book reviews, celebrities, LDS

But wait– there’s more! My review of Jennette McCurdy’s I’m Glad My Mom Died…

Yesterday, I wrote my first post about Jennette McCurdy, a former Nickelodeon star who just wrote a book called I’m Glad My Mom Died. I bought that book on August 9th, and started reading it a few days ago. I just finished it a few minutes ago. Before August 9th, I didn’t know the first thing about Jennette McCurdy. Now, I feel like I know her. We have some things in common. Actually, if I’m honest, I think she has things in common with my husband and his younger daughter.

A couple of hours after I shared my first post about Jennette McCurdy on Facebook, an old friend commented that she looked forward to my review. She wrote that she had to read the book. Now that I’ve finished it, I agree with her. She should read it. I think she will relate to Jennette McCurdy’s story, too. I think a LOT of people will, in spite of the shocking title that some will feel is in poor taste. Some people think that anyone who gives birth is automatically some kind of angel. And some are just as quick to judge someone who has given birth. Our society tends to look at mothers as people who are always either way above reproach, or people who can be condemned to the depths of hell for making the simplest mistakes. A lot of us forget that moms are people, too. In fact, they are just people, first and foremost.

Jennette McCurdy grew up thinking that her mother was amazing in all ways. Debra McCurdy had a vision for her only daughter’s life. From the age of six, Jennette was expected to share in the dream, as her mom made her audition for commercials, take acting and dance classes, and be cute and charming for casting directors. Debra McCurdy had breast cancer; it was diagnosed with Jennette was two years old. Debra was not above using cancer to get sympathy and preferential treatment, either for herself, or her daughter. Jennette loved her mother, and she hated to disappoint the people she loved. She was a natural people pleaser, trained since early childhood to make other people happy, regardless of her own needs or desires. Later, when she became an adult, she became co-dependent, settling on bad relationships with toxic people instead of holding out for people who were better, and weren’t abusive to her.

So Jennette went along with her mother’s vision for her life. She smiled for casting directors, and put up with her mother’s intrusive and weird behaviors. She didn’t complain when her mother hoarded things, and forced her and her three brothers to sleep on mats. She wasn’t confrontational when her mother used the money she earned to pay her mortgage. And even though she didn’t like being an actress, she didn’t want to upset her sick mom. She she acted and became successful, portraying Sam Puckett on iCarly and Sam and Cat. It almost destroyed her. Life in show business is toxic. Add in a toxic mother, and you have a recipe for lifelong issues. People don’t realize it, but fame and money aren’t tickets to happiness. Some of the most miserable people are wealthy, famous people.

In yesterday’s post, I mentioned a few of the more shocking things that happened when Jennette was growing up. Here’s a quick and dirty list.

  • At age six, Debra McCurdy forced her daughter to audition for agents. She had a knack for acting, but she hated it. Her mom made her act, anyway.
  • At age eleven, Jennette started growing breasts. Breasts weren’t good, because they made her look mature. Looking young was good for Jennette’s career, especially on Nickelodeon. So Debra taught her eleven year old daughter how to restrict calories. She noticed when Jennette gained weight and chastised her. She wouldn’t let her eat pineapple, because it was high in sugar.
  • As a young teenager, Jennette still sat in a booster seat in her mother’s car.
  • As a teenager, Jennette’s mother showered her, using her prior experience as a beautician as an excuse– to make sure her hair was pretty for the casting directors. Sometimes, one of her brothers would be forced to join her in the shower.
  • Jennette’s mother discouraged her from being a writer, because she said writers dress frumpy and get fat. She didn’t want Jennette’s “peach butt” to turn into a “watermelon butt”.
  • Jennette’s mother criticized Jennette’s father, Mark, for not working hard enough and being lazy. And she said it was hard for her to have to rely on a child to pay the bills.
  • Jennette’s mother sent her endless abusive text messages, emails, and voicemails calling her filthy names and accusing her of “giving her cancer”. Then, she signed off with “love”, and demanded money for a new refrigerator.
  • Jennette’s mother didn’t have an appreciation for her daughter’s likes and dislikes. She bought her inappropriate gifts and expected her to be delighted with them.
  • Jennette’s mother never told her who her “real” father was, or that the man she thought was her father, wasn’t actually her dad. She never told her that her biological dad had wanted to be in her life.
  • Jennette’s mother was a NARCISSIST.

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know I write a lot about narcissists. I strongly suspect my husband’s first wife is a narcissist. I’ve written many– some would say– inappropriate blog posts about my husband’s ex wife. I probably shouldn’t do that. It might put me at risk. But, I figure that there’s not much more she can do to us, since she deprived Bill of a relationship with his daughters for many years, and she tried hard to ruin his relationships with his family of origin. If I hadn’t immediately recognized her as the abuser she is, she probably would have tried to ruin our marriage. This is another thing that Jennette has in common with Bill and his daughters. You see, Jennette’s dad– Mark– was not actually her father. Debra McCurdy had an affair with a trombonist and he was the biological father of three of her four children. She never told her daughter. And, just as Ex did her best to sever the relationships her first two husbands had with Ex’s three eldest children, Debra McCurdy did the same to Jennette’s bio dad.

