Socially acceptable addictions

So, I made my re-entry back into the world of coffee without much of a glitch, save a bit of shame for being such a hypocrite, telling the world I would never drink “the crap” again. I had originally quit because of headaches and a near-complete dependence on the stuff, a la a pure substance abuse. I couldn’t wake up without it. I couldn’t get through my day without a second hit. And I didn’t feel a part of American culture if, like everyone else, I couldn’t have a tall soy latte in my hand while coursing my way through an intersection.

But hey, I made it an entire month without it, and felt pretty good, despite some migraines the first week, for which I needed to see a doctor.  I substituted with green Kombucha tea, Yerba Mate and red rooibos–all of which did weird things to me. But, soon enough, I felt cleansed, unpolluted, alert, and mostly, free from the shackles or addiction and of course, the ritual of having to hunt down a Starbuck’s at 3:30pm, no matter where I was, so as to recharge and make me feel part of the human race again. But my digestive tract had become so dependent on the caffeine (from roughly 300 mgs per day down to about 25 mgs or less) that for the entire month, horribly unmentionable things were happening to me. OK, I’ll mention them: burping, belching, farting, constipation, IBS and so on.

But here’s the hitch. Without my daily caffeine fix, I craved bad foods.  Usually my diet is very healthy: slow-cooked oats for breakfast, salad for lunch, chicken, veggies and a starch for dinner. Every once in a while  I’d have a sweet. But when I stopped drinking coffee, there was that nagging toxic sensation of needing to “fill the void” well known to love addicts, and so…as if I had this Get Out of Jail Free card I started eating mountains of burgers, fries, potato chips (something I NEVER eat), cookies, and other junk. It’s as if there was this yin and yang within me…pulling at me to do something bad to counteract all the good I was accomplishing. I mean, let’s be honest. There’s only so much green tea and Andrew Weil a girl can take, you know. I was too cleansed, too pure, too unpolluted. Not to mention all my friends were on my case, insisting that I needed at least one vice. “Live a little,” they said. As if drinking coffee, and vices in general are the mark of a satisfying life.


But, in a way, they’re right. Unless we are holed up in a monastery at the top of a mountain in Nepal with virtually no human contact, we need to experience the world in all its divine and no so divine glory. And we’re talking coffee. Occasional sweets. A shopping spree here and there. The lighter side of addiction that doesn’t rob you completely of your soul. As addicting as it is, a cup of coffee in the morning is something I can live with. Coffee, I suppose,  keeps the bad girl in me alive. It keeps me a little sullied, a little uninhibited, a little wild, without stripping me of my dignity and my values.

My sis-in-law was over last night and we were discussing the documentary “Babies.” She was saying that too much care can cause an individual to weaken. Too much hand sanitizer, for example, can keep us over-protected from being able to build up an immunity to viruses and bacteria. In that sense, I’d like to think that my coffee addiction keeps me dirty enough that I can actually exist among society.

But the truth is, I’ve decided to try quitting again, after the summer, when I can spend a month or two alone, isolated and insulated from the rest of the world. Detoxing is a slow, meticulous process, which needs time and patience (a metaphor for love addiction recovery perhaps?). And the fact of the matter is, that despite my addiction to it, I feel better without it, physically and mentally. And though I’m sure to substitute my bad girl coffee habit with something equally bad (shoplifting?  loitering in front of the “No Loitering” signs around town?), at least I will no longer be a slave to the ritual or dependent upon a substance that has a little too much control over my life.

But for now, the coffee maker is brewing my usual french roast and my Starbuck’s card is fully loaded and ready to be swiped.


5 thoughts on “Socially acceptable addictions

  1. Funny! I consider coffee to be one of the things that make my life pleasurable and bearable! I have a couple of cups in the morning. I don’t feel addicted to it at all. But I ADORE the smell and taste, it can be even be decaf. Same with herbal tea with lemon – that’s my evening ritual. I am a creature of habit.

    I guess for me, there is nothing wrong with enjoying something if you aren’t going to become addicted to it. I know I can’t drink wine without drinking the entire. fricking. bottle. So I don’t drink alcohol anymore. There are those who can have one glass and walk away – I envy them because I love the taste of wine but the woozy “make the world go away” feeling I get from that one glass is just too much….I have to have more and more. Same with the love addiction thing. I can’t be in a relationship until I can be in one without becoming obsessed and falling in love too fast. I’ve been down in the mouth the past couple days because a past crush has been paraded on Facebook by his new date. He didn’t post the pictures…she did. Wonder if he feels embarrassed…or is he okay with it? Got me to thinking though…what is so good about her? I have to break this stupid cycle of comparing myself to others and needing the approval of a “dating partner.” Only then can I allow myself to indulge once more.


    1. Ew, yeah, Anna, forget about comparing yourself to others. Remember, there is only ONE YOU. You are a miracle. No one else in the entire world can shake a stick at the unique combination of everything you are. See the beauty in that fact, and rise above. 🙂

      I know it’s hard. I used to beat myself up. Why would “he” (whoever “he” was at the time) want “her” when I was clearly the better choice. Years later I realised that’s precisely why “he” didn’t want me. He didn’t want the better choice. He wanted someone he could be better than. Do you see? So…perhaps you need to focus on you for awhile and find your beauty. Once you do, it’s so much easier for others who want to be around healthy, happy, shiny people to find you!


      1. Thanks, June! I know, comparing is NOT the way to heal. I was thinking about this guy and why he may have chosen this girl. He always said he wanted someone “confident” – they must above all things be confident. Well, I think to him that this meant someone with NO problems and no complications – someone who he could just be a child with and watch movies with and play with his “toys” (car, electronics, etc.) with and never have any real adult responsibilities. This guy was so not for me anyway. The more I think about it, the more I’m so glad he didn’t want me because I certainly don’t want him. I have clarified my values and preferences and he doesn’t meet either!


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