will take time to live too; not just through my projects but through myself. I want to dance till the small hours, drink wine with interesting people in cozy wine bars, go hiking in sun burnt hills, sip coffee and talk about artistry and discuss ideas and projects that set my heart on fire. I want to run away on impulsive trips filled with adventure and discover the scents, spices, foods and impressions of different cities and people around the globe. I want to make love till the morning, go skinny dipping in foreign seas and love freely with every inch of my being. I want friends that make my heart come alive. I want to live. In every area of my life.

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Believe…

When you believe in someone you give them power. You give them power, because they will believe in themselves. And that belief will fuel them to create whatever it is they seek to create. More than anything it may help them realize that they are OK as they are in this very moment.

Believing in someone does not mean that you agree with everything they say. It does not mean you can’t tell them that they may have to rethink a thing or two. It simply means you believe they have the power to blossom. They have the power to be who they truly wish to be. They have the power to be great.

The truth is we all have that power. Often we become so blinded early on by what others label as our imperfections though that we don’t see our own power. We don’t feel it. As a result we are drained of energy and achieve very little, which proves to us we have no power.

Believing in ourselves is not thinking we will win every fight. We won’t. At least not immediately. But we know we will always be OK. Because we have ourselves. And we are OK. As we are. And we have an unlimited amount of power within ourselves that we can use to get resourceful.

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Have you ever begged for love???

I used to do it all the time. Beg for love. Ask people to see some certain side of me and appreciate it. Appreciate me for who I truly am. Look, see, I’m actually a good dancer, a great friend, a wonderful lover, a fantastic director…please acknowledge me for who I am, not who you wish I were.

I grew up fighting for recognition. I felt unseen. Not so strange I wanted to become famous then.

Now, I did grow up. I learnt to value myself to a certain extent. But sometimes, sometimes you slip.

You wish that guy would like you just a little bit more, so you lower your standards. You let them get away with things. You don’t just walk away. That was me a few years ago.

Similarly in business you put up with some people’s shit because they have more experience, they’re willing to invest…whatever it is. That was me a few months ago.

And, again, with friends you’re the one making the phone calls. You’re the one inviting them out for coffee. You’re the one walking the extra mile. Maybe they just take you for granted. Maybe you’re the planner that always makes things happen. But by the end of the day, if you want the same in return you have to ask for it and if it isn’t given, there are plenty of other people to foster friendships with.

I asked Liezl about something today and I’m tired of asking this question as I don’t like having to chase her to chase someone else. It makes me feel like a burden, but this thing means a lot for my life, business and the twins, so I keep asking. Then I suddenly thought to myself that for all my fear and worry about this, because it means so much, it’s not worth it. It’s not worth worrying about. I can keep fretting forever about a situation, or I can just lead my life and whatever comes my way, comes my way.

I’m not saying to give up on goals, but sometimes when we want something really badly, we make up that other people are more powerful than we are. We give them power with our beliefs. We look to them for a relationship, for a business opportunity, for a life changing situation…for different things. And in the process we come to fear them. We come to fear them because we’ve given them power. But we have just as much power.

There is never just one way to a goal. And the day we become so attached to the idea of a goal that we stop enjoying the now as we’re worrying, we’ve effectually lost ourselves.

If a guy doesn’t want to date you, date someone else. If an investor doesn’t want to invest in you, find someone who will. If a friend doesn’t care to pick up the phone or treat you to something, find another friend. We tend to be so blinded by what’s right in front of us we miss a whole world that’s only one step away.

And remember – if someone gives you something, give back. Or you will end up losing in the end.

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I want to fulfill your desires…

Isn’t funny how one of our greatest desires in life is to make others happy? We screw up royally at times, because we are not in our heart who makes them happy, but we have a built in urge to make people happy.

Part of this seems to be our ego – we just want our ego stroked so we don’t have to take responsibility for evaluating our own worth; living in harmony with our own conscience, constantly evolving. Another part of it seems to be a biological thing – we need others for survival and procreation. Yet, another thing I believe is simply that we experience ourselves through others. We align with those who strive for the same goals and see the world through our eyes. I don’t think, no matter how aware and happy in yourself that you are, that you do not feel better when loved by others.

It’s like the whole “you must not want a partner to find one.” I think that’s bullshit. I don’t think you should need someone else to be happy and live a fulfilled life, but I do think a part of your life is missing if you don’t have a satisfactory relationship (or relationships if you are into the poly circle), if that’s part of your make-up. What is true though is that desperation clouds people eyes and neediness is about as great a turn on as…ketchup?

