Tara Schuster Banner

Today’s guest is Tara Schuster executive at comedy central and author of Buy Yourself the F*cking Lilies. She’s funny, brilliant, and talks about hitting rock-bottom and “sucking at life”. We get into her process of “reparenting herself“ and finding ways to cope with her sadness and childhood trauma. Tara also shares techniques she uses to maintain her emotional and mental wellness today. Human, open, funny, and the reminder that we are not alone. Enjoy!

Listen to the episode here:

[podcast_subscribe id=”5950″]

Key Topics:

Tara Schuster – Maintaining Emotional Wellness and Healing Trauma

Welcome to the podcast. Our guest is Tara Schuster. Tara has done a lot of things. She’s a Playwright and Executive at Comedy Central. She has a book called Buy Yourself The F*cking Lilies: And Other Rituals to Fix Your Life, from Someone Who’s Been There. Tara has had such an interesting path. She did not have the easiest childhood like many people.

After she graduated from Brown and felt like, “I have some anxiety and depression. I’m medicating using weed and that’s not working,” she somehow organically figured out on her own the process of re-parenting herself. It’s a term but, at the time, she didn’t know it. She went back from the beginning and started writing everything down, “What are principles and what would that look like? What would be good ones to incorporate into my life?” Also, daily habits to reparent herself and give her that foundation to make her life more about the way she wants it to be.

She talked about when her parents divorced, one parent took her and the other parent took her little sister. She has not only been through a lot. She has used some of that for fodder in her real life. Her honesty about anxiety, depression, and not wanting to betray herself anymore and to also have her life reflect the person that she is and the joy that she can experience and wants to experience.

It’s a great conversation and she has many tips that we can use in our real lives whether we’re having some of these battles or not. It is a reminder about the power of personal accountability and what we can do for ourselves if we’re willing to look inside and say, “What relationships, what situations make me feel good and comfortable? Am I willing to say, ‘I’m sorry. I love you but maybe it’s not best for me to stay in this relationship.” That’s hard for a lot of us. We probably all have those situations in our life. I hope you enjoy the conversation.

Are you quarantined alone?

I sure am. I am all alone in my apartment.

What’s that like?

If I’m honest, I broke up with my boyfriend in quarantine. We were spending a lot of time together in quarantine. Not because of the quarantine but for other reasons, I decided I have enough practice settling. I need no more practice settling. Even in a pandemic, I can’t do this. I can’t betray myself anymore. I can’t believe I pulled the trigger and did that though because he was my only company.

Where are you?

I’m in Los Angeles.

Were you cohabitating?

We would spend a lot of time at each other’s apartments. We’d move to each other’s apartments.

Is it okay to ask a few questions about it?


I’m the person who wants to learn from you but what from you want to tell me.

I appreciate that.

Was it a long relationship?

It wasn’t. It was three months. It was a sweep-you-off-your-feet epic romance. Is he the one? It’s exciting. About a month in, I was like, “Wait a minute.” Two months in, I was like, “Ah,” and then it was pandemic. You can’t date anybody.

It’s like the evil sometimes, like, “Let’s get through this.” When you say you’ve had practice settling, everyone feels that way. Maybe females do it differently than males. I don’t know because I met my husband years ago and I was 25. It was pre-technology. Also, I was still decently young. I’m fascinated in this electronic age of dating where it’s almost like so much consumption. You’re lucky because you’re almost a little bit old enough where people still maybe connect person to person.

The people I’ve met in real life and I still do meet people in real life have been excellent relationships. One of my strongest suits is my ability to connect. Why the book has resonated with people is I’m able to be present in who I am. All I mean by settling is I found myself not being myself. I found myself being shades of me, a smaller version of me in order to accommodate his needs. What I realized was his needs have taken over this relationship. I don’t need to go down this road again. I know exactly where it ends so let me stop the bleeding right now.

When you’re in a relationship, there’s this push and pull. For example, when you’re writing the book, you’re going to need a certain amount of effort and energy because it’s like, “I have a deadline.” There’s always these ebb and flows. When people get into a relationship, do you want to be with somebody who says, “I’m not going to infringe on you.” Therefore, you’re getting smaller and your wants and needs or maybe your voice. Do you think it’s our responsibility to go, “Here’s my real estate.”

Hang on.

As a parent and stuff, I’m mapping out my real estate. If you decide to go down the path of ever having children and you have to write a book about reminding women, it is our job to say, “I may not be able to put all this energy into my flame, my fire. You have a lot of skillsets. I’m going to keep it going a little bit so that maybe when the kids are bigger or some part of the relationship, I can pump that fire back up again.”

[bctt tweet=”The antidote to depression is connection.”]

That’s confusing because nobody talks to us or teaches us about how to be lovingly and not be a witch on wheels and be like, “Don’t screw with me.” How do we say, “I want to be in a partnership because that feels good.” By the way, I don’t think people need to be in partnerships. I don’t think they need to get married. I don’t think they need to have kids. They need to figure out what the hell they want. I gave up something to be with my husband. I say it’s two circles that then overlap but you still are yourselves and these outside parts of the circle.

The key is that you’re still yourself. You’ve given up something but your life has been enriched in some other way. When you find yourself giving up and the bigger picture not expanding who you are, for me, there’s an issue. I don’t need somebody to complete me. I also don’t believe in that. I don’t exactly throw up or gag.

Laird and I watch Valentine’s Day around February. It’s funny that your book came out in February. Every kiss begins with K and, “You complete me.” Laird is like, “How about you go off and make yourself happy and I’ll go off and make myself happy? We can then come together and be happier.” I don’t know what it is. I don’t know if we’re predisposed. A lot of times, I’ve listened to many different people. You’ll see that females are more amenable. We might go, “I don’t think that I agree with that.” It’s easy for us because somehow we’re taught to not hurt anyone’s feelings. We’ve confused having a specific opinion or need with not being a good person or nice.

Nice is, “We’ve got to be nice. We’ve got to be the caretaker.” Those get in the way of who we are and what we want and desire. Reading Glennon Doyle’s book, Untamed, I’ve committed to the idea that I cannot betray myself. I’ve done the work to know who I am. I know who I am. I feel secure in who I am. When I feel myself in a romantic relationship, at work, in a friendship, whatever the circumstance is, when I feel myself betraying myself, that’s a red flag. That isn’t to say that I can’t meet other people’s needs. If I am authentically myself, I’m super generous and I want to help the people in my community.

To what you were saying, it’s not about being a witch on wheels and being like, “I’ve got no space for you.” It’s about remembering, “I need to take care of myself. I need to be gentle with myself. I need to be true to who I am.” The issue with this person, in particular, is they don’t know who they are yet. Something that I’ve been coming up against is meeting people where I’ve done so much work, years of re-parenting, and writing a book on it. I can’t lie to myself anymore. I know who I am. When I meet somebody who I get that vibe that they don’t, attention and they’re searching for what they want and need, that’s something that I can’t spend any more time on in a romantic relationship.

