Breaking the Habit

Today is Day 5 of no caffeine.

I feel a sense of loss particularly today. Saturday is the day that I look forward to drinking my chai. No anxiety about work on my mind. I have Monday to start worrying about that. No rushing. Not a single sound. It’s like I have the whole house to myself. Mr. Rafia is still asleep — he’s one of those weirdos who have the ability to sleep-in on the weekend! Crazy, eh? But me? I do not have that pleasure. But I do have the pleasure of savouring my chai in peace. Oh, to have the sun glistening in through the blinds, as I attempt to process the week prior, taking two sipfuls between each sentence. That is sheer delight!

Except today, I have no chai by my side.

And the sun has decided to not shine down on me today.

But it is okay.

Honestly, I’ve been toying with the idea of giving up tea for some time. I’ve written about my insomnia before. But last week got me questioning things. Why was I getting up each day at 2 or 4 AM and then not be able to go back to sleep? I wasn’t eating dessert every single day. I was not anxious about work. I don’t even touch my phone after 9 PM. I’m pretty active (though I have my days). I only have 1 cup of tea in the morning.

Oh, tea.

I am very sensitive to caffeine, I know this. That’s why I reduced my one-time three cups of chai down to just one in the morning. But maybe, just maybe my sensitivity goes beyond that.

It was a combination of two things really. When again the subject of tea came up at my recent dentist visit, coupled with the insomnia from the week before, a part of me felt the convergence of those two things was a sign for me to do something I was up until that moment afraid of doing.

I have been drinking chai every single day since 2010. Yep, even in Ramadan. If that meant I had to wake up earlier than everyone else and got up more times than anyone else to relieve myself after fajr and therefore be unable to recuperate any sleep at all, then so be it. I could not risk giving up tea. What if I got the headaches? No, no. Better to be safe than sorry.

I am not the typical addict, especially since it’s just one cup now, but I realize I was using my dearly-held one cup of chai as a crutch. There was no legitimate fear of having to break my fast on non-fasting days. And yet the fear of getting a headache kept me in thrall. But here’s the thing: I still got headaches. In fact, caffeine may have even induced some of these headaches. I don’t know.

But since tea was making my teeth a colour that was making me self-conscious about smiling, the one part of my physical self that I took pride in, I guess that was the last straw. The first time the dental hygienist said it, I tried to forget it. But the second time? Mr. Rafia had recently remarked that my teeth looked yellow. Oh no! My teeth? My pride and joy! I put in a lot of effort to be able to smile with confidence. I did not want to go back to being self-conscious about smiling. I knew what I had to do.

I could try it in any case and see if it had any effect.

Luckily, I had already survived a few days without tea right after my wisdom teeth extraction, and I had already significantly reduced my caffeine amount over the course of a few months. I went from using two bags of black tea and brewing the cup for way longer than recommended. Then I went down to just one bag and brewing for the recommended time. Then finally, as the insomnia was still not relenting, I went down to  brewing one bag to just two minutes. As I was doing this, I had no intention of giving up tea. But unbeknownst to me, I was priming my body for this week.

When I decided to try not having tea this past Tuesday, I was afraid of the inevitable headache I would get. But Alhamdullillah, I didn’t get it. That empowered me. And now I am on Day 5.

Right about now, as my stomach would make noises I did not want to deal with at the moment, I’d sip my chai. Today, I am reaching for water.

Ever since I stopped drinking caffeine, my sleep has been better. Not perfect. But better. This may have a lot to do with the new pillow and mattress topper that Mr. Rafia also bought at the same time… but given my tendencies to become obsessed and all the negatives associated with tea-drinking (in addition to the yellow-teeth that is a distinctive mark of tea-drinkers, caffeine is a diuretic, which is a nightmare for public-restroom-hating me; it may also be a trigger for anxiety, which I am already prone to; and may even causes headaches, which I get frequently), I think it might be the best thing for me to do.

As I have written previously about fasting and deleting social media, saying No to some things can be an opportunity to say Yes to other things that are probably better for you. It may be difficulty at first. No, it will be. But we all eventually settle into a routine, whatever it may be. We need a little shock to our routines from time to time.

I guess this is mine.

It’s freeing to not have to worry about getting a headache if I don’t have tea. I’ll probably have less acid reflux too whenever I get back into my Saturday morning runs (it’s snowing like it should in winter today, so no outdoor running this weekend).

I think I’m getting better with change.

1 thought on “Breaking the Habit”

  1. Inspiring journey. Hope you get stronger and stronger as the days and nights pass. I have my own addictions which I’ve never tried hard enough to break. Your story is encouraging, so please keep us updated.

    Like

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