4 Unexpected Life Lessons from a Lonely Cupcake

29 May 2024

4 Unexpected Life Lessons from a Lonely Cupcake

How highly do you value play? And how much time do you make for it in your own life? If you are like most survivors of narcissistic abuse, I’m guessing that you don’t make nearly enough.

It seems to me that most adults seem to have a conflicted relationship with play. Maybe they adhere to the belief that play is purely for children, or else they consider is that play is that pointless thing that you might just get round to when you have completed every other – important – item on your To Do list.

Or maybe, in the case or abuse survivors, they are just too stressed to see that there is a time and place for play even – especially – when you are going through tough times.

While I am a great fan of play, I will admit that over the past few tough months, play has definitely been on my back burner. Until a lonely cupcake brought the value of play right back into perspective.

How the Lonely Cupcake came about

That cupcake came into being because a member of our book club was due to celebrate her birthday. Her 90 somethingth birthday.  I volunteered to make her birthday cake: a decorated four tier lemon cake, with a white chocolate, lemon cream cheese frosting, and lemon cream rosettes.

I grated, I mixed, I whipped up frostings – vast amounts of frostings. These I duly tasted as I went along, to be sure I was achieving the flavors that I wanted).

Once the cake decorated to my satisfaction, I went on to whip up a batch of lemon poppy seed cupcakes to use up the leftover frostings

After baking two trays of twelve, I was left with just enough batter for one more cupcake.

As I looked at it sitting, all alone, in the cupcake mold, the thought struck me that it could have been a symbol of the scapegoated child in the narcissistic family, doomed never to be an integral part of the family group. Doomed to live its whole experience alone. The eternal family outsider.

I sent it on its solo journey through the oven, laughing to myself, as I thought about the first lesson from the Lonely Cupcake:

Lesson 1 play recharges my batteries and refreshes me

Stress leaves me feeling like an empty husk. But play lifts my mood, stimulates my thinking and fires up my creativity. Play really is therapeutic for all of us.

Lesson 2 the loneliness of the scapegoated child takes a heavy toll on a person

That Lonely Cupcake looked so sad and abandoned on its journey into the oven. It lacked the bond of shared experience. It was just a lonely, pasty little creature going through its life stages in wretched isolation.

Lesson 3 Time and the process transform the lonely scapegoat into the beautiful being that they really are.

The third lesson from the Lonely Cupcake came when I took it out of the oven. When I opened the oven door and it had the spotlight to itself, I beheld a thing of beauty: messy, glorious, abundant, golden, toothsome. Its solo journey resulted it in being more beautifully and even colored than the rest of its family.

Survivors of narcissistic abuse always assume that they are the sorry, bruised being that emerges from a damaging relationship.  They are not. You are not your bruises. Bruises are not character. Bruises fade and disappear. Character does not.

You are the generous-hearted, caring soul who could not help but be badly bruised and damaged by a brutalizing person.

The person who goes through that fire and somehow emerges the other side is a small triumph of humanity.

Lesson 4 stress and unhappiness get in the way. They stop us seeing what is right under our noses.

The fourth lesson from the Lonely Cupcake was, regrettably, more personal and brought me right back down to earth. My oven is in desperate need of cleaning.

With everything else going on in my life, I had been living with tunnel vision. I had become completely stress and task-oriented and not looked beyond whatever it was that was travelling in and out of the oven for… rather a long time.

What happened to the Lonely Cupcake?

You might like to know that I did not subject it to the “But they’re your family..” argument and attempt to reunite it with the rest of the cupcakes.  Nor did I subject it to the argument of interfering folk everywhere: “But they’re your family.”

Instead, in deference to the Lonely Cupcake’s special and individual beauty, I frosted it, to the best of my (limited) ability,and then made sure to send it the way of someone who would deeply appreciate it.

Bonus Lesson from the Lonely Cupcake

You could argue that Lonely was just a cupcake, my portion control was off, and why make such a big deal about it anyway.

But that would be dismissive thinking and I would urge you to beware of dismissive thinking. It was the dismissive thinking of toxic people that led you to believe that your feelings didn’t matter, and it was okay for them to gaslight and isolate you and then blame you for it.

None of that treatment of you was okay.

Living in a world of dismissive people who feel free to dismiss the many people and things they don’t care about is a damaging experience.

You are built to live in a world of care – and that includes your own care for yourself.

The tale of the Lonely Cupcake will not exactly break the mold for future generations of cupcakes. But I hope it will help you break further out of the mold that you were put in.


Annie Kaszina, international Emotional Abuse Recovery specialist and award-winning author of 3 books designed to help women recognise and heal from toxic relationships so that they can build healthy, lasting relationships with the perfect partner for them, blogs about all aspects of abuse, understanding Narcissists and how to avoid them and building strong self-worth. To receive Annie’s blog direct to your Inbox just leave your details here.

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