It was the weekend before Christmas, and I was celebrating having a couple of weeks off work by burrowing deeper into my duvet and entering into full on relaxation mode. It was quiet, it was cosy, it was peaceful… My husband jumped out of the bed.
“Come on, it’s time to go to the gym.”
“Come on, doesn’t the class you normally go to start at 10?”
“Well yes, but…”
The truth was, I was planning to give myself the day off. But being stubborn and competitive, I wasn’t going to let him go by himself. So I dragged myself out of bed and left for the gym.
Without having a cup of tea.
Any of you who are caffeine drinkers will know what this means. I felt tired and sluggish and couldn’t get into my workout. About half way through, the headache kicked in. Man, caffeine headaches are the worst. I was not in the best of moods for our walk home.
“Doesn’t it worry you that you’re this addicted to caffeine?” He asked.
“No.” I replied, assuming he would drop it. He didn’t.
I can’t remember exactly how the conversation went from there, only that it covered me having no willpower, and it being no better that injecting myself with heroine several times a day. None of my arguments seemed to be getting anywhere. My head really hurt. I started to cry a little bit.
It put me right off having a cup of tea when I got home. I became curious. How long would this withdrawal headache last?
It lasted four days. Four days of nausea and one of the worst headaches I’ve had in a long time. Four days of taking paracetamol alongside ibuprofen and it not making any difference. Four days of wanting to snatch mugs of tea and coffee out of people’s hands.
But I didn’t, and on the fifth day I woke up without a headache. The feeling was so unusual it took me a few seconds to figure out what the difference was. And then I felt awesome.
On Christmas Day, I read Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. In it, there’s a passage about arguing for your limitations. She says:
I spent years pushing back against my mother’s unshakeable faith in my strength and abilities. Then one day, somewhere in adolescence, I finally realized that this was a really weird battle for me to be fighting. Defending my weakness? That’s seriously the hill I wanted to die one?
As the saying goes: “Argue for you limitations and you get to keep them.”
Why would I want to keep my limitations?
I didn’t, as it turned out.
I don’t want you keeping yours, either.
I remembered the argument we had on the way back from the gym, and how I passionately argued that I could never give up tea – it was too difficult, I had tried to before, it wasn’t really affecting my life anyway. I thought about how my husband had complete faith in my ability to do it. I thought about how I had then stubbornly set out to lose the argument, and that I am so glad I did.
I thought about some of the other things that I could never do or never do without.
I wondered how many of these I could change if I stopped arguing for my limitations. Tweet this.
I’m a little bit sad that I’m now one of those people who has to carry their own decaf tea bags, and who asks for mint tea at the end of a meal. But I’m proud of myself for pushing through the pain to cease relying on an external stimulant for my energy and ability to think. I do really like the taste of tea (whatever some people say, you can taste the different between decaf and the good stuff) so I’ll probably still drink it occasionally – although not until I’ve gone a month or so without to make sure I won’t be tempted back into old habits.