Entertainment TV Clayton Echard Opens Up About Rocky 'Bachelor' Journey in Emotional Post: I've 'Learned My Lesson' "I was too busy trying to defend my actions and my character, instead of accepting full responsibility for not only what I had done, but for who all I hurt," Clayton Echard wrote By Dory Jackson Dory Jackson Instagram Twitter Website Dory Jackson is an Associate Editor for PEOPLE's digital TV team. While at the brand, she's had the opportunity to interview a long list of celebrities, from Kate Hudson to Pierce Brosnan to Billy Porter. She also recaps popular TV shows like The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and Vanderpump Rules.The New York-based Maryland native graduated from Randolph-Macon College in May 2016 with a focus in Communication Studies and Journalism. She came to PEOPLE in March 2021 after working at a number of major news companies, including Newsweek and Us Weekly. She also previously co-hosted a podcast called "Idol Nation." People Editorial Guidelines Published on April 27, 2022 01:50 PM Share Tweet Pin Email Photo: ABC/Craig Sjodin Clayton Echard recognizes that he is a work in progress. On Instagram Tuesday, the 28-year-old opened up about his journey on The Bachelor and the lessons he's taken away from the experience. In doing so, Clayton admitted that he eventually hit "rock bottom." "Suse took this picture of me 1 day before After the Final Rose. In this moment, I was at rock bottom," he captioned the photo taken by his girlfriend Susie Evans, which showed him looking outside a window. "I knew what was coming and realized my reality was much further from what I had ever expected. As I looked out the window, I questioned who I was? What had I become? Where did everything go wrong? Why me?" "6 months prior, I was standing outside as the first limo pulled up and kept thinking to myself how I was so lucky to be in this position as The Bachelor. 6 months later, I was staring out this window wondering how much worse things could get," he continued. "But as I've reflected back on it all now since being out of the spotlight, I've had the ability to see what I couldn't see before. I was too busy trying to defend my actions and my character, instead of accepting full responsibility for not only what I had done, but for who all I hurt." The Bachelor's Clayton Says He's Grateful for the 'Twisted' Journey That Brought Him Back to Susie The season 26 Bachelor said people are often "concerned with explaining ourselves" and it prevents them from realizing "the explanations sometimes hurt more than the actions," indicating that they "appear as excuses and nothing more." With this in mind, Clayton acknowledged where he went wrong. "I feel that I finally have learned my lesson. I hurt people. Sure, I didn't have any intention of doing so and 'did what I thought was best by following my heart,' but I still hurt people," he continued. "Perception is reality and regardless of intention, the results of our actions hold the most weight. So, through therapy and other means of self-reflection, I have been able to finally see the reality of what all I had done." RELATED VIDEO: The Bachelor's Clayton and Susie Open Up About Their Post-Show Relationship Added Clayton, "I never forget to give myself grace, as we all should do for ourselves. But I am a work in progress and always will be. Because perfection is impossible to obtain, but we can all be better than we were the day before. So that's what I'll continue to strive to do." In concluding the emotional post, Clayton thanked "those that have been in my corner throughout this entire experience." "Without you all and your support and constructive criticism, I would still be focused on defending my character, instead of building upon it," he said. "I would still be coming up with explanations that fit my narrative, instead of working to understand "the other side". And I would still be looking out that window, wondering who I really am. But I now know … and for that, I am finally at peace." Clayton's time as Bachelor became rocky when Susie, who was his frontrunner, opted to leave the series after learning that he had been physically intimate with fellow contestants Gabby Windey and Rachel Recchia. Susie's decision sparked frustration in Clayton, leading him to accuse her of dropping a "bombshell" on him. Craig Sjodin/abc Clayton later informed Gabby, 31, and Rachel, 26, of what went down but insisted he wanted to continue the journey with them. Eventually, Clayton realized he wanted to be with Susie and broke off his relationships with Gabby and Rachel. The two runner-ups were later announced as dual Bachelorettes for the show's upcoming 19th season. While Clayton and Susie are now happily dating, Susie said the couple was "expecting a little backlash" from viewers because of the "really controversial" season finale. "I think one thing we both feel is that it's not Team Clayton, it's not Team Susie," Susie, 28, previously said during the After the Final Rose special. "We're together and we do want people to root for us and know that we both have our best intentions at the forefront of who we are."