The book, Buy Yourself The F*cking Lilies, I want to talk about taking on writing a book. It’s an interesting timing again around Valentine’s Day. Do you read the book? Is it on audio as well?

Yeah, it is.

During quarantine, everyone’s like, “I’m going to read,” and they find that they don’t have time, especially if they are homeschooling kids or working from home. I don’t want to say overwhelmed but there is this interesting emotional rollercoaster that people are going through.

I have been posting on Instagram about this. I want everyone to know that there is no right way to do a pandemic. You do not need to become an expert breadmaker or yoga practitioner and somehow launch your small business. There is a crisis in the air and it is perfectly acceptable if you are anxious and on that roller coaster. I’m on that roller coaster.

I’ve come to a place where I’m wondering who I want to be on the other side of this and how I’ll let this help me even the painful parts, even the depressing parts. As somebody who’s suffered from anxiety and depression my whole life, this triggered my depression. I’ve touched those feelings in this. Yet, I want to let them help me through and make me a stronger person on the other side of this.

There’s a part of me that wants to go a little bit back so you can tell the story through Brown and how you arrived at, “I’m going to take a look at this. I’m going to write this book and share this.” When you said some things that can trigger your anxiety, what things would occur that would go down that, all of a sudden, might put you in a state?

In the pandemic, job security. I still am a full-time employee at Comedy Central. When I think about all of the people who are losing their jobs, I immediately spin to, “What if I lose my job and then I lose my standing?” All start spinning about job security, something basic. My book came out right before the pandemic. I “should” be on a book tour. This should be the culmination of years of work. I was supposed to have a party and all these fun things. That made me extremely depressed and anxious.

Look at what I’m getting to do. I’m getting to connect with you, Gabby. I’m getting to connect with amazing thinkers who might not have had the time otherwise that we might not have come together or crossed paths. I’m getting to connect with readers who are using the book to pull themselves out of their anxiety and depression. In some ways, the timing couldn’t be better because I set out to help people and make them feel less alone. Right now is a great time to do that. I’ll party when things get back to normal-ish because I’m not letting go. I will be drinking champagne.

Tara Schuster Photo 1

Tara Schuster – Journaling is the most healthy self-care practice you can possibly have in your life because it forces you to build self-awareness.

Birthing a book is a lot of work. You said something important, which is because you wrote the book as a tool to connect to one person or a million people, it’s coming out at the best time, the absolute perfect time. It doesn’t make all the other stuff not true and scary, jobs and disappointment like, “Crap, I did this. I was ready to wear the cute dress.” Everybody goes, “Yay, the book.” That’s totally normal. However, on a bigger and deeper level, you’re providing a conversation and a tool for people at an important time.

I love the way you framed that. That’s exactly how I’m now viewing all this. The dress has its price tag and it’s hanging in my closet. It will get worn, but for now, the important work that I can offer is I’ve been doing a lot of Zooms on self-care in crisis. How do you take care of yourself right now? I’ve been able to be there.

Because I have more time and see people on Instagram who DM me or mention me in a story, I can spend time with them. I wrote this book for one person. I wrote it for each reader. I thought about them. It sounds creepy as hell but I felt like their presence was in my home office as I wrote this book. Now I have time to talk to them. There are a million ways you could look at any situation.

Viktor Frankl who wrote Man’s Search for Meaning said, “The greatest human freedom is to choose our attitude for how we react to situations.” He was in the Holocaust. He survived the Holocaust and still thought that we can decide what our attitude is. I’ve taken this on as I’m going to be gentle with myself, it’s okay to be depressed, but I am going to choose an attitude of, what work can I do in this? Who can I help? Who do I want to be? That’s what I’ve chosen.

When you talk about anxiety and depression, I have a different type of personality. I’m a person because of the nature of the way I grew up. I grew up in an unsure environment. I had to be sure quickly. My father passed away when I was 5 but I was not living with my parents when he died. Like all of our parents, they probably did the best they could. From 2 to 7, my mother was not able to care for me so I lived with a couple. By then, I was like, “I have to find my North Star.”

A lot of times when people say, “I suffer from anxiety and depression,” for me, I had things coming at me and I used to say, “How do I feel about this?” It never went in without the filter. It has its whole other myriad of issues. Sometimes you have to respond and feel things. You don’t get to be like, “I might be angry. Should I respond to that anger? What will the repercussions of that anger be? Will that take me another 30 minutes to work through that?” There’s a part that’s disconnected.

I have plenty of friends and we’ve discussed it but is it something that feels beyond your control? It comes over you that’s like a blanket you can’t get off. Because a lot of people feel versions of it, they think it’s them. I believe in my heart of hearts that in this nature of technology, we have phones and computers, it does mess not only with the messaging coming at us. Everyone else’s life is great and I have these dark feelings. Also, it messes with our chemistry. You can deal with it better. When you’re walking on a mountain, you might be like, “I’m not having the best day.” You’re probably in better form when you’re near the sky and the tree than, “I was on my iPad. Wow, look at everyone else.”

Locked away and disconnected.

I’m curious. When things come to you, you’ve said something like, “I’m going to let myself.” What was the difference in how you dealt with things before and maybe some tools that you’ve gained and how you receive them now?

I love that question because it’s something I think about a lot. I grew up in a neglected household where things came to die, the plants and pets.

Did you have two parents?

I had two parents.

You said the word re-parenting and I’ve read it many times when I read about your book. When you say they came to die, did you have siblings?

I had a little sister who is five years younger than me. She made it out alive. The house was such chaos. My parents were either completely not paying attention. When they were at home, it was a fog of war in their marriage. It’s extremely verbally abusive. It was completely destabilizing and chaotic. By the time I was 25, I was this mess wreck disaster. I’d find myself on a good day openly weeping on the subway. That was a good day because I had made it through work. I held my crap together enough at work that I could fall apart on the subway. When you were talking about yourself needing to be sure at a young age, I had to be an adult at a young age.

When you’re the older one, you get to be the shield I would imagine. I’m the only so it’s different. Sometimes it feels like the olders either split or try to shield everybody below them.

[bctt tweet=”Spending time with somebody does not equal bonding with or having a good relationship.”]

I tried. Unfortunately, my parents split us up when I was 12. It was a massively unhealthy and unfun childhood.

Who splits up from children? Who did you go with? Your mom or your dad?

My dad. My little sister went with my mom. Of all the things that happened in my childhood and what I described in the book, forgiveness is the hardest. I’ve got a lot of thoughts on the idea of forgiveness but the one thing that I still grieve is the time I missed with my sister. That was the cruelest thing that happened. To your point of being sure, we’re both like, “I’ve got to get the hell out of here.” I busted my ass in high school. I did anything I could to get external validation. Through scholarships and loans, I ended up getting to Brown. My sister did the same thing with Yale. She was like, “Bye. We’ve got to go. We’ve got to get out of here.”

