Fifteen minutes. It was all my husband and I could manage at the height of our son’s heroin addiction. “Take it one day at a time” is the usual mantra in a crisis. But there is no “usual” with addiction. No normal, no predictable, no respite to think. In the world of addiction, one day may as well be 100 years.
The words above are taken from the beginning of my book, The 15 Minute Master—How to Make Everything Better 15 Minutes at a Time, published in October 2019. It’s my fourth book, and very different in tone and subject than my previous books—the last two with the titles of Not Ready for Granny Panties and The Woman’s Book of Dirty Words. Both with a message, but firmly planted in the world of humor.
I needed humor when I wrote those books. They came to be during the time of my son David’s active heroin addiction, when laughter was almost non-existent in my world. I needed the pinpricks of light and joy that focusing on something not associated with addiction brought me. And I found that sharing some laughter with the world also lightened my burden. When I was writing funny, I could escape from the horror that was consuming my son and my family, at least for a while.
But I always knew that I would someday share the story of David’s addiction. As one of the lucky families blessed to have come out the other side of addiction with my son whole and still with us, I wanted to offer some hope to others.
I also wanted to offer a method to cope with the toll addiction takes on everyone—not just the addict, but everyone who loves him/her.
During David’s active addiction, people would counsel us to “Take it one day at a time,” an impossible task for the family of an addict. My husband and I resolved to just get through the next 15 minutes, especially while we were in crisis mode. Staying in the present and taking on no more than what was immediately in front of us, saved our sanity—over and over again.
Further, when we had 15 minutes in non-crisis mode, we worked a method that somehow naturally evolved, involving 15 minutes and 3 basic questions, which led to 1, single action step toward making life “better.” Focusing on a single task within a brief timeframe allowed us to cope without losing ourselves in the “coulda, woulda, shouldas” and the “what-ifs.”
No one has “The Answer” about how to navigate drug addiction. However, by reigning in my racing mind, focusing on a single task, and confining myself to a single action, I did, indeed manage to make things “better,” if only in the moment. Often, that better moment gave me the strength to continue the fight when addiction reared its ugly head once again.
My 15-minute philosophy proved to be a lifeline, not just for me, but for my family and friends as well. If you’d like to learn more, visit www.maryfranbontempo.com, or find the book on Amazon. Resolve to be kind to yourself. Get through the next 15 minutes; that’s enough.