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Watch It!

Posted by Giulia Champion May 26, 2012

Holiday weekend, family, friends, out by the bar-b-que, smokers all around, beer and fun and urges.  Get the heck out of there when  the urge hits.  Immediately.  Walk away.  Or find someone who is a non smoker and hang by their side.  Holiday get-togethers are DANGER ZONES for the newly quit.  And for the oldly quit.  Don't become a negative statistic.  Use your head. 

PROTECT YOUR QUIT:  Relapse Traps (

Please.  We need you to be steadfast and true and smoke free.  Because YOU set the example for the next newbie.  If you think you can't, we tell you,  you CAN! 




A rite of passage is a ritual event that marks a person's progress from one status to another.   It’s a ritual marking the transitional phase between childhood and full inclusion into a tribe or social group.”

I often tell quitters that cravings come with the territory.  That they’re part of the “rite of passage” from slavery to freedom.  All of us who have strong quits under our belts have had to run the same gauntlet the new quitter does.  We have suffered the same pains, experienced the same sense of loss, lack of focus and emotional bombardment.  Change is not easy.   But if you think of cravings as part of the “ritual” of becoming a non smoker, it might help you get through them.

Rites of passage have three phases: separation, transition, and reincorporation.
“In the first phase, people withdraw from their current status and prepare to move from one status to another. There is often a ‘cutting away’ from the former self in this phase.

I guess I would call the first phase the preparation leading up to and including the quit day and first week.  It’s that period spent reading and educating one’s self about the addiction, cutting back on smoking, using an NRT, working a quit program, eliminating triggers, changing habits, throwing out the smoking paraphernalia, etc.  It’s that time spent separating and withdrawing from our smoking selves and from that mindset.  And it’s the elimination of the nicotine from our bodies. 

The transition phase is the period between states, during which one has left one place or state but has not yet entered or joined the next.  The attributes are necessarily ambiguous.

This is the time after we have quit for a week (or perhaps a month).  After that  initial high of the pride of the accomplishment has started to fade.  It’s  No Man’s Land.  That ambiguous, dimly lit area between our old thinking and newly created selves.  Our minds are still clinging to the smoking child that we were.  We think we should be free from cravings and become confused when we’re not.  And we are often taken by surprise.

"In the third phase (reincorporation) the passage is consummated by the ritual subject.   Having completed the rite and assumed their "new" identity, one re-enters society with one's new status. Re-incorporation is characterized by ceremonies.

This is that wonderful time when celebrants get to ride the Freedom Train.  When you experience your first entire day without thinking about a cigarette.  Or the first day you think about one but don’t have a craving for it.  The day when you see someone smoking and it doesn’t stir a thing within you.  Or if it does, it stirs the pot of gladness that you no longer do that.  It’s the time when you have gone through an entire season and experienced all your triggers without being triggered.  When you can safely ingest alcohol without worrying whether you’ll relapse.  And the time when you look back and wonder how you could have ever been so stupid, so childish, so selfish as to put a cigarette in your mouth.  And when you get to this stage, you’re free and you have joined the Mighty Tribe of Ex Smokers.

These phases tend to blend together a bit, they’re not clearly etched.  But when you get to the final phase, you will not have cravings any more.  The passage has been completed.  You are truly free.  Until then - be a WARRIOR. 

With love,

(quotes are fromWikipedia)




Posted by Giulia Champion May 7, 2012

I was on the set of Drop Dead Diva last week doing a guest shot and the director Kevin and I were talking about my character.  And he said, “it’s too bad this isn’t another network.  Then Phyllis (my character) would be sitting there with a cigarette hanging out of her mouth......”

And it hit me like a ton of bricks, actually.    Yeah, the character WOULD be sitting there smoking away.  (And it would be dead right for the character.  But I don’t smoke.)  And I didn’t have time to pursue the ramifications of all that then because we had to get back to ‘take’ number ... 24 or whatever it was.  But after I returned to the hotel that  night,  my mind was zooming from the day’s wonderful activities.  And I flashed back on that statement of his.

