“Then, two weeks into her stay in rehab, on another beautiful day, I went to see her so we could go for a walk. I knocked on the door:
“Hi, can you tell Angie her mother’s here?”
“Excuse me, let me go find the director.”
“Thanks, I’ll wait out here.”
Looking stricken, the director greeted me at the door. “Mrs. Romero? I’m sorry, but Angie isn’t here. She just packed her suitcase and left. We don’t know where she went.”
“What? You just let her leave? Why didn’t you call me?” I yelled.
“Mrs. Romero, her stay here was voluntary,” she answered. “She could leave any time she wanted. And we had no authorization to call you. She’s not a minor. I’m sorry.”
Numb with pain, worry and disappointment, I turned around and made it back to my car. Funny thing about getting kicked in the stomach multiple times. You stop feeling the pain of it. Numbness sets in and somehow, if you’re lucky, you get from Point A to Point B without any serious damage. So instead of feeling the pain of losing her yet again, I felt an incredible sense of relief. I told my friends in the Program that it felt like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders, that I was “finally off the hook.” If ever I was to accept that I was powerless over her and her addiction, it was now. I was free of her and the worry and the anxiety and even some of the guilt. I didn’t know whether she was dead or alive, but I felt free and unencumbered for the first time in months. Isn’t that strange?”