Jennette McCurdy doesn’t mention the word “narcissist” until the very end of the book. I was glad to see she recognizes that extreme behavior for what it is. But, as I read the book, even recognizing that she was a celebrity, I could relate so much. Not because I was raised by narcissists, but because I’ve been the second wife of a man whose ex wife is almost assuredly one. The behavior is VERY familiar. It’s also not hard to see where Debra McCurdy’s behavior came from, as Jennette writes about her equally narcissistic grandmother, whose levels of entitlement are off the charts.

A different interview than the one I shared yesterday about Jennette McCurdy and her explosive new book.

It may seem I’ve given a lot away in this post. Actually, the meat of the story really comes after Debra dies, in 2013. As I sit here, reflecting on that year, I realize that 2013 was some time ago. It doesn’t seem like it was nine years ago. I guess that’s what happens when you turn 50. Nine years doesn’t seem like it was so long ago. Jennette is now only 30. She lost her mom when she was just launching into true adulthood. Debra’s death came after many false alarms– “dress rehearsals”– as Jennette puts it. When her mother died, she was devastated. She still believed the fake version of her life story. It wasn’t until later that she got the truth, and that’s when Jennette’s life was endangered. She turned to bulimia, alcoholism, binge eating, and anorexia. She had lots of bad sex with inappropriate partners, and engaged in codependent behaviors. She abandoned Mormonism, for the most part. I wouldn’t necessarily think that was such a bad thing, except it was the one place where she got comfort as a child and had a few somewhat healthy role models (and knowing what I know about Mormonism, that is, in itself, a sad statement).

I think the part where I was the most stunned and gleaned the most insight was when Jennette’s very first therapist– an earth mother therapist/life coach named Laura– delivered a truth bomb that Jennette simply could not handle at the time. Laura was the first person to point out to Jennette that the idealized version of her mother– a fantasy version that did not exist– was fake. And that all of the things Jennette believed her mother did to “help” her, were in fact, toxic, abusive, and exploitive. Laura was right, of course, but even though she delivered the truth very gently, Jennette still couldn’t take it. It wasn’t until later that she was ready for therapy, this time with a male eating disorder specialist named Jeff. I think I would have liked Jeff more than Laura. Women who act like nurturing “earth mothers” usually annoy me. I seem to relate better to men… as long as they don’t try to control me.

I read a large portion of this book aloud to Bill. It spawned a very interesting and insightful conversation. I think his daughter should read I’m Glad My Mom Died, but I know she’s very busy with Mormonism and her young family. I also fear that reading this book could be triggering for her, because I suspect she will identify with a lot of it. I, for one, found this book very enlightening. I don’t share all of Jennette’s issues, but I relate to much of what she writes about eating disorders and alcoholism. And again… I’ve been married to a man whose Ex is a lot like Debra McCurdy on MANY levels. Ex wasn’t my spouse or my mom, but she’s affected my life, just the same. And it’s all so familiar. As I read this story to Bill, he agreed that it was all so very familiar.

One thing I liked about this book is that Jennette’s chapters are short, well-edited, and easy to digest. I think the short chapters are good, because she drops a lot of “bombshells” that could be shocking for many readers. Her writing is sometimes brutally honest. She uses profanity, and there are some very frank descriptions of sexual encounters, bulimia episodes, and alcoholic escapades. I would caution anyone who has suffered from eating disorders to be cautious about reading this book, because some of Jennette’s stories might be triggering.

My heart kind of broke for Jennette, as she wrote about giving her very first blow job as a consolation to a much older boyfriend, because she wasn’t ready for sex. It broke again as she wrote about her actual first experience with intercourse, with someone who didn’t deserve the honor. And then the guy with whom she had much chemistry turned out to be not so good, either. All I could do was think about how useful it would have been for Jennette to have had a good, stable, loving role model in her mother… or, at least someone who saw her as more than a wallet and status symbol. I’m sure that when the truth hit Jennette, she realized that she wasted a lot of time, money, and affection on someone else who didn’t deserve it… and how heartbreaking it is that the person who probably deserved her love the least, was the person who was responsible for her very existence.

