Next month it will be exactly one year since I stopped drinking coffee. Please don’t think you have stumbled across a wellness/paleo/whole30 blog, the reason why I’m sharing this post is two reasons – one, as a way to listen to the whispers and two, because its an important way for me to reflect on the year that was.
Back in 2007 I had a job where I worked part of the week in Sydney and the other part in Canberra. Throw in an 18 month old, a divorce, a new relationship and a job that required me to write about trauma and its fair to say I was…stretched. To put it politely. My boss was in Canberra and early one morning after I’d done the day care, one hour commute, quick grab of large coffee and buttery raisin toast (oh toast how I miss thee), she rang for a quick update on the project was working on. I was kneeling on my chair, hunched over the desk, shuffling papers, sipping coffee and logging in to my computer as we chatted. I gave her some rambling update on what I had been doing, where the drafts were at, which stakeholders were happy and this conversation stuck in my mind:
Her: ‘Sar, are you ok?’
Me: ‘of course, why?’
Her: ‘Well its just that you sound like you’re in a race. Like its all swirling around’
I laughed, glossed over the hysteria and kept on going. That word, however, kept coming back to haunt me over the years. Racing, that was exactly what it felt like to be in my mind. This constant merry-go-round of thoughts and whirring feelings. Like I was on a high that I couldn’t come down from one that was continuously fuelled by take away coffee. My drug of choice.
The thing is coffee wasn’t necessarily about caffeine for me. It was the ritual of stopping, taking time for me as a (dreaded word alert) busy working mum, a place where I could make an order, stop and stare out at the passing traffic, drink something all to myself, without having to share with anyone and a legitimate reason to take a break from work.
As my kids were born the daily long walk to the coffee shop was my emotional health time, a chance to chat with the lovely barista at the cafe, a slow meander home with a sleeping babe in the big red pram, a chance to watch the leaves change during the seasons.
More recently a ritual, a tick on my to-do list before sitting down to begin work for the day.
And so it was that last June I found myself in a racing position again (not in the dodgy racy variety but the mind racing one), my stomach would hurt after every cup, I could hear my heart pounding each night in my head when I finally went to bed and I felt like I was running away from a tiger, even though we are at least 20 kilometres from the closest zoo.
And so I stopped. And you know what? Nothing bad happened. I found myself a little headachy for a few days, I started to slow down and the cravings for that cup with its own little lid were replaced by large volumes of herbal tea, a little chai here and there and if I really wanted to splash out some green tea with jasmine. Living on the edge!
Sometimes when we place importance on the rituals that we perceive as the ones that ‘keep us going’ we fail to see if they are actually working for us.
Coffee wasn’t for me, what ritual would you drop that wasn’t for you?