And there were many things that went through my mind.  Let me give you a taste of my train of thought.  This is something I need to do mostly for me.  I need to work through these thoughts because there may come a time when I’m confronted with a scenario where I’m gonna have to make a choice.  And I want to be prepared in advance for it.  Not surprised by it.  And this, I think, is what quit maintenance and preparedness is all about.  So, in the hopes it might help someone else out there as well to think about the future -  I put it forth....

Thought: I had quit for a year in my early 20s and don’t recall being in a state of “wanting one” at that time.  I got a role in which the character smoked.  I thought “Well, ok, I’ve quit, but I can handle that.  I’ll not inhale, or just smoke for the duration of the gig.”  I suspect that in the back of my mind there was an  additional  thought “this a great excuse to start back up again, oh boy!”  35 years later I quit for good.  At least I hope it is for good this time.

Thought: I did a role a couple of years ago (well, it must have been over six years now because that’s how long I’ve been quit) in an independent film  where I played a lowlife motel owner sitting at the front desk with a coat hanger stuck in the tv for an aerial, watching a game show and smoking up a storm.  I made her real raspy voiced.  Because she chain smoked.  I don’t remember now, but I think it was my idea to have her chain smoking.  And I did.  So much so that it became disgusting (during the many hours we had to shoot it), even for me.

Thought: Suppose I get a role of a character that smokes now, having quit.  Should I take it?  Knowing what I do about the dangers of it?  (And my susceptibility to it.)  Aren’t I condoning it, by doing so?  Aren’t I promoting it by doing so?  What is my personal responsibility here?  If it’s built into the character - ?  What then?  If it’s simply a gratuitous gesture that’s one thing, but if the character is described as a “chain smoker...”?   I’m dispensable enough that if I put my foot down and said “I refuse to smoke,” they’d easily get another girl for the gig.  And I can’t afford to turn down work. 

What if I decide to accept the role despite my convictions against smoking.  Can I “pretend” to smoke?  Can I use one of those fake electronic cigarettes instead, with no nicotine?  Would they let me?  Can I just hold the real burning cigarette and “fake” inhaling?  Do I even want to?  Given the fact that I lost a one year quit so long ago?  I’m a heck of a good actress but I can’t, apparently, act my way out of an addiction when it’s right in my mouth. 

There was a girl I worked with who was the lead in a regional theatre show I did quit a while back (younger than I),  and she was a serious Christian and bristled when her character said, “God damn it!”  During rehearsal one day she said she had a real problem with that line and asked to change it.   I believe it was eventually changed to “*uck it!”  THAT was OK with her.  LOL.  But it taught me a good lesson  about convictions.  And I respected her for it.  For standing up for what she believed in and actually making a difference.  So I thought too about that when I was in my hotel room the other night.

I’ve not yet come to any definitive answers.  But I’m tending toward one in a MAJOR WAY.  And that is - don’t even go up for a role where I’d have to smoke.  Just don’t put myself in that predicament.  The cost would be too great emotionally, psychically, spiritually and physically.  Like - DUH.  Just don’t do that.  ‘Cause if you get the gig, you’re gonna want to take it.  And then you’ll be torn.  Shouldn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out you don’t put yourself in such an enormous relapse trap,  the ultimate of all return-to-craving scenarios: “You are now going to take a cigarette and light it and inhale it many times during the day (or x months of shooting) but not think about that cigarette nor feel the nicotine lack that you’ve created by smoking it....once you’ve left the set/stage.”  Yeah right.  One day - is what I’d give myself.  One day, and the next day I will have gone to the store and bought my first pack in six years.  No doubt about that in my mind what-so-ever.  ‘Cause I’ve been there, done that,  after an opening night party, when I had been quit three months but just bummed “one” that night.  Next day I bought my first pack in three month and smoked thereafter.  So, not one puff ever has to be maintained in the scenario here for me.  Always.  For all of us.

The rest of the story is yet to unfold.  Just wanted to share some thoughts here.  The kind of thinking I believe is necessary from day one onward in the quit maintenance aspect of this ongoing journey.  

Hang in everybody.  It’s a learning experience.

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