Millennial Mom Battles the Sweet Demon

Millennial Mom stares down a candy noose.
Millennial Mom Battles the Sweet Demon, 2019, oil on canvas, 40.6 x 121.9 cm, 16 x 48 in

This painting, Millennial Mom Battles the Sweet Demon, is of the Descent chapter of the Millennial Mom: I Have a Probem with Fantasy series.  I hope my artistic abilities are sufficient to convey this noose is made of candy, meant to symbolize those substances we turn to, which, when used in excess, (with fixation, imbalance, and loss of control) can harm us, either mentally, spiritually or physically.


Many of us turn to a substance/behavior to meet our fundamental needs that are not met.  We feel a nameless yearning for something other.  Believing we cannot handle these uncomfortable emotions, we distract ourselves, turning to our chosen substance/behavior as a painkiller.  As our deepest need for love and connection is still not met, our desire grows obsessive and unquenchable.  We sink further into our use of our substance/behaviour, numbing our discomfort.  We layer on self-judgement to obscure our feelings, distancing our experience even further from our true selves.  We feel increasingly unworthy.  This spiral down is a form of spiritual suicide.


Our reluctance to be honest with ourselves leads us to blame the substance or behaviour – sugar, gambling, alcohol, social media, materialism and consumption, etc. — for our loss of control.

But it’s not the substance.  It’s our lack of willingness.

Willingness to be in the present moment, as it is. To surrender, to let go of our desire for things to be different, to allow the flow of life to lead us.

Willingness to be with the discomfort of our experience, following it toward the deep, quiet, unshakeable peace within.

Willingness to give ourselves over to love, to trust, to faith.

Willingness to let go of beliefs that we are the masters of our fate, that we must figure it all out, rather than cultivating an awareness of what we can and cannot control.

Willingness to let go of the limiting belief that we are not worthy of all that is good and right and true.

Willingness to forego our search for what’s wrong, so that we may see the love and connection that is already here, right now.

Freedom can be found, in finding ways to face our discomfort, rather than distracting ourselves with our preferred substance or behavior, numbing it out.  Meditation helps to free us from the illusion that painful thoughts are real. Looking at our lives with honesty and humility, we learn we don’t want a relationship with our substance, we want that connection with love, and with the flow of life.


For much of my life, in times of trouble, I found myself spending way too much time, focus and energy on food.  I called myself an emotional eater.

Years of trying to control my weight with different diets, programs, and teachings taught me what and how much I was supposed to eat to be healthy.  I just couldn’t do it!  Growing frustration with my inability to control my food intake led to feelings of defeat.  But life is a teacher.  My struggle led me to surrender the illusion that I could master my eating with willpower.  The pain of failure opened a gateway to a humility that allowed for the growth that freed me from my difficulties with food.

My preferred substance is food, though my dis-ease can be a shape-shifter.  If not food, then another form of more-ism may kick in, either related to the pursuit of perfection — exercise, organizing, decorating, shopping, cleaning;  or validation – people-pleasing, sex;  or total checking out – sleeping, screen time, or social media.

It’s my life that’s supposed to be interesting, not my food.

— Allen Zadoff, Hungry: Lessons Learned on the Journey from Fat to Thin

Today, if I find myself eating for any reason other than to fuel my body, I know I am trying to avoid uncomfortable emotions.  This is always my cue that I need to focus on my healthier coping behaviours. For the most part, I try not to think too much about food, relying on healthy habits, so I may focus on living my life, rather than eating.


Millennial Mom Battles the Sweet Demon and other works from the Millennial Mom collection will exhibit September-October, 2019, at Capitol Theatre in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada.


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