Coffee and history
Giving up coffee has wreaked havoc on me the last three weeks.
The last time I gave up coffee for a few weeks, I felt amazing. I was walking on sunshine within a few days!
This time around, I have felt the ache of its absence in virtually every waking minute. I’ve missed its smell, its taste, the buzz I got from drinking it, the way it gave me enough nervous energy to keep getting through things I’d otherwise not have nearly enough energy to tackle.
In the vein of J.D. from Scrubs, I’ve envisioned grabbing peoples’ mugs and laughing maniacally as I drank from them at a run while they stood behind, coffeeless and baffled as to what exactly just happened.
I’ve had to face the fact that, though I wasn’t pawning my possessions for another hit of my drug of choice, I was–am–deeply, scarily dependent upon coffee.
In the last few weeks, I’ve had to face some fundamental, hard truths.
The last few years have been stressful as hell, from
mystery health problems following exposure to environmental toxins
to having to eat a restrictive diet to counter those health problems
to learning the second pregnancy is way more stressful than the first
(seeing as you have all the exhaustion and another kid to chase around,
and can’t just sleep your way through kid-wrangling and
working and commuting, no matter how exhausted)
to learning that having two kids is seven thousand times more stressful
(because you must give up even more space, time, energy, and money
while the kids are awake, and make double the decisions,
and cook and clean and do more of everything when they are asleep,
before you get to spend a few minutes quietly with yourself, if
there aren’t 907 more non-parenting choices to make with your partner) and that
stress is redoubled by both scary neighbors and the fact you hardly see your friends anymore
(thereby benefiting by none of the stress-relieving properties of their presence,
while they stop inviting you to things because you’re just a boring parent now)
to changing jobs three times in a year and a half while juggling everything else
to feeling painful echoes of childhood poverty and fear in
my husband’s not-working between shows and exhaustion at having to carry
his home load when he is working show biz-long hours
to feeling profoundly the physical distance between me and my siblings,
who have always been the best medicine to counter my distress,
and the sadness of how our cumulative finances make necessary real-life hugs impossible
(because virtual hugs, though helpful to the brain, don’t settle the heart or soul
the way that do at least two arms wrapped around you)
to a million other stressors I thought I’d overcome
simply because I’d put calendar days between me and them.
Thanks to coffee, I was able to hide from myself the cumulative stress the last few years have showered upon me.
I was able to say, “Yeah, that was hard, but it’s over now … now on to the next thing!” and not look too hard into whether any of it really was over, or whether I’d just shoved it aside for future handling.
Without the coffee, I’ve been able to finally acknowledge and understand how bone weary I am. When I’ve said “no,” more and more emphatically to many more things and people, it’s because I haven’t–without coffee–even had enough “yes” for all the things I actually have to do. Each “no” has been–and will be–a self preserving act to protect what scant resources I do have.
I’ve seen that coffee doesn’t actually make things better so much as it makes everything else more enticing to look at, and that calendar days don’t magically make the distress caused by stress disappear.
I’ve learned that I have years worth of distress to actively, consciously, conscientiously heal, and that I can’t fix a problem years in the making with a few short weeks of coffeeless clean eating.
I’ve learned that no matter how exhausted I am, all the stress hormones coursing through my brain from coffee and history can still leave me so wired that I sleep only three hours despite utilizing a dozen different calming techniques over the course of five hours, and that the day that follows will likely be a crapfest because sleep is the fuel I’ve really needed all along, and I just can’t buy that good stuff in a cup.
In the short term, being coffeeless is wrecking me. The fact it’s wrecking me so intensely actually makes me more insistent on leaving it behind. I don’t want dependency, or a pseudo-cure in a cup anymore. I want real cures that come with time, persistence, patience (as often as possible), and kindness toward myself as I work it all out.
I can’t fix the problems I hide from myself so skillfully I don’t recognize they’re problems.
And so, I write this to remind myself that, though I short term want a cup of coffee, and another one after that, and then another,
I don’t really. Why?
Because I long term want to feel better, a feeling that comes not from consuming external resources
but dedicating myself to developing positive internal ones.
Today will likely be one of those days:
one of those days where I’m tired, and sad, and struggling to stay awake,
and wondering how on earth I’ll make it through all of those hours and tasks before bedtime.
But like all of those other some-days, I will make it through, and the fact I make it through
will be a reminder on other such days that I am a warrior, and I–
as much as the light–am worth fighting for.