January 23, 2022

Breaking Up is Hard to Do

Everyone who knows me well knows I have had, until fairly recently in my fifty-plus years, a serious coffee habit. Not a morning would go by without a huge pottery mug of freshly ground, French pressed, strongly brewed, organic, fair trade java to get me going. I likened the effect on my brain to the THX sound effect on a movie screen. Once the caffeine kicked in every cell in my body would fill with sweet, electric energy that I would then use (mainly) for good. I felt like I had a superpower, and that superpower was coffee. I would have another cup, usually an Americano, mid-morning, which would get me through the work day at my former job as a baker. Did I mention that I was also a certified coffee snob? 

Twenty months ago, almost to the day, I suffered both a brain injury and a neck injury. The first made me desire sleep more than anything, and the second gave me such bad headaches that sleep came but rarely. As with most times when I have been unwell, I stopped drinking caffeine in hopes that I would sleep better. Within a few months, thanks to medication and physiotherapy, I did begin to sleep better, but I still abstained from coffee in an effort to maintain what I had gained, sleep wise. After several months I allowed myself the occasional decaf espresso, and that is still basically where I am at today with my coffee consumption. Even I thought I would have jumped back on the coffee express a.s.a.p. The truth is I had begun to realize I was, at this point in my life anyway, better off without it. 

No morning coffee meant no coffee crash a few hours later and also less pandemic anxiety. I began to enjoy the steady level of energy throughout the day and the better sleeps at night. I had, for years, awoken in the wee hours of the morning and fought hard to get back to sleep before my alarm went off. Rarely would I sleep through the night like the proverbial baby (which babies are these?) or log, or what-have-you. These days I get up and turn on the kettle, usually favouring peppermint tea or a coffee substitute like Caf-Lib - I can imagine the eye rolls this post is getting right now - I sit in my armchair with my mug of watery substitute, grateful that it is at least hot, and read a bit, then check my phone. I wash my hair, do some yoga and then start the activities I have to do for the day. The former THX sound effect has been replaced by something sounding more like a distant wave reaching longingly for the shore. 

Do I miss coffee? Yes. I miss the deeply flavoured elixer that was worth getting up at 5:20 on workdays for. I miss going to bed looking forward to coffee. I miss that first sip feeling. I miss ordering coffee at the coffee shop. These days I usually order herbal tea or hot chocolate, if I go at all. I haven't worked since my injuries, so my days can start gently; I have that privilege. Once I come out of this temporary retirement, sick leave, wellness sabbatical, whatever it begs to be called, and start working again, I know coffee will creep back into my life. I already enjoyed a little with Irish Cream liqueur over Christmas when the days were filled with the buzz of activity and socializing with my visiting children. For now, though, I will keep my fuel the decaf kind and hope that when I do re-introduce coffee back into my life, it won't be so much of an addiction but rather, a pleasurable addition I can take or leave. Well, I can try, right?