I taught myself to drink coffee when I was 16. That is 45 years of drinking coffee. I taught myself to prefer my coffee black. Even 45 years ago I was a practical gal, figuring that sugar and cream were not always available. Back then coffee was always available at every event. If there was a school function, church event, block BBQ, neighbor visit, store opening, shower, reunion or break room - there was brewed coffee at all times. In those days soda was not the ubiquitous beverage it is now. It was a kid drink, pop, and water was out of the tap and rarely the only beverage available. Yes, there was piping hot coffee even if there wasn't any cream or sugar.

My friends, twins Carol and Claudia, had just moved from a nearby town and they were my coffee buddies. After school we would come home and brew a whole pot (Glass pot by Pyrex) for ourselves. And, yes, we also lit up our cigarettes - spending the next several hours in deep discussion. (Those twins later were bridesmaids at my wedding).

When I was 23 or so I realized that I always had a mug of coffee and a cigarette going. I couldn't leave the house without making sure I had a pack of smokes and a mug of coffee. It made me so scared to realize I had to have these props when I'd been a camper an outdoor girl. I'd been proud of my prowess in the outdoors and my 12 years at summer camp. But, no more. Even having two children, I still hadn't quit.

I carried this guilt for 16 more years until I finally gave up smoking. It was relatively easy. It was a great deal easier to quit than to carry around guilt and anxiety for almost 40 years! The time was right and that's all I can figure.

Back to my coffee, I have switched to decaf several times in these 45 years - but I have never gone without coffee even a day unless I was violently ill. Thing is, when I get addicted, I seem to stay addicted. And, I know myself well enough to not attempt to quit anything when I am half-hearted. So, I have not had to struggle with the aftermath of many failed attempts. When I am ready, I usually know it is time. It was time.

Ten days ago I decided to quit drinking coffee. My digestion woes made me skip coffee one day almost 3 weeks ago. Besides falling asleep sitting up it wasn't so bad. M. suggested I should maybe consider quitting altogether, so I did. It has been absolutely painless - she says with great relief. My struggle is one that pops up now and then in the last 6 years - "poor me I am so deprived." That is bullshit of course, because my quitting anything in the past years (smoking, beer, sex, baby showers, convenience foods, carbohydrates, television, refrigerator, etc.) has been about gaining freedom. No props required for enjoyment, movement, conversation, concentration, creativity. This is spectacularly freeing.

Clarification. I had coffee at a restaurant breakfast M and I enjyed the other day. But, I didn't feel like I'd broken my new habit. I didn't quit because of caffeine as much as I needed to quit my dependence on using coffee every day - all day. And, having that restaurant coffee didn't make the next morning any harder - ergo I am still succeeding in altering my behavior.

I must remain vigilant in this goofy culture I am immersed in, so that I don't fall for the lie that I need stuff - must have stuff - must drink stuff. It is also terribly demoralizing to think of the years I was a virtual prisoner of habits. Ten days and feeling oh so good about it.

Cross posted make-a-(sun) plan


daharja said...

My husband gave up coffee a few months ago, and doesn't miss it.

At least, I think he doesn't ;-)

As for me, I'm still on my No Chocolate Year - with less than a month to go! I don't really miss it, but being able to have it sometimes would be nice - having to avoid all desserts with chockie in them when I'm out is a bit annoying, for example.

But I'm tough. I finish the year on 2 August. And will celebrate with some fine, organic Fair Trade chocolate :-)

katecontinued said...

I was just talking to a friend about this concept of eliminating something as an exercise. I think it makes people really uncomfortable as the inference is that they too should be doing the same challenge. I feel I need to remain firm in my own convictions, my own reasons and remember that I'm not responsible for how others judge my experience. Having said that I know there are considerations of social behavior like not bragging or belittling another's beliefs, etc.

Congratulations on the no-chocolate year! I believe it must be in one of the top ten list of most commonly acknowledged addictions in the western nations. (Western as term gets confusing - as does global south - when I think of Australia and New Zealand.)

daharja said...

Hi Kate - You're right about it making people uncomfortable! The general response from a LOT of people has been "I don't actually eat that much chocolate" even though I've certainly not made any attempt to pose my own personal challenge as a challenge to anyone else!

I think everyone has their own demons, and we have to fight them as best we can in our own way. Life, despite what the ads might want us to believe, is not a competition in ethics.

More than anything, my year of chocolate free-ness has given me a chance to think a bit more about how much of it I was eating, and why. I'll go back to eating it, but hopefully not in such amounts again! Maybe moderation is the key to happiness, after all.

Chile said...

I've had many years of coffee addiction, ranging from a pot a day to complete abstinance...that never lasted. Well, my body decided to take things into its own "hands" and made me quit. Even decaf. I thought I could get away with a little decaf since it didn't make the vertigo too bad but I finally figured out it was making my TMJ worse. *sigh*

However, it's been a while now and I finally, finally, don't miss it every single morning. Or maybe that's just because of the summer heat!

Best wishes for your continued freedom from the stuff.

katecontinued said...

I thought of you, Chile, because of your need to quit. Weird how the body will just demand what it needs that way. I have had coffee when I am out several times with no real problems returning to my coffee free days.