Obstacles and Motives Pave My Compassionately Boundaried Way
In Cup 1, I described my decades long intransigent addiction to coffee. A cup a day is fine for many, but while healing from a boatload of chronic conditions, it’s not fine for me.
The definition of addiction includes knowing something isn’t good for you and doing it anyway, despite your highest wishes. Compulsive use despite knowledge of harm. I hate to say it, coffee, but that’s you and me.
I’ve explored my motives, both for and against coffee, multiple times. Being on an elimination diet for years still hasn’t eliminated my conditions, and in reaction to that chronic deprivation, coffee has become my yum and my yuck. My motivations are deep and wide, as is my awareness, and yet I struggle to be guided by them.
Ryan Holiday’s “The Obstacle is the Way” is on my long reading list, as the title gives me hope. Having discussed avoidant personality behavior with my therapist, meaning the tendency to turn to physical distractions to avoid difficult feelings, I’ve even done EMDR (trauma-processing work) on it. Even though I understand my triggers, they still get me. I’m starting to think that my worst enemy is a physical one within, which I can not see.
My gut has its own boom and bust cycle. I do well, fall, do poorly, and then rinse and repeat. I’m no longer sure if my splurges on coffee are causing these busts or a result of them. I think maybe it’s both.
I’m working with a functional medicine practitioner. It’s well known that bugs in your belly can control your brain. I don’t mean that conspiratorially, rather simply that we now know that food cravings connect to the unseen microbiome. While there are some basic food practices that are widely advised, working with the microbiome is still relatively new and not common practice in conventional medicine. Laboratory testing for it is expensive and not always available.
In my situation, it’s not a simple fix of taking high quality probiotics. I’ve got problems with absorbing nutrients. Even though I eat well, coffee binges not withstanding, what I eat is not readily informing my body’s functions. There are layers to this. I’m working on it but I’ll spare you the rest of the details. You’re welcome to request more information via the comments, though, if helpful.
The main point here is to explore how I am keeping hope alive when the struggle seems larger than me. Motivation helps as does compassion. Even while I sit here writing with my morning coffee, even as I read this and wonder what’s real and what’s just an excuse for bad behavior, I still haven’t given up. For now, my focus is on compassionate boundaries.
I keep my one cup to the early morning. I commit to hydrating well daily, including at least one or two cups of water before drinking my coffee, as it often helps stem my desire for more and also mitigates some of the physical symptoms that coffee causes me.
As I slowly recommit to my daily health practices, coming off a bout of intense chronic fatigue, I think about visualizing life without coffee as being easy and normal. I imagine a life where coffee is on super special occasions, holidays and rare late night gatherings, maybe a very occasional birthday cake or two. A life where my gut, my moods, and my other habits are more stable.
And, I’m writing you here to share the struggle. Hopefully, my third cup in this series will come down the line. There I will share what I’ve done to make this vision a reality. I look forward to calling it “The Final Cup”!