5. Breaking the Cycle of Generational Trauma with Billie Lourd
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Billie Lourd has been grieving the loss of her mother, Carrie Fisher, and grandmother, Debbie Reynolds, since 2016. She shares what it was like growing up in the public eye in a family dealing with addiction and mental illness. This week’s practice is about all the things you inherit from your family (good and bad) and the patterns you want to break.
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Resources from the show
- Listen to True Colors by Cyndi Lauper
- Read “It Didn’t Start With You: How Inherited Family Trauma Shapes Who We Are and How to End the Cycle” by Mark Wolyn
- Read “What Happened to You: Conversations on Trauma, Resilience and Healing” by Bruce Perry and Oprah.
- Read “Wild Game” by Adrienne Brodeur
- Listen to Dani Shapiro’s Podcast: Family Secrets on iHeartMedia and Apple
- Watch Billie in the 2019 movie Booksmart
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Claire, Billie Lourd
Hi, I’m Claire Bidwell Smith. Welcome to NEW DAY. Okay, you guys are in for a wild ride in today’s interview. My guest today is Billie Lourd, Carrie Fisher’s daughter, Billie is an extraordinary person. She’s funny, wild and wise beyond her years. She’s also one of the most open and brutally honest people I know. And because of that, you’re going to hear her open up in some really big ways in this episode. I want you to think about something as you’re listening, though, maybe about what it means for someone like Billie to be honest about what her life and family are really like. I know, it’s probably hard to imagine yourself in her shoes, given that she’s the daughter and granddaughter of two very famous movie stars. But maybe think about it this way. You know how people always assume that your Instagram photos or like the whole picture of your life, everything’s perfect and pretty freshly baked and folded. But how that’s never really the whole story.
Well, it’s a lot like that for Billie too, but in a much, much bigger way. And often, when she does let the world take a peek into her life, it gets turned into salacious headlines that are out of context and images that aren’t the whole truth. I’m saying all this because what’s important to me about this show, and about life in general, is that we keep finding ways to allow people to be who they really are, that we keep striving to accept vulnerability, and flaws and mistakes and truths, that we try our damnedest to create space for people to be real. In this episode, you’re going to hear me and Billie talk about generational trauma about our dead moms, and what it’s like to piece together all the parts of her that we both hated and loved. What is it that we inherit from the people who bring us into the world? And how do we live with it? How do we thrive despite some of the really hard shit that gets passed down to us? You’re also going to hear a lot of laughter and magic and maybe some audio issues, because we had to move into Billie’s closet in the middle of our interview when her fiancé arrived home with her adorable baby. There’s a lot to take away from our conversation here. A lot that had even me pondering pieces of my own life and relationships in pretty profound ways. I hope you enjoy.
But I want to start, how are you actually doing today?
Billie Lourd 02:26
I’m actually doing I would say like, 6 out of 10, I fell off a bird scooter recently. So I’m really bruised and battered and my scabs are picking off or peeling off my face. I’m picking them off, they’re not picking off themselves. And I’m getting an MRI today on my hand. So that’s a little bit sad. I’m realizing my youth is behind me. So I got to stop going on bird scooters because, I just turned 29 three days ago. It’s all over. It’s done. I have to stop wearing glitter pants and stop going on bird scooters.
And not really might hit a whole new scene when you’re 40 it just kind of youth comes back in a really disturbing way. But how are you doing like mental health wise today, these days?
Billie Lourd 03:13
Mental health wise I am doing I mean it’s a you know, it’s different every day, it’s overall pretty wonderful because being a mother is the greatest thing that’s ever happened to me. And I have the most incredible partner in Austin and I love my son so much. So that is the greatest light in my life. I call my son delight because he is delight. So that part of my mental health is amazing, because I feel like I’m doing something that I was always meant to do. And so that feels great.
Nobody knew you were pregnant. All suddenly posted a picture of his feet.
Billie Lourd 03:55
I know, it was the greatest thing ever. Because I got to keep it to myself. And I got to just share it with my close family and friends. And that was so special and wonderful. Because I’ve lived a lot of my life in the public eye. And I haven’t been able to keep a lot of things that are personal, personal. And getting to keep this to myself was really important and healing and wonderful. And I’m happy I got to share it now because it’s the most wonderful thing. But you won’t be seeing his face on the internet.
