MARIN NOVEMBER 2017 53
TWO AND A HALF YEARS AGO, I sat at the dining room table in my Larkspur home and had a conversation with my 21-year- old daughter I could never have imagined when she was still
playing with blocks at preschool. It was after lunchtime and I’d
just pulled her out of bed. She sat, slumped in her chair. Uncombed
hair fell across her face. She stared at me with eyes I did not
recognize, those of a young woman whose light — or spirit —
had gone out.
“You have to leave,” I said.
Charlotte looked at me, as if she didn’t understand.
“You have two choices,” I said. “You can go to rehab or find
This gamble was my only hope.
somewhere else to live.”
I waited nervously as several minutes passed. Charlotte had
just been expelled from the elite East Coast college where she’d
been a sophomore, and she had nowhere else to go. I was taking
an enormous risk, turning her away from my home. I was also
going against all my natural instincts as a mother. What I really
wanted was to hold Charlotte in my arms, run my hands through
her hair — half of which had fallen out, from stress — and soothe
her until the boo-boo went away, like I’d done when she was little.
But I’d been trying to get her help for years, even while I didn’t
entirely know what was wrong, and she’d refused every attempt.
In my worst moments, I imagined what might happen if she
ended up living on the streets. I was done, though, wrestling with
the disease that had stolen my beautiful child. As she struggled
with drugs and alcohol, I had grown stronger, more fierce. And I
was clear about my goal: I wanted my daughter back.
A Marin mom’s account
of the costs — both
financial and emotional
— of addiction in young
people and the rewards of
seeing the battle through.
Due to the sensitive and personal nature of this true story, the
names and locations have been changed to protect the privacy of the
author and her family.
BY ANNA MCNAMARA
GETTING MY CHILD BACK