The first time I indulged in my drug of choice, I was around 18 years old. I was standing alongside two of my brothers in a huge crowd at Disney World, waiting for the light parade at Magic Kingdom to begin. I could barely keep my eyes open, struggling to stay awake.
“Here, try this,” my older brother whispered. “C’mon. I know you’re gonna like it. Just do it. Try it.”
I hesitated. I’ve seen what this drug did to my parents. My friends in college. I knew of its tantalizing ability to lure an innocent person in with promises of a blissfully altered mental state. I knew it was pure evil.
I rubbed my eyes and yawned, the night still young, but with the endless hours of a Mickey Mouse parade stretched out in front of me, I caved. “Fine!” I grabbed it from my brother and choked it down.
A buzzing filled my ears. Then the top of my head came off and my mind busted wide open. Every single neuron in my body stood at attention. I felt electric. I saw stars. Colors were brighter. Noises were sharper. A rush of glee washed over me as my soul soared out of my body into the heavens above the Magic Kingdom. I felt like I could fly. I felt like I had the strength of a million atomic bombs exploding in the sky. I could do anything. And all at once. I was invincible.
I had my first sip of coffee.
After that fateful day, it was all over for me. An addiction was born.
As a kid, I remember watching what this drug did to my parents–always huddled around the coffee pot in the morning, looking like death warmed over, chugging the sweet nectar of java with a glazed look in their eyes. I didn’t get it. To me, coffee tasted like burnt tar mixed with diarrhea. But oh, mercy, I had no idea of its powers! Its ability to elevate my soul.
Soon I was back at college drinking it nonstop. Every day, all day. Shamefully standing in line, waiting to get my cheap fix with a jumbo-sized McCoffee with double cream. Pulling all-nighters studying for exams, stopping every few minutes to re-administer my java-IV, getting that hit of heart-pumping adrenaline again and again and again. It was never enough. I found myself spiraling down into a junkie’s worst nightmare. Soon I needed more just to maintain. It didn’t matter what kind. I knew I hit rock bottom when I was willingly drinking entire pots of cheap Yuban, the bitter toxic elixir flooding my body with that momentary rush.
Over the years I’ve rationalized my addiction, while my doctor continuously scolded me for drinking it. “It interferes with sleep, Darla! It makes you jittery, Darla! It’s bad! Bad stuff! You must wean yourself! Get off it now before it’s too late!”
I’ve read countless conflicting reports on caffeine’s effect on your body:
“Coffee’s good for you! It helps stave off certain cancers!”
“Oops! Sorry! We were wrong! Coffee’s bad for you! It’s poison!”
The first time I admitted I had a problem was when I gave up coffee completely the first time I was pregnant. My doctor warned me of the hellish withdrawals to come. It can’t be that bad! I foolishly thought.
On day three, my head felt like a Mack truck was repeatedly slamming into my forehead. Every bone in my head was aching, every artery throbbing, begging for relief. My hands shook, my entire body convulsed in agony. But I did it. I gave up coffee for nine solid months.
And now? I sit here today, writing this in-between gulps of coffee.
Coffee: You’ve done me wrong. But it feels oh, so right.
Are you addicted to coffee? Tea? Mountain Dew? Are you heading out on errands? Can ya pick me up a Dunkin Donuts large Iced Coffee with Extra Cream?