Most of the Amazon reviewers have given I’m Glad My Mom Died good ratings. I’m glad to see that. I think we live in a time now when more people are seeing mothers as fallible, and we’re learning that they can be held accountable. However, I have a feeling there will people who will dislike this book only for the title. They will see it as disrespectful, mean, and shocking. It’s kind of “in your face”, not unlike the Reddit “Am I the Asshole” columns. I would urge anyone reading this book to forget that Debra McCurdy was Jennette’s mom and “deserves” respect and love simply for being her mom. Debra McCurdy was an abusive liar, grifter, and leech. And while she no doubt had mental health issues to go with her cancer, that’s no excuse for stealing her daughter’s childhood and encouraging her to be unhealthy and unhappy. Mothers, ideally, should always put their children ahead of themselves– at least as long as their children are actually children. Debra failed in her mission, and it’s a blessing that her daughter has recognized that she’s worthy of better while she’s still young and can recover her health.

I give I’m Glad My Mom Died a full five stars and a hearty recommendation. But please be advised… this story isn’t for the faint of heart. It can be triggering. It can be offensive. You will probably find yourself gasping in shock, surprise, and dismay a few times. And you will probably laugh a few times, too.

As an Amazon Associate, I get a small commission from Amazon on sales made through my site.

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Ex, narcissists

The big, stinking, rotten onion…

This is another very personal and possibly distasteful rant. The title should give you a hint. If you don’t want to read negativity, you might want to move on to your next Internet station.

Onions have layers. When you cut into an onion, there are rings that easily peel off to a deeper layer. If the onion is good, you have a savory herb that can enhance the flavors in your favorite dishes. That is, of course, if you like onions. Not everyone does. Onions can also be rotten, though, and when they rot, they STINK to high heaven. They turn all mushy and moldy, and they make a big mess. Lately, I feel like there’s a big stinking, rotten onion in my life.

If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you might have noticed that I sometimes write about my husband’s ex wife. I write about her for a lot of reasons, but the main one is that writing about this stuff helps me process some of the layers of shit she creates by being such a toxic person. Every time I think I’ve discovered the grossest and rottenest layer of yuck when it comes to her, another layer appears. Such is the case right now.

I’ve been married to Bill for almost 20 years. I have never met his ex wife in person. And yet, I feel like I constantly uncover layers of stinking rot from his first marriage. Now… it’s okay that there’s rot, because Bill is worth it. He’s the ripest peach in the bushel. But I am continually shocked by the stench of rotten that comes from his ex wife. We know about it because Bill finally has contact with one of his two daughters, both of whom were estranged from him for many years.

I remember being frequently outraged by Ex’s antics back in the early 00s. I was furious at her sense of entitlement, the totally cruel and disrespectful way she treated Bill, and the assumption that I would be dancing to her tune. This is a woman who expects people to treat her with kid gloves, because if they don’t, she’ll make them pay dearly. She has a very twisted way of taking any confrontation someone directs at her, and turning it into some kind of sick punishment. Her punishments always cause collateral damage.

In 2006, Ex sent Bill adoption papers, demanding that he give up his parental rights so that his daughters could be adopted by their current stepfather (Ex’s third husband). She got their daughters to send him hateful letters disowning them. They arrived just in time for Bill’s birthday. Bill refused to give the girls up, but when they turned 18, Ex got them to legally change their surnames to their stepfather’s last name. Younger daughter later confessed that the letters were dictated and forced, and she had finally succumbed to extreme pressure to change her name. She went along with it, knowing that she would be getting married and changing her name, anyway.

In 2009, I accidentally discovered that Bill’s ex stepson, who had been using Bill’s last name, was going to change his name to what it was originally. Bill never heard about these plans, even though he was paying the then 21 year old $850 a child support. Ex had apparently talked him into reclaiming his original last name, because we pointed out to her that she has a habit of denying the fathers of her children access to their dads. Her response was to reunite former stepson with his father, who hadn’t spoken to him in many years, and never paid child support beyond the boy’s early childhood years.

She had expected Bill to be very angry and hurt. But Bill felt that his former stepson should never have been distanced from his father. I felt that his father should have been paying child support, instead of Bill… but Bill made more money than “dad” did. In any case, when Bill wasn’t upset at the reunification, a further step was taken, and former stepson filed paperwork to change his last name. And that was fine… except he never said a word about it to Bill, and he kept demanding money from him.

Again, I think Ex was expecting Bill to be very hurt… and he was. But instead of begging for a relationship with former stepson, Bill told him that this decision meant he was an adult, and no longer needed Bill’s “child support”. He stopped paying him, and sure enough, that meant the end of their relationship. I was very angry with former stepson. I felt this action was very telling about his character. It was a pretty terrible time of “onion rot”.

A few years later, Bill was having some medical issues that required seeing a urologist. The doctor noticed signs of abuse in an intimate area and asked him about it. Bill let me know that his former wife had sexually assaulted him in a way that, had he been a woman and reported it, she absolutely would have been arrested and gone to jail. I was devastated by that revelation. It was probably the worst and stinkiest of the onion rot. It took a long time to process it and stop being outraged. It had taken him fifteen years to tell me, and I was absolutely livid when he told me about it. I wanted to kill her. I didn’t think it could get worse.

