Another Coconut Cake

With my sons Noah and Nathan
With my sons 

Yesterday the last of my family who were here for my 50th birthday flew home. I hoped I’d wake up this morning with something amazing to say to you about aging with grace, the wisdom of years, or the spiritual meaning of wrinkles.

Instead, I feel worn out, uninspired and, um, thicker.

I blame the coconut cake. The large, moist, yummy-beyond-belief one they make at Montague’s Parlour, here in Colorado Springs. Since I got only one slice at the party, I had the brilliant idea the next day to buy another one to celebrate my daughter-in-love’s upcoming birthday.

After that celebration with Kelsey, we kept the rest of the cake on the island in the kitchen. For the next couple days, I unofficially ate coconut cake for breakfast, lunch, even for between-meal snacks.

One afternoon, Kelsey caught me standing at the cake, my fork loaded in mid-air, not a plate in sight. I was embarrassed—until she laughed and said, “I’ve been doing that all day, too. That’s my fork on the counter.”

Now you can see why I love this girl so much.

And you can also see why I might never again as long as I live want another bite of coconut cake. Which gets me thinking today about the difference between over-indulgence and addiction. I can’t tell you how many times I drank wine until I it made me sick. Or worse, felt compelled to drink even though I was already sick. But not once did I lose my taste for alcohol.

It’s as good a proof as any of the insanity of addiction—and that I’m not addicted to coconut cake.

Still, it was a good reminder that I’ll always be vulnerable to compulsive behaviors that bring pleasure in the moment but leave me with regret.

This morning, as I totter about with a fresh pound of frosting around my waist, I wonder why I did that. Why did I find it necessary to treat my body so recklessly? What painful feeling was I trying to numb?

Maybe I was nervous about having all these people here to celebrate…me? Maybe I figured I had earned the right, thank you very much, to pig out on my birthday.

Or maybe, quite possibly, I just adore coconut cake.

One of the hazards of spending so much time thinking and writing about recovery issues is that I can get too serious, sifting everything through the grid of addiction.

Sometimes, the truth is simpler. Maybe I’m spiritually flat today because, for almost a week, it’s been hard to pray and meditate in my office when a daughter or sister is sleeping there on a blow-up bed.

Maybe I’m emotionally weary today because I’m companied out.

Last night, I made it to my first meeting in a week. I had little to contribute, apart from this truth: “I’m really sick of Heather. It feels like it’s been all about Heather for weeks. And yet, at the same time, I miss my own soul. Does that make sense?”

They all nodded. That’s how I know it’s going to be all right.

As long as I don’t see another coconut cake again. Forever.

Okay, for a couple weeks.

My daughter-in-love Kelsey with her own cake
My daughter-in-love Kelsey with her own cake


Author: Heather Kopp at

Heather Kopp is an author and blogger who writes about the intersection of addiction and faith. Her memoir about her recovery, Sober Mercies, was published by Jericho, a new imprint of HBG (Hachette Book Group) in Spring 2013.

34 thoughts on “Another Coconut Cake”

  1. Hi Heather…. Yah… I can relate on a few fronts. First off on the addiction alert seting we often put ourselves on regarding any form of draw or compulsion. Coconut cake? I really don’t think you are in any danger. I like sour jujubes. Some days when I’ve had a stressful day and driving home, will stop at the supermarket and grab a scoop from the bulk bin. Hardly a problem though, even if it takes me in wrong direction from my fitness goals.

    In reality, I try to limit my addiction alerts to the more damaging manifestations. Certainly anything chemical is out, but for any other compulsive behaviour, unless if it affects my marriage, relationships ( with God or others), finances or health significantly, I cut myself some slack. There are allowable enjoyment a in life. I feel anyway.

    And turning 50… First off… Happy Birthday! I have that one coming up in not too distant future too. I think there has never been a better time to turn 50 than this present era. I truly believe it is the new 30 (or so). We have every opportunity to live and wear 50 well! We can be healthy, fit, happy, active, alert, and continue to contribute significantly to our world and those around us. 50 is not what it was a generation ago. It is no longer old.


  2. I’m not sure I’m NOT addicted to sugar… I find myself, sometimes, in a dark room with a bag of Charms Blow Pops, and it doesn’t seem totally UNLIKE it used to seem with a jumbo bottle of Chardonnay. There is actually a Blow Pops hangover, by the way – headachy, heart pounding in the neck… It seems addictive personalities (a least MY addictive personality) will seek addiction.
    Happy Birthday.


  3. Hi Heather,

    I LOVED YOUR LAST POST!….actually …each and everyone of your posts.

    Be good to yourself and try to forgive the family hardships; both in your home and your heart. I can’t wait to chat with you.

