Jennette McCurdy & Drew Barrymore Got Real About the Complexities of Having an Abusive Mom

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Jennette McCurdy and Drew Barrymore both endured tough childhoods, especially when it came to their relationships with their mothers. In an exclusive interview for The Drew Barrymore Show, the two actresses sat down for a vulnerable and candid conversation about the complexities of experiencing abuse from their moms and the shame of not fulfilling the maternal bond that “society, nature, nurture, and evolution” say a child is supposed to have with their mother, as Barrymore put it.

McCurdy explained to her fellow former child star, “Initially when I went to therapy, I did have my mom still on the pedestal, and every time I felt defensive immediately when my therapist started asking questions about my mom. Immediately I went into, ‘Well she did this, but it’s because she’s such a good mom, it’s because she wanted me to be successful, it’s because she wanted me to have a better life.'”

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She continued, “I was so defensive — I didn’t realize that I was at the time, but in retrospect, I see I was disclaiming every single thing that my mom did instead of just stating the reality or how I felt about it.” McCurdy poignantly explained, “I was more concerned with how to keep my mom looking good than I was with expressing my true emotional reality.”

Barrymore, who told McCurdy she feels she has a lot to learn from her even as her elder, said in response to McCurdy’s realization, “Maybe it’s protectiveness that I feel … I’ve never put it in those terms in my head.” She continued to muse about her relationship with her own mother, saying, “It’s like I don’t want to paint her negatively; I don’t want people to think of her negatively, but the truth is … Tough stuff.”

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McCurdy agreed, sharing, “It took me a long time to accept that my mom was not perfect, let alone abusive — it went in baby steps to put these pieces of the puzzle together and to recognize the reality of the pain that I’d suppressed for … decades, at that point.”

The conversation occurred following the release of McCurdy’s controversially titled memoir, I’m Glad My Mom Died. The book has been seated at No.1 on the New York Times bestseller list for eight weeks in a row — an accomplishment Barrymore attributes to people heavily relating to McCurdy’s experience of suffering abuse from her mother while growing up.

Told with candor and a healthy dose of dark humor, McCurdy’s memoir details how she navigated life as a child actor under immense pressure from her mother, which led to struggles including eating disorders, addiction, anxiety, unhealthy relationships, and ultimately an exit from the career her mother forced upon her at just 6 years old. After a decade of therapy following the 2013 death of her mom, McCurdy is discovering who she is and what she wants out of a life that’s finally under her control.

'I'm Glad My Mom Died' by Jennette McCurdy

Price: $17.28

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Before you go, check out these celeb-authored kids’ books.

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