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The Heartbreaking Lesson Billie Lourd Learned From Her Mother Carrie Fisher
Carrie Fisher Billie Lourd
(Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney)

The Heartbreaking Lesson Billie Lourd Learned From Her Mother Carrie Fisher

Carrie Fisher's daughter discusses the "pressure" her mother placed on her head and why she will do everything in her power to ensure her son doesn't go through the same ordeal.

Carrie Fisher has been gone nearly five years, but her legacy looms large over the industry, growing little by little every day. 

Only after people have left the world do we realize the value they brought to the table. Carrie Fisher was mostly known as Princess Leia from the Star Wars franchise, but her charismatic and sharp-witted personality made her a standout in every single situation. She knew exactly when to turn on the charm and when to be her authentic self, when to be sarcastic and when to be earnest - she could basically read everyone like a book. 

However, as striking the character she’d been in her lifetime, she also faced her own set of struggles and impulses, some of which she never managed to overcome. Her daughter, Billie Lourd, has to reconcile those memories accordingly, balancing the good with the bad, the love with the hate. Today, Billie, who is also an actress, is experiencing motherhood herself, and there are definitely a few learnings she’s passing down to her son from her mother. 

Billie Lourd was Carrie Fisher’s “everything,” which led to a lot of hardship

Carrie fisher and billie lourd 1024x576
Carrie Fisher with her daughter, Billie Lourd. (Photo by Frank Trapper/Corbis via Getty Images)

The first thing to note about Carrie and Billie’s relationship is that it significantly differed from the traditional mother-daughter dynamic. 

Whether most mothers just accept that they’re going to have to keep an eye on their children for the rest of their lives, the roles were reversed in this case. Carrie Fisher had bipolar disorder and suffered from a deep-rooted dependency on cocaine and prescription medication, which meant Billie had to undertake the responsibilities of a caretaker more often than not. “I was her main support, and I was seven for a lot of the time,” Billie said in the Next Day podcast. Carrie was crumbling under heaps and heaps of “pressure” from every direction, so young Billie did what she had to do and functioned as her mother’s close confidante whenever called upon. 

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. 

Billie Lourd on Next Day

In addition, Carrie’s mother, actress Debbie Reynolds, had not been a stable figure in her own upbringing, so Carrie made sure she wasn’t repeating history and would try to spend as much time as possible with her only daughter. However, this only amounted to more pressure on Billie’s end as she had to ensure she was “everything” for her mother — available and responsible every single minute, every single day. To say the least, it became pretty overwhelming, and Billie had to learn new ways of sharing space with her mother. There are only so many hats you can wear until you crumble under the weight. “That was really hard, and that’s why I grew up really fast,” the 29-year-old said. 

As a result, Billie is going the extra mile to make sure she isn’t putting the same “pressure” on her own toddler. It impacted her innocence, and if she isn’t careful, it could have severe consequences on her child, too. “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,” she said.

She vows to not let her son go through the same “pressure”

In the podcast, Billie acknowledged that while her mother imparted a lot of sage knowledge to her over the years, there was a lot she learned by simply observing her mother’s bad decision-making. “There's a lot of things that my mom taught me to do and there's a lot ... of what not to do,” she said and added that the latter category is what ended up being more “valuable” in the long term. It’s next to impossible to listen to parental instruction and just take it at face value; however, the bad choices and their harmful outcomes do way more in making you conscious of your actions. That’s exactly what happened with Billie Lourd: she loved her mother, but she also bore witness to her mother’s weaknesses, and they spoke volumes to her. They told her exactly what she should or shouldn’t do with her son. 

Envisioning a world in which Carrie Fisher was still alive, Billie said she might not have been able to commit to the workload she has in recent years. Her day revolved around taking care of her mother and “making sure she was OK.” Simply put, she wouldn’t have been able to say yes to the endeavors she’s done in the years since her mother’s passing. At the end of the day, they had a complicated relationship, but instead of letting the tension cloud her memories, Billie does her best to celebrate her mother in every way she can. 

She was the greatest, funniest person ever. She was my best f***ing friend ever. There's no one who will ever be as funny as her.

Billie Lourd on Next Day

The grieving process, as anyone can imagine, has been “brutal,” and there is a part of her that’ll never overcome the suffering. The worst is having to go through the motions in the spotlight since the media are waiting to pounce on you for expressing the slightest bit of emotion. “Everything I say gets, you know, turned into some headline that I didn't mean,” she said in the podcast. Thankfully, motherhood is the “greatest thing that’s ever happened” to her, and her son is the “greatest light” in her life. This is why she is taking great pains at maintaining their family’s privacy and allowing her son to savor his childhood as much as possible. The world can be a cruel place, as Billie had seen herself with the press treatment of Carrie Fisher, so she will do whatever it takes to keep her child out of the mess. 

There’s nothing wrong with acknowledging your parents’ imperfections

As children, we’re raised to believe our parents are heroes, that they are immune to human imperfection and will be able to resolve any obstacle that comes their way. The most significant marker of adulthood, or even adolescence, is slowly realizing that your folks are just humans; they have flaws as much as any other person, they struggle with their responsibilities, they struggle with their morality, they struggle with keeping everything in order. 

Billie Lourd acknowledges her mother’s critical failings and understands there are many complex factors at play. She admits her mother had been dependent many a time and had also participated in emotional abuse at certain times, but that doesn’t mean her love for her mother has diminished a little bit. In a way, it strengthens Carrie’s legacy: she wasn’t an extraordinary celebrity icon, as much as people wanted her to be one. She was but a human woman with her own set of anxieties, fears, shortcomings, and limitations. To own up to those inadequacies and still stand up for yourself is what makes her the icon. To speak your mind, be self-aware about your past, present, and future, and still be true to yourself is what makes the icon. Billie’s confession about her mother doesn’t take away from their love; it only fortifies it. 

Lead with empathy
“There is no force in the world better able to alter anything from its course than love.” -- Gregory Boyle

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