Our Daughter’s Life
Straight to my knees. That’s where I went. It was almost like it was all in slow motion, like I was watching myself from the outside. Then came the overwhelming feeling of nausea.
Did my 31-year-old daughter, the love of my life, just tell me that she had been addicted to heroin? Certainly this was the biggest nightmare I’d ever had. It was a Wednesday morning late in September of 2015. I can’t even tell you the date, because suddenly, my brain was in a fog.
Our story was pretty typical. Mom and Dad divorce when young child was 5. She was adorable, funny and so very smart. Her favorite things to do were reading and writing. Every Friday we were at Barnes and Noble; buying multiple books, and all would be finished on the following Sunday. She had quite the library, I must say. I was thrilled with her love of books. I just knew she was going to grow up to be a #1 Best Selling author.
I was far from the perfect mom. I worked many jobs and long hours to keep her in a good school and buy her the things I thought she needed. I had to be able to keep up with the Jones’ so my daughter wouldn’t feel inferior. If I had only known, then that’s not what she needed at all. She needed me.
When she was 13, I remarried. He was a wonderful father to his 2 children and he gladly took on the responsibility of another. We went through, what I thought were the common teenage years. A little trouble here and there, but didn’t every parent go through that? Socializing and boys were much more important than school work, but hadn’t I been that way?
Her twenties consisted of many different jobs, boyfriends, roommates, friends, and sadly, a whole lot of alcohol (college had been put on the back burner). We seemed to be constantly helping financially. I was suddenly the mom that was pacing the floors in the wee hours of the morning, physically sick, knowing she was driving drunk, worrying if she was hurt or dead or going to hurt or kill someone else. I can remember going from being the mom that was scared to death she was going to get a DUI, to being the mom that was praying to God that she would.
She called it Divine Intervention. That’s what happened late one summer Sunday afternoon while driving home after a long, drunk weekend. She decided, rather quickly, that she needed help and drove herself straight to a 12 step meeting. That was the beginning of almost 3 wonderful, happy years of her sobriety. She thrived. We were so proud of her.
Hearing the words, “Mom, I really think I’m ready to drink sensibly and socially” brought back everything. There it was again, that awful gut feeling that I hadn’t felt in almost 3 years. It was back. And so were the problems. More bad decisions were made which ultimately led to her picking up and moving to L.A. then to Phoenix. She was in a depressing and horrible situation and she went through some of her toughest times out there. Once again, our savings and any extra money was spent helping her out financially. I believed all the stories. “My face looks terrible because I changed my makeup,” “I’m dirty because I just changed a flat tire,” “We’re sweating because we’re not used to the Phoenix heat,” Wait…. what???? When visiting Phoenix last June, these were just some of the excuses we heard (and bought, I might add). Even after loved ones contacted us from there saying that something wasn’t right, I chose to believe my daughter. I was still in major denial and I was her biggest enabler and controller. Ask me how that worked for me and her. Not well. Not well at all.
The heroin addiction lasted about 6 months in Phoenix. She got on a program there that helped her get off of it, but the damage was done. What happened in L.A. and Phoenix and then back home to Florida is her story to tell. I don’t know it all. And quite frankly, I don’t think I want to.
This, however, is my story. In the month of October of 2015, I watched my daughter deteriorate to a non functional person. She could not sleep, wake up or get through any part of the day without a drink. It could be beer, whiskey, wine or vodka. She was going to meetings again daily but still had to have it morning to night. She could not work, think or continue to exist. She had reached her bottom.
On the morning of Monday, November 2, 2015 she told me she wanted help. She could not do it on her own. Those were the words I wanted to hear. I knew it would never happen if she didn’t want it. Just for a brief second I was hearing that beautiful, very smart little girl of mine. She knew she needed rehab. She was begging with all she had for help. I remember saying to her, “What about the holidays? Are you going to be able to be away for Christmas?” Her answer to me was firm and clear and will forever be stuck in my memory. She purposely looked me straight in the eyes and said “If I don’t get help now, I won’t be around for any more Christmases, Mom.” That was real.
And, so began the search. Where would she go? What was going to work for her? I didn’t know, but I left it up to her. She researched all day. Not for rehabs in the beginning but for more knowledge on what the drug had done to her brain. She learned why she felt the way she did, her lack of any kind of happiness, her inability to stop herself when making a bad choice. She educated herself as much as possible that day. And she educated me. For the first time in what seemed like forever I could see a small ray of hope in her very sad eyes. She was going to get help. Whether we helped financially or she went somewhere free. She was going. And she would stay for as long as it took.
The next day began with constant phone calls to every single rehab she could find. Most all said the same. They were all very expensive and of course she had no insurance. She was on the phone the majority of the day searching for the right place and the frustration was building. Then she spoke with a counselor from a place called Narconon. There was something different about this place that struck a chord. They actually treated addiction without the use of drugs. What a concept?! There was that ray of hope in her eyes again. And after speaking with the counselor myself, there was suddenly a ray of hope in mine.
It went very quickly from that moment on. Early the next morning she was at the airport and on her way to Narconon. Over the next several days I received constant phone calls updating me on her condition. I truly can’t say enough about the kindness of the staff. They each have the enormous gift of comforting the parent and addressing all of their concerns and questions. They are completely invested in the health and welfare of each student and their loved ones. This is something I felt from day 1 and still feel, over 5 months later.
We were able to visit my daughter after 30 days. And never, in 31 years had I seen the shine in her eyes and smile on her face that I saw that day. It was truly the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. Her skin was healthy and glowing. Her spirit was finally alive and there was a happiness about her that I had never known before.
My husband and I were so impressed with the facility. You could feel the positive, peaceful atmosphere that surrounded us. Hope and love seemed to blossom there. She had made the right decision. We were certain of that when leaving that weekend.
My daughter finished the program in February and has continued on with Narconon as a staff trainee. She is now working hard and loving every single minute of it. She came home in March when her nephew was born. We hadn’t seen her since the first weekend of December and the difference in her is nothing less than miraculous.
I can’t say thank you Narconon for giving me my daughter back. That’s not what happened. They gave me someone so much better. They have given me this kindhearted, positive, happy, beautiful woman that I’ve never before known. They reached deep down into her soul and core and managed to remove the hurt and damage that had affected her all of her life. The self doubt, insecurities and inability to love herself has been replaced with this beautiful confidence and a respect and love and vibrancy for life that was missing for so many years. She is excited about every day. She gets her happiness now from working hard, the beautiful weather and the ever inspiring sunsets. She loves her life now. More importantly, she loves herself.
I now live my life one day at a time. My husband and I have a peace that we’ve never felt about our daughter. (To him, she’s his daughter. That’s never been a question.) And our hearts are bursting. Bursting with so much pride for our girl. Not something we had felt a lot of for many years.
And each morning now, I wake with an overwhelming feeling of gratitude. Gratitude for a place that took a very broken, damaged, lifeless young girl and has given us back the strongest, kindest most beautiful daughter we could ever imagine. A place that guided her into becoming the very best she could be. A place that brought out this life loving spirit that was buried so very deep inside. A place that made her smile again, bigger and brighter than ever. A place that saved our daughter’s life.
Narconon is that place.
Larry and Lisa Herd
Parents of Kylie B.