McCurdy, 30, who is best known for her role as Sam Puckett in the Nickelodeon series iCarly, has stated in her tome that her late mother, Debra McCurdy—who died of cancer in 2013—controlled her life and career, leading to anxiety and self-loathing.
The issues McCurdy endured have been chronicled in her recently-released book, I’m Glad My Mom Died, parts of which she discussed while sitting down with Red Table Talk hosts Jada Pinkett Smith, Willow Smith, and Adrienne Banfield Norris.
At one point, McCurdy spoke the last words she shared with her mother, prompting the screen star to respond: “She was in a hospice bed that was set up in our living room, and was really just detached behind the eyes.”
“My brothers had each kind of given the good news of their lives,” she recounted. “One of them was getting married, one of them was moving back to California. And then I said, ‘Mommy, I’m so skinny right now.’
“Like, the thing that I felt like was the most that I had to offer was my thinness. And I really, really, in my core at that time, I believed that that would get my mother to wake up. I believed that she cared more about my body and my weight than she did about anything else that could possibly be uttered by my brothers’ mouths. I really felt that mattered more to her.”
Things later got emotional when a viewer called in and asked McCurdy whether she was ever able to forgive her mother for everything that had happened.
“Oh God, I’m gonna get emotional. I can already feel it,” said McCurdy as she fought back tears. “I worked toward forgiveness for a really long time, and my therapist said to me one day, ‘What if you don’t have to work toward forgiveness?’
“I wept, and I knew that that’s what I needed to hear. Because I had been trying to find a way to honor my mom and respect [her]. I was still trying to live for her. I was still trying to find a way to make it all mean something because it had to, because it was her. And that was exactly what I needed to hear. It was hugely emotional, but, my God, did it help.”
Co-host Smith then stated: “That just blew my mind about, maybe you don’t have to forgive her. I feel like we’re always trying to take the high road, and I’m gonna heal, and I’m gonna be this and I’m gonna be that.”
As the show came to an end, Pinkett Smith told McCurdy that “your honesty, your vulnerability, and your voice has moved so many, including these family faces who wanted to send some love to you.”
A collection of video messages was then shared from a host of stars, including
Nia Dennis, David Archuleta, Abby Jasmine, Rosie McClelland, Violet Benson, and Alyson Stoner.
Jeopardy! host Mayim Bialik, who appeared onscreen with her partner Jonathan Cohen, said: “We are thrilled for your success. And we just think you’re awesome.”
In a separate message, Bella Thorne told McCurdy: “I just wanted to say I’m so, so proud of you. You’re in such a strong place in your head, a strong voice for women to see that you can stick up and say how you feel.”
Elsewhere during her appearance on Red Table Talk, McCurdy read out a letter she said she had received from her mother after she saw photos of her online with a man.
“Dear Nette, I am so disappointed in you,” read the letter. “You used to be my perfect little angel, but now you’re nothing more than a little slut, a floozy, all used up.
“And to think, you wasted it on that hideous ogre of a man. I saw the pictures on a website called TMZ. I saw you rubbing his disgusting, hairy stomach.”
Her mother continued to call the former child star a “liar, conniving” and “evil,” before telling her she looked “pudgier too.”
“What happened to my good little girl?” McCurdy continued reading. “Where did she go, and who is this monster who replaced her? You’re an ugly monster now.”
“I told your brothers about you, and they all said they disown you, just like I do. We want nothing to do with you. Love, mom. Or should I say Deb, since I’m no longer your mother. P.S. Send money for a new fridge, ours broke,” McCurdy read.
In the New York Times bestselling memoir, McCurdy detailed how her mother forced her into acting at age six. She also spoke candidly about battling eating disorders, noting her mom taught her restrictive eating at age 11.
McCurdy’s mother was diagnosed with cancer for a second time when she was 18, which caused the star to binge eat. Following her death, the singer began purging to cope.
With the help of Dialectical Behavior Therapy—a type of talking therapy that’s often effective for people who feel intense emotions, according to mind.org—McCurdy was able to heal.
“I haven’t binged or purged or restricted in years,” she told People. “And I feel very deeply and very strongly about saying I’ve finally recovered.”
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