When It All Falls Apart

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The other day, my website crashed.

All I could do was stare in horror at the jumble of words, code and images that had once been a beautiful representation of my work and now looked like a train wreck of letters and pictures. (Did you ever read your kids the book Chicka Chicka Boom Boom when they were little? The one where the alphabet letters climb a tree and then fall on top of each other? It looked like that, but not nearly as cute.)

For a few moments, I simply stared at the screen with no idea of what to do. It was simply beyond me, beyond my area of expertise. I’d worked so hard on that site, with the little knowledge I had, and just when everything seemed to be humming along—BAM! It all fell apart like a house of cards.

And it reminded me of when my son relapsed in his struggle with heroin.

After David had completed rehab—the first time—he came home to a family with little idea of what to do next. But little by little, we seemed to be making progress. He seemed to be trying to figure out how to live a newly sober life, and I began to stop holding my breath, at least for a while.

Then I began to notice the wild look occasionally returning to his eyes. But it couldn’t be, could it? He’d been away for over four months, first at an in-patient facility and then at a recovery house. He’d learned so much, hadn’t he? He wouldn’t, couldn’t go back to using, could he?

Yes, he could. The day came when David was accused of something he swore he didn’t do. I believed him, and I still do, but I asked the question, “Are you in trouble again?” His one-word answer froze me in my tracks.


For a few moments I just stared at him. He’d worked so hard. We’d all worked so hard. And now it had all fallen apart, again. And yet, it hadn’t. Not really.

I told David to pick up the phone and call someone he trusted for help. He did it. He called for help and was in a car back to rehab within 90 minutes. He called, not me. Yes, he had to go back to treatment, but he made the call on his own. He knew he needed help. That was progress, a sign that even though things were bad, they weren’t as bad as before. He actually had learned something.

As for my website, I also picked up the phone and got help. I’d been there before and knew when I was in over my head, when I needed help, just as David did.

Addiction is not an easy road, and it’s full of turns and detours along the way. But those twists and turns don’t have to mean all is lost. There is help and hope. When you don’t know where to turn, when things seem to be crashing and burning around you, pick up the phone, make a call. You may not be able to find your way out alone, but with help, rebuilding is possible.

Mary Fran Bontempo is a 2x TEDx speaker, author and humorist. Visit her at www.maryfranbontempo.com. Her latest book, “The 15 Minute Master—How to Make Everything Better 15 Minutes at a Time,” can be found on Amazon.