Title: I’m Glad My Mom Died
Author: Jennette McCurdy
Read In: 2022
Description: Jennette McCurdy’s memoir of growing up shaped by her toxic controlling mom and dealing with eating disorders and addictions while being thrust into fame from iCarly. We also see her resilience and dogged pursuit of independence and recovery.
Purchase: Bookshop.org (affiliate link)
Some of my earliest memories are of me wearing giant pastry-puff dresses. The dresses scratched and irritated my skin, and the look of them felt silly and over-the-top to me. Mom would always tell me I looked so pretty, even though every time she told me I looked pretty I shrieked as loud as I could that I wasn’t pretty, I was “hampsome.” I was too little to be able to say “handsome” properly, but old enough to know that I wanted to be called what my brothers were called, not some stupid, lesser term designated for the girls.
I absolutely prefer writing to acting. Through writing, I feel power for maube the first time in my life. I don’t have to say somebody else’s words. I can write my own. I can be myself for once. I like the privacy of it. Nobody watching. Nobody’s judging. Nobody’s weighing in. No casting directors or agents or managers or directors or Mom. Just me and the page. Writing is the opposite of performing to me. Performing feel inherently fake. Writing feels inherently real.
I don’t like knowing people in the context of things. Oh, that’s the person I work out with. That’s the person I’m in a book clib with. That’s the person did that show with. Because once the context ends, so does the friendship.
I yearn to know the people I love deeply and intimately—without context, without boxes—and I yearn for them to know me that way, too.
He ignores the rest of my message. I roll my eyes. I’ve told him twelve times that Mom’s dying of cancer but he acts like she has a sprained ankle. He has no concept of loss. I feel like the world is divided into two types of people: people who know loss and people who don’t. And whenever I encounter someone who doesn’t, I disregard them.
I want to do good work. I want to do work I’m proud of. This matters to me on a deep, inherent level. I want to make a difference, or at least feel like I’m making a difference through my work. Without that feeling, that connection, the work feels pointless and vapid. I feel pointless and vapid.
What is my identity, even? What the fuck is that? How would I know? I’ve pretended to be other people my whole life, my whole childhood and adolescence and young adulthood. The years that you’re supposed to spend finding yourself, I was spending pretending to be other people. The years that you’re supposed to spend building character, I was spending building characters.
I’ve been journaling near constantly to get my feelings on paper, which is a challenging task since I struggle to identify my emotions. Is “all of the uncomfortable ones” an option?
Steven seems genuinely engaged. He nods his head along with the sermon. He opens his notes tab in his iPhone to jot down scripture verses. He lifts his arms in praise during the hymns. Finally the service lets out. Hallelujah. This is the closest I’ve gotten to believing in God all day.
I think of somebody’s dying days as the perfect opportunity to tie up loose ends, get their affairs in order, tell their children who their real fathers are.
Jeff is tall—six foot three, maybe—with kind blue eyes and a perfectly trimmed blond beard to match his perfectly styled blond hair, neatly swept to one side. He wears slacks, a checkered button-down with a tie, and a black belt with a silver buckle. His gestures are as exact as his phrasing—no uhhs or umms, in speech or in mannerisms. This is an umless man. I respect him. It takes a lot to be an umless man.
“The problem with this is that if we beat ourselves up after a mistake, we add shame onto the guilt and frustration that we already feel about our mistake. That guilt and frustration can be helpful in moving us forward, but shame . . . shame keeps us stuck. It’s a paralyzing emotion. When we get caught in a shame spiral, we tend to make more of the same kinds of mistakes that caused us shame in the first place.”
Colton grabs my arm for comfort—Miranda doesn’t. So many female friendships seem so rooted in physical contact—the clutching of hands, constant hugging, hair touching, whatever. Miranda and I have a friendship that is not entirely void of physical contact, but almost. Hugs between us as rare, and it feels right.
He’s looking off into the distance half wistfully, half depressed. He’s so contemplative these days, but in the way that gets you nowhere. It’s the way that makes your wheels spin and your thoughts keep going in circles but there’s no forward movement.
Why do we romanticize the dead? Why can’t we be honest about them? Especially moms. They’re the most romanticized of anyone.
Moms are saints. Angels by merely existing. NO ONE could possibly understand what it’s like to be a mom. Men will never understand. Women with no children will never understand. No one but moms know the hardship of motherhood, and we non-moms must heap nothing but praise upon moms because we lowly, pitiful non-moms are mere peasants compared to the goddesses we call mothers.
How many times can you pratfall over a carpet or sell a line you don’t believe in before your soul dies?