Last year I gave up alcohol for Lent. Why? Because I wasn’t sure if I could. That was reason enough. And it actually turned out to be easier than I thought, and to make less of a difference to my life than I thought it would.
What I didn’t tell anyone at the time, though, was that what I really wanted to do was see if I could give up coffee, but I chickened out at the last second because I was too scared and chose alcohol instead. I was scared both of the first few inevitable days of headaches and irritability, and also of the possibility that I would quit halfway through and down an espresso.
Well, I don’t know what’s different this year, but I’m giving it a go. And just because quitting alcohol for a few weeks wasn’t as hard as I thought it’d be, I am under no illusions about this one. I know it’s going to be horrible at first.
If I were someone who just had a weak cup in the morning this wouldn’t be such a big deal, but with two exceptions – four weeks in 2010 and one week in 2016, I’ve drank several cups a day for the last 13 years. And I like it strong. I get a headache if I so much as get to the middle of the afternoon and I haven’t had one.
And that’s just one of the reasons why for about the last 12 years I have suspected my permanently high caffeine consumption was doing me more harm than good, but that’s the frustrating thing about coffee – it’s essentially impossible to look to the outside world for confirmation on whether or not you should be drinking it. For every study that finds definitive proof you should never have another sip, another one finds ten reasons you’re not having enough of the stuff. You can’t go down the objective route. You can’t ask the world if you personally “should” drink coffee, or your search will have you running round in circles for years, like me.
Ultimately, the only way to know if it is good, bad, or neutral – for you – is to have direct experience of both modes of living. I have experienced the full-of-coffee mode for over a decade. I know INTIMATELY what that shit is all about.
I think I owe it to myself to do this measly six weeks. Wish me luck. And if in my next few days worth of writings I sound like I’m down in the dumps, it’s because – chemically, at least – I am.