How are you going to keep his life private in this way that yours wasn’t but I mean, did anyone try to keep your life private?
Billie Lourd 04:38
They tried and failed. But you know, they still brought me to premieres and stuff. And there were pictures of me on the internet. So it wasn’t really as private as it could have been. But they really, really tried.
How aware were you that you were public? Like at what point did you become aware that you were a public person or that you were in a public family.
Billie Lourd 04:59
When kids started talking about my mom at school, and there were actually a few times in middle school where people weren’t allowed to come to my house because people’s parents knew who my mom was and did not trust her. So that was brutal. And that’s really when I realized that people knew more about my life than I realized. And that was really hard. And so my mom would have to, like, get on the phone with parents and convince them that she was going to be watching us and that we were okay. And we weren’t going to like to drink all the alcohol in the cabinet, or do whatever they were afraid of us doing. And she usually succeeded. She was, she was pretty good at talking these parents off the ledge, and the kids would end up coming over. And we would like, you know, graffiti, the walls and things. But like kids do that at any parents house. It wasn’t her fault. It was mine. But that’s, that’s probably when I realized that people knew more about my life than I wanted them to.
What kind of Mom, do you want to be like, what parts of her do you want? I’m always thinking about this with my mom, there were a lot of things about my mom that I revered and loved. But there were pieces of her that I don’t want to bring it down into my life into my children. What pieces of that do you want to carry on or not?
Billie Lourd 06:22
The most amazing thing my mom did was provide me with the greatest sense of humor, not tooting my own horn that I have the greatest sense of humor, but she haven’t really good sense of humor, it’s okay. But she had the greatest sense of humor. And we laughed every single day. And she made my life so much fun. And so she was so spontaneous. And she used to say, if life isn’t funny, then it’s just true. And that’s unacceptable. And that’s something I tried to live by. My therapist says it’s like not really great. It’s kind of an alcoholics excuse for like doing bad things. But it does apply in a positive way. In a lot of realms of life. It’s also can be used as a bad excuse; you shouldn’t like laugh at mistakes you make that are bad//
Sure, but there’s a balance. And I think you’re right. I mean, I work in such a hard realm of grief and death all the time. And it’s so important to have humor and to laugh about things. And that’s what you know, you and I share in common.
Billie Lourd 07:25
That’s the only way you can really get through a lot of the time. Because yeah, if life isn’t funny, then it’s just true. And sometimes the truth hurts like Lizzo says.
I just don’t think we always feel permission to laugh at things, though. Yeah, so your mom gave you that permission and taught you how to do that, which is pretty amazing. I feel like you and I always laugh together. And some of these questions feel very serious. I’m gonna ask you a really serious question. And we’re gonna mostly known for your roles and Scream Queens, American Horror Story. How did you find your identity outside the legacy that your mom and your grandmother left behind?
Billie Lourd 08:02
Well, I’m still looking for it. It’s out there somewhere. If anybody sees my identity, please call me. My number is 911. But it was hard and it’s changed so much. When they were alive. I feel like I really tried to avoid doing things in their shadow, like, we got offered all these random photoshoots and all this weird stuff that happens in my life. But I didn’t want to do them when they were alive, because I wanted to make sure that people knew me separately from them. And now I wish I could run back and do all of those photo shoots and do anything with them, really. But, I guess I just tried to separate myself from them while they were alive. And now I feel like I kind of I am kind of trying to do the opposite. I try to connect myself to them because I miss them. And that’s been really difficult and sad for me.
I totally get that. You know, I think in the work that I do with people, there is this looking back when someone is gone, and you realize all the things that you can’t change or go do over. And there’s this finality that I think makes it feel like there’s a disconnect when even at some point we wanted that and now we don’t we want to find some other ways to have that connection. But there also can be this weird freedom, right? Like my mom was such a big presence. She had this huge personality. Everybody loved her. She was beautiful and sexy and funny. And I always felt like I was in this shadow of her. And I’ve asked myself many times throughout my adult life, like what would I be like now if she were still alive? Would I have been able to emerge as the person I am? And I really wonder what that would have meant what it would have looked like and get it same time I would give anything to have her back. So it’s really confusing to think about.
