It’s been a wild year for Real Housewives of Orange County‘s Braunwyn Windham-Burke. From divorce rumors to family strife to coming out as a lesbian, Windham-Burke has made headlines consistently for the past 3-4 months. It seemed as though the year had made a turn and everything was coming up Braunwyn. However, strife between the mom of 7 and her second oldest child has now taken another turn; daughter Rowan apparently believes her mom should be in rehab.
Divorce Rumors, “Modern Marriage”
Windham-Burke’s dramatic ride all started with something simple – an Instagram Story. In September, the mom of 7 and wife of Sean Burke posted a cryptic Instagram Story that immediately set tongues wagging. The post read, “New to the co-parenting world? It doesn’t have to suck. It won’t feel like this forever. You just need some perspective… Knowing what to expect will save your sanity.”
Divorce rumors immediately began to fly. Instead of addressing them directly, Braunwyn continued to be cryptic for a time. The RHOC star posted an image of herself and husband Sean with the descriptor of, “modern marriage” which many took to mean that the pair had an open marriage.
However, it wasn’t long before the reality star revealed that husband Sean had moved out of their home and that she was seeing someone, “new and special.”
Braunwyn Comes Out as a Lesbian
In late October, Braunwyn first playfully suggested that the new person in her life might be a woman in an interview with ET.
UsWeekly reports, “The Real Housewives of Orange County star, 42, confirmed the news to Entertainment Tonight earlier this week while giving correspondent Lauren Zima a tour of her new 8,000-square-foot home.
The Bravo star gave showed off her massive closet, admitting, ‘No one’s allowed in here, just me.’
‘No, he’s not. He’s not living here right now,’ the mother of seven replied. ‘Love him dearly, we haven’t gotten along this well in a long time. We’re redefining what marriage means to us. Not following the old, antiquated rules anymore.’
‘Does that kind of make things exciting?’ Zima asked.
‘So good,’ Braunwyn replied enthusiastically. ‘So good.’
The ET correspondent then asked about the reality TV star’s previous comments about threesomes and noted that one of Braunwyn’s rules for her open marriage is only ‘hot girls’ allowed.
‘I will say this, there’s no other men in my life,’ Braunwyn said.
‘So is there another woman in your life, Braunwyn?’ Zima shot back.
The star only smiled and jokingly pointed back at Zima.”
Then, Braunwyn shared more details about her new, “other half.” Per UsWeekly, “‘There’s someone in my life right now that makes me happy and I smile just thinking about, but I kinda want to protect it right now,’ the 42-year-old Bravo star exclusively told Us. ‘I’m not quite ready to put it all out there, everyone in my life that knows me knows what’s happening. I don’t think I’ve smiled so much. It’s good. I know if you look at social media, it seems really like crazy, but things are really good in our house right now.’”
In December, Windham-Burke finally blew the lid off the secrecy and admitted that she is a lesbian. The reality TV star shared her truth with the world in an interview with GLAAD.
‘I like women. I’m gay,’ she said. ‘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’,” People shares.
Struggling with Alcohol Abuse
While it’s wonderful to see the mom of 7 so happy and self-assured, it’s likely that this revelation came from her struggle with something darker: alcoholism. On the premiere episode of season 15 of RHOC, it was revealed that Windham-Burke is an alcoholic. This wasn’t a surprise to cast-mates and friends who had shown concern in the past about her drinking habits. At the time the episode was filmed, Windham-Burke was already a few weeks clean.
Part of recovering from alcohol and drug addiction involves getting to know yourself better. Recovering alcoholics and addicts are encouraged not to lie – even to themselves. Windham-Burke’s revelation of her sexuality probably comes from the strength she’s gathered in recovery. It seemed, until yesterday, that all was going well in that department. However, daughter Rowan has now cast doubt on her mom’s linear recovery.
History of Tension Between Braunwyn and Rowan
The tension between mom and daughter is not new. When the first cryptic post about divorce was posted back in September, Rowan didn’t hold back. The second-eldest daughter of Sean and Braunwyn posted an image of herself on Instagram with the caption, “F-ck. you. mom.”
Shortly after that, Braunwyn posted pleading for empathy from fans, admitting that their family had struggles people were unaware of. Braunwyn did not directly address the posts, but did add to her Instagram story, stating, “Our family asks for your understanding as we work through some challenging circumstances. 45 million Americans will experience mental health issues. This effects almost every family, and ours is no different. We will share with you more when the time is right. We kindly ask for your grace and kindness, and thank everyone for their support.”
When Burke initially moved out of the family home, Rowan was the only child to move with him.
Rowan Likes a Tweet, Mom ‘Should Be in Rehab’
Now, despite fans assuming Windham-Burke was on a good path, Rowan seems to suggest otherwise. US Magazine reports, “The 18-year-old ‘liked’ a tweet from a Real Housewives of Orange County viewer earlier this month, shading her mom’s alcoholism and parenting skills.
‘Braunwyn needs to be in a rehab facility,’ the fan tweet read on December 4. ‘Her husband should be awarded full custody. Braunwyn is not stable. Everyone could see the pain and fear in her daughters face But Braunwyn. Braunwyn is only thinking of herself. She had a vow renewal and now she says she is a Lesbian.’”
Does that mean Windham-Burke’s recovery isn’t as rosy as she’s telling the world it is? It’s hard to say. But all along, even when Windham-Burke was pretending things were fine, Rowan seems to be refusing to play along and pretend with her. So perhaps daughter Rowan is on to something the fans aren’t aware of yet.
Parent-Child Relationships in Splits are Complicated
It’s not unusual for children, especially older teens, to struggle with one parent when a couple separates. Although Burke has moved back into the family home and the pair seems determined to co-parent peacefully and live under the same roof – while seeing other people – that doesn’t mean it makes it any easier for Rowan. While it’s beautiful to see Windham-Burke making these revelations about herself and living authentically, hopefully someone is caring for the kids as they struggle with what must amount to a significant transition in their lives.