You’d meet many comedians and it comes from their pain and high IQ meeting. You said anything to get validation. Also, humor is a way to deal with the crap that’s too heavy to deal with. That’s what black humor is. It’s like, “This is way too heavy for an everyday brain to handle so we’re going to slide it into humor because there’s no way to manage it.”

It breaks the tension of any situation. Laughing breaks it. You can’t be completely overwhelmed by it. If you can laugh, it’s like puncturing a balloon. To get back to the original question, the way I used to deal with my anxiety and depression is I would laugh it off and think, “I shouldn’t feel this way.” That was a big thing.

I hate the word normal because what the hell is normal? Even then young, did you go, “This is not right.”

I knew it wasn’t right. I didn’t know it wasn’t completely normal. This is up until 20, at college. I thought life is a series of crises to endure. You keep jumping and it’s miserable but keep moving. Honestly, that is what I thought life was. In college, I would say to my friends, “Is it normal for your dad to say that you’re financially doomed and you will never recover from this catastrophe that has befallen your family?” My friends would laugh. That’s so heavy that the only thing you can do is laugh and say, “No, that is not normal.”

By asking, I got to see more and more clearly. I’m like, “What I went through was something pretty specific.” When I feel the feelings of depression and anxiety, they were so overwhelming that there was nothing I could do about it. I developed a strong dependence on weed as a way to blur out and dissociate from my mood. If I was going to feel anxious, I’m going to smoke this away. There’s no reason to feel anxiety.

The difference now is I don’t resist those feelings anymore. Before, I’d try to numb out or say, “I shouldn’t feel this way,” and then blame myself. In the pandemic, when I started to feel depressed, I said, “Depression, you’re here. I see you. Let’s talk.” I started journaling about my depression. I reached out to my best friend. We have a system now where when I feel a real depressive episode coming on, I say to her, “Can you remind me of who I am?” One of the things I lose is my sense of self. She’ll give me a list so that I remember who I am and that I’m optimistic and bright. This is a moment. This is a shade of something but it’s not me.

I worked myself up. The next thing I do is strip away everything in my life. I’d stop doing anything I should do and build it back up. I started drinking water. Can I do that? Can I wake up on time? It’s one foot in front of the other. I’m not worrying about the big picture. I’m not worrying about what’s on the other side of this pandemic. I live the simplest version of my life I can until I climb out of that hole.

When people are depressed or anxious, the first thing they think is, “I’m alone. Nobody understands. I’m overwhelmed. I can’t do anything.” The real thing that we can all do is reach out to somebody who knows us and ask them to see us. The antidote to depression is connection. Even though I can’t be with my friends right now, they certainly can spend time with me. They can check in with me. We’ve been all Zooming a lot.

If it was regular time, sometimes I go to a temple to be in my community. The thing for anyone suffering from depression that I hope people hear is the antidote is connection. It’s not burrowing into your hole even more. It’s reaching out and being vulnerable. There is not one shameful thing in recognizing how you feel.

When I do that, people can say, “That’s strong.” That’s chicken too, a little bit. That’s like taking it in weights. It’s like, “I’m going to pace how it’s going to hit me because I don’t want to take it all at once.” Let’s say you felt some form of depression, is it something that you feel once it settles down on you, it’s going to visit for a while? Is there anxiety attached to, “If I start to feel this way, I’m going to be here for a minute.”

A little bit. Practice makes perfect. This time, I’ll be perfectly honest about this. This is the most honest I’ve been about my own depression. I emailed my boss and said, “I am in a struggle right now. I’m going to take a sick day because I need to take care of my mental health. I’m telling you this because I don’t want to lie.”

Tara Schuster Photo 2

Tara Schuster – You have to cultivate the people in your life because they’re a reflection of you and what you think of yourself and who you’re going to spend your finite time with.

There’s a big difference between public therapy where you’re venting all your issues and being honest about who you are. Part of who I am, for better or worse, is somebody who grapples with depression. I would argue for better because I understand the full range of my emotions. It’s made me so much more empathetic and so much more able to connect to people because I know what these feelings feel like.

When I used to get depressed, yes, I feel anxious. “I can’t ask for help.” “I’m going to be alone.” “This is shameful. It’s going to screw up my life because of all of these plans.” Now I pause and say, “I’m not going to be mean to myself. It’s okay that I’m depressed right now. One step at a time. What’s the very next step I need to take?”

During the pandemic, the next step was to ask for space, ask for time, and say to my boss, “I need to take a sick day.” That was the first step. It’s coming into the light. Depression wants you to be in the cave alone and crawl in the mud. I’m over that. If someone judges me because I deal with my depression instead of letting it deal with me, screw it. Genuinely, why would I care about their judgment?

I want to push back. I have a daughter who’s more creative and more artistic. It’s funny to live in a house with all these different types of people. I’ve realized though that when you have a creative capacity, for example, when you can be funny and you can produce funny things, write funny things, and look at it that way, it’s usually connected to this capacity to feel in this full, rich, and deep hole. The spectrum of emotions, which means what we’ve titled as good and bad. Let’s say challenging and easier. It’s all part of being a human being. Your range is bigger and broader.

For example, you’re not going to Brown and your sister is not going to Yale. Your parents probably gave you guys some IQ points. Sometimes, that’s a load too. The more where you are, you’re processing things, you can make it funny, it’s usually tethered to something that is something to manage. I’ve seen that a lot. With friends, we all are so different and I’m like, “They feel that on a much more visceral level.”

Sometimes it’s important for people to know it’s almost like being in a partnership. For example, I’m married to somebody who is showing up super intense and presents a little bit like a caged animal, which is connected to something that’s like, “I want to be in nature. I want to be focused on things that are important.” I don’t go like, “I love all these things about you but I’m not going to deal with the caged animal.” It’s all the tension of us being human. It’s that allowance. I love how people want all of the one side. They don’t want what it’s tethered to. It’s not possible.

The reaction I’ve gotten to the book is that it feels like sitting with a best friend or it feels like sitting with somebody who sees you. That’s no mistake because the whole point of the book is I didn’t set out to write a book, I set out to save my life. I set out to go back and look at my past traumas and reparent myself the way I thought I deserved to be parented but not to just blindly move forward.

A lot of people think, “I didn’t have it that bad. I shouldn’t feel this way. That’s the past. I need to move on to the future.” What they miss is that what you do not deal with deals with you always. The promise I can make every single person is the things you think you’ve left in the past, if you haven’t dealt with them, they’re the ticket to your future.

How do you peel that onion? You get through Brown. Do you start working in comedy? Were you play writing? What was first?

I was writing plays in college. I went to Brown for playwriting. I had my first show up in New York right after I graduated.

You got accepted to Columbia but decided, “Let’s get to work.”

I’m impressed that you know that.

For anyone who gets accepted to Columbia, people should say, “You got accepted to Columbia.” You then went to work.

