Pete Davidson is opening up about the traumatic way he learned that his firefighter father, Scott Davidson, died on Sept. 11, 2001.
"My dad told me he was going to pick me up from school on 9/11. I got picked up by my mom. She didn't tell me what was going on for like three days," the actor and comedian, 29, told host Jon Bernthal in an episode on the "Real Ones" podcast's Patreon.
"She kept telling me, 'Dad's at work,' 'He's coming home,' whatever," Davidson continued. "I had no idea."
The former "Saturday Night Live" funnyman, who was just 7 at the time, said his mom, Amy, "grounded" him from watching television, presumably in an effort to shield him from news about the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City.
"Then one night, I turned on the TV and I just saw my dad on the TV," he said. "I was like, 'Oh, OK.' And they were like, these are all the firemen that are, like, dead."
"It was weird because we didn't know he was dead for, like, three weeks," explained Davidson, adding, "They were finding people, you know? They were pulling people out of s---, and there was just some sort of hope. Like, it was just up and down and nobody knew how to deal with it."
Davidson revealed that he's been working with a trauma therapist to help him navigate his dual diagnoses of post-traumatic stress disorder and borderline personality disorder.
The actor revealed that his father's death caused him to deal for years with abandonment issues. "You know, Dad says he’s coming to pick you up and he doesn’t. For life, I’m like, I don’t believe anyone, and I’m trying to learn how to believe people — and Hollywood isn’t exactly the greatest place to learn that skill," he said.
As he's grown older, the "King of Staten Island" star is able to appreciate how 9/11 affected his mom.
“My mom was f------, like, 30 … I’m about to be — I wouldn’t know what the f--- to do," he said. "And that’s why as I get older I’m like, 'Man, my mom was awesome. F---, she really loves me.'"
Davidson is also able to better comprehend the devastation and confusion in the weeks following 9/11. "Nobody knew the right way to deal with it. And whether or not that's right or wrong, it still f---- a kid up," he said.
Davidson said he's learned in therapy how to "fact-check" himself when dealing with trust issues. “You actually have to trick your brain, because your brain after a while becomes used to trauma, it becomes used to being hurt, becomes used to being f----- over,” he said.
"So you'll have that mentality," he continued. "You'll have that attitude. You might even make it happen because you're so insecure. You might create a problem out of nothing."
Therapy and other tools have also allowed Davidson to process life's curveballs. “It’s just growth, man,” he said, adding that he's been able to stop self-harming thanks to helpful skills he's developed.
“Up until a year ago, I used to cut and I used to bang my head against walls, because if I couldn’t deal with something, like if someone told me something sad or something I couldn't deal with, I would bang my head against the wall hoping I would pass out because I didn’t want to be in that situation because I couldn't handle that," he revealed.
“And over years and years and years, it becomes less and less and less, and you have to use these skills,” he added.
Now when Davidson feels the urge to self-harm, he knows to instead take a cold shower, listen to a favorite song, call a friend or engage in another activity that might allow his mind and body to relax.
"That feeling most of the time goes away after, like, 15, 20 minutes," he explained. "It's just, you get this surge, you get this, like, feeling, and you got to know it's not real."