I’ve been listening on Audible to some great books written by sober authors. The latest one is “Quit Like a Woman” by Holly Whitaker. She is a true Badass! Holly details the unique struggle women have due to our history of oppression, misogyny, discrimination, condescension, the trials, challenges and suffering from living in a white man’s world. Holly is a gifted writer, I love her style. She is also incredibly raw, vulnerable, transparent, straightforward, and no-nonsense. I adore her.
One of the many areas that Holly covers in detail is addiction. I appreciate the way she delves into all the different addictions to which we humans can (and do) succumb, such as eating disorders, exercise obsessions, cleaning, gambling, porn, other forms of sex, Internet, gaming, smart phones, shopping, gossiping, sugar, caffeine, and overwork. There might be many more, but you get the idea. It caused me to think back to my very first cup of coffee. I was a senior in high school, 16 years old, commuting as a day student to an all (rich)-girls private college preparatory boarding school in Greenfield, MA. It was a very high-level educational facility, a tough school academically, and I was working very hard. We had just moved there, I was the new girl- an excruciating experience I never would have chosen. It was a really rough year because of that.
I had a huge project for my Sociology class, one of my favorite classes. I loved my Sociology teacher and I wanted to ace this report. I was so tired at night I didn’t have very much energy to work on the project and the due date was approaching. I remember thinking I would join my father (who was a super early riser), and work on my report in the early morning hours when I was fresher.
Dad awakened at 4:30 and made himself “egg coffee”. I did the same, 4:30 wake-up. I liked to watch him make egg coffee. The raw egg, shell and all, was tossed into the coffee grounds in the bottom of the coffee pot on the stove top, stirred into the grounds, then filled with boiling water. The coffee, egg, and water were left to simmer for about 10 minutes. I have heard folks also call this cowboy coffee. I had never tasted it but it smelled good to me. This particular morning, I decided maybe it would be fun to try a little coffee as I worked on my project. I put artificial sweetener and milk in it, and I sipped it easily- it tasted good to me. Within minutes, I couldn’t believe how wide awake I felt. I was hooked! Wow! I breezed through my project (which I did ace!), and felt awesome. And just like that, I started drinking coffee most mornings for decades. I have taken breaks from coffee, or waited to have it until later in the morning, as I do now, but for the most part, it was instant addiction. I know caffeine is a pretty benign addiction, but this example demonstrates how quickly an addiction happens. Same can happen with booze.
A friend remarked the other day, and I have been thinking about it ever since, how difficult it would be to have a food addiction. With booze, I can always avoid it and not have it around me at all. I can choose not to go to bars, not to gather in booze-heavy establishments. With food, there is no choice, we all have to eat. I feel great compassion for anyone who has an addiction to comforting themselves with food, I know that must be incredibly difficult. I have friends that have work addictions, I have friends that are shopaholics, I have friends that like to gamble. We all seem to have our unique and varied addictions- there are certainly many to choose from, and as many reasons we become addicted.
I acknowledge how fortunate I am that my life didn’t take a steep free fall down a cliff and crash. It could have. I could have had some disastrous consequences from some of my behavior, I admit that readily. I feel like one of the luckiest people on earth, very blessed in many ways. I guess in the long run, we choose our vices and we do what we do, the best we can. Our best may be phenomenal one day, and mediocre the next. We’re all human in this race called life, and I’m glad you’re here with me. Let’s all be gentle on ourselves, not beat ourselves up, and remember to be kind. We could use so much more kindness in this world, we have enough negativity and mean spiritedness. Let’s all take a stand for love. Love is all we need.