I was a couple of years into working at Comedy Central and I was moving up the ladder. I had just started working on Key & Peele when I applied to Columbia because I wanted to take a “bet” on myself. I wanted to pursue my creative passions. When I got in, they said, “Yay, welcome. That’ll be $250,000 please.”

How old were you at this time?

26 maybe, somewhere around there. I realized, “I can’t be in that much debt. I’m going to have to figure out another way to take a bet on my creative self.” There was no security blanket. I wasn’t one of the Millennials whose parents can front whatever lifestyle they want. I was living in a studio apartment in Manhattan trying to make it.

People don’t realize that creative pursuit is comedy writing, comedy performance, and stand-up comedy. You’re in New York. There are $7 apples.

It’s brutal. It’s tough.

It’s a place that’s funny and there are a lot of funny people.

It’s the right city and the wrong set of circumstances.

[bctt tweet=”There is not one shameful thing in recognizing how you feel.”]

You’re working. Are the anxiety and depression subsiding or is it increasing? When you’re working a ton, are you distracted? Was there a formula to when things were happening?

It was a process. To back up a little, I went to Brown, doing playwriting, and miserably addicted to weed as a way to cope. I moved to New York. On my 25th birthday, I drunk-dialed my therapist threatening to hurt myself. That was my rock bottom, this whole childhood culminating, “Who am I? I don’t care. I want to die.”

The next morning, listening to my therapist’s voicemails, she was this very calm European woman who often drinks tea with micro sips. I was like, “If I made this calm person worried, there must be something that I should be worried about.” That morning, I decided that because I was a good student, what if I took myself to a class? What if I built a curriculum of reparenting myself? I opened the Google Doc and I started writing the questions I had. What are values? What are principles? What are vegetables? Genuinely, what type of vegetables and which ones could I eat?

You start from scratch.

It’s the same thing with depression. This is my formula for basically everything. Start with the most simple version of it and build from there without worrying about how far you have to go. Re-parenting wasn’t a term. I made that up. Years later, I now know it’s a real thing in psychiatry. I just wanted parents. I realized they weren’t going to come to the rescue and I didn’t want to be neglected anymore. If I was going to have parents, it would have to be me.

I started this journey. One day, I started googling, “What are principles? Which one should I have? Which ones are important?” I started writing about it and what I thought would be important. I came up with a map that I put on my door where my self-esteem came from and what my principles were. I then decided, “We’re talking about principles, what do I want people to say when I’m dead? What should be said at my funeral?” It was helpful. I had flushed out the person I wanted to be. I had flushed out the things that mattered to me and where my actual self-esteem came from. It turned out it had nothing to do with external validation at all. Little by little, I did this for something like eight years.

You said you had a therapist. Did you have other mentors or people where you were like, “I’m working on this idea. I’m flushing out something.” Were there people around you? That’s also a scary thing. It’s so intimate and personal. I’m also curious if at any time you talked to your sister about this?

The good news for basically everyone is there were no wise mentors involved. The people I found were in books. I’d read Nora Ephron and pretend she was my mom.

What was the book?

I Feel Bad About My Neck. It’s one of my all-time favorite books. I’d read Cheryl Strayed and Brené Brown. I’d read all these people and take these notes in my Google box and try them on. I would watch other families. A superpower I have is detecting the stable people around me and detecting who comes from a stable family.

The only place I need to grow on this is with men. With friends and colleagues, I can feel it out. I would go to their houses for Sunday night dinner and watch how do they talk to each other. What are they serving on the table? This is how you set a table because I’ve never set a table before. Down to the nitty-gritty. I say that because people think, “I don’t have a mentor. I’ll never figure it out.” I’m like, “Screw that. You can find mentors. They might not be a physical person in your life.”

When I was a little further into the re-parenting journey, I realized that the number one relationship that I most desperately needed to fix was the one with my sister. In the beginning, you said, “Did you shield her?” I tried in my own way but I was pretty cruel to her. Because I had grown up in such an abusive household, that is what I learned. All I enacted was what I had absorbed.

For many years, I felt immense guilt, regret, and shame for how I had treated my sister. Every year I’d call her and say, “Diana, I’ve never told you this before but being mean to you when we were kids was the worst thing I ever did. I carry this immense guilt. I’m so sorry. Will you ever forgive me?” Every year, she would say, “You already said this to me last year. I’m tired of dealing with your issues. I forgive you. I love you. Go forgive yourself.” What I realized was that hanging on to my shame was a way that I could have hope that I could change the past. I was trying to rewrite a past thing as opposed to building a future relationship.

We have to take a second on that point. That is a powerful point for a lot of family dynamics. People don’t realize, why are we having this same conversation at Christmas or Thanksgiving? It’s this exact point that you’re saying. I had a conversation like that with my mother and I’m like, “You have to accept that it’s probably not going to be exactly the way that you want it to be. What you could focus on is trying to develop a new relationship.”

That may not be like, “Kumbaya, we’re the tightest mother and daughter. We wear matching sweaters.” We’re working from here. A lot of people can’t do that. The other important part that you did is you didn’t work to be different. You can’t say, “I’m sorry about that behavior.” It’d be like someone saying, “I’m an alcoholic and I’m sorry for those years of this. Now I’m making a different choice.” Those have to go together.

The thing that my sister and I worked out was, could she tell me when I was being a jerk? In my book, the chapter is titled How to Stop Being a Jerk Ass Dick. I sucked. Because I had learned all these, I was very controlling. I have a lot of empathy and compassion for the little girl who’s scared. If you boiled it all down, I was terrified. I was trying to control anything I could in my life. I wasn’t a good older sister.

Tara Schuster Photo 3

Tara Schuster – Parents are limited as people are limited. They give you the best they can and sometimes, their best is not what you deserve or need.

As I grew up and was changing, I was choosing a different path. I could have continued down the path of drugs, alcohol, and these thoughts of hurting myself but I chose a different path. On that path, I decided to play a different role in my sister’s life. I asked her, “Can you help me? Can you tell me when I do something that you don’t like? I promise I won’t be defensive with you. Please trust me. Let me know so we could build something else.” Little by little, she would let me know. I wouldn’t get defensive. I would observe it.

Did it hurt a little?

Yeah. Even talking about it hurts. Who wants to admit that they were wrong?

This comes down to the freedom of being able to expose our flaws and say, “I’m doing the best I can. Sometimes I show up better. I apologize when I don’t.” This is real freedom because no person is without fault. It’s almost like doing it quicker. I had a couple of friends that were over and then I called them about something. She was making a decision about something that, in my mind, seemed ridiculously easy. It would almost be like, “Can I offer you chocolate cake?” I was cruel. I could feel the cruelness. I’ve been direct. That was different. I was being cruel and I knew it. Even though they sound similar, I knew what was behind it.

