If I had to name the single most important thing to me early in my quit, it would be looking ahead to the next milestone. I was always watching and working toward what comes next. Looking behind was only useful in learning my triggers and what to avoid.
What To Expect In The First Four Months This was a very useful blog to read in the beginning. Knowing that what I was experiencing was normal and doable and survivable was absolutely crucial to my quit. There are so many Elder's blogs about withdrawal symptoms and what to do instead of smoke, etc. I needed those, but I also needed to know what to look forward to! Too often we focus on what we're quitting (as we should) but forget to focus on looking ahead.
No Mans Land Days 30 to 130 (approximate) My first milestone after surviving Hell Week was 30 DAYS. In all the "Anonymous" groups (AA, NA, etc.) the first 30 days is a HUGE celebration. I visualized it as a boulder I could climb up and stand upon to see into the distance. I felt so very proud! And then knowing that the next few months would have their own challenges was a foundation I could rely on. I could see each upcoming milestone and work towards them. As Larry the Caravan Leader blogs about, No Man's Land has a definite identity and this part of the journey is critical in learning to live with our new-found freedom from addiction.
From NML to the first year, I visualize the journey as walking through the Village of Inbetweenerville: In between No Man's Land and one year. Get it?
So this village where I could rest awhile after the arduous trek through the desert, get some ice cold tea and good snacks, maybe a change of clothes. Close to the entrance is the 6 Month rock to stand on, and way off from there is that One Year and entrance into the company of Elders. Wow. So great to see all this stuff ahead!
While in the Village of Inbetweenerville we work to keep that quit precious. Check out the Elder's Library here. Anything can be a trigger and we need to learn to cope with them. Anniversaries, holidays, long drives, loved ones who don't understand, everyday living stress...this is the time to work through these. Of course, we never stop learning! We know now that it's easy to lose a quit and it must be guarded at all times. Here in the Village is where that foundation strengthens.
If you're a new quitter, or are in No Man's Land right now, look ahead to what's next. Look where you're going! The Villagers are waiting for you.