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.