As I was writing my previous post about Halloween candy and abstinence, I realized that I sort of, um, forgot to blog about my crazy cupcake experience a few weeks ago. My boss at work, who I think is fabulous, had a birthday last week. I really wanted to bake her coconut cupcakes with tiny glittery shoes on top since she is a shoe fiend. I set various reminders for myself at home and at work, checked the cabinets to see what I needed and was all set to bake. Or so I thought!
A few weeks ago I was also NOT a happy OA camper. The super cool and sweet man I had been dating disappeared into the Mists of Manly Evasion or wherever it is that men go when they just drop off of the planet while they are dating you, never to be seen again. Complete avoidance of my calls and text messages, yet he was posting all over Facebook and definitely not dead in a ditch somewhere. There was no way I could excuse his absence other than death or abduction, and clearly neither scenario had happened. I was sulking and feeling powerless to do anything about the situation since he wouldn’t respond to me. My mentally ill and verbally abusive Mom was living in my dining room and I had no idea how to get her into a new situation where she would be safe and out of my house. Work was a nightmare and my finances have been tenuous at best lately. I was creatively blocked, exhausted, anxious and unable to blog, write or journal. And all I could think about during this time was stealing candy bars, frantically eating them in secret and then puking them up. I also started suddenly skulking around the laxative aisle at the drug store again. WTF? I didn’t engage in these behaviors, but the Wicked Stepmother (AKA E.D.) was definitely whispering sweet, nasty nothings in my ear all day long.
All signals pointed to a definite approaching meltdown but in my twisted little mind, what I absolutely needed to do was bake these goddamned cupcakes. Cupcakes would make it all better. My boss has been a sweetheart to me lately while I have been struggling with both my Mom and my finances. She deserved those cupcakes, and somehow that would let her know how awesome she was and how much I appreciated her. Because somewhere in the recesses of my eating disordered brain, the only way to show my boss my appreciation was to bake for her and make her something sweet with my own hands. I might not be able to safely eat sugar, but she can and she should enjoy the hell out of that privilege! Baking cupcakes would also keep me busy and keep me from driving my sulking, miserable ass over to Whole Foods and buying every vegan candy bar they had on the shelves. Uh, OK.
When I was in college, I loved to bake as a procrastination method. Most of the time I wouldn’t even eat what I baked—I would just derive vicarious pleasure from watching others eat whatever decadent desserts I came up with. I had a baking buddy who also loved to feed people and we got into this horrible habit of baking huge amounts of sweets in the middle of the night to avoid writing papers. Baking bread was also a hobby of mine, and I spent an entire 6 months during a horrible break-up baking loaf after loaf of bread. It was the only thing that calmed me down.
I still get the urge to bake whenever I am stressed out and/or trying to avoid dealing with something. I came home on Thursday night, hell-bent on Mission Cupcake. All of the ingredients were in order, I just needed to find my Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World cookbook and I would be ready to bake my brains out. I tore apart all four bookshelves and the damn thing was nowhere to be found, but what I did find was my missing copy of the OA Abstinence book that I have been trying to find for three weeks without success! I stood in front of my bookshelves and realized that I absolutely did NOT need to bake those freaking cupcakes. I needed to pray, meditate, talk to another OA member, go to a meeting as soon as possible no matter what, talk to my sponsor and find a solution.
So, I did all of the above. I bought my boss a little personal-sized chocolate cake at Whole Foods and a card that had a cupcake on it, which she loved. I realized that her birthday was about her, not about my ego-driven need to wow her with my mad baking skills. I wrote the missing Candyman a polite but extremely honest email telling him how hurt I felt and then I deleted him from my Facebook. I confronted my Mom about what she was going to do about her living situation, gave her some options and offered to help her with them. I kindly but firmly told her that she couldn’t live with me anymore and that she had to make a decision about these options. She decided to go back home to Florida, so we bought her a one way ticket back home and I took her to the airport by myself (brothers all being mysteriously absent that day) and helped her to get on the plane. A few days after all of these things happened, the voices stopped. I cried a lot and felt like crap, but I stopped thinking about candy bars and bingeing/purging. The desire to compulsively bake went away. These were tough, out-of-my-comfort-zone actions that absolutely needed to happen. Because of all of the things I’ve learned in OA and all of the help I have from my friends in program and my HP, I was able to take these actions and not act out with food.