Two weeks ago, I decided to significantly reduce my consumption of coffee by restricting myself to just one normal-sized (read: inadequate) mug in the morning before leaving for work . If I am to get off at the right metro station and make it to the right office, this modest dose is vital.
The major factor contributing to this decision was not so much that I should limit my caffeine intake to 100mg per day as per pharmaceutical recommendation, but because I’m trying to create boundaries at the office. I don’t like the obligation/expectation/commitment of the “you-get-the-coffee-today-I-get-it-tomorrow” routine. Plus, in the last several months, this woman has made several passive-aggressive, condescending comments towards me and tries to tell me how to do my fucking job. She’s an admitted control freak and likes to keep track of the dumbest shit. Awesome.
She bitched at me for handing out copy paper to students because they’re supposed to bring their own – so I bought my own stash for those emergencies when it’s 4:30 and the assignment is due at 5:00. Although there is no actual reason to do so, she also keeps track of when I have doctor’s appointments and how long I’m away from the office because of those appointments – so I told her I could also start keeping track of all my overtime, and, if they traced all the overtime I spent on responding to email, working on the website, and doing shit on the university’s system to do my job, I could have about two months of vacation banked. Suddenly, doctor’s appointments don’t seem so important. I suspect my non-confrontational nature has led her to believe she can get away with shit like that. But, no más! My mum used to say, “be careful, hen, or they’ll take yer saftness for daftness….” (Scottish for: be careful or they’ll mistake your kindness for stupidity) When she was sober and/or not being manipulative, she could be quite wise. All this to say – the caffeine cutbacks are step #1 in distancing myself and creating a necessary boundary.
The consequences of eliminating this large coffee (which amounted to an additional 270 mg per day, on top of the occasional left-over Easter Hershey’s Kisses I eat when I feel like I want to jump out the window but realize they don’t open), have been noticeable. On the positive side, I feel calmer and less jumpy – although this is dimmed by the fact that I also feel more depressed than usual.
On the other hand, I move more slowly and find myself wondering why I walked into the copy room without anything to copy in my hands. In short, I’m operating on the cerebral equivalent of a 40 Watt bulb. Needless to say, I caved and had about 4 cups of coffee while doing my taxes.
In the wee hours of last Sunday morning, I was awoken by what felt like an invisible knife in my back. Unless my co-worker has a little voodoo doll of me, and nothing better to do really late on a Saturday night, I suspect that the caffeine withdrawal might have contributed to it somehow. After trying a warm soak in a tub of salts, applying a heating pad, and trying to persuade my cat to knead between my shoulder blades, I finally caved and went to see an osteopath for the first time on Thursday.
While waiting, I noticed some pamphlets on hypnosis and acupuncture. I don’t really like the idea of someone messing with my mind – that’s what asshole boyfriends are for, and they do it for free – but I’ve always been curious about acupuncture. After reading this practitioner’s bio, however, I began questioning if this really was the type of clinic I should be going to. There was talk of creative dancing in the 5 Rythyms, being in a men’s program called the Warrior’s Path ( led by someone called “Sparrow Heart”), and other new-agey things. I’m all for loving nature, but I don’t want anyone shaking crystals at me. Fortunately, this was not the guy who was going to be touching me.
Instead, I was greeted by a 30-something, rather handsome French (France, not Quebec) fella with smiling, chestnut- coloured eyes. There were no spirit beads anywhere on him (that I could see) and he seemed rather down-to-earth and didn’t reek of patchouli, so I was quite relieved. The first thing I noticed upon entering his office was the row of stuffed horses on his bookcase. Had I not seen so many signed Cavalia posters in the waiting room, this would have seemed a little weird – but it turns out he’s also an osteopath for horses and takes care of all the Cavalia performers, human and equine.
After a few preliminary questions, we got down to the business of readjusting my whatevers. Step one: remove top – thankfully, I had worn a decent bra, although a sports bra would have been a better, more demure option. It was a little awkward sitting there in a lacy bra in front of a total stranger, in broad daylight, not holding a glass of wine, but I managed to not say anything inappropriate that only I would find amusing. Step two: the inspection. Given that I haven’t been touched by a man in what feels like eons, let’s just say that having this guy wrap one arm around me while running his other down my spine was quite pleasant. His breath smelled of shortbread cookies. Mine: 6 am coffee and gingivitis. As he spoke, his warm breath hit that part of my neck and back that always gives me goosebumps – my Achilles heel. While on my back, awkwardly dragging my t-shirt over my bra, we talked about our dogs as he fondled the base of my neck. Then the really interesting stuff happened. It was a bit disconcerting to hear the cracking of bones as they fell back into place, but the relief of tension was worth the nanosecond of worry. It didn’t hurt that I quite enjoyed the feeling of being tightly held and then pinned down – even if it was just for my musculoskeletal health….
The immediate physical benefits of this were most notable in the lack of tension in the neck and shoulder muscles; by the next day, the stiffness and pain were greatly reduced. However, as I sat at my desk later that afternoon, I realized that the most significant effect of this session, the one that calmed and soothed me, wasn’t the manipulation of my whatevers, but the simple act of being physically held and touched. Was I not held enough as an infant? I cuddle and hug my dogs (especially Henry, because he lets me) all the time, but their little arms can’t reach all the way around to hug me back. 😦 Holding someone satisfies a desire to nurture and comfort, and, to a great extent, the dogs and cat do satisfy this need. But there’s nothing quite like being held in the arms of someone who doesn’t disgust or irritate you (it’s important to point that out). For however long it lasts, it’s as if all is well with the world, as if the weights that cut your breath are suddenly lifted from your chest. For me, this only comes from being held by a man – I’m not sure if it’s because my father was distant/reserved and I long for the safety/comfort of a man’s arms, or because I’ve had significantly negative experiences with women in my life, but that’s how it is.
A few months ago, a professor at work joked with me that if I ever wanted to quit my job, I could always apply at cuddleme.ca Or, that if I was feeling particularly harried, I could use the service. He had recently read an article about this particular site, extolling the health benefits of being cuddled, and that professional ‘cuddlers’ can make $80 an hour for non-coital cuddling. I thought he really was pulling my leg until I typed in the url. Who pays $80/hour and not expect, at the very least, a hand-job? For $80, even I would expect some sexual experience to take place. Or does that just make me a pervert?
Whether or not coitus actually takes place during those cuddles-for-hire, studies have shown that the human animal benefits from touch. If you don’t believe me, believe the Huffington Post.
(80’s videos were just the best in being the worst) l