I find it quite endearing how we wish to make each other happy – to be a person who brings a smile to someone’s lips. At the same time it scares me to see how much people shut down out of fear they won’t be loved and appreciated by those around them. You see few people who show up without attitude, completely grounded in themselves. People who really do know that they are OK as they are and are simply looking to find people who they have a genuine heart and soul connection with, not people who are drawn to their scars (i.e. present them with a mirror of their self-imate), or who stroke their ego. To see people really calm, fully present with other people, not speeding up their thoughts looking for things to say, or desperately wanting to share things in their own life, or constantly thinking about what to say next…is simply rare. Truly present people are hard to come by. Most people are  playing their inner monologue non-stop 24/7 – what they think they need and want in life now; what they think about the person next to them; what to say next; what others are thinking about them.

Yeah we all want love. In all our own ways. I just wish the world would open their hearts to each other a bit more. Invite each other in to see who they truly are, instead of presenting an outer they believe will be liked. The problem with that, of course, is that you then will be liked or loathed for your outer, not your inner. And so you remain unloved.

You should aim to find the people who connect with your heart. Not the ones who don’t. They don’t matter, because they won’t serve your heart anyway. They will only tear you apart. Just like you aren’t looking to sell your script to the world, you are looking to sell it to those who will get something out of reading it. If only we focused on that instead – heart and soul connections – instead of trying to conquer the world. It’s about fulfilling each other’s desires, not about people whose desires you can’t fulfill or people who can’t fulfill yours.

I have rejected so many cities for the City of Angels. I wonder if the other cities are offended, or if they are just happy I found home?

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Showing skin…

I was once standing naked in a room, when a whole bunch of guys stormed in. Luckily I had read a lot of criminal novels, so I knew exactly what to do – run to the door they were entering from, press myself against the wall and sit down. I.e. be in the spot they were the least likely to look at. My stunt succeeded and they never saw me, as a bunch of angry (and dressed) girls chased them out of the room before they got a chance. I was ten to twelve years old and the idea of having a shower in the girls changing room never became the same.

When I was around eight or so I was at daycare one day, sitting with my friends drawing, or something in the hobby room. A boy walked in. A certain boy walked in. The boy every girl fancied. (Including my now best friend, but we didn’t know each other at that stage.) One of my friends burst out “Maria likes you.” He stopped in the doorway, turned to me and went: “Is that true?” The thought “It’s close to Christmas, you shouldn’t lie,” went through my mind. “Yes.” He looked at me a little longer, turned around and left the room.

When I was fifteen there was this guy who I had a lot of classes with. He was an arrogant bastard, but over summer he had turned…soft. He was really popular and had straight As in just about everything. So we used to compete on every test who could score the best. Or rather: he was competing with me and it infuriated me, so of course I started competing with him. He was rather nice sometimes. I remember him trying to explain to his best friend (who was in love with my step-sister for a while…that was a close call to getting an idiot in the house) why one shouldn’t bully people. His best friend did not understand his argument.

So having a competitive nature and all that, and probably thinking this dude was the only one with enough brain cells in a ten-mile radius, I fell in love with him. At first I didn’t really care that much, but then I told a friend of his who went to my class, to try to gauge if he liked anyone. Well, his friend obviously walked straight up to him and said I liked him, having sworn not to do so. And then a couple of interesting weeks of this guy staring at me and doing weird shit to talk to me ensued. So then a rumour started that he liked me. And one day I walked into a classroom when his friend asked him if this was the case, in front of the whole class and just as I walked in he went: “No one could ever fall in love with someone like her.” That was the day I died.

At sixteen I had left the village where I grew up, doing the International Baccalaureate program in another town, so I got rid of most people who considered me a geek and started a new life, where I was absolutely obsessed with covering up my past, especially my non-existing romantic history. Besides, most people at the IB were geeks as they had decided to choose the most difficult high school program that existed. We had to do tests to get accepted. That’s when I wrote about saving the kids in Africa. I did not see myself as the heroine of a romantic adventure, straight from my bookshelf, or anything like that.

Anyway, obsessed with the idea that no one should find out about my non-existing romantic history, I was still quite…me. I loved crazy ideas and stuff, so come Valentine’s I thought it a splendid idea to send a rose to a guy I thought was cute. And I didn’t even like him, he was just cute. But apparently people in Sweden are bit behind and thought this was the news of the century – a girl who joined us in the third year still got to hear this story. I think the poor bloke had never received roses in his life and I felt utterly humiliated.