Billie Lourd 10:04
Yeah, it’s weird, I don’t know if I would have been able to do some of the roles and some of the work that I have been able to do. Because I was also so busy taking care of her, and is the truth. And I wouldn’t have had time for those 16-hour days and had time to say yes to things that I wanted to say yes to. Because my main job when she was alive, was taking care of her and making sure she was okay. And, you know, thinking back on it, I don’t know. I’m gonna stop there.
No, it’s a lot, you know, I just think that parents and what we pass down and what we come down from, you know, we inherit all this stuff. That’s why that my first book had that word in it, the rules of inheritance. It’s like all this stuff we inherit, from who our parents were, and who their parents were and who came before them. And like trauma. I mean, lots of people are talking about trauma these days, Oprah does have a new book come out, that I love the title of it’s what happened to you. At first, I didn’t like that title. And I was like, that’s kind of abrupt. And then I was reading it. And it’s the reason they have that it’s because it’s not what’s wrong with you. It’s what happened to you, which is really interesting, because things happen to all of us. And then we pass it down. I put this quote in my interview questions from […] memoir, wild game, she had this really complicated relationship with her mom. But she has this quote that says, here was my choice, I could continue down the well-trod path upon which I’d been running for so very long, and pass along the inheritance like a baton, as blightly as I did my light hair and fair skin, my daughter could do her best to outrun it. Or I could slow down, catch my breath and look mindfully for a new path. There had to be another way and I owed it to my daughter to find it.
Billie Lourd 11:56
I relate to that so much. That’s like all I talk about in therapy, not as eloquently as she did, but it’s what I’ve been working on for the past four years now, since both of them. I hate the word passed away. It feels like you could find them. But yeah, since they died, and it’s a lot of work because there’s a lot of generational trauma and generational trauma is a cycle and it’s hard to get out of that cycle. It’s like a hamster wheel and you got to like run faster than the hamster wheel to jump out. And sometimes you hit the ground and scrape yourself on a bird scooter. We’re running out of time. But it’s been a lot that a lot happened to both of them there was you know, I really liked that title. Because there I don’t see it as there was something wrong with them. A lot happened to my grandmother, and a lot happened to my mother. That happened to her because something happened to my grandma and something happening to my great grandma and it was hard for them because they’re both really really strong women and had been through a lot in their childhoods.
Billie Lourd 13:12
My grandma grew up in Texas and basically became the breadwinner for her family at 16 years old after winning a Miss Burbank competition. And she just wanted to be a gym teacher. And she ended up becoming this insanely famous actress, the good America’s sweetheart. And it was really hard for her. It sounds like a like a fancy way to grow up. But if you really like put yourself in her shoes It was really hard. She was 16 years old, a little girl from Texas and got thrust into the spotlight as a teenager and you got put with all these older men in these big movies and had to do 16-hour days tap dancing with her feet bleeding and that wasn’t really what she wanted to do. It’d be one thing if that was like her lifelong dream to be an actress, but it wasn’t, she wanted to teach PE and she ended up as you know, Debbie Reynolds.
Billie Lourd 14:53
Okay, we’re back. The sound quality may have changed because if any of you have children out there, we are now in the closet, because it’s only the only quiet place in my home. So, sorry.
Okay, so we were talking about your grandmother. And I think what’s really interesting is that for both your mom and your grandmother stuff happened to them, but then it was also like they had to deal with it in a spotlight, or it was shaped by all these people around them who had things to do with their careers, or how all of that works.
Billie Lourd 15:25
Yeah. And also, like, my mom has told the story a lot. My grandma had a really difficult childhood, too, because, you know, she was beaten, and she grew up in the south and had a very strict upbringing. It’s like, a time where my great grandma got mad at my grandma, and she locked her in the closet, as punishment, and then my grandma peed on all of her shoes. And then she beat her. And like, my mom told that as a joke, because like, it’s kind of funny, like, we just laughed at it a little bit. But when you really like, bring it down to the reality of the situation, like it’s really, really dark, and like things like that happen all the time to her. And so that was, you know, her foundation. And so that was the way she learned to be a mother. And then so she passed some of those things down to my mother. And, you know, when those kinds of things happened to you kind of tried to go the opposite way, and like, be a cool mom. But then she was absent from my mom’s life.
