Erika Girardi, who was raised by a young single mom, relied on her grandparents for support
In PEOPLE’s exclusive sneak peek at next week’s episode of Hollywood Medium, the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star sits down with Tyler Henry — and things get emotional when he taps into the special connection she shared with her grandmother and grandfather.
“A lot to process with this,” he begins. “When I’m holding onto one object, I actually have two people who are stepping forward. They’re making a very strong point of acknowledging, ‘We’re together.’ This woman and this man both come through really strongly. It’s funny, because I’m almost calling her ‘Mom’ — but she’s not biologically your mother.”
“They’re having me talk about the timing in which they passed,” he continues, adding, “One doesn’t live a super long time without the other.”
“That’s correct,” says Girardi, 46, wiping away tears.
Henry, 22, notes that the “protection” Girardi’s grandparents are coming through with is “very parental.”
“So my grandparents, they helped raise me,” the Bravo star explains. “They were kind of my parents.”
“My mother was very young when she had me, and she was a single mom,” she continues. “So my grandparents stepped in and really helped her. We lived with them several times throughout my upbringing. My grandmother, her name was Ann, and my grandfather’s name was Hollis. Two born and raised, Southern, salt-of-the-earth people.”
“[My mom] was under a lot of pressure,” said Girardi. “So it was definitely hard at times. There wasn’t a lot of time to be coddled. So I had to grow up quickly.”
At 18, her mother told her to “pay rent or get out.” Girardi moved to New York City to pursue her love of performing and began working as a Go-Go dancer. Looking back, she admits her sometimes gritty upbringing comes in handy in the real world.
“It taught me to be self-reliant,” she said. “It also taught me to be incredibly resilient, to bounce back and assess situations quickly. I trust my gut a lot.”
Hollywood Medium with Tyler Henry airs Wednesdays (9 p.m. ET) on E!