Love or loathe Bravo’s hit reality television franchise The Real Housewives, there is no denying its impact on pop culture. If you’re unfamiliar (then you’re probably better off), the show focuses on the real lives of pampered housewives. Much of the conflict on each version of the show- from New York to Beverly Hills- arises when the ladies get together for drinks and the claws inevitably come out after the chicks dust several bottles of white wine. Now, cast member and former child star Kim Richards from the 90210 version has completed rehab and if I were her, I wouldn’t come back to reality TV.
The story of Kim Richards very public battle with alcoholism has been covered a lot by sobriety bloggers lately -most brilliantly by Psych Central, by the way. I think Kim’s story is one those of us who have been there can identify with, even if the rest of her life seems totally foreign. Kim starred in Disney hits in the 1970’s like Escape to Witch Mountain, has been married several times and is the aunt to Paris Hilton. Her day-to-day and growing up in front of cameras are things I can’t identify with. However when Richards is shown on television these days she’s slurring into the phone, missing planes, lying about why she’s late and erratically screaming at people. That’s a life I know all too well. Like Richards I had a group of people I partied with and drank with and hid things from. And like Kim I verbally attacked people when I was intoxicated, I had a bucket of excuses as to why I could never do what I promised and I had to eventually face the music. The word is that Bravo forced Richards into rehab so could hang onto her job. That never happened to me and I never went to rehab. I was told if I wanted a sliver of a chance at sobriety, I had to change my playground, my playmates and my playthings. As painful as it was, I had to leave my whole life in order to really give sobriety a shot. It seemed like I would never have friends again and the loneliness would kill me faster than the drink ever could. After 20 years of daily drinking and using, I had to submerge myself into a new sober way of life because any semblance of my old drinking days would have trumped my new existence. Regardless of how hard it was, sobriety had to become my job. But that’s me. I’m not Kim Richards and I don’t know what it’s like to try to stay sober while being in the spotlight and under a microscope.
In an interview for the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills reunion show, Richards is still holding grudges, still blaming others and still, from what it sounds like,living like she did before she went to rehab. Except she’s sober. And again, I get it. Recovery is no picnic. But all anybody, famous or not, needs to do to stay sober is honestly try. Hopefully, Richards will allow herself to do just that.