September 15, 2013 at 12:56 am , by Nick Shell
I should start off this letter to you with what I have as my current status on Facebook:
“In the past 5 years, I have completely and successfully given up pork, shellfish, processed sugars, then meat altogether, then dairy, eggs, and honey; more recently, all alcohol and carbonated drinks (which I only had in moderation anyway)… and all of that, was NOTHING… compared to my newest current challenge: Caffeine (and therefore, coffee). I have officially survived Day #1. I heard the first 5 are the worst. This is misery; suffering both physically and psychologically. Caffeine is a highly addictive, easily accessible, completely legal and unregulated drug that has got me in a powerful state of withdrawal right now. I shall overcome…”.
Yeah, that about covers it.
Our family drove home from buying groceries at Whole Foods today and all I could do was collapse on the floor once I walked in the door. You started to run over to me as if to tackle me. I had to say, “I’m sorry, Son. I can’t wrestle with you tonight. Daddy isn’t feeling well.”
You kept asking me why I wasn’t feeling well. How do I explain to a nearly 3 year-old that, without realizing it, Daddy has been addicted to coffee (in the form of one to two cups a day at work, then at least one Starbucks over the weekend)?
I was familiar with this sort of urban legend that Starbucks’ coffee has more caffeine than “normal coffee” you would make at work or at home. Mommy and I spent some time this week researching that claim. The best evidence was this recent article on The Huffington Post, called “How Much Caffeine Is Actually In Your Coffee, From Dunkin’ to Starbucks?”
The story included this pictogram which pretty much clears it up for me.
Part of the difficulty that comes with removing certain food and drink staples from my life, being that I could now be labelled as a caffeine-free, alcohol-free, soda-free, kosher vegan, is the nostalgia I have to let go of. And that definitely is the case here with caffeine.
After all, the friendship between Mommy and me, that eventually led to us dating, was first nourished in a weekly Sunday night meet at Starbucks; which didn’t simply include coffee, but more importantly, caffeine.
I’m not banning Starbucks as a company or a brand. I admire their cleverness. They have found a way to capitalize on one of the most addictive and unregulated drugs in the world and get people to pay at least 4 dollars a pop for it. I respect that, as a Libertarian capitalist.
But as for me, I plan for that half a cup of coffee I drank at work Friday morning to be my last ounce of caffeine for the rest of my life.
I just hate the thought of being at the mercy of a food, drink, and/or drug. Instead, I’d rather discipline my body and bring it into subjection (Biblical reference); especially knowing that the process of detoxing from caffeine makes me feel like a drug addict.
That is how I feel, by the way. I am a drug addict going through a baptism-by-fire withdrawal period. It is brutal.
I can feel my nervous system under attack right now. I’m a little freaked out by it, to be honest.
While I am so happy to have you and Mommy here with me now, I have to admit it feels like the Smoke Monster from Lost is trying to win this battle with me this weekend. That is how I am portraying my withdrawals from caffeine addiction.
I wish I could be fully present with you this weekend in mind, body, and spirit, but I know I’m not me right now.
From what I learned thanks to the girl in the tea aisle at Whole Foods today, who is now caffeine-free, having been through this herself, it takes a solid 10 days to recover from a caffeine addiction, but the first 5 are the worst.
I can do this. Cold turkey, to be exact.
Top photo: Coffee Addict Concept, via Shutterstock.