Coffee & Me: A Tormented Romance

Written by: Jorinde Berben
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I’m taking my last sips of coffee for the rest of the month. Next week I’m starting with a series of supplements that don’t allow for caffeine intake, so I’m going off the black juice for at least a month.

My relationship with coffee is a long and arduous one. I was swept off my feet at an early age. I believe I was 12. Coffee wooed me and romanced me, and, not long after, it moved in completely. I drank at least a cup a day, and I loved waking up to a cup of black gold (with milk, no sugar).
It stayed that way for many, many, many years. The relationship felt solid and without issue.

However, over time, I did become aware of the fact that not having my coffee in the morning, or at any time I felt tired, became a problem. When I started noticing that, there would be times in which I tried to break up. The first time I quit cold turkey, it took me a week to recover. I’d been drinking a steady 3-4 cups a day for years, and my body was not having it. I noticed extreme fatigue, headaches, irritability and, of course, the desire for that lovely bitterness!
The first three symptoms disappeared after a week tops, but the desire stayed. Coffee was me-time, a treat I deserved, a boost to my mood, part of my personality.

So, after a few months, I figured I could allow myself a cup every now and then, just as a treat, only on special occasions.
But special occasions became weekends. Weekends became a few days a week. A few days a week turned into one a day, and occasionally two again…

After I’d repeated this pattern of quitting and sliding back into the habit a couple of times, I started noticing the effects coffee had on my mood and on my energy levels overall. When I wasn’t taking in caffeine on a daily basis, I felt better in the morning and my energy levels stayed much more stable overall.
When I did drink, I’d have a serious energy crash somewhere in the early afternoon. I’d find myself dosing off and not able to concentrate, needing one cup after another to get me through the rest of the day.
My sleep wasn’t very much impacted when I still drank every day, but when the up and down cycles began, I noticed I had more trouble sleeping when I drank too much or too late in the day.

With this awareness and learning more about the effects of caffeine, I have become more motivated to keep my habit under control. Yet, I’m not quite ready to completely give up on this (un)savory romance. I’ve noticed that denying myself coffee completely has a strong tendency of causing the rebel in me to, well, rebel.

What’s helping me not slip back into the habit of drinking every day? I’ve made an agreement with my coach (and partner) to whom I feel accountable. I am also accutely aware of the benefits of living without it, to both my physical and mental health.
And last, but also very importantly: I know I am actively choosing FOR something rather than feeling I have to stay away from it.

My relationship to coffee has allowed me many moments of self-observation and self-reflection. I repeatedly noticed myself acting in a way I didn’t believe was in my best interest, and I’ve thus been able to notice it in other areas of my life as well.
For the awareness it has offered me, I’m eternally grateful. As well as for all those moments of cosy togetherness with a warm cup of joe.

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