Billie Lourd 16:32
And she was doing movies all the time. And my mom was left alone with nannies and was left to fend for herself. And that was really, really hard and isolating for her. And so she went the opposite way, and then was around too much for me, honestly, like, you gotta get out of my room, man, like what’s going on. But it’s interesting how that cycle happens, and how you try to do something different from your mother or your grandmother. And then sometimes doing it differently is actually worse. And there’s some happy medium that we all have to try and find. And that’s what I’m trying to find with my son. I’m trying to be there. But like, also work sometimes and, but be around as much as possible, but like, not smother him and not make him feel guilty and all these things. But it’s a lot. There’s a lot of layers. I talked about this in therapy, all the time, layers, layers, layers, there’s so many layers to this, so many aspects of life. And really with motherhood, there’s a lot. And I’m working on that now. And I’ll let you know how it goes. My kid is only 10 months old.
I’ve been working on it for 12 years now with all three of my kids. But I think one of the things too, just thinking about your grandma and your mom, and then you, it’s like generationally, we keep changing in terms of self-care and self-work and access to those things and cultural thoughts about that. And I think that it keeps getting better and better. We keep giving ourselves more permission as humans to dive into this stuff, to heal ourselves to work on it. We don’t all have access to that. But I think it’s shifting all the time, which is amazing. And so then we are passing down kind of different layers, like you’re saying.
Billie Lourd 18:20
Yeah, yeah, no, and the best layer my mom passed down to me is therapy. Therapy is everything to me. I go religiously once a week, I’m obsessed with my therapist, he’s a genius. And it’s helped me so so so much, and I recommend it to everyone out there. And even for people who don’t think they need it; you probably need it. And it’s you don’t get fixed in two sessions. You got to keep going. It’s like the weeks when I think I don’t need therapy or the weeks that I break into something that I didn’t realize I needed to break into. And it’s so important. If you have access to it, and you can afford it, then do it. Do it, do it.
Yeah, that’s what changed my whole path too. I was 25 when my dad had just died and I couldn’t afford therapy. And I found this little clinic in Westwood here. And it was a bunch of grad students who had just gotten their master’s degrees. And, you know, we’re earning their hours. And so it was super cheap, but it was still so helpful just to sit and finally talk about all this shit that had happened to me.
Billie Lourd 19:25
No, I didn’t start going until a year after my mom died, because I also kind of had this aversion to it because my mom went so often and I was like, it didn’t fix her. It didn’t work. It didn’t work, but she just really wasn’t doing it right. Because there’s a way to do it right? You have to be really honest with her therapist. She wasn’t really honest. A lot of the time she put on her if life isn’t funny, then it’s just true show, which is the bad part of the quote. There’s a good part but she sometimes just put on the Carrie Fisher show and she really should have been more honest about her generational trauma and I don’t think she was able to because she just wanted to be funny and cool. And I get that because I get like that a lot too. And you have to really strip yourself down. Not literally, but emotionally. Don’t strip with your therapist. That’s weird, and probably illegal, but you really have to show your true colors like the […] song. Is it about […] song who sings true colors? I don’t know. But.
Maybe, yeah, we’ll put it in the show notes. What’s it been like to grieve publicly? I mean, that’s something I’ve kind of done always. Intentionally, I wrote a book about it on purpose, but you didn’t have a choice whether or not your grief became public.
Billie Lourd 20:49
To put it lightly, it was brutal. It was really, really brutal. And I, it I’m still like, I still I hesitated and stutter because it’s really hard for me, because everything I say, gets, you know, turned into some headline that I didn’t mean and it’s…
What are examples of some?
Billie Lourd 21:15
There’s this one where I said something, and it was like, three months after she died, and I didn’t know what the fuck I was talking about, or who the fuck I was, or what was going on. And I said something like, well, now that they’re gone, I get to just be Billie. And it was like, oh, every time I see it, I cringe and it is so upsetting.
What did you mean by it?
