'RHOC' 's Braunwyn Windham-Burke Marks 2 Years of Sobriety: 'There's Still So Much Work to Be Done'

"There's still so much work to be done, and I'm so excited for what the next year of sobriety will bring," Braunwyn Windham-Burke tells PEOPLE

Braunwyn Windham-Burke is celebrating a major milestone in her sobriety journey.

The Real Housewives of Orange County star, 44, tells PEOPLE she is now two years sober and could not be more "grateful" for how far she's come.

"My first year of sobriety was about not drinking — it was about taking it one day at a time, finding my people, and settling in," she says. "It was learning how to deal with what I never thought I could. The second year was where the real work began."

"I am so grateful to have such an amazing support system, especially my children, Sean, and my mother, and all of the amazing people in the sober community who reach out every day," Windham-Burke continues. "As my second year of sobriety closes, I can't help but think that two years is a hell of a long time without a drink, but such a short time to be sober."

"There's still so much work to be done, and I'm so excited for what the next year of sobriety will bring," she adds.

Braunwyn Windham-Burke
Braunwyn Windham-Burke. Tibrina Hobson/Getty

Windham-Burke revealed that she is an alcoholic in 2020 during the season 15 premiere of RHOC and has been open about her journey with sobriety since.

In October of that year, she told Glamour that the idea of being sober "scared" her for a while.

"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 admitted to the outlet at the time. "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."

This past September, the RHOC star celebrated 600 days without alcohol, writing on Instagram beside a screenshot from her twelve-step program app, "600 days. 600 beautiful days. 600 hard days. 600 wake ups, sleeps. All sober. One day at a time. #HappyNationalRecoveryMonth"

Most recently, on Jan. 9, Windham-Burke posted a video on Instagram with an inspirational message to those struggling with their own sobriety. "I always talk about all the magical parts of sobriety (which it IS!) however, I say it bluntly in this video - sometimes sobriety can SUCK! But I always go back to - it's not worth how I felt when I was drinking. And even though it feels harder than it is euphoric at times, the euphoria and grounding feeling always comes back! Sending you all love," she wrote.

In addition to her sobriety, the reality star has also been vocal about embracing her sexuality.

In December 2020, the reality star came out as a lesbian in a candid interview with GLAAD; however, she revealed that she and her husband Sean Burke — with whom she shares seven children, ranging in age from 2 to 20 — did not plan to divorce.

"I like women. I'm gay," she said at the time. "I'm a member of the LGBTQ+ community. It has taken me 42 years to say that but I am so proud of where I am right now. I'm so happy where I am. To be able to be comfortable in my own skin after so long is just so nice."

"We are in uncharted territories. Sean and I are still married, I plan on staying married," she continued. "We are not sleeping in the same bedroom right now, but we are in the same house. We are raising our kids together, he's my best friend."

Braunwyn Windham-Burke
Braunwyn Windham-Burke. Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

In April 2021, Windham-Burke appeared on the PEOPLE Every Day podcast, where she opened up to host Janine Rubenstein about having an open marriage with Sean.

"I had a relationship with a girlfriend that was platonic, but I fell in love with her," Windham-Burke said of then-girlfriend Kris. "And a lot of things were happening in my marriage at the time. Sean had someone else in our home, I had feelings for another woman, a lot of things were occurring off-camera at that time. And it basically kind of blew up."

"Sean and I had a very good, long, honest conversation, and I was like, 'I want to be with a woman. This is what I want,'" the Bravo star continued. "We had known that I was bisexual for a long time, but some things had happened ... I was sober, I was doing inventory, and I had, for the first time in my life, been with a woman, sober. ... And I was like, I'm not straight at all. I know this now."

RELATED VIDEO: RHOC's Braunwyn Windham-Burke Confided in Below Deck's Captain Sandy Yawn About Her Alcoholism

As of late, Windham-Burke has been in a new relationship with model Victoria Brito. A source close to the couple told PEOPLE in December that Brito and Windham-Burke had "instant chemistry" after they met in New York two months earlier.

"Sparks were flying," the source said. "Braunwyn is smitten. There's something special about Victoria and she knows it... They share a lot of similar interests and have been very supportive of each other."

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, please contact the SAMHSA substance abuse helpline at 1-800-662-HELP.

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