"[My] whole life, I've always had the defense mechanism up," she says in a sneak peek

By Aurelie Corinthios
January 07, 2021 01:00 PM

Angelina Pivarnick is letting Jersey Shore fans in on a softer — and rarely-seen — side to her personality.

In PEOPLE's exclusive sneak peek at Thursday's episode of Jersey Shore: Family Vacation, Angelina has a heart-to-heart with Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino's wife Lauren. Their sit-down comes upon her arrival to the Hilton Lake Las Vegas resort, where the rest of the cast — minus Jenni "JWoww" Farley, for now — convened during the COVID-19 pandemic.

After opening up about about how the outbreak of the virus affected her and her husband, who is an essential worker, Angelina says, "I think I let all the weight of my life just weigh me down. It's been tough. But I'm happy that now, I can put it behind me."

"I'm sorry you went through that," Lauren says. "You have to let yourself feel your way through it."

"It was hard for me because nobody understands that," Angelina continues. "Like, the boys, I really didn't get into it with them because they're guys, they don't really know how it is to be a woman."

Lauren, who herself has clashed with Angelina in the past, seems genuinely impressed with her demeanor during their conversation.

"Angelina is being authentic and honest — and even vulnerable," she says in a confessional. "I'm starting to see that she had a lot going on other than just the wedding drama."

As fans know, Angelina and her costars have been at odds ever since Jenni, Deena Cortese and Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi delivered a now-infamous bridesmaid speech at her wedding in November 2019. The drama that ensued pushed Nicole to quit the show.

Thus far this season, Angelina has yet to come face-to-face with the girls. But now that she's arrived at the resort, it's only a matter of time before she and Deena cross paths.

"She knows that you're here," Lauren tells Angelina. "She has so many great things happening in her life that she's not concerned about what happened. I think everyone, collectively, is kind of over it."

"I want to move forward," Angelina says. "It's hard to get into that mindset when [my] whole life, I've always had the defense mechanism up. That's why a lot of people don't know me for me."

"Yeah, because you're guarded," Lauren agrees. "24/7."

Jersey Shore: Family Vacation airs Thursdays (8 p.m. ET) on MTV.