Billie Lourd 21:34
I just, you know, I meant what we were talking about earlier. It’s like I got out of the shadow of them. But I didn’t want to get out of the shadow. I didn’t you know, it sounded like I like wanted them to die. And that is absolutely the opposite of what I wanted. I would do anything to get them back. But it sounded like I was like, excited, like, have the Billie show. I don’t know, but I don’t know sometimes in interviews, like, things get pulled out, and it comes across as like, I didn’t care about them. And that’s just not the case. They’re my favorite people in the world. I miss my mom every day and my grandma, but really my mom the most, she was the greatest funniest person ever. She was my best fucking friend ever. There’s no one who will ever be as funny as her. She was just the peak. She was amazing. I wish you could have met her. I mean, you would have really dug her. Everybody should read her books, because it’s kind of a window into her mind.
They’re like journals, right? Are they like, what?
Billie Lourd 22:40
There’s different ones. She wrote five books. Her first one was Postcards From the Edge, which got turned into a movie, which is about her relationship with her mother. And it’s one of those this quote is going to come up 40 times if life isn’t funny than a gesture, and that’s unacceptable moments. And she made it a really funny story. But if you really watch that movie, like it is dark, their relationship is so twisted, and it’s sad and vampirey. It’s not healthy at all. And you know, we’re able to laugh at it because Meryl Streep and Shirley MacLaine give these brilliant performances. But it’s really brutal when even you actually think about the reality of the situation there. So that’s her first book. And then her second was called Surrender The Pink which is one of my favorites, which is about her relationship with Paul Simon. And it’s so relatable and amazing and every girl going through an unrequited love situation should read, it’s awesome.
Billie Lourd 23:38
And then another one called Delusions of Grandma, which is a play-off of delusions of grandeur, and we all have that. And that one, she writes letters to me in her stomach, my name was supposed to be […] and then Buck Henry came in the room and said, it sounds like a noisier nose makes and then to change it to Billie, thank you Buck. I’m really happy. No offense to anybody out there. And same as me. It’s a beautiful name. It’s actually my cousin’s name. I love my cousin so much. And then she wrote another one about my childhood called the best awful, I love that one. But it’s also kind of rough because it’s about me and my dad. And it’s, it’s one of those situations where I was thrust into the public eye without wanting to be thrust into the public eye. And I’m like, seven in the book. And there’s a lot of true stories in it. And I read it recently and had to go jump in the ocean. And you know, and said that for a second.
That sounds like it’s got to feel like amazing to have, when you want to look at it, but also really hard to look at.
Billie Lourd 24:43
Yeah, but it’s also traumatic because when I read them, especially that one, I really wish she would have re-read them. She could have learned from her stuff, but she really just like gave it to an editor and never looked at it again. And I wish she would have re-read it because I mean, there’s a whole section Not one about her being an abusive mother and how, you know, brutal it was for me and, and I just, that’s when I had to go jump in the cold ocean and take a deep breath. Because I just was so confused that she didn’t reread it and didn’t stop being an abusive mother. Because it, it was so well written and she was so wise and so self-aware about the things she was doing to me and to other members of our family. And she couldn’t stop. She couldn’t stop. But part of me thinks if she rewrote it, she would have been able to, but who knows?
Who knows, it’s really hard. I think sometimes the work gets harder and harder as we get older, you know, these patterns and these cycles settle into us and the work is, requires so much it requires so much support, it requires so much nurturance from around us. And from what I can tell, you know, your mom had a lot of pressure, not a lot of support.
Billie Lourd 26:00
Yes, definitely. Definitely a lot of pressure, not a lot of support. And I was her main support. And I was seven for a lot of the time. And, and that was really hard. And that’s why I grew up really fast. Because I was her best friend, I was her mother, I was her kid, I was her everything. And that’s one of the things I’m learning not to do with my kid. There’s a lot of things that my mom taught me to do. And then there’s a lot that is at and honestly, it might be more valuable of what not to do. And that’s one of the things that I will not do to my son is put this pressure on him that I had on me.
We keep learning. We definitely keep learning. Back to grief for a minute, I was thinking about how you know you are in this really public grief spotlight. Do you feel like you need to show people what grief looks like? Because you and I talked about this a lot. Grief doesn’t look like what most people think it does. But yet, people are always passing so much judgment. Like is she crying? Is she upset? Is she sad? Why is she laughing? You know? All of these things, do you feel pressure to display grief in a certain way?
