On Saturday (May 13), the 48-year-old Hollywood star reflected on legally emancipating herself from her parents after a two-year stay at a drug rehabilitation center. In her blog post, the Drew Barrymore Show host also explained how growing up in the spotlight has influenced how she parents her own children.
“When I got emancipated by the courts at 14 years old, the umbilical cord was severed, and I have not been the same since,” the Charlie’s Angels star wrote. “It was necessary for me to step away and start to become my own person. And at the age of 14, my own parent.”
Barrymore shared that her mother – Jaid Barrymore – admitted her to a youth program for drug rehabilitation when she was 13 years old. The hospital, called Van Nuys Psychiatric, was located in Los Angeles, California.
“Once the door shut behind me, my stay lasted almost two years,” she said. “I was in for the long haul. I bonded with a lot of the kids, because like me, they did not know where to put their anger and they did not know how to live life anymore without the need to get high or self-destruct in some form and fashion.”
The Never Been Kissed star explained how the rehab center was a “revealing and healing” experience, from meeting with therapists to learning how to set boundaries.
“Kids love feeling safe, and having boundaries is one of those crucial bumper rails,” she wrote. “I lived a boundaryless life and job. And this place, as hellacious as it was, it was exactly what I needed from the too much excess my life had become on the outside. “
Her two-year stint at the rehab center also taught Barrymore how to process her own emotions and understand the “foundations of telling your truth”.
“Your feelings. Your faults. Your hopes and wishes. Your hurts. What and where you wanted to get to in life. And – very important – who was going to help you on your path and who would you have to let go,” she said. “For me, at the end and when I got out, it was my mother.”
Despite winning emancipation from her parents at just 14 years old, Barrymore described how she “found family” in her friends and colleagues. Now, Barrymore has two daughters of her own – Olive, 10, and Frankie, nine – whom she shares with ex-husband Will Kopelman. Still, becoming a mother has brought up her own feelings about her rebellious childhood.
“Being a mother constantly triggers everything from my own childhood now,” Barrymore wrote. “I live in an often-petrified state of thinking about my past and wanting to have things different for them. I want them protected. I want them to grow up slowly. I want family around and traditions and rules and boundaries.”
While the 50 First Dates star went on to say that motherhood has been the “greatest thing I will ever do in my life without question,” she admitted that she still needs “to continue to figure things out” so that she can “disembark from my past and live in the present”.
Barrymore concluded her candid blog post by describing a recent conversation she had with her own mother on Jaid’s birthday: “I texted her. It simply read ‘Happy birthday, Mom,’ and she wrote back, ‘Thank you so much! I’m incredibly proud of you and send you love.’”
“It was the biggest gift I could have ever received. To know that she is proud of me,” the actor wrote, before adding a sweet message to her own daughters.
“And to my girls… I just hope I can be someone who makes you feel safe. And that you can laugh with. And that you can tell me anything. I’m here for it. I’m in the circle with you… for life.”
On Instagram, fans applauded Drew Barrymore for sharing the “open and raw” blog post. “Thank you for being vulnerable and sharing,” said one fan, while another wrote: “You are beyond inspiring.”
Drew Barrymore has often spoken about her complicated childhood, ever since she rose to fame in Steven Spielberg’s ET the Extra-Terrestrial when she was seven years old. The child star, whose father John Drew Barrymore was also an actor, has since published multiple memoirs about her experiences with addiction as a teenager, including 1990’s Little Girl Lost and 2015’s Wildflower.
In a 2015 interview with The Guardian, Barrymore referred to the youth treatment center at Van Nuys Psychiatric hospital as an “institution”, and revealed that it was the rehab center professionals who suggested she legally separate from her mother and be declared an adult at 14.
“It was a very important thing to experience for me. It was very humbling, very quieting,” Barrymore recalled at the time. “Maybe it was necessary, because I came out of there a more respecting person. And my parents didn’t teach me that, and life wasn’t teaching me that. I came out in a very different way… but I still was me.”
Most recently, Drew Barrymore shared in an essay last November that giving up alcohol has been “one of the most liberating things in [her] life”. The Ever After star, who previously revealed she hasn’t drunk alcohol in four years, reflected on how important it’s been for her to prioritise herself, even when it has felt “selfish” to do so.
“Maybe our definition of love changes throughout our lives, but I truly believe so much love goes outward,” she wrote. “One of the bravest things you can do is slay those dragons and finally change an awful cycle in which you’ve found yourself stuck. For me, it was to stop drinking.”