RHOC's Tamra Judge Breaks Down as She Recalls Having Son Ryan at Age 17: 'I Carry Guilt'
"I didn't give him the perfect childhood," Tamra Judge said. "It's heartbreaking."
The reality star and mother of four, 52, got real about her pain while sitting down with Ryan, 33, for a group therapy session with his therapist, Dr. Mcayla Sarno.
Tamra had encouraged her son to seek out a professional earlier in the season, after he admitted to being stuck and unable to pull himself out of a rut. Following a few one-on-one sessions, Dr. Sarno invited Tamra to join in on the conversation.
“He’s not in a good headspace and I hate to see him struggle,” Tamra said on Tuesday.
“I feel like he’s at a point in his life when he’s just numb to life,” she added. “When Ryan gets overloaded with things, he just kind of shuts down. He’s at that point in his life right now where he’s not happy, and I want to see him happy.”
Many of the feelings Ryan was battling stemmed back from unsettled emotions from his childhood, he said.
Asked to describe what it was like back then, Tamra quickly reached for the tissues. “I was 17 when I got pregnant with Ryan,” she explained, tearing up. “I was still in high school.”
Though she and Ryan’s father, Darren Vieth, married, they split “probably a year later,” Tamra said. She was solo with Ryan from then on out, the two first moving into her mom’s house and then, eventually, into their own apartment.
It was like that for 13 years until Tamra met her second husband Simon Barney. She and Simon wed in 1998 and had three children together — Sidney Barney, 20, Spencer Barney, 18, and Sophia Barney, 13 — before divorcing in 2011.
Since 2013, Tamra has now been married to Eddie Judge. Ryan, meanwhile, has a daughter of his own (daughter Ava, 4) from a previous relationship.
Seeing the more privileged life his siblings have now from the perspective of a father has left Ryan harboring negative feelings, he said on Tuesday.
“I think I have a lot of resentment growing up,” Ryan admitted. “I didn’t have the worst life, but the older I get, the more I see how my brother, my sisters are growing up, I think a bit of me inside is angry about it.”
Knowing that left Tamra feeling at fault. “I carry guilt because I feel like I let him down,” she said. “I look at my kids now and the opportunities that they have. I have two kids in college now; Ryan, he ran out of the house at 18 because he couldn’t stand his stepdad.”
“I didn’t give him the perfect childhood,” she said. “It’s heartbreaking.”
RHOC viewers have seen Ryan struggle throughout the ears, butting heads with Simon and leaving the OC before eventually moving back to work with his mother a few seasons ago.
During that time, nearly six years ago, Ryan wrote a list of goals down — which Tamra showed Dr. Sarno she still carries around in her wallet.
“You were doing so well,” Tamra said as she pulled out the piece of paper.
Ryan, on the other hand, had a different list. With Dr. Sarno, he wrote down how he feels about himself, saying, “I’m a bad person, worthless, I’m a failure, can’t succeed, powerless, I don’t belong, I don’t matter.”
That broke Tamra’s heart.
“It just makes me want to die,” she cried. “I struggled with depression, I was sad, I had no self-worth. To hear Ryan say that, it scares me. I worry that one day Ryan might commit suicide. That’s my biggest fear.”
In the end, Dr. Sarno urged Ryan to stay with therapy, no matter how hard it is, promising him that the process would help him resolve some of this trauma.
The good news in all of this was Ryan’s close relationship with his daughter. He broke down in tears when discussing Ava, explaining how unconditionally loved by her he feels.
“You are a good dad,” Tamra said.
She only hoped that he wouldn’t ignore himself as he poured energy into Ava.
“I can look in my son’s eyes and see that he is not himself,” Tamra said. “He is so troubled by his past that he doesn’t want her to have that life. He just wants to protect that little girl so much, just smother her, that he doesn’t let other people in. He isolates himself and it concerns me.”
The Real Housewives of Orange County airs Tuesdays (9 p.m. ET) on Bravo.