Billie Lourd 27:58
Yes, a lot of pressure. I really want to help other people that are grieving. But I need to make sure that I process it myself first, because I don’t, you know, want to send the wrong message or like damage myself by trying to help other people. But I really do want to help other people because that’s the most important thing in life. And one of the most important things to me is to have my trauma help other people not have trauma or not, you know, have their trauma.
But I think what you’re doing right now is still healing. Yeah, and I guess I don’t think we can jump in to help people when we’re still healing. And so you are doing the best thing that you could do to in order to help people which is take care of yourself right now and build your family and get strong and have a foundation and then be able to help people you know, if you jump in when you’re in all kinds of murky places, it might not be outfall,.
Billie Lourd 28:57
Then I might give some weird, shady advice. I probably would give some weird charity advice. If you asked me about this like three years ago, even if you asked me about it today, grief doesn’t take a year grief doesn’t take two years. It doesn’t take three years don’t take four years it takes as long as you need it to it takes 50 years, it never stops. It never stops and it’s lonely and it’s very lonely and isolating and weird. And it’s even kind of more isolating when you have to do it in the public eye because I’m scared to share it with other people. You’re one of the few people that I feel like I can share it with because like I said everything gets everything I say gets pulled into a weird headline that’s why you hear me hesitating. And you hear me saying on this because even this is hard for me.
Yeah, you know so much of my work is about giving people permission to grieve. I feel like that’s my biggest role is to give people permission and by giving them permission, I often have to demonstrate it or have to be really open and upfront and vulnerable myself, but I’m in a different position in life, then you are, a different career a different age, you know, so the pressures that you have are huge. But I do think that the only way we’re going to change the culture around grief is to keep informing people on what looks like and it’s messy, it takes a lot of time it comes and goes we can be really happy and laughing and having a wonderful life and still be deeply sad and missing our person. There’s so many ways to grieve and I think that when we keep trying to box people into one way, it does a disservice to everyone.
Billie Lourd 30:33
Yeah, like people used to always ask me what stage I was in. And I’m like, I have no fucking idea. What do you mean, I’m like, am I supposed to like what’s the three? Like I don’t know. Like where am I supposed to be I’m in a different stage every day and that’s okay. And that’s what people need to learn it’s not like this cut and dry formula grief it’s different every day and it’s okay that it’s different every day it should be different every day and I want to shout that from the rooftops if people could hear me or I could shout it on this podcast because there will be heard more than from the rooftop.
Maybe we could play the podcast..
Billie Lourd 31:17
There’s a lot of weird things people said like what stage are you in or I heard a lot sorry for your losses and people would correct themselves on the grammar of both and I’d be like I don’t need it to be grammatically correct like Jesus Christ like I know I lost two people in two days like you don’t need to throw in the “es” like it’s enough. It’s so weird.
What was helpful what did people say that was like was the right thing.
Billie Lourd 31:45
Just anything, anybody that said, I’m here for you. You don’t need to respond to this, but know that I’m here for you. And we’ll do anything if you need me to do anything. And that was really nice. I really liked that. You don’t need to respond to this. Because I got a lot of texts. I’m like, oh, I haven’t heard from you. I just want to make sure you’re okay. I’m like this is so fucking selfish. Like I’m not okay. And I don’t want to write you a text about it right now. And that’s I feel like that happens a lot with people who lose people, people really want some form of validation from the grieving person and it’s like, leave us alone. Let us grieve in peace. I’ll reach out to you if I need something and I don’t need anything I don’t you know, I just need to sit in my feelings for a little bit. And yeah, it’s just that you don’t need to respond. I think that’s an important thing to write in a text anybody out there who’s texting anybody who’s lost. Somebody, tell them they don’t need to respond.
I was just thinking about how expressive you are and how awesome you are at being loud or funny or angry. And you know, we can see it in your roles on screen but also when you say like, I need to sit in my feelings. What does that look like for you? For me? That’s like super mopey. And I cry a lot and eat some chocolate and make some phone calls and but for you, I feel like I don’t know what does that look like for you?