And now… dear friends, we have discovered another deep layer of rot in Ex’s stinking onion. I don’t want to get too far into specific and sensitive details, except that it involves another sexual violation, and Ex’s completely inappropriate response to it that focuses only on her, and not on the actual victims. Years later, when it seemed like the outrage over the violation had passed, she randomly brought it up again… probably to keep the people involved in line, and shame them into doing her bidding. Of course, Bill was never told about any of this. He wasn’t able to help, because she wouldn’t include him. She probably figured I would call CPS. I sure the fuck wish I had. It was absolutely warranted. But sadly, I didn’t, because I didn’t know. I only had suspicions of what might be happening.

Ex is the kind of person who makes other people work for her, especially her children. We already knew that she basically used her eldest children as indentured servants of sorts, as well as sources of college loan money, which she makes them repay. Meanwhile, any time her money was needed to pay for something her children needed or wanted, she would either use it as a carrot on a stick, or she would complain about having to spend the money. We’re talking about things like equipment to correct medical problems. Younger daughter once told us that she had to use her birthday money to buy diapers for her little sister, because her mother didn’t have any money to buy them. This, even though Bill was sending her $2550 a month, which was a significant portion of his income at the time.

We discovered the other day that Ex also used one of her daughters to fix her relationship with #3. One time, #3 had a fight with Ex, and he decided he’d had enough of her abuse. He packed a bag and called a friend to come get him. One of the children was very upset about the fight. Ex asked her what she thought she ought to do. The child begged her to give #3 another chance. Ex told her to go out and beg her stepfather not to go. The funny thing is, the kid is not on good terms with #3 now.

Ex also had a bad habit of berating her children when they didn’t know things. She’d tell them to go figure it out for themselves. Younger daughter learned to become very self-sufficient, resourceful, and resilient. But when she turned 18 and decided to go her own way, Ex’s response was to become pathetic and “attempt” suicide. More onion rot. That must have been very confusing, given how Ex treated her children like they were impositions to her. They were obviously useful to her, though. She didn’t want them, yet she did. They can be used, as long as they stay under her power and don’t make any waves.

It’s tragic that this woman is a mother of five, and they have to live with the fact that whenever something bad happens, as they always do in anyone’s life experiences, she’s going to weaponize it. These children have grown up with a mother they can’t count on or trust. She uses them for her own means, and employs shame to keep them in line. The only cure is to cut her out of their lives, as they might a rotten onion. But she’s their mother… and that’s hard to do.

Good people who are close to her invariably feel responsible for the fact that she does what she does. She’s surrounded by hyper-responsible people who have been conditioned to take care of her endless wants and needs. Meanwhile, she hangs out on Twitter, and acts like she’s the biggest fucking humanitarian in the world. See these recent tweets:

I dare say my week will be filled with physical therapy & Gardening in my flower beds, this takes a lot of time and patience to create new beds. Re-watching @MenInKiltsSTARZ … because anything that takes me to my homeland is a treasured moment. (Scotland is NOT your homeland, Ex.)

The teen years are difficult. It does get better… but by then you must learn to let them fly on their own and your heart will cry with sadness, joy, and pride! (Please. She doesn’t let her children “fly”. Older daughter is 31 and still lives with her.)

…the only place I’ve found where I can get a signed copy of your book won’t ship to the USA. I’m of Highlander descent myself (Frasers du Lovat) and I await your journey there with great anticipation. Could you (or anyone) PLEASE help me get a signed copy? (What about that fence for your son, Ex?)

I think Ex uses Twitter to get supply, because they people who respond to her are strangers. They can only judge her by what they see. It’s a very superficial connection, and most of the people don’t confront her with the truth about what a reprehensible person she is.

Lately, I’ve been watching H.G. Tudor’s interpretation of Tom Bower’s brand new book, Revenge, which is mostly about Meghan Markle. H.G. Tudor claims to be a narcissistic sociopath. I’m not sure if he is or not, as being a narcissistic sociopath would not make him the best narrator about facts. I will state, however, that I’ve found his analysis of Markle is very interesting and astute. I’ve heard a lot that reminds me of Ex’s behaviors, especially when he speaks of Markle attributing other people’s interests, characteristics, and abilities. There is no doubt in my mind that my husband’s former wife is a textbook narcissist. It’s like she follows the playbook.

I love Bill with all my heart, so I will certainly stay with him, in spite of the rotting onion. He’s the very best kind of person, and worth all of the stench that comes from his time with his former wife. I don’t know how it is that people like Ex are able to find the best people. I will keep writing about her, because people like her thrive on people who don’t want to expose the rot. I made it clear early on, that I don’t dance to her tune, and I’m not going to keep her secrets.

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