He Called me White Sugar
The Story Behind the Drawing
I love sweets. Not more than I love my salty treats, but I do love sweets. If I could form a new country, I would name it Sweeten, which would make me and all its citizens sweetish. Sweet, isn’t it?.
In a world that’s afraid of getting fat and thinks sugar is the devil, it’s pretty rare to be a person who would eat gummy bears for lunch - yet, I’d do that any day! ...as long as they’re vegan, of course.
I'll eat gummy bears for lunch any day!. Dummy-Bears, graphite and watercolors on paper, 2019.
But that’s not the reason I draw part-doll figures accompanied by candy and other sweet pastries.
The idea for the drawings came to mind almost three years ago.
It was in the year after my seven-year relationship ended. I started dating a guy I really liked, yet ended it quite quickly because I didn’t have a shred of patients for game playing. I wanted someone who’s baked—preferably more baked than I am. What can I say? I went out of that long relationship exhausted and needed someone who’s more trusting than me.
Funny, I feel a little deja vu here; Exhausted after a relationship and having no patients for unbaked men.
And btw, in ‘baked’ I mean a person who appreciates the one on one connection, knows what it takes to build one, and is willing to stick around and see what happens.
An unbaked man is a man who’s terrified of getting deeply involved because, for him, external freedom is more important than an internal one.
Or as Placebo beautifully put it, he’s “a cock in a dildo’s disguise.”
And now, back to three years ago.
So, that guy and I didn’t make it as an official couple, but we did become good neighbors. And for those who are new here, in my vocabulary, a neighbor is a friend with benefits (“it’s always good to have someone nearby that you can borrow shit from and sleep with - a neighbor”). We were neighbors for a while and obviously had feelings for each other, but never talked about it. However, from time to time, more intimate talks came up.
I once asked him what’s the point of doing this; we both knew we wanted a whole-assing relationship and went for even less than half-assing one. His answer was what started the white sugar drawings series:
“Don’t get offended. I do mean it as a compliment,” he said. “But you’re like white sugar; I know it’s unhealthy, but it’s so tasty that I can’t say no and keep on going back to it.”
I must add a few more details on the wonderful guy/neighbor I was seeing, so you’ll get the full picture. I don’t know where he is on his journey today, but back then he thought white sugar was the devil. He went for more of a keto style diet, and I believe that even his fruit intake was limited. So from his perspective, to put me on the same level as white sugar demanded an explanation.
"How are you doing?" ;). Being an eye-candy used to be a compliment. Eye Candy, graphite and color pencils on paper, 2018.
But I saw it as a huge compliment!
At that time, I was consuming gigantic amounts of fruits, which he sometimes helped me carry (when you need to pick up 30 kg of fruits for the week, it’s nice to have a helping hand). Fruits are not processed sugar, but still, for me, sugar as a concept was (and still is) connected with energy, bliss, and superb taste!
So I took his words as a compliment. After all, he did kind of say I’m irresistible, and what more can a programmed woman want in life than that.
It took a few years to understand that identifying myself with white sugar, putting the health arguments aside, represents something much more complex; I saw myself as a treat, but not as something you can make a whole meal out of.
I might have said I wanted a committed, loving relationship, but I didn’t believe I could have one. I guess I thought I didn’t deserve one.
In my perception, I had all the qualities of a sweet candy:
Men find me attractive, I don’t make a big deal out of sex and have a healthy libido, I have my own life and don’t need someone to be around me all the time... and also, I’m not dumb.
Those qualities - being sexy, independent, and careless were ones I worshiped because I grew up in a world that worships them too.
I was the cool girl who could just have fun. Unfortunately, it also meant I’m not the one you’ll settle down with. After all, it appears as if I don’t have much use of you to begin with.
And because I couldn’t appreciate myself as a whole, I believed no one else could. Not out on the open of course, but subconsciously for sure. And so I attracted into my life people that would let me go. Maybe not easily, but when it came to making a true effort, they preferred to let me go.
My long-term partners had more on their plate than they could handle, so making a genuine effort in the relationship realm was not a priority. And I was left to peacefully hold on to all of my insecurities that fed my destructive behavior.
In the drawings, I included some of my favorite candy from childhood till this day. It was hard for me to see the faults in those ‘sweet’ things I loved and identified with. And as mentioned, the awakening about the destructive aspect of it came later.
Donuts are Forever, graphite and color pencils on paper, 2019.
It’s hard to admit that not all of our habitual patterns serve us well. We are so attached to the identity we’ve created through them, we don’t know what we’ll be without that identity. Emptiness scares us. We see it as nothingness.
A lot of our habitual patterns are ones that create excitement. A thrill. A fix.
Candy and sweets are no different. They come in colorful packages and appear exciting even before they go into our mouths.
But the excitement takes the mind and heart off the truth - that emptiness that exists down below. We fill it up with excitement to escape the empty experience. And by doing so, we’ll never make peace with what seems like the dark parts of our existence.
But I believe that it’s all a big misunderstanding of the darkness and emptiness.
I believe that in reality, instead of emptiness, there is spaciousness, a space of peace. That space terrifies us because in it, the ego is powerless, the identity is meaningless, and we are afraid to lose our familiar I AM form.
We worked too hard to build our individual selves, and we live in a society that celebrates the individual. When so, it’s hard to see that we are all interwoven with each other. We are all ONE and could not exist without the other.
Empty, as Thich Nhat Hanh puts it, means: “empty of a separate self but full of everything in the cosmos.”
Nothing stands on its own.
Yet, years of living as separated beings, endlessly comparing ourselves to others and trying to rise to made-up ideals, filled our minds with self-loathing, doubt, and shame. We’ve surrounded our hearts with thick walls believing we don’t deserve to live in peaceful bliss.
And now, as a result, we chase the highs and keep on falling, only so we can fly up and crash down again. It’s no surprise we see emptiness as nothingness. And we’re so heavily invested in our persona that being ‘nothing’ is scary AF.
We must see that our fears are here to protect us, and instead of letting them paralyze us, we can listen to them and open our hearts anyway.
I am grateful for M. that called me white sugar, and for the ‘he called me white sugar’ drawings.
The journey with 'white-sugar' got me to finally say ENOUGH!. Strawberries and Lagumes, graphite and color pencils on paper, 2019.
That journey with “white sugar” made me stand face to face with my self-perception. It forced me to look long enough to see the truth. It got me to finally take full responsibility for my life (at least when it comes to romantic relationships). It got me to say ENOUGH! My identification with white sugar was another doll-mask I had to shed off.
Next time I’ll draw a doll with something sweet it will be a fruit;
For I am the food that was served at the garden of Eden before shame was known to wo/mankind. And so are you.
And to all of my divine fruit friends - I love your hearts! You deserve it all!
Thank you for reading and see you next time <3