Billie Lourd 33:15
For me, it’s eating chocolate. It’s sitting in bed. It’s eating Ben and Jerry’s and watching really bad reality TV, shout out to Jersey Shore, it got me through a lot of my grief. So dark, but so true. So that’s part of it. And then the other part is trying to channel My mom’s energy. And the year she died, I actually kind of went on this like, weird grief travel tour where I visited a lot of the places that we visited together. And that was part of my process. Like I went to Atlantis which is one of my favorite places in that like a resort. It’s like that waterpark in the Bahamas, kind of like Vegas on an island with water slides. That should be their tagline. We had the greatest time I have this memory of her going down the waterslide and she had sorry to say it like this but massive tits. And she went down this like straight down waterside and her tits like hit her chin and it’s an image I’ll never get out of my mind. It’s one of my favorites. And so I went there.
Our mother’s bodies are like there’s something so primal and familiar.
Billie Lourd 34:30
I really remember her tits. They’re really, they were great. They were really big. She never wore a bra. And I saw them a lot. And they were great, honestly. And then I also went to Japan and went to the Cherry Blossom Festival which was one of my favorite things we got together. And that was a really helpful way I grieved and I got to go with my best friends and it was magical and I recommend doing that and we also went to see the Northern Lights and we scattered some of her ashes. Yeah, honestly, it was good. It was really really good. I mean, it was brutal, but it was good. But scattering ashes is super weird.
I know. […]
Billie Lourd 35:21
Yeah, see that’s really like weird and funny and like, people don’t talk about that. No, I think it’s like this like weird like, it’s like this like ceremonial, beautiful thing. But sometimes it’s awkward as hell like, we had to travel with these ashes to the airport, I kept thinking we were gonna get stopped with people thinking they were drugs. Thankfully, we didn’t. But we got there. And they were just like in a Ziploc bag. And I was like, is this her toes? Like, is this her belly button? Like, what is this and then we scattered them in the snow. And then they were just kind of on top of the snow. And I’m like, as an animal going to eat? Did they melt into the snow and I ever gonna come back here? Like, do I even know should I put a flag down? Like, I don’t know.
My dad was always digging out my mom’s ashes to put in Ziploc to take different places but using the salad serving spoon and Do you wash the ashes off of it?
Billie Lourd 36:13
Like, do you only use them with special salads?
But this is also like, I love this conversation because this is the reality of death, of dying and of people we love. You know, you can get like a diamond now made out of ashes. Which I think that’s kind of that’s really cool.
Billie Lourd 36:29
Yeah. And you can also send them into space. I thought about doing that. But then I was like.
Okay, wrapping up, like what do you want young people to know about mental health?
Billie Lourd 36:48
I just want people to know that. It’s okay to feel whatever you’re feeling it’s actually good to feel whatever you’re feeling I; I wish I had known that more when my mom and grandma died, I was so nervous to be judged. And just be open about your feelings. Don’t keep them in locked in your little brain. Because feelings are big. And sometimes they don’t fit in our head and we got to let them out. So I just talk to people about it and be open and don’t worry about being judged. The thing is, like most people will relate to something you’ve gone through and it’ll make you feel better to feel related to and give therapists man any kind of therapist like the best at it just be open and don’t isolate, watch Jersey Shore. No, don’t but, but do if that’s what you need to do. Do whatever you need to do. Yeah, honestly, that’s what’s important. I don’t know what would you say?
The same things like seek support. Be open. And feel however you’re supposed to feel I tell my clients that all the time if you need to spend all day watching Netflix or Jersey shore, do it, there’s no need to scream.
Billie Lourd 38:14
You know, people might be like, wow, that was loud. But do it. Like I have definitely had a lot of days where I just want to scream and you don’t need to scream into a pillow. You can scream out into the air. And it’s okay. And that’s fine. And you should do it. And if you need to cry, cry, and if you need to be held as someone to hold you, they will hold you and just surround yourself with people you love and you trust and get rid of people that judge you.
Yeah, I think this bottom line is that it’s like it’s okay to be a mess. It’s okay to be messy. It’s okay to need help. None of us are supposed to know how to do this.
Billie Lourd 38:48
No, it sucks. It sucks. And I wish more people would have said that to me. You’ll be like, oh, like I’m so sorry. But like, you know, things happen for a reason. It’s like no, no, no. Fuck that. How about just I’m sorry. This is so shitty. This is so awful.
