Courtesy Jennie Faber

Every year I wean myself off of caffeine in the days leading up to Yom Kippur, because a 25-hour fast is difficult enough before compounding it with a caffeine-withdrawal migraine. But this year, due to a stubborn head cold that left me wanting nothing but carrot-ginger juice and mint lemonade for three days, I accidentally weaned myself early. Here’s what I learned:

I really don’t get enough sleep

Sometimes, at work, when I’m dragging in the afternoons, I’ll indulge in an afternoon cup of coffee. It’s not often, but it’s good to have the option at hand. However, without even morning coffee, I realized I was feeling tired at 10am. And I had no recourse but to concentrate and pretend that water was making me feel alert (it wasn’t). And, I realized I almost always have iced tea at lunch and a bite of chocolate a few days a week. I really don’t get enough sleep and I’m far more dependent on caffeine than I realized.

I love my husband

Okay, I knew that already, but: I haven’t lived alone in many years, but I do remember that when I did, I’d go to bed early. Now I almost never do that because that lovely husband of mine? He’s a night owl, and if I want to see him without our three littles climbing all over us, I become night-owlish, too. That’s usually easily solved with morning coffee.

I need my own pursuits

I remember thinking in my 20s that I was a person without any hobbies. Now that I have some, I crave a few hours for my own at the end of the day. And it turns out that I will stay up later for them, even when tired. It was an interesting lesson to learn via feeling this tired how much I prioritize my hobbies.

Part of the addiction is ritual

Coffee isn’t only restorative to my energy, it’s what keeps my cold hands warm. It’s where I rest my right hand at red lights. It’s a physical comfort. And making my evening tea became no fun when half my collection was off-limits. I didn’t want my jasmine green tea when my lady gray black was singing her siren song from the cabinet shelf.

There’s no place like home

The first thing I did upon waking up Thursday morning after Yom Kippur was brew a large cup of coffee. And it was wonderful.

Will I watch my caffeine intake more carefully now? Maybe. I’m glad I learned exactly how much influence it has over me. But I never intended to make this abstinence permanent and I’ve been so happy to reunite, like embracing an old friend.


Robin drinks her coffee at home black and undiluted and at Starbucks with salted caramel and lots of whipped cream. You can find her at her own blog, The Not-Ever-Still Life, or on FacebookGoogle+, and Twitter.