Braunwyn Windham-Burke on Sobriety After Revealing She's an 'Alcoholic' on RHOC: 'I Love AA'
For Braunwyn Windham-Burke, admitting that she is an "alcoholic" on national television was daunting.
"If you look at the footage of the premiere, you can see my hands shaking because I knew if I said, 'I'm an alcoholic,' I couldn't take it back," Windham-Burke said in an interview with Glamour about her candid reveal on Wednesday's season 15 premiere of The Real Housewives of Orange County.
Windham-Burke, 42, admitted that for a while, the idea of being sober "scared" her.
"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," she told Glamour.
Now, however, Windham-Burke realizes she can live her life without alcohol.
"Nine months later, I realize that's not 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," she told the magazine.
Windham-Burke also shared that she learned there's a "difference between not drinking and being sober."
"I've never had a healthy relationship with alcohol, from the first sip I took at 14. When I drank, I drank until I blacked out or got sick," she told Glamour, adding that she only took a break from alcohol when she was pregnant.
"I never drank when I was pregnant or nursing — and in many ways, I think that probably saved my life. I went to a meeting when I lived in Miami, but instead of sticking to a program, I just got pregnant. I have seven kids, so that's a huge chunk of my life that I was sober — or I should say, not drinking."
She also shared with Glamour that on her sobriety journey she is "taking the time to be still and think about why I drank so much."
"For me, it's insecurity, it's anxiety, it's that I'm uncomfortable in my skin. I'm working on understanding why I have those feelings and finding a healthy way to deal with them," Windham-Burke said.
When trying to get her life back on track, Windham-Burke said she leaned on Below Deck Mediterranean star Captain Sandy Yawn.
"I knew Captain Sandy was sober for, like, 30 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. She said, 'Absolutely, but you need to own it on the show. You need to be accountable, otherwise you're going to drink,'" Windham-Burke recalled to Glamour.
After that conversation, Windham-Burke said she called her RHOC producer and revealed her alcoholism.
While sharing her struggles on a reality show has not been easy, Windham-Burke is happy she did it.
"I don't have all the answers, but I do feel that telling my story as honestly as possible is the right choice," she told Glamour.
The reality star is still on her journey, telling Glamour: "I love AA."
"I love that it is a safe, supportive environment where people can share how they feel without judgement," Windham-Burke added to Glamour.
On Wednesday's premiere, Windham-Burke admitted to having a drinking problem after drinking nonstop during a trip to Miami to celebrate Kelly Dodd's now-husband Rick Leventhal's 60th birthday.
She came clean to Emily Simpson — who had called her out for drinking too much last season.
"You called me out on my drinking last year," Windham-Burke told Simpson, 44. "Instead of taking it to heart, I really pushed you away. Basically, I think I just got angry with you, and I came up with reasons to be mad."
Windham-Burke shared that while in Miami, "Every hour I would keep doing a shot. I was drinking so much I thought I was going to die."
Windham-Burke later revealed in a confessional interview that she began drinking at the age of 14 when she was living with her grandfather. At the time, she explained that she was dealing with "some abandonment."
Simpson comforted Windham-Burke, saying, "I want you to know that I am your friend and that I will do whatever I can to support you. Is your goal to never drink again?"
"I don't think I can never drink again, but yeah, it has to be forever," Braunwyn said.
In another confessional, Windham-Burke further addressed her issues. "I don't know if it's divine intervention, but for the first time in my life I can say, 'My name is Braunwyn and I'm an alcoholic," she said.
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, please contact the SAMHSA substance abuse helpline at 1-800-662-HELP.