Bethenny Frankel has kept much of her tumultuous relationship with ex-husband Jason Hoppy away from the Real Housewives of New York City cameras. But on Wednesday’s season 9 reunion (part 2), the 46-year-old SkinnyGirl mogul broke down in tears about the “torment and torture” she’s had to deal with “every single second” since their split in December 2012 after three years of marriage.
Among the many revelations in her candid conversation was Frankel’s feelings about the harassment and stalking charges she’s brought against Hoppy, after he was arrested in January for allegedly threatening Frankel at their 7-year-old daughter Bryn’s school.
While the case is still in court — adjourned for possible trial on Sept. 27 after a judge denied Hoppy’s request to dismiss charges on Aug. 8 — Frankel said that the only thing that would free her from Hoppy’s alleged torment would be to move forward with a “zero contact” solution.
“Any resolution is legally mandated and I’m fine with that,” Frankel told host Andy Cohen. “I don’t care what happens, I have faith that somehow I will be able to live a normal free life. But it has to be with zero contact. Because with any contact, this will not end.”
To recap, Hoppy, 46, was arrested on Jan. 27 at Bryn’s school — an NYPD spokesperson confirming the encounter to PEOPLE, noting that Hoppy approached Frankel and “tried to provoke a fight.” The spokesperson added that Frankel alleged Hoppy had sent her “numerous emails and FaceTime calls numbering in the hundreds after a cease and desist letter was sent on Nov. 22, 2016.”
In January, Hoppy was charged with one count of harassment in the second degree, one count of aggravated harassment in the second degree, and one count of stalking in the fourth degree. A restraining order was also issued against him at his arraignment. (He denied the charges at the time, with his former attorney Robert C. Gottlieb telling PEOPLE in a statement: “There are no words to express how saddened Mr. Hoppy is over his ex-wife’s unjustified actions. His only concern is his daughter and intends to vigorously fight these false charges.”)
Less than two months later, on March 13, Hoppy appeared in court and rejected a plea offer. During a court appearance on June 27, Hoppy was arraigned on additional charges — including one count of stalking in the third degree, another count of stalking in the fourth degree and some additional conduct.
After the judge denied his request to dismiss charges in August, Hoppy was offered a plea deal known as a family adjournment in contemplation of dismissal. A source with knowledge of the situations tells PEOPLE that if taken, the deal would maintain the restraining order issued in January in place for another year. If there were no incidents within the year, the case would possibly be adjourned without incident.
At Wednesday’s reunion, Frankel said that she has been a “happier and nicer” person in recent months — pouring herself into her charity, B. Strong, to help other women in crisis.
Still, she admitted that the case against Hoppy has affected her friendships with the other Housewives, with Frankel unable to truly describe the pain she’s felt.
“It is indescribable and it is inexplicable and it’s like, if someone wants to talk about like a war zone in Israel, how are you going to explain that to someone?” she said. “I’m not comparing this to actual war but in my life, you can’t even imagine the torment that this has been. There’s no way to describe it. I just stifled it in because if I let any of it out, I’m going to totally break down. I can’t believe this happened to me.”
“It was part of my life,” she added. “I thought I was never getting out of it. I couldn’t even understand it. How can I explain this to everybody? You’ve never — it is torture. So that’s why I didn’t explain it. There’s no way to describe this to anybody. Nobody would believe it.”
Though things appeared to be getting better in July 2016 when Frankel’s divorce was finalized, Frankel said that things only got worse from there — even adding financial straits. “It was a very, very negative situation,” she explained. “It was $3,000,000 in legal fees. I mean, it’s a lot of f—— money. I have to work really hard to make that.”
When asked if there was anything that happened in their marriage that set Hoppy off, Frankel’s friend Carole Radziwill stepped in and offered her observations.
“He’s obsessed with her. It’s like an obsession. And I guess when someone walks away and you no longer have control?” Radziwill, 45, claimed, telling Frankel, “I’ve known you a few years now. When we first started getting close, I saw all the times you tried to reach your daughter, FaceTime your daughter. And he would sometimes pick up the phone and hang up or face it to the wall. Weird stuff. And I thought, ‘Wow, this guy is a little off.’ But now, I don’t think you even realized at a certain point how painful and the emotional havoc it played on your life.”
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Speaking of Frankel’s daughter, the reality star said Bryn doesn’t know what’s going on between her parents.
“[Bryn’s] very pure and innocent and happy and she doesn’t really understand what a reality television show is, much less the things [we’re] talking about,” Frankel said. “It’s extremely advanced and complicated. I live in a house alone with my daughter when I have her. So there’s no pressure at all. She’s very isolated in her life and she’s very happy.”
That doesn’t mean Frankel’s worried about Bryn finding out one day. “I grew up in a very, very, very challenging household and I survived,” Frankel said. “Life is not always fairy tales and rainbows and I don’t want her to think that it is.”
“We’re in a different world now where every day there’s new news and things get washed out in the cycle,” she continued. “It’s not the same way it was 10 years ago. No one cares what happened yesterday. I don’t think that when she’s 12 and starts Googling things, it’s going to be five years ago and I just don’t think that it’s going to be that relevant anymore. I don’t think it’s going to be on the top of everyone’s mind.”
One thing is for sure — Frankel said she isn’t going to be the one to say anything negative to her daughter about her ex, even if she can’t guarantee that her ex will do the same. “I can only worry about my side of the street,” Frankel said. “My message to my daughter is, ‘Everybody loves you.’ ”
“I’m definitely at my happiest when I’m with [her]. She is the sweetest, nicest person. Just going to the beach. The simple things in life. Those are the happy moments,” Frankel said.
Before she left, Frankel took time to thank her RHONY castmates. “You all have been very, very respectful,” she said. “And I know you have known — there have been things in the shadows. I appreciate it very much.”
Part 3 of The Real Housewives of New York City reunion airs Wednesday (9 p.m. ET) on Bravo.