All I did was call them ten minutes later and said, “Who am I to think you should decide it this way or that? I wasn’t my best. I apologize.” You have to know that it not only inspires people to hear stories like this to say, “Even now this is uncomfortable.” Remind people that as long as you can have a few safe people around you, you can. That’s important, too. You have to have people that when you say, “I’m sorry,” or, “This is how I’m feeling,” they don’t go, “Why would you feel that way?” Or, “You should be sorry.”

You have to cultivate the people in your life because they’re a reflection of you and what you think of yourself and who you’re going to spend your finite time with. That’s a huge theme in my book and I call it my Lady Harem. What women do I want to surround myself with? It’s being intentional and spending time with the ones that fill me up and that make me feel like more of myself and saying goodbye to the ones who make me doubt myself or question or feel insecure.

To piggyback on something you said, the reason that I was able to fix my relationship with my sister was that I had fixed my relationship with myself. I was no longer ashamed of who I was. I no longer thought I was wrong, bad, or a problem. I accepted myself. There are cool things about me that are shiny and glittery and there are things that are darker that give me superpowers, even the wounds. One thing I say to people who reach out is, “What good and important thing in your life happened because it was easy breezy and it was given to you?” Nothing. There’s never anything that comes that way.

If we can look at these wounds and look at these challenging situations as potential superpowers, we can reframe and unleash an enormous power because there are many emotions bottled up. There’s so much momentum. With my sister, that was a painful, weird, and crazy tangle of emotions. Now, we were able to translate that into a real closeness and authenticity and get to know each other in a way we never would have. If it would have been easy and we had all the time to play with each other, maybe we take for granted the time we spent together.

If you weren’t taken apart, you would have been allies in the same war. I know you said you weren’t always nice but still, if you were together, you would have been like, “Am I crazy?” They’d be like, “No. They’re crazy.” It’s sometimes having that ally. Siblings go and live with a mother and then the boy is going through puberty and he probably needs male energy, then you go, “Go live with your dad for a minute.” That’s a little different than, “You take the young one and I’ll take the old one.”

How I describe it was, it was without thought. It was crazy. They were faultless. They lived their lives without self-awareness. The root of the book is how do you cultivate enough self-awareness to see where you can grow? Hopefully, I can give you some practical tips about how to do it because it’s a lot easier than the alternative. The alternative of going through your life not aware of it is misery. That is a promise that you will regret major swathes of your life.

The promise of being self-aware is that you have more choices about how you react, how you live your life, and how you treat people in your community. Now I have a relationship with my dad. I don’t have a relationship with my mom. What I’ve realized is I don’t know of any parents who set out to intentionally screw up their kids’ lives. I don’t believe that’s possible. However, parents are limited as people are limited and they give you the best that they can. Sometimes their best is not what you deserve or need.

With my dad, it’s been this reckoning. In one of the final chapters of the book, he had a medical condition that he almost died of and It put him in therapy for the first time in his life. All of a sudden, he started saying things like, “You were around for my divorce?” I was like, “What did you say?” He’s like, “You were present. You were there. You witnessed the divorce?” I’m like, “Yeah, I was there.”

He was wrapped up in his own story of what was happening that he didn’t even recognize that they had two small children who would also be experiencing it. Rather than getting mad at my dad about it, I was relieved because my experience of it had been that nobody knew that I was around. I felt completely neglected. Guess what? I was.

You were there.

[bctt tweet=”There’s a difference between humility and self-deprecation.”]

The greatest gift of this scary situation where he almost died was that he has built a level of self-awareness. I gave him an advanced copy of the book because I have no intention to hurt anybody with the book. That would be the last thing I want to do. I said, “You can change anything. If there’s something here, I love you. You’re alive. I don’t want to blow up our relationship. If there’s something here that upsets you, you tell me and we’ll change it.” He read the book and said, “Don’t change a word. This is what happened. If anything, you go easy on us. I’m sorry I didn’t protect you.” That validation was like, “You’re not crazy. This did happen.” It was the first time that he took any responsibility for it. It ended up being a healing. It opened a pathway for us.

Did your mom not take it? I’m also curious from your point of view as a daughter. I don’t care if people get upset if I say this. Sometimes I feel like if dads are a little clueless or they’re selfish or whatever. We’re like, “Those are dads.” Somehow with our moms, it’s like, “You’re the mom.” Especially for daughters, we have this other expectation like, “You’ve got to be the mom.”

You have to be perfect or to a higher standard.

Also, be the person who wouldn’t split my sister and I. Be the person who would notice and protect or love me. Be that ferocious mom. It’s like, “Don’t mess with the baby cubs.” I’m flawed and imperfect but I’m the mom. What happened there?

One thing I try to stay away from in the book is diagnosing my parents or telling their stories because I don’t know and that’s not my story to tell. Growing up, my mom was unstable and I would suspect that she is unwell. When I was in my early 20s, I ended my relationship with her. You were talking about how you repeat the same things. I was repeating the same things with her that were wildly unhealthy. People toss around the word toxic but I’m like, “My mom is getting the police involved. This is not good for me.” I ended that relationship.

It’s funny because when I say that, people say 1 of 2 things, “I’m so sorry. I can’t imagine,” or they’ll say, “While you’re still alive, you should get to know your mom, warts and all.” How I feel is that I did something brave. I was in a position where I knew how painful it would be to cut my mom out of my life. On the other hand, I knew that it was the right thing and it was a healthy choice.

The best way I could protect myself the way a mom would protect her child is I had to be that mom. Those maternal feelings, I have them. I give them to myself. I look for them in the moms have my friends. On the vision board in front of me, I have notes from other moms telling me how much they love me. I knew I’d have to find it in a different way.

This is a powerful thing. For a lot of people, you were sold like, “Here’s the story. The mom and the dad. This is what it’s going to look like.” When you don’t get that, you think, “Something’s not right.” It isn’t but it can be as long as you’re willing to understand that you do need nurturing and a level of acceptance.

I’m curious about this. I’ve wondered this myself a lot. If you think about it, I’m grateful for where you’re at right now. If you can look at it this way, it’s like, “I’m grateful.” It goes, “Every experience has brought me to where I am.” However, sometimes you go, “Wow, this has been a huge opportunity for me.” Personally, I have had completely dysfunctional adults so far touch wood. I’ve been in a healthy, imperfect, and what-you-see-is-what-you-get-marriage for years. I have three daughters who love and hate me. We have our screwed-upness but it’s all out there. For the most part, it can always be better. At least it feels like we’re trying.

I’m older than you. I have limited my contact with my mother because it isn’t good for me. I think to myself, “At the cost of her, I’ve gotten to live this life because I learned a lot of valuable lessons at the cost of watching her.” It’s the toughness that they have to go through. She doesn’t get to have a relationship with her daughter. Maybe she has a damaged relationship with your sister. I don’t know. My point is forgiveness. Sometimes I go, “I’m okay. I forgive. I understand.” That doesn’t have to mean that I need to have a practicing relationship that will, in fact, not be good for me.

