Being The Cake: Let Others Be the Icing
I came up with a saying some years ago around relationships. And as always, that can mean dating or partnerships, friendships, work-spouse relationship, parent-child, and that is this: I want to invite you to be the cake and to let everyone else in your life be the icing on the perfect cake that is you.
If you are looking for someone else to be the cake, my love, you’re likely to be disappointed and permanently chasing someone and something else because no one else can be the cake for you.
So what on earth am I talking about?
Well, first, let me say, if you don’t like cake, that’s fine. Sub in pie or dulce leche. Honestly, really, I’m more steak than cake, but be the steak doesn’t have the same ring to it so here we go with be the cake.
So my darling, we often enter into relationships from our codependent and people-pleasing habits with the desire for the other people to fill a gaping hole in our hearts and our lives.
The place where our sense of self could be.
We want them to do and be something for us that we are not doing or being for ourselves first. We are often looking for someone to complete us.
No one can complete you because you’re already complete.
When you are grounded in an embodied sense of self, when you know yourself cognitively—meaning you use thought work, you know your own habitual thought patterns—and when you know yourself somatically, you know the nervous system state your body tends to go to and how you can both regulate yourself and ask for co-regulation from others, when you are showing up in your fullest weirdness, then you are being the cake.
You know you are to be cherished and honored and delighted in. And you have space to allow others to be your icing, to honor them and delight in them, and you know in your bones that you, yes you, are the main dessert.
You are the cake to end all cakes.
And everyone else is a delightful addition to your life, your day, your world. Not the main attraction. See where we’re going here?
When you are looking for someone else to be the cake in your life, you’re looking for someone to prove your worth to you.
If I date someone tall and handsome or rich and powerful and successful, or a professional llama trainer, then I will feel good about myself. They’ll validate me. They will make me feel whole and worthy, worthwhile.
They’ll do the emotional heavy lifting for my sense of sense, for my self- esteem. Then I won’t have to because I’ll know that they are in the cake role in my life and I can continue to operate from my codependent story that other people need to tell me that I’m important, good enough, lovable, worthy, instead of just knowing it myself, instead of trusting it and believing it.
And we know what that leads to, my darling.
Resentment, painful conflict, the self-abandonment cycle, living from our wild and often unvoiced expectations and how-to guides for other humans. All of which keep us trapped in our codependent and people-pleasing cycles.
Whenever your internal story is about how someone else can complete you, that is often the root cause of your relational pain and struggle.
Asking or demanding and expecting that someone else be the cake, the starring role in your life, that’s setting up a real lousy time for you and the other person because no one else can be the cake for you.
And you will never show up as your fullest cake self if you are using the other person to make your life feel more valid. If you’re telling the story you complete me, you are setting yourself up to fear losing them. And so you manipulate and control without realizing it.
You people please, you play games, you play at being the person you want them to be and being the person you think they want you to be.
All of this begs the question, how do you know when you are not being the cake.
Well, you are not being the cake when you feel graspy, when you feel that your mental health, wellness, care, depends on someone else. Their whims, thoughts, feels about you.
When the internal barometer of your okayness is in their hands, you are not being the cake, my love.
Another sign you’re not being the cake is when you crave compliments and find yourself fishing for them instead of just knowing you’re amazing and trusting it somatically, deep in your body and your mind.
You are not being the cake when you hint at what you want, or when you’re being indirect or passive aggressive, instead of stating your wants and preferences.
Let’s zoom out my love, and take a look at some telltale signs of uncakeful living:
- Fishing for compliments instead of saying, “Hey babe, tell me I look hot in this.”
- Feeling insecure more than you feel secure and grounded in yourself.
- Manipulating and controlling others so you or they get the outcome you think is best.
- Staying in a relationship with someone when you’re not really happy and it doesn’t feel so good because you secretly, or not so secretly think you can’t do better, or because you think there’s something wrong with you.
- Demanding attention, not accepting compliments, not receiving love, care, or kindness because you’re so outwardly focused.
- Taking things personally and making things about you from your insecurity, being offended easily or hurt all the time, blowing things out of proportion.
- Not taking personal responsibility, a.k.a living in emotional childhood, and blaming others for your emotional state.
- Believing and expecting that someone else is going to rescue you from your life.
- Living your life to please others.
- Not allowing yourself to rest.
- Taking up all the air in the room because you’re uncomfortable with silence or others being on stage.
- People pleasing instead of you pleasing.
- Prioritizing other people’s lives, wants, and needs, instead of living from an ethos of mutuality and reciprocity.
I pretty much just redefined codependent living, didn’t I?
It’s a most uncakeful way of being.
Some examples of cakeful living, and of course, this too is a far from exhaustive list, but first up is living from interdependence; the opposite of codependence.
Having healthy, loving boundaries that are states, that are flexible, and that are said without guilt or shame.
When you are living cakefully, you take up an appropriate amount of space in any setting.
Because when you’re cakeful, you don’t have to take up tons of space because you don’t have to prove anything.
When you are cakeful, you are emotionally mature, have somatic awareness of yourself and your body, you live with embodiment.
