From tc_guy 5/7/2002
Peace to all who read this.
No Man's Land is a dangerous and scary place... and it is a lonely time during a quit.
I call No Man's Land that period of time between about 1 month and 3 or 4 months into your quit, or about the time from the end of your first month until you become an Elder. This is a time when many people slip and go into a full relapse and have to start over... if they can start over, that is. I have some observations that may help some of you who are literally hanging on by your fingernails... or who may find yourself there tomorrow.
The first month is an exhausting but exhilirating experience... you are locked in nearly daily struggles and you get the satisfaction of successfully beating your addiction that day. You go to bed a WINNER each night (as Troutnut would say), and you are justifiably proud of yourself. Your friends and family are also supportive as they see you struggling each day to maintain your quit. And you are being constantly supported here, whether or not you post... just being here is good for your quit. And so, the battles are won and it actually becomes easier and the battles occur less often as you finish 30 days or so.
Around 60 days, you're starting to have some really good days, with very few craves and some nice insights about yourself... but then again, you still have some bad days. Those bad days can really be depressing... you begin to wonder if you're ever gonna be able to relax. Your junkie is whispering to you, telling you that 'just one' won't hurt. You've conquered your daily triggers, but now you start trippiing over the occasional ones... a death in the family, unexpectedly bad news, money problems, health problems, going on a long car ride, a trip to the bar, or whatever. You have a strong crave and you begin to doubt your ability to keep your quit.
In addition, the 3D support that you used to get is pretty much gone... non-smokers figure you should be 'over it' by now, smokers don't like to hang around you much because they feel guilty and addicted (remember that feeling?), and people who have quit may not remember just how much love and support you need well into the first few months. They all think you should be 'over it', you think you should be 'over it'... and the temptation is to have 'just one' to see if you ARE over it.
But of course you're not over it, are you? That 'just one' whisper becomes much much louder and becomes 'just one more'... and each time you give in to that whisper, the craves come harder and sooner. The one way to guarantee that your craves will never go away is to light up, to slide that old cigarette needle into your arm and shoot up. Those craves will be back and keep coming back. But if you protect your quit, your craves will eventually weaken and become even fewer and farther between.
As you get to around 100 days or so (some will be a bit longer)... you will begin to really get a healthy perspective on your addiction. You will see the huge role that smoking played in your life, you will see clearly what that addiction really cost you. And you will understand that it was a very high price to pay... the loss of your confidence, your emotions, your self-control... your SELF. All enslaved to your addiction.
And you will begin to see that you can look forward to a non-smoking future without romanticizing your addiction. You see it clearly for the life-stealing evil it was... and is. You see a much different future for yourself than your past has been. And it no longer scares the crap out of you to think that you are done smoking... in fact, you embrace that thought with joy every day.
But you have to get out of No Man's Land first. How can you help yourself? And how can those of us who have been through it help you?
First of all, you need to understand that you aren't alone. If you haven't already done so, make a pinky-finger promise with 2 or 3 good quitbuds and exchange phone numbers with them. Promise to call them if you're ever in trouble, and make them promise the same. These are your 'life and death' quitbuddies... you are literally trusting each other with your lives. Then call them... often. Just to see how they are doing, and to tell them you're doing well too. Be totally honest with them, this is life and death.
Second, understand that you're going to have some unexpectedly bad days... but they are going to be further apart. Shrug them off, laugh your way through them, call your quitbuddies... whatever it takes to get through them without smoking. Some battles will be easy, some will be hard. Come here and post, send qmail, exercise, learn to cook, take up a new hobby. Whatever it takes, keep going to bed a WINNER each night.
Third, ask some of the older qsters to keep an eye on you... to contact you to see how you're doing. I have been asked to do that for several of you recently and I am happy to do that, as I am sure that others are too. We know that you just need to hold on a little bit longer and change your focus just a little to make that breakthrough. And then you will OWN your quit, and it will be a very comfortable thing.
Last, take a deep and honest look at your past life... your life as a smoker and compare it to what your life is like now... and what it will be like in the future. You have to develop that vision of your future, of the person that you are going to BECOME now that you have freed yourself. You have to believe in yourself. You have to love yourself enough to deny yourself your addiction.
No Man's Land doesn't have to be so lonely and scary and dangerous. You need some company and some courage and some faith in yourself. And when you emerge from it, you will not be the same person that entered it.
Never never never question your decision to quit! This is the most loving thing that you will ever do for yourself. A few days of discomfort in exchange for a lifetime of freedom. You will never find another deal like it.
From tc_guy 5/7/2002