You hit the nail on the head.

It’s tricky because you want to be loved. You know that if you’re going to be released in your own heart, you do have to do it in love. You can’t be like, “Screw them. They’re out.” It has to be like, “I love you but it’s not good for me.”

Boundaries are what we’re talking about. They’re important because the person knows when you are resentful and don’t want to be there and hate every minute of it. It is not a good thing to spend time with somebody who you are super angry with, and have all these unresolved issues with, and it is killing you to be there. I’m not saying it’s like that when you’re with your mom.

I was 15. I swear to you, I’m like, “Are you rolling your eyes? You’re a grown adult woman.” There was no way to work it out. There was no way we were going to have that conversation to go, “Let’s move on,” as you have with your dad.

It’s a function of time and having perspective and being older. What I would challenge is spending time with somebody does not equal bonding with them, having a good relationship, or any of those things. When we spend time with people who we know, it’s damaging to ourselves. We’re not helping the other person. We’re certainly not helping ourselves. What are we doing other than saying, “I agree to be hurt. I know this isn’t what’s right for me.” Yet, it’s for your benefit, which is false because people know. They feel it because we’re not ourselves. We’re these closed, I-need-to-protect-myself people.

Even with my dad, I have strong boundaries about how much time I’ll spend with him and where I’ll spend with them. If certain topics come up, I will leave if we’re going to have that conversation because I’ve had it a million times and I don’t need to have it anymore. One Thanksgiving, I was having a terrible dinner with my dad and I went into the bathroom. I prayed to God to give me the strength to make it through the dinner. I don’t usually pray to God. I’m spiritual but I’m not practicing prayer. I was moved to the bathroom of the seafood restaurant and prayed to God.

Tara Schuster Photo 4

Tara Schuster – An important part of mental health is physical health.

What I heard back was, “What are you grateful for about your dad?” The one thing that I can come up with is he had me. I love my life. I want to live. I want to be here. One of the reasons I’m so bummed out about the pandemic is all the amazing things I love to do. I love to be in the world. I love meeting people, seeing things, and eating new foods. I love the world. Guess what? I don’t get any of that without my dad.

I married in that bathroom with tears streaming down my face and then I’m like, “I’m such a mess. How am I going to go back into the restaurant?” I married my gratitude for my existence, for the simplest thing, which was the most amazing thing. With my sadness, how was it that we were having the same conversation over and over again?

I took a deep breath, took some pauses, and I let the gratitude wrap over me. I didn’t let my anger take over. I let the gratitude move me to go finish the dinner and then go straight to therapy. I called my therapist and said, “I need to rearrange the boundaries. I need to think about how to deal with this.” We’re never done. We’re not a problem to solve. We’re not projects. We’re evolving.

Being human is being anxious. That’s a mechanism that’s in us to make us safe. It’s about going, “I’m going to honor that. Can I reorient my gaze as you did in the prayer?” That is a practice for life, being able to go, “I’m in this. What am I going to choose to look at? I can either look at the floor and there’s some little bit of dirt or I can look up and the sun is going through the window. That’s how I can try to live my life. I can notice and start to develop the technique and discipline.”

The fact that you could write all of that stuff out and start from the bottom up and create a new baseline for yourself is such an interesting way to approach it and to do that without having guidance. It’s to intuitively go, “I’m going to start.” It shows also inside of you the desire to probably make a good life for yourself.

I’m happy you said that. That first rock bottom as I was beating myself up about it, I was ashamed of myself. She said, “No. There’s a healthy part of you that wants to survive and thrive and that’s who called. The healthy part called and said, ‘I need help.’” Ever since then and what I encourage everyone is we have little survivor voices in us. I don’t care who you are. You have an inner voice that is leading you that we resist. We do everything in our power not to listen to or to deny or to say, “Not now but in five years.”

Sometimes that voice is harsh so we’re afraid. Sometimes that voice means some people will be going away. They will be eliminated. It will be about standing up for yourself. The other thing is sometimes that voice is like, “Enough of this.” Also, it’s like, “What’s our role in that?” The voice is going to be like, “what did you do? What do you have to change about that? That’s uncomfortable.”

It’s uncomfortable but where does the growth come from? It’s not from an easy place. We talk to ourselves more than we talk to anybody else. We’re in a 24-hour conversation with ourselves. I encourage people to distinguish between their authentic voice and their frenemy within like that girl they met in middle school that they’re still inviting to their parties because they have a long history. “If I met her now, we wouldn’t be friends but I met her long ago.” We all have that critic or frenemy within us. It’s distinguishing between what is the voice that’s mean.

For some reason, and I can guess some reasons, I do think women tend to be more critical of themselves, more harsh. Say things that you would never say to your worst enemy but say to yourself on a daily basis. I do it through journaling. My frenemy within, I write out all of her accusations so I can see them and so I can have an inventory. It’s not in my head, it’s on the page. Also, what’s real.

What you believe and the truth are separate things. All these negative limiting beliefs I have that my frenemy within has, my survivor’s voice knows those are not true and knows I can move past. We all have this survivor’s voice, this voice that wants to thrive. With practice and practical habits, we can get more and more in touch with that voice so that we’re living from a place of authenticity.

That‘s the subtitle of your book, And Other Rituals to Fix Your Life, from Someone Who Knows. You’re not just going, “Let me talk about all these things.” There’s a gel and a process about, “Here are some suggestions,” which I appreciate. Rituals and habits are things that help us navigate in and out of good and bad habits.

It’s all about habits. For me, if somebody had handed me a self-help book that was like, “Just fix it. Be happy. Find your bliss,” I would roll my eyes and say, “Leave me alone. That is not helpful.” What I hope is through telling my stories and where I was learning and sharing very small habits, things you can incorporate into your daily life, it becomes a lot less overwhelming.

I don’t ask anybody to worry about the big picture. In fact, throw the big picture out of the window because it does not serve me. What serves me is, what is the very next step I can take towards being a healthier, more whole version of myself? How can I be more gentle with myself? I’m focusing on nurturing myself like I would in this pandemic. If a little girl came up to you and she was crying and saying, “I’m scared. People are losing their jobs and dying and nobody knows what the disease is. There’s no vaccine,” and listing all the facts. Would you say, “Shut up. Go bake bread. You should feel better.”

“Do more squats and suck it up. Let’s go. Have you posted today? Are you part of the big challenge?”

“Are you productive?” We cannot productive our way out of this. If we’re not going to tell that little girl, “Be more productive,” then why would we do that to ourselves? My hope is that the book can be a gentle friend for people on this journey. At a minimum, I hope they laugh. I hope the stories are entertaining enough and funny.

[bctt tweet=”I encourage people to distinguish between their authentic voice and their frenemy within.”]

Is your funny different than it was now that you’re in a different place in your life?