    Kristen Donhowe

    Date: Thu, 22 May 2014 19:32:21 +0000 To:


  4. I’m in my head. I should do this, I shouldn’t do that. I have to do it perfectly. I have to give it my all. I ate too much, Never should have said that. Something is wrong here, or there, or way over there…blah, blah, blah. I look on the wall, “Take it easy.” I open Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.” I’m starting to leave my head — for now.


  5. Happy birthday!

    Sometimes I have caught myself wondering if I’m addicted to addiction, when I start running everything through that lens. And then I start thinking about how that is nonsense but that some of the tools that I use in my sobriety are useful in other places too (like food! Looking at the reasons behind the compulsions, that sort of thing). But I think that none of this is black and white. Addiction is a spectrum behaviour; that is, the behaviours we exhibit around addiction are behaviours that are part of natural human life, but taken too far. I think, anyway.


    1. I agree with you that addiction is a spectrum, though I can’t claim to understand it well. It’s baffling most of the time. I think we all seek numbing behaviors now and then, but that’s so different too from a harrowing addiction… Thanks for your well said thoughts.


  6. I can say that during the years I was drinking and making poor choices, “I didn’t care what happened to me.” I’m not sure at the time I would have ever been able to say that out loud, but I know I was thinking it. By the Grace of God I now have 15 yrs of sobriety. Yet, put any kind of dessert, chip, or soda in front of me and you’ll see all kinds of compulsive behaviors come out. For me, on the surface, it seems mostly harmless. But a few years ago, when faced with the question of why I couldn’t just say no or control myself better around certain foods the thought of “I don’t care what happens to me” resurfaced again. Stunning. That was one statement I had never addressed. Healing is such an interesting journey. I still struggle with the behavior but at least I’m sensitive to what might be going on inside of me. I appreciate everything that you do here. Thank you!


    1. Congratulations on 15 years of sobriety! That’s so awesome. I get the “I don’t care what happens to me” syndrome, though a lot of my recovery friends would phrase it more crudely. You’re right to recognize it as a precarious place to be. And yes, healing is forever and ever. Which is both so disheartening at times and so promising at others!


  7. Well, I am totally addicted to coconut cake, chocolate, fried chicken, pizza, ice cream…you name it, I can turn it into an addiction with one bite. Food is and probably always will be my drug of choice. But, today my food is good, I am trusting God, and I just plan to take it one day at a time. Actually, for me it is one meal at a time. But, that’s another program.

    Smiles, love and blessings to you, me


  8. Heather I so adore you. One of these days I am telling ya I will bring you a homemade coconut cream cake. We will celebrate our 50ies and wear elastic waist pants. Freedom! 🙂 Miss you.


  9. Sometimes the cake just calls your name. Especially when it’s sitting there, on the counter, waiting to be eaten.
    You just can’t waste a good treat!
    I hope the blahs go away soon.


  10. Heather I am glad you had the chance to experience the coconut cake. Calories don’t care. Many people don’t either. For whatever it is worth… in those moments when I have a scarred deep visceral sense of having lost my soul and centering point… I walk away from the crowd…especially religious ones… and find the familiar craggy cave where rocks are pillows and memories warm the night. Peace for the journey. The North Star hasn’t changed. He/She died for us.


  11. Happy birthday, Heather. I turned 50 last month too, and have a similar post-cake feeling except it was carrot cake. With cream cheese icing. Made by my mother. Now THAT’s comfort food! Mmmmm.


  12. Oh I so needed to hear this today. The recovery group I’m in has a couple of people who turn EVERYTHING in to an addiction. I’m a codependent, yes. I’m in recovery for an addiction to fixing and people pleasing and enabling an addict. But I’m not addicted to chocolate…or diet Dr Pepper…or cheeseball…or food in general. Yes, I have my moments like this last week when I ate leftover from our oldest daughter’s graduation salted caramel cupcakes for breakfast…lunch….midnight snacks. But does that mean I’m a food addict? Or does that mean that my aunt who lives 14 hours away was here and cooked and baked and we won’t have food like that for another 6 months at least?
    I thought maybe I just didn’t get the turning everything in to an addiction because I am not a recovering addict/alcoholic…And after being told people who won’t admit to a food addiction are in denial, I would sometimes let my codependency take over…letting other people tell me who I am, how I am, and on and on.
    The problem with a people addiction is I can’t just not be around people…well, not all the time ;-)….
    Thank you for putting my reality in to words…and…Happy Birthday to a very beautiful soul!


    1. Ah, I think I understand where you’re coming from. It’s easy to get so focused on addiction that we make it the explanation for everything. I’m sure I’ve made this mistake, too. But it was worse when I refused to see addiction at all, of course. Especially in myself. It’s such a sneaky power, we’ve got to be vigilant. But we’ve got to laugh, too. And not always be so serious about our faults or failures or overindulgences. Recovered or not, we’re just human beings, and that’s more than good enough for God. Thank God. 🙂


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