You prioritize your biological impulses and needs, meaning you eat and drink water, and pee when you need to, even if it isn’t always convenient for others.
You are self-assured and confident, and you give yourself the grace when you don’t feel fully self-confident. Because again, that is human and giving ourselves the grace is most cakeful indeed.
You feel the difference in your body between co-regulating with someone else, attuning your nervous systems for the common good, and making someone else responsible for your emotions.
When you live in a space of freedom and empowerment, not dependent on others to feel good about yourself, when you know your internal limits.
You are accepting of yourself and others just how you all are and don’t think others need to change for you or them to be happy. To that end, you don’t try to fix others.
As your most cakeful self, you are thoughtful of others, loving, and kind, while also knowing that taking care of you, me first, you second, with love, is not a bad and selfish framework for living.
It’s a mutually beneficial one that cares for everyone in your world because self-care is a form of resentment prevention.
You do let your nervous system rest through conscious distraction. You don’t martyr yourself to try to gain love, control, approval, or acceptance.
You take loving care of yourself and take time, you make the time to do your thought work so you can manage your mind instead of spinning in confusion, drama, overwhelm, stress, and anxiety.
You don’t project your worries or concerns onto others. You don’t need to second-guess everything. You take others at their word.
You trust yourself and your intuition, your discernment, you trust yourself to have your back, and you trust yourself to love yourself and the people in your life unconditionally.
All in all, being cakeful is learning how to regulate your perfect nervous system because so many of these cakeful traits and activities, they’re challenging when our nervous systems are dysregulated.
So let’s talk about icing.
Icing is really great. It’s extra added deliciousness on an already perfect and dreamy cake. It’s really fun to have someone be your icing when you just want them to be icing.
It’s really a lot to try to make someone else your cake.
But when you want them to be icing, everything changes.
It’s light and fun and easy and sexy when appropriate. When you are the cake and they are the icing, then you are defining you. The partnership isn’t defining you, they aren’t defining you, which is an important shift for us because we tend to define ourselves by external things like who we’re dating, who our friends are, et cetera.
It’s so much easier to accept your partner, foibles and all, when they’re the icing.
It’s so much easier to unconditionally love them when the relationship isn’t carrying the weight of your self-esteem and self-concept, which also means you can stop taking everything so personally and can let others be themselves, the way you can let you be you now.
When you’re certain in your cakedom, then you fear conflict less.
When you are after them to be the cake, then them being human, a.k.a not being perfect will get right on under your skin. The things that bother you get magnified. But when your partner is the icing and you know you’re the cake, then it’s so much easier for it to just be about their socks or the dishes or whatever.
When those little things add up to you not feeling seen, not feeling taken care of, and you’ve reflected inward and you know you’re being the cake, and this just isn’t in alignment anymore, it’s so much easier to walk away.
When you develop the intimate relationship with yourself that allows you to be the cake, your own cake, it allows for a deeper intimacy with others. You have a self-awareness that you can share and bring. You are also free from the stories, the narratives, the shapeshifting and people pleasing that can get in the way of deeper intimacy.
When you’re the cake, you’re your most authentic self and that allows for deeper vulnerability and connection.
All cakes have value. All cakes are lovable for the people who love that kind of cake.
Listen, a gluten-full wheat-based chocolate cake is not trying to hang out with someone with celiac. Chocolate cake doesn’t take it personally if you’re diabetic or if you just don’t like cake.
When we are not being the cake and someone we’re into or someone we’re not even really into much at all breaks up with us, ghosts us after a date, has some criticism of us, doesn’t like the way we’re doing something, oh my goodness, it feels like the end of time and space.
When you are being the cake, you are emotionally available.
You are emotionally generous, you’re able to take criticism, you’re able to take feedback, and you only want to date people who are emotionally available, can take feedback, and who want to date you.
When you are the cake, you’re interested in people who are also the cake in their own lives and who are interested in you being their icing. And from your cakeness, you are not interested in people who are not available for mutuality and reciprocity.
You’re out here to hang with folks who can be each other’s icing. Cakes know their worth and hang out with people who know it too.
My beloved, as long as you are in the codependent habit trap, everyone else’s opinions and responses to you are grist for the mill of beating yourself up because you’re not being your own cake.
So that’s the work.
To name and celebrate the things that make you the most amazing and delicious cake in the world. And to see where you’re making others your cake. To see where you’re trying to be the cake for them.
And to pull back and to give yourself the assurance, love, care, kindness, gentleness, compassion, acceptance, and love that makes for cakeful living, and to allow others to be their own cake, to respect them enough to not try to solve their life for them, but to let them figure out what the most perfect expression of their cakey-ness is for them.
My darling, take some time today to celebrate you. To look at and honor the places where there’s growth to be had, where you can shift your habitual stories in mind, body, and spirit, so you can step into more cakefulness.
But please, above all, no blaming, no shaming, no guilting, no feeling bad about not yet being in the fullest expression of your cakey-ness.
Honor the places where you are the cake and name the places where you want to grow.
Thank you for taking the time to read Feminist Wellness. I’m excited to be here and to help you take back your health!
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