I’m a lot less likely to put myself down. I was more self-deprecating when I wrote the book. I’m working on my proposal for my second book. One thing I’ve noticed is one of the things I want to tackle is I used to come up with joke names for people.

Give me an example.

The one that comes to mind is so bad that I definitely can’t say it. It was so mean.

Make up stuff. You’re doing skit comedy, too.

Bible salesman was for a guy who wore plain clothes and looked like he was a door-to-door salesman. That’s how I would refer to somebody I was interested in. What I realized in writing and coming up with this essay is like, “I was so reductive of people if I was interested.” It sounds like I’m being mean to him. Who I’m being mean to is me because I’m saying, “The people I like are who we should make fun of. They can’t be very good if they’re willing to spend time with me. Let’s reduce them.”

My humor over time has become less self-deprecating and also less put down to anybody else. In the book, I tried extremely hard not to ever put someone else down or blame anybody. That was the very top of mind. My editor and I were both eagle-eye for that but we weren’t eagle-eye for, “Am I being mean to myself in this joke?” There’s a difference between humility and self-deprecating. I’m all about humility. I wrote this book on low. I was not on high. I was in the gutter. That’s fine. Do I need to go the extra mile and kick myself while I’m down for a laugh? Probably not anymore.

On your external humor, let’s say you’ve worked on shows and gotten talent and things like that, do you think that looking out of those eyes, you’re looking at something different or looking for something different?

Now that I’ve written a book, what I look for are artists who are rigorous, who are like, “I am obsessed with this project. I’ve got to put everything into it.” They sweat over every word. I promise you I sweat over every word in the book, which is why it reads so easily. It feels like an easy read. It feels like a conversation because I worked that craft so hard. What I’ve now translated when I’m working with other artists is how much they care about their craft and how much they care about giving each line the best version of it. Those are the artists who will inspire me.

You said that if somebody is feeling a wave of anxiety or depression coming on that it then becomes about trying to find the safe people to connect with. People can learn about your journey in your book. It’s Buy Yourself the F*cking Lilies. What I wanted to ask you though is besides connecting, if you were talking to somebody who was in that moment and maybe they’re young, maybe they’re 17, maybe they’re 20, and they’re not sure how to start with the first crawling out of a hole. Whether the adults around you are behaving badly and haven’t conducted themselves in a way that gave you a footing to get your bearings or you’re feeling overwhelmed by things. What would you say, “First things first.” Maybe 1 or 2 of these things.

I got a three-step on this one. The very first step is to allow it to exist. Allow the depression and anxiety and say, “I’m not going to beat myself up. I allow this to exist. I’m not going to resist this. I see you.” That’s the first thing because the real suffering from depression and anxiety comes from, “You shouldn’t feel this way. You’re wrong. You’re bad.” It’s all this self-chatter that makes it that much worse. The very first thing is to be gentle with yourself and accept, “I’m going through depression or anxiety right now. It is not me. It’s something I’m currently in. I don’t need to blame myself for it.” That’s one.

Two is, journaling is the most healthy self-care practice you can possibly have in your life because it forces you on paper to build self-awareness. If you boil it down to what it is, it forces you to be the narrator of your own story. I would start writing about how you feel and commit to maybe one page a day, whatever baby step you need to take. There’s a great Nora Ephron quote where she says, “Above all else, be the heroine of your story, not the victim.” Journaling reminds us we can be the heroine. We might not be at this exact moment, but we can be.

The third thing I’d say is to find something physical in the real world to get active. I grew up looking at you and your career and knowing what a badass icon, powerhouse, and sportsperson you are. I was the kid who miserably ran the mile in my tights and gabardine uniform. My coach was so embarrassed that he asked me if I wanted to quit and not finish. I felt such shame over my physical body. No one ever told me, “How about instead of these pills, you go for a run because scientifically, the endorphins it releases will lift you up? Plus, you start to build pride in your body. You build faith in your body that you are strong and you have more strength than you thought you could.”

What I’m doing in this pandemic is I have challenged myself to run a virtual 10K. I got the Nike running app. I did like the program. I’m on week two of the program. Today, it sucks. I hated today’s run. I’m training for it like I would a race. I chose a race day and I’m going to beat my first score. I’m going to blow up my first score by the time I’m done with it.

I say this because I want people to know that I am not an athlete. I am absolutely born an indoor kid, pudgy, and ashamed of my body. I did theater. In my mid-20s, I realized that an important part of mental health is physical health. Your body is carrying you around all day. You need to make sure that it’s in good shape, too. I was angry when someone suggested that I try running as a way to get over my anxiety. I was like, “Screw you. You don’t understand.”

That seems like a disconnected comment.

Tara Schuster Photo 5

Tara Schuster – I wrote the book for one person. I wrote it for each reader. I thought about them.

We were young and she was trying, but she was great.

I would never have the balls.

To be like, “What are you going to run?”

The perception of like, “Meathead over there was telling me to run and get over my sadness.” It’s like, “Good job.” If you ask what I was turned on to about sports in the first place and still busting my ass today, it’s the same reason.

Tell me more.

Competing is awesome but there were a couple of things I would experience when I would be done training or practicing or playing. One is I felt like I earned something. I felt like I was being honest. I exposed myself like, “You made mistakes in front of people. You did it good in front of people.” No matter what, it was honest. I couldn’t phone it in.

I understood quickly how I felt. I felt calmer. I felt more balanced. I felt that I could take on what the world was throwing at me a little easier. Not because of all my biceps, but because I was using my body as a tool. Being 6’3” at 15, people were not like, “That’s awesome.” They were like, “You’re a freak? What’s going on?”

What happened is that I started playing sports and then all of a sudden, my body became a tool. I didn’t run. Other than what does my butt looks like in my jeans? It is a tool that takes you from place to place. It takes you on a journey. Boys learn how to play and do all this stuff early. They have that different relationship with the fun that the tool can bring you.

At first, it would be easy to think, “I feel very differently than you about it, but I don’t.” That is one thing when we talked about protecting and defending real estate. When you have little kids, they’re in a nap and you’ve got fifteen minutes. As a parent, even if I had twelve minutes, I was so intense about that because I knew it was the only way I wasn’t going to kill everyone in my house, eat them, and hate myself.

You have enlightened me to such a level because as somebody who for so long was like, “I’m not an athlete,” the fact that an iconic athlete is now saying, “I am doing this from the same place you are,” is so inspiring. I write a lot about medication in the book. I’ve been on a gajillion things. I’m not currently but I have no problem at all using the tools you need. The fact that you are a tool, people forget that their body is a tool, that their body is something that they can use to make themselves feel better. There’s the physical part of just sweating. If I don’t sweat for twenty minutes every day, I feel bad. I feel like I’ve been slighted and I didn’t get my thing.

I’ll tell you another tool where people will roll their eyes and I don’t care because I’ve been saying the same thing for twenty-something years. What we put in our bodies, that food, if it’s that alcohol, whatever, I don’t indulge in that stuff because I don’t like it. Who doesn’t like donuts? It makes me moody. My sugar levels go up and down. There are a lot of people walking around who’ve never felt good so they think, “That’s just life.”

