The first step. After calling herself “an alcoholic” in the season 15 premiere of The Real Housewives of Orange County, Braunwyn Windham-Burke candidly opened up about her journey to sobriety.
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“When I first got sober, I was scared I wouldn’t be fun anymore, that my life was going to be boring. I really thought alcohol made life enjoyable, and that’s sad,” the Bravo personality, 42, wrote in a Glamour essay published on Thursday, October 15. “Now, nine months later, I realize that’s not at all true. Honestly, I dance even more now because I can stay awake. I sometimes used to pass out at, like, 7 p.m. because I had been drinking all day. So yeah, I actually have way more fun now.”
Windham-Burke acknowledged that she “never had a healthy relationship with alcohol” after taking her first sip at the age of 14. She would drink until she “blacked out or got sick” and only avoided liquor while pregnant or nursing her seven children with husband Sean Burke.
“I went to a meeting when I lived in Miami, but instead of sticking to a program, I just got pregnant,” she recalled. “I have seven kids, so that’s a huge chunk of my life that I was sober — or I should say, not drinking. Now I realize there’s a difference between not drinking and being sober, for me.
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The reality star realized she had a problem after watching herself on TV and having “no recollection” of some of the scenes she filmed. She also admitted that she put family members and the show’s crew “in really uncomfortable positions” by overdrinking.
Windham-Burke decided to make a change in January while celebrating her costar Kelly Dodd’s birthday in Miami, where she was “drinking around the clock” to the point where she “started shaking” whenever she did not have a drink in her hand. She called her friend Leah Shafer and asked to speak to Shafer’s girlfriend, Below Deck star Captain Sandy Yawn, who has been sober for 30-plus years.
“We talked for an hour, during which time I told her what I was dealing with and asked if I could do this [sobriety journey] on film,” Windham-Burke wrote. “She said, ‘Absolutely, but you need to own it on the show. You need to be accountable, otherwise you’re going to drink again.’ Before I could change my mind, I called my producer and said, ‘This is the truth: I’m an alcoholic. I have been for many years, and I need to get sober. Let’s tell this story.’ Five days later, we started filming.”
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The stay-at-home mom marked 258 days of sobriety in an Instagram post on Wednesday, October 14, the day RHOC returned to Bravo.
“9 months ago my life was unmanageable, but today I’m happier then [sic] I’ve ever been, living life honestly on life’s terms,” she wrote.
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