Age seventeen and on the loose in Vancouver I was starting to feel like the biggest idiot in the world – who has never been with a guy age seventeen? Me. So I made out with some random American soldier who I found repulsive, and who proceeded to tell me about killing people during the war. I then ended up feeling even more ashamed because who is such a low life they decide to make out with a random loser just to make out with somebody?

My love life did perk up after this, but I had sworn on my mother’s grave, or something to that effect, that I would not have sex until I loved someone. And I had to wait until the night I turned twenty-one for this, at which time I had almost succumbed to the idea that no one would ever love me.

I then ended up in a very long relationship with someone, who, in the end decided, the last week, to cheat on me. Which is when I decided that if someone I used to trust with my life can cheat on me…then I’m properly fucked for life. I mean I knew he was cheating, because vivid scenarios played up in my head when he told me what he had been doing for a day – scenarios he was not talking about. I knew whom he had really been with and what he had been doing, but instead of thinking I was psychic, I thought I was going mad.

I felt really good after the break-up, realizing I had been in a relationship that was never quite right beyond the first few months, but I still had nightmares for about six months. And what left me the most scarred was the idea that I had allowed a relationship like that. How I could have accepted that into my life. Not like parts of it, but the end of it. And bless the man, he loved me and I can still happily say I love him, but we were young and we were both idiots in some aspects, including the fact that we stayed with each other for so long.

Fast forward two, or three years and I was just about to move to Los Angeles. Online I met this guy from LA that was just…amazing…and for the first time I felt like someone actually liked me . Truly liked me. A guy that actually turned me on in every way, as opposed to my ex, who never felt quite right. We would talk on the phone and on chat, for like eight hours straight. I let all my guards down. I was certain that was it – it was the first and actually still only time I had felt anything like that. He was simply so right in every way possible. And to his defense he really was looking for love, but I think he is the most emotionally retarded person and cheater I’ve ever met. And by lord I felt humiliated having believed in him. His bed though, was fucking amazing. There’s always a plus side…right? That bed and triple orgasms. Thank you God.

My self-confidence in the last, almost six years, since I was in a steady relationship, has soared. I have realized men chase me. A lot. I have realized I am beautiful and wonderful and amazing. I have more friends and love in my life than I have ever had. I feel so blessed finally setting off for my dream of Africa and working with film, theatre and people. And still, there is a tiny part of me that says I need high heels and an armour of steel to pretend I’m not vulnerable, I have no emotions and I most certainly am fine all by myself. And I need to be just a little bit more perfect.

When I feel hurt, or humiliated in public, just as I did as a kid, I want to shut everyone out and escape to Antarctica. Then I realize I can’t direct Leo Di Caprio in Antarctica and it all goes to hell…but, but…this whole vulnerable thing…I feel I have been doing a good job with it until yesterday. That’s when I wanted to pack my bags for Antartica. And that’s why I’m writing this now. Because it feels so, so cringy. And so real. And I want to be able to be that open. I want for others to have a space to be that real and open. And I really want to attract real and open people into my life.

The only way to attract and be with real and open people, is to be real and open. All this shit in my past means nothing. I still fear people will judge me for it, especially writing it on an open forum like this, but that’s why I want to do it. Because there are millions of people out there who have suffered much worse than me, who think because of their past they can’t be/have/do things. And it’s all utter poppycock, because all you have is this moment. And in this moment, I’m real and open. And the past? It’s gone. I’m a playful, open and honest person. I believe those nude shots proved it (if you missed the latest news, someone published some nude shots of me on Facebook yesterday as they misunderstood the term “only showing certain parts of my body” Well…there was a guitar covering my front… And that’s the day I discovered the difference of being naked in reality – no biggie – and online – biggie. I felt so vulnerable, knowing people could see me in a vulnerable state. “Miss Au Neutral I love being naked and celebrating the body” had a freak show.). Had this not been coupled by someone accusing me of having emotions, I’m sure it would have been fine, but rumour had it I had emotions. And this scenario of all those men went through my head as I saw the shots online. There is still an album on Facebook with a headline saying something like “I loved doing nude shots with Maria, such a natural and happy model, dream come true to capture the female body” and I still catch my breath, even if there are no real nudes in the album…and panic thinking I’m publicly humiliated…but I was just being vulnerable, real and open. Just as I would love.

Showing skin is cool. In every sense of the word.

Flash dancing…

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