By Kadie Gurley & Marlon Villa
Hundreds of students rushed to the Carpenter Performing Arts Center to enjoy “An Evening with Jennette McCurdy,” presented by Associated Students Inc. on Monday.
The event was sold out, and the first 200 students received a signed copy of McCurdy’s New York Times Bestseller novel “I’m Glad My Mom Died.”
McCurdy opened up on why she decided to share her story in the book.
“I feel like I had enough distance and perspective from it that I could finally figure out what could be entertaining and worth sharing with other people,” she said. “It was really important for me to do work in therapy, work on myself for years in privacy and solitude.”
McCurdy compared what drove her to leave acting to a carrot dangling, always trying to pursue that carrot by pleasing some executive, some boss or some opportunity and her giving them what they want to finally have the carrot.
“Once I walked away from acting, I quit it when I was 24, and I really felt like there were no carrots dangling left,” McCurdy said.
Narcissistic parental abuse, eating disorders and processing grief were among the conversations that started after the release of McCurdy’s book.
She realized the dynamic with her mother was unhealthy after she died.
“My mom died, and I felt devastated, and I still have her on this pedestal that I had her on my whole life,” McCurdy said.
She was unaware of the reality of the situation with her mother until she began therapy.
McCurdy said that her therapist told her, “Jennette, what you’re describing is abuse, and I just want to be really clear with that so we can actually kind of get to working on this and explore all of this.”
Initially, McCurdy quit therapy because she couldn’t handle the idea of the reality that her mom was not the saint that she “pictured her to be and needed her to be.”
It took two years for McCurdy to return to therapy and finally dive deep into the relationship with her mother.
At one point, McCurdy credited her mom for giving her emotionality.
“I have a much better relationship with them [emotions] than I had with them before, and it is to the point where I recognize the value in them, and I think it allows me to connect with people, my emotionality,” McCurdy said.
McCurdy acknowledged how it took a while for her to find the right moment to let the book come out, as she’s very emotionally led and felt that her body was emotionally ready for what was to come with the release of the novel.
The novel’s title initially drew criticism from publishers before its release, and McCurdy stated three of the seven publishers she approached wouldn’t open the book because of the title.
“I said, well, they’re not the person meant to publish it; of course, my confidence took a hit, and I felt the rejection,” McCurdy said. “I felt worried like, ‘God, will nobody get it? Am I crazy?’ But I just felt compelled enough that it had to be that.”
Many students at Long Beach State relate to “I’m Glad My Mom Died” based on their own experiences parallel to McCurdy’s.
Fourth-year communications major Denae Chavez says she saw a new side of McCurdy.
Chavez relates to the book in the sense of inspiration, as she relates to not always having a good relationship with her mom which made Chavez reflect on their relationship.
“I really got a big perspective that I didn’t think I would see from her because I’ve been watching her since ‘iCarly’ and she opened up a lot about what she was going through during those times that I would have never thought she’d gone through,” Chavez said.
Second-year English major Samantha Spain resonated with McCurdy trying to justify the abuse from her mom as Spain was once in an abusive relationship.
“I was in an abusive relationship, and I tried to also find reasons as to why my abuser was doing things,” Spain said. “I was also in denial, and I didn’t want to believe or come to terms with the abuse because it was just really hard to cope with that.”
McCurdy made it clear that her book is from real experiences and is not meant to romanticize trauma in any way.
“I kept looking at each draft of it and thinking, ‘How do I write this?’ I don’t want it to be, too, you know, like romanticizing trauma,” she said. “I don’t want it to be too long-winded. I don’t want it to be too serious, and it’s already so inherently serious.”
McCurdy encourages anyone starting their recovery journey for their mental health, to begin with something as simple as a Google search to find the right therapist and not worry about hurting anyone’s feelings. She also often sets boundaries.
“I grew up as a people pleaser, so the idea of setting boundaries is saying no to a person, anyone or anything,” McCurdy said.
She thanked her well-being and recovery to her therapists for supporting her over the years.
“I really think it’s because of my specific therapist, as well as the type of therapy, DBT. I think that works really well for addiction, substance abuse or anything like that, but there are a million different modalities,” McCurdy said.
Another way McCurdy said she healed from her traumatic experiences was through her sense of humor.
“Humor can be healing. I think it’s important to find levity in seriousness otherwise, it’s too hard,” she said.
Readers can look forward to an upcoming novel by McCurdy as she hinted that she is currently writing a new book.