Ok, so I’ve tagged this with just about everything because I feel like everything is flying around me right now.

Have you ever seen an alcoholic in recovery working as a bartender? Or a recovering coke addict sifting and sorting individual bags of cocaine?

Of course, I haven’t witnessed the second one either but the amount of time I’ve spent in the last week with bags of sugar evoke that analogy.

FYI, this post is going to have a lot of references to triggers so if you can’t handle cake then I wave you off with no hard feelings.

I volunteered to make a wedding cake for friends who are getting married next weekend.

Yes, I volunteered. You could even go so far as to say that I insisted, or simply didn’t give them any option to disagree.

So, last weekend I baked 8 individual cake layers: two 12 inch cakes, two 10 inch cakes, two 8 inch cakes, and two 6 inch cakes. They are dark chocolate. I’m making a white chocolate raspberry ganache filling… on Wednesday. Today, I made a confectioner’s sugar and butter frosting as the crumb coat. Wednesday I’ll make the ganache and layer on the filling. Then on Thursday I will make the butter cream frosting that will go on the outside of the cake. Then, I’ll drive it 5 hours and nearly 300 hundred miles to the wedding location where I will then have to assemble the layers and decorate it.

I think only a recovering food addict would understand that driving that cake 300 miles is not what scares me about this process.

What scares me is the amount of time I’ve spent with my hands covered with frosting and cake batter already and how much more time I have in front of me yet to go.

It’s so simple. You bake a cake. You frost it. When icing or batter gets on your fingers you lick it off.

At least that’s what I’ve always done.

The baking of the cakes wasn’t that traumatic. I was distracted to a certain extent by the fact that I was horribly sick. But it did result in me spending about $40 this week on bags and boxes of sugar free candy. 90% of it is sitting on a shelf in my laundry room right now and I’m not really sure what to do with it. I mean, I should throw it out, but right now I don’t think I can.

Then, today was the crumb coat frosting. Something I’ve been known to simply eat with a spoon or insert directly into my mouth from the piping bag. Sugar. My narcotic. “The other fine white powder”, as someone I know from Overeaters Anonymous used to call it.

I did the 6 inch and 8 inch cake layers this morning and then had to take a break. I just couldn’t barrel right through the way I wanted to. I had to stop. I went to the store, started working on the gluten free matzo ball soup my son has to take to school tomorrow for the “international day celebration” in his classroom.

Then I made the second batch of frosting and starting working on the 10 and 12 inch cake layers. I kept having to wash my hands.

Over and over.

At some points it was the only thing that kept me sane.

That and the fact that after I frosted the two 10 inch cake layers I took a break and spent ten minutes peeling and chopping Brussels sprouts for dinner just to be working with something I could eat.

While frosting the first of the 12 inch cake layers I found myself reliving in my head the night I lost my engagement and wedding rings on the side of the road. Adrenaline was going and I was feeling filled with anxiety.

So I’ve learned that it’s not just eating this stuff that makes me crazy, it’s working with it too.

Great.

I took another break at that point to finish the soup.

That last 12 inch cake layer was the toughest. I got through it but it was hard. Once it was in the freezer I had to clean up the bowl, the beaters, the knives, the mixer, and the counters that were strewn with sugar. I’ll be honest that I started to panic a bit.

I just threw everything into the sick and turned the hot water on full blast. Then, I slowly got sheets of paper towel damp and wiped everything down. Once the kitchen and dishes were clean I sat down with some tuna fish and just tried to breathe.

I realized while I was wiping down the counters that I wasn’t actually worried I was going to eat the icing or the cake. What I was worried about was the extent to which my muscle of willpower was being exercised and over worked by this project and I’m afraid of what will happen when it’s too tired to do it’s job anymore. Most likely, it will result in me doing something simple and pointless, like eating a handful of goldfish crackers because my daughter left them on the counter, or popping the crusts from the kids’ morning toast in my mouth for no reason other than it’s there in my hand.

That’s how I fall off the wagon. It’s not some horrible explosive moment of binging. No, those days are far behind me. What happens now is in some quiet moment I just say, “this one little thing won’t hurt me”.

But it always does hurt me.

I don’t want it to hurt me anymore.

I know I have to see this project through. It’s too late to back out on my friends and I don’t want to. I want to learn from this. I want to grow from this. I want to have this help me get stronger.

I suppose if willpower is a muscle and I let this muscle rest enough after today’s over working it should come back stronger than before.

I hope so.

In the mean time I have a tray of Brussels sprouts ready for the oven and two beautiful salmon fillets ready to broil. Dinner won’t require willpower. Perhaps, for the rest of today at least, this muscle can rest.

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