That’s how you feel. That’s the baseline.

The movement does a couple of things, hormones, brain, chemistry, everything. “You mean you’re a little more tired at night so maybe you might sleep a little better? Then you recover because you slept better.” Then you wake up and you think, “I can take on this day.” It doesn’t mean don’t ever eat pasta or something naughty. In your general practice, eat the stuff that’s good for you and that makes it possible to go, “I see the sun through the clouds.”

I know that it’s eye-rolly, but I kept a low-key food journal because I was like, “I don’t understand food.” To be clear, I don’t care about being “skinny”. That’s not what this is about at all. I wanted to know what food feels good so I kept in a journal, “You ate fried chicken. You feel disgusting.” “You ate tofu and soba noodles for lunch. That was not enough for lunch. I’m too hungry. That was rabbit food. I don’t feel good.”

I spent time being self-aware of what felt good to my body, and then also understanding that oftentimes when I was hungry, I was actually thirsty and I just needed to drink more water. These are the simple things that you can do in your own life that improve and brighten the whole picture way more than a luxury trip to Tulum. Buy Yourself the F*cking Lilies comes from deciding that I was worth buying $7 lilies in Trader Joe’s and that would make my life better. All the things I advocate for are simple, small habitual changes you can make in your life that will turn on the technicolor that makes your life so much brighter.

I could go on and on. I appreciate your willingness to be honest because there’s also an interesting thing that people don’t realize that you’re navigating. When you have a family experience, you have your truth and your secrets and you’re allowed to talk about them, but you’re not allowed to talk about everyone else’s. It’s an interesting thing to have to balance. I admire that.

More people can relate and feel the way that you feel. This will be an important conversation where people can say, “It’s taking shame and weirdness off of these conversations and getting it out there and saying, ‘Can we make it better? Are there things we can do?’” I have one last question though. Do you think you would, at any point, have children?

Guest book

Buy Yourself the F*cking Lilies: And Other Rituals to Fix Your Life, from Someone Who’s Been There

 How did you know what I was writing about? That’s a current topic. What I realized after I wrote this book about how I built so much stability in my life was that married to the stability was fear. Fear that if I left the stability, left the rituals, what would happen if I couldn’t control things? Children are the number one thing that I’m questioning. My thought is, “No, I don’t want children.”

What I want to make sure of is that I am making that choice. It’s not my traumatic childhood, my parent’s opinion of me, and my fear that I’m going to ruin children’s lives because I didn’t have a good childhood. I’m writing a lot about, how do I navigate that question? How do I come up with an answer that’s my own and is not fear-based? I’m open to an answer.

I learned by trial by fire. I was always concerned I wouldn’t be maternal enough. My husband came with a 4-month-old. Her mom is a great mom and totally involved. I remember when I would take care of her, she was an innocent child. Because I had been cared for by outside adults that were not my parents, I knew the value of love. I wasn’t like, “I’m not her mom.” It’s like, “I can give this kid love.” It’s powerful.

There was a sense of duty. I’m very dutiful. When they handed me my first biological daughter, I remember thinking, “I don’t know what I’m doing but I know I’ll figure it out.” There were things I enjoyed about it that I had no idea I would enjoy, like nursing and stuff like that. Who wants to be held down? All of that was very sweet and intimate.

What gets hard is when they’re older and they’re pre-teens or teens, and, you go, “We’re going to be sober parents and present. Just in that, we’re going to have a peaceful relationship, healthy confrontation, and all that stuff.” You still get hit with stuff or they get hit with stuff. One time, one of my daughters said to me, “That way that you are, that way that you communicate, that’s completely wrong for me.”

In fact, I interviewed that daughter on my podcast and she said something powerful. I’ll leave you with this idea. I said, “What would you tell your parents? What advice would you give them?” She goes, “Try to parent your kid for who they are and not parent them the way that you wanted to be parented.” She’s 16.

What you realize in parenting is you can’t get it right but you can keep the dialogue open. There are times when it is like a sword through your skull of how painful it is to hear it. If you’re willing to have the dialogue, listen, not justify, explain, and fix, it’s a shot. What is interesting about parenting is you don’t get a second chance. They’re not 3 again. Once they’re 12, they’re not going back and there’s no way to get it right.

Willing to keep showing up, loving them, and doing your best, that’s what it is. You said something else about this writing about being the heroine of your own life. When you have kids, I’ve had people tell me that it’s pages. It isn’t a book. Sometimes it’s a page in a chapter. Chill out, just let the page get written.

It’s not the whole story. I say that a lot about when people are in anxiety or depression. One question to ask yourself, “Is this your whole story?” The answer is never, “Yes. My whole story is this one anxiety thing I’m in.” Your whole story is so much bigger than that. I love that. Thank you for that.

That’s a good one to ponder. Thank you so much. Remind everyone where they can get the Amazon.

Amazon is slow for things that are non-essential. You could get the Kindle or the audiobook on Amazon. You could also get the hard copy from Barnes & Noble or Target. My biggest moment in this whole thing was like, “Target is selling it.”

It’s serious. These are big things.

The title of the book is Buy Yourself the F*cking Lilies: And Other Rituals to Fix Your Life, from Someone Who’s Been There. People can find me @TaraSchuster on Instagram. If you go on my website, TaraSchuster.com, I write a weekly not so cheesy, you’ll throw up in your mouth, little self-care essay to hopefully help with this journey. It is about my ongoing journey.

Did you work with David Spade?

Yeah. He’s the best.

It’s very funny. He and Laird and I together is a very interesting contrast.

I hope you’ll invite me out the next time you hang. Thank you so much for having me. I love this conversation.

Thank you.

Thanks so much for being here. If you’d like, rate, subscribe, and leave us a review. All of my music was graciously done by Frank Zummo and Tom Thacker. If you want to see some of the behind-the-scenes action, follow me @GabbyReece. Remember, don’t miss new episodes every Monday.

Subscribe to The Gabby Reece Show

[podcast_subscribe id=”5950″]

Resources mentioned:

About Rick Rubin & Stephen Mitchell

Tara Schuster Headshot

Tara Schuster is the author of the runaway hit Buy Yourself the F*cking Lilies, a finalist for Goodread’s Best Non-Fiction Book of 2020 and selected by Cosmopolitan, Real Simple, Goop, Publisher’s Weekly, and many more as one of the best books on mental health and self-care. It has been translated into four languages.

Previously, Tara served as Vice President of Talent and Development at Comedy Central where she was the Executive in Charge of such critically acclaimed shows as the Emmy and Peabody award-winning Key & Peele. For her work at Comedy Central, Jordan Peele called her “ahead of her time.” She has contributed to InStyle, The New Yorker, and Forbes, among others. She lives in Los Angeles.