When I think of addiction I normally wouldn’t count myself in that club. Vices, up until this year, have not had a grip on me. But something has changed. I have taken up a habit that isn’t good for me, has bad repercussions that I know about, and I really, really am having a hard time quitting.
I’m talking about espresso. I swear, every judgment I have ever gleamed on another human being has been coming back to bite me in the behind, and addiction is now what I get to experience. Being that I smoked for 17 years, one might think that this was an addiction, and it was, but not really. I always, more or less, felt in control of that one. When I decided to quit, I felt a little grumpy the first few times I was around smokers and then it was over. It didn’t take me long before I found cigarettes disgusting and smelly.
But espresso is different. I found the Magnificent Mocha around 2003, when I started working in public relations. At the time I hadn’t done much writing, and what I had done was for my eyes only. I found that when I tried to sit and concentrate to write articles for my job, my mind roamed, I got hungry, or I just thought of other things that were more interesting to me.
My account was the Atlanta Home Show, so my articles would have titles like, How to Keep Your Lawn Green in the Winter, or Five Reasons to Remodel Instead of Move. I found that if I had a Mocha I could sit and write. Not only could I write better, I could do it faster too. With the espresso shot, my typing hands were flying faster than the Wheelie ride spins around at Six Flags.
But this was occasional. Not every day, just once in a blue moon. Then somewhere along the way, I think after my son arrived in 2005, I started to allow myself a Mocha twice a week. Usually Wednesdays and Saturdays (don’t ask me why those days). Now granted, my son has never (even now) been the best sleeper. I was tired. So many days, so very tired. What’s twice a week, right? I felt joy when I walked in those days to smell the aroma of brewing coffee. I watched as the barista put three squirts of chocolate, one shot of espresso, combined with wonderfully white steamed milk; then she would ask, “Whipped cream?” To which I would respond, “Oh, yes, please.”
Even after my daughter was born in 2007, I still kept to my two days a week. I looked forward to my comfort drink those days, but I didn’t think that much of it. Sometimes I even skipped it – forgetting about the frothy milk, the bitter-sweetness of the chocolate mixing with the espresso. (Now I ask, How could I not remember that?)
My addiction has come gradually, sneaking up on me like a handsome, dark puma in the night.
It’s been in the last year that I have become an addict. This is no joke either. It’s like a real addiction. Here’s what I am experiencing: almost every day I think about whether I will get a Mocha. When I tell myself no, I then start to think of a reason to justifying having one. An excuse might be, “Well, I have been busy this morning and I still have the afternoon to be with the kids.” Or, “It is bath night for the kids. I’ll be in need of extra energy to get them to come up stairs and take the bath and then even more energy to wrestle them into their pajamas before they go running off naked and wet to the basement to play with their dad before bed.”
Trust me, there are plenty more excuses where that came from. But there’s more. My teeth are getting stained. Really, my teeth didn’t look this yellow-brown when I smoked. And, rather than quitting the drink, I am working out ways to get bleach. I called my cousin, the hygienist, and had a chat about my teeth and she is going to make bleaching trays for me.
And next, these drinks are expensive. More than once I have raided the kids’ piggy bank for the $3.37 to get cash for my Mocha so my husband cannot see all of the Starbucks charges on the card and know how much I go there.
The first time I walked up to the counter and the girl handed me my coffee without my saying a word, I knew I was in trouble. Normally I feel good when someone recognizes me, but this time I just shook my head and admitted, My name is Jennifer and I’m an addict. I love, love, love the taste, the feeling and the overall comfort this drink gives me. I feel relaxed just walking into the place and smelling the beans being brewed to bitter perfection, waiting to be mixed perfectly and put in my hand for my satisfaction and energetic desires.
I supposed I could be thankful that it’s only coffee and that I have a good hook-up for bleach. I have long done away with the whipped cream and I use fat free milk. I once went 14 days with a Mocha every day and I gained six pounds. That got my attention, a little. I did go a whole week after that without having one. So I know I am capable. It’s just going to take time.
I do have a new appreciation for addicts. I can see how someone could say to themselves, I just don’t want to feel bad today. Or, maybe just today and tomorrow I will take a break, only to find themselves saying the same thing the next day. I take my Mocha addiction as a lesson in non-judgment of those that are addicted to far worse things than coffee. It’s a hard thing to beat, addiction, and now I know.