Yeah, this thing happened to you. One more time with the quote, your mom’s quote, because I love it.
Billie Lourd 39:15
If life isn’t funny, then it’s just true. And that’s unacceptable. But I’d like to add that it’s okay to not be funny, too, sometimes. Sometimes the truth is just true. And it hurts. And it is acceptable for it to just be true. And it’s acceptable for it to be sad. it’s acceptable for it to be funny. It’s acceptable for it to be any range of emotions. So when it’s funny, let it be funny. But when it’s sad, cry and let it be sad, and I wish she would have known that more. I wish she would have let her true be true more.
Wow, that’s what you’re going to do now. Thank you Billie.
Billie Lourd 39:53
Thank you for sitting on the floor of my closet.
I really like your closet.
Okay, so first off, Billie closet really was as awesome as it sounded. It really embodies everything she’s inherited from her mom, a lot of glamour and a lot of I don’t know, […]. I think the real gift from this interview, though, was the opportunity to give some real thought to what we inherited from our own families. There’s often a lot of amazing things, but also maybe things that aren’t so great. Maybe your parents never quite worked through their own shit. And now you’re carrying it. Addiction, anxiety, toxic relationships, we don’t get to pick who were born to. And we definitely don’t get to pick the stuff that gets passed down to us. But, we do get to decide what we’re going to do with it. Take some time this week to think about everything you’ve inherited from your family. What are the pieces you love and want to keep? What are the pieces you want to get rid of, the patterns you want to break this stuff, you definitely don’t want to pass down to your own kids.
This takes a lot of work for sure. This stuff runs deep, letting go of it or changing patterns usually isn’t a one and done kind of thing. Instead, it’s a practice, something we return to over and over as we move through life. But the things you want to keep recognize that, by and gratitude for them create rituals and family customs around them. For me, it’s simple things like honoring Sunday dinner, something I always did with my own mom and dad. Now I do it with my kids. And for all the stuff you want to get rid of. Well, good luck. I’m kidding. Start by figuring out what the patterns are that occur in your family’s past abuse, depression, abandonment, avoidance, money problems, then from there, start to chip away. Let yourself imagine a different way to handle these things than maybe your parents did. Seek support in the form of a therapist or support group like Al-Anon to work on some of it.
There’s also a couple of great books I really recommend. It didn’t start with you how inherited family trauma shapes who we are, and how to end the cycle by Mark Wallen and what happened to you conversations on trauma, resilience and healing by Bruce Perry and Oprah. You heard me mentioned this one to Billie in our interview it’s great. I also talked about wild game by Adrienne Brodeur stunning memoir about what gets passed down to us. I’d also recommend listening to Danny Shapiro’s podcast Family Secrets. Danny is actually going to be a guest on an upcoming show, so stay tuned for that. Lastly, if you haven’t seen the movie Booksmart yet, check it out to see Billie play what is probably my favorite roll ever. Check out these resources. Work on your weekly practice and tell me how it goes. Share your progress or send your own questions about how to feel more satisfied with your life. You can call and leave me a message at 8334-LEMONADA. That’s 833-453-6662 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I really want to hear what you find. Okay, everybody. See you next week.
NEW DAY is a Lemonada Original. Jackie Danziger is our supervising producer, our associate producers Erianna Jiles, […] our engineer, music is by Hannis Brown. Executive producers are Stephanie Wittels Wachs and Jessica Cordova Kramer, Lily Cornell Silver and Claire Bidwell Smith. NEW DAY is produced in partnership with the wellbeing trust the Jed Foundation, and Education Development Center. Help others find our show by leaving us a rating and writing a review. Follow us at Lemonada Media across all social platforms or find me at ClaireBidwellSmith.com Join our Facebook group to connect with me and fellow NEW DAY listeners. Hear advice on how to live with more purpose and satisfaction and suggest tools that have helped you. You can join at facebook.com/groups/newdaypod. You can also get bonus content and behind the scenes material by subscribing to Lemonada premium. You can subscribe right now and the apple podcast app by clicking on our podcast logo and then the subscribe button. Alright, that’s it for us. Thanks for listening. See you next week.