The Ongoing Caffeine Battle, and How It Shall End

I watched The Secret Garden with my kids this evening.  Later, I read some inspiring and insightful articles online, as my family all went to sleep before I did.  It got me thinking about how I am still struggling with caffeine.    Here are the facts:

I have been a soda fiend since before I can remember, with my grandparents and father handing me baby bottles full as a toddler.

I have tried before to quit soda, and have even succeeded in the past (several times, for months, and once for over a year).

However, in recent times, I’ve made the unpleasant connection that a sustained lack of caffeine creates the presence of “cranky-bitch mommy”, whom I do not like AT ALL and actively strive to avoid.

This year, I finally caved to my husband’s occasional desire for home-brewed coffee, and allowed a coffeemaker to enter our home.  As predicted, this thing has become the bane of my existence, since I now crave a cup’o coffee every morning just to gain coherence, let alone productivity of any sort throughout the day.  It may usually be only one cup of coffee, but sometimes it’s two.  I don’t drink the cheap stuff either–and it’s got to have special creamer, too.  This is only spiraling out of control as the years go on.

Years.  I’ve struggled with caffeine for years, and it’s getting worse and worse for me.  The last time I quit, I quit for nearly six months, but I experienced really debilitating mental and physical effects of withdrawal for what felt like two weeks.  Prior to that purge, however, I was downing a 12-pack of soda every day or so, with energy drinks and cups of coffee thrown in for variety.  It’s so embarrassing to admit that, as someone who is supposedly concerned with their health, both physically and spiritually.  Addiction at that level is simply gross, no matter the substance–and while I’m thankfully not that deep into it anymore, I also know that it would be disturbingly easy for me to regress back into such awful habits, under the wrong circumstances.

But back to my insightful readings.  I know that any new habit can be relatively well-incorporated after 30 days of sustained, no-nonsense effort.  I also know that my habits must support my goals if I intend to take them seriously.

So why do I keep the coffeepot?  Why do I allow myself to imagine how delicious a soda would be, poured into a frosty glass with ice, along with my dinner?

I think the fear of such drastic withdrawal symptoms–most of all my appalling mood shift–is what’s keeping me caffeinated most of all.  However, according to Dr. Joel Fuhrman, caffeine withdrawal is a matter of getting over the hump–which normally doesn’t last more than 4-5 days.  If I can’t hack it for that long, then I have bigger problems than caffeine addiction!

I need to find a way to keep the withdrawal symptoms at bay, which mainly includes being able to not become a horrible, cranky burden on my family.  This will take active concentration and attention to “ward off at the pass”, so to speak.  But it’s not insurmountable.  People can and do get over addictions to much, much worse things then caffeine all the time.

Barring this, I need to take some very salient advice that I just keep coming back to, as if the Universe continually causes it to cross my path:  Just Do It.  The only barrier between the achievement of my goals and dreams, and my current reality…is me.

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Living a Theoretical Life vs. Just Doing It: Caffeine

It occurred to me recently that I am living a largely theoretical life.

I may have clever or even divine inspirations, but I hesitate to act on them. I think of doing amazing, life-changing, progress-oriented things, but it seems that too often, I don’t follow through, or external things get in the way and for whatever reason, the progress is stunted.
For example, I have sworn off caffeine more times than I can count, yet at this very moment there is a half-empty bottle of soda nearby. I think about how other people do not need caffeine to function throughout the day, or how lovely it would be to start the day with a cup o’this instead of nasty, tooth-yellowing coffee. On a deeper level, I think about how the pathology of addiction is present, about how dangerous chemicals like phosphoric acid and HFCS are, and so on until it would be absolutely ludicrous for me to imagine touching another drop of any caffeine-containing beverage, for any reason. And then…inexplicably, I end up with coffee or soda in hand.
Now, I am also old enough to be able to look back at my adult life and realize that were it not for this unfortunate tendency, I would be happier and better off, all around. This problem goes far deeper than just beating the caffeine addiction. It’s really about how to Just Do It instead of forever languishing in the realm of theory and probability.
By nature, I am an analyst–I must dissect and cross-examine nearly every bit of relevant information that I come across. While this is generally a good habit to have, I am starting to recognize that this tendency is no longer as helpful as it once was in my life. I am no longer swimming (drowning?) in the vast seas of possible life-options–I have lived in this world long enough to be fairly sure of who I am, what I believe, and what I want to achieve. I don’t need to shuffle along the walls of every maze of information I come across, for fear of missing some crucial piece of information that might unlock the puzzle of my life’s purpose.
To move forward, from the realm of theory into actualization, I need to shift away from my tendency to over-think my actions and inactions. Instead of imagining how good it would feel to be caffeine-free, I need to just face facts: Namely, that it’s hard to go through withdrawal symptoms, that caffeine is everywhere and I should be forewarned and forearmed to deal with this fact, and that it might never be easy to live a caffeine-free life. But–and here’s the kicker–if I value being caffeine-free as a worthy life goal, as a positive thing to align my life with, then I have to Just Do It. No excuses, no rationalization, no backtracking or coddling myself mentally. If I absentmindedly spend my last few dollars in change on a delicious soy caramel macchiato (and yes, they are delicious), I should pour it out as soon as I catch myself–even if it’s before leaving the counter.
Better to berate myself for money wasted than for money wasted AND for allowing a goal to slip out of my reach yet again.