"I thought, 'You know, it's 10 o'clock. I don't have to blow 'til 3 o'clock. I'll be okay,' but I wasn't," Lu explains.
Luann struggled all season long to maintain her sobriety among a group of women known to throw back skinny margaritas and Pinot Grigios like water. The cast's drunken trip to Miami was especially difficult for Lu, and Bethenny Frankel's shocking outburst didn't help.
In May, the countess got taken into custody because a Florida judge found that she had violated her probation, prompting additional conditions, including keeping a breathalyzer in her car, weekly phone sessions with a therapist, monthly in-person meetings with a psychiatrist and taking Antabuse, a prescription drug that treats alcoholism. Luann, however, maintained she did not violate her probation. That changed Thursday night.
After Andy Cohen played a series of clips from the season, all showing Lu's struggle to stay sober, she explained, "That's the hard truth. That's the reality that I live in that I don't think that the girls really understand. I don't complain about it. I don't really talk about it with you girls because I don't wanna be a Debbie Downer, of course, but..."
"Well, you didn't pass recently, so what happened?" blurted out Ramona Singer in typical Ramona Singer fashion.
"Well, as you know, I slipped," Lu replied. "And every day is a struggle."
Andy immediately asked when the slip-up occurred, and Lu's explanation perfectly lined up with what her probation officer reported to the judge who ordered stricter rules.
"On Easter. Easter Day," she said softly.
"You broke your probation by -- you had two mimosas?" Andy asked, which Lu confirmed. "Then you took one of those breathalyzers and failed?"
"I did, yeah," she replied, noting she submits a breathalyzer three times a day. "You know what, your mind, that mind plays funny games on you. I thought, 'You know, it's 10 o'clock. I don't have to blow 'til 3 o'clock. I'll be okay,' but I wasn't. I can't tell you how difficult it is because there's no margin for error, and that's a very difficult, stressful way to live."
"I don't think the girls ever even realized that because I don't tell you about that because I don't wanna burden you with it," she continued. "I don't want you to feel like you can't drink in front of me. And I think that's why I really have been trying to keep myself together, and it gives me very little to give to you because I'm just really working hard to get through the last three months of this ordeal."
Bethenny tried to understand where Lu was coming from but ultimately agreed with what the judge told her in May.
"I don't think any of us think that you've been taking it as seriously as you say you've been taking it," Bethenny said, as Andy noted that that was the same comment he read in Lu's report.
"That's another reason why I'm going to court," Luann said. "Some of the reports that have been filed are not correct, and so I'm going to straighten out those reports. I have been going to meetings, I have been doing everything that they asked me to do, so there's a problem with what's being taken down here and what's being translated in Palm Beach."
Andy brought up how he and the women have long been concerned that Luann's work environment (cabaret) is "not conducive" to Lu staying sober, but she assured him that's not where she slipped up. She said it happened the next day, noting that she's usually quite busy during shows.
When Andy asked if she believed she was an alcoholic, she replied, "I don't really know. I know that I was definitely self-medicating, and I was on a highway to hell."
When Andy asked what she was self-medicating from, Lu said, "[Ended] marriage, maybe? I was lonely. My kids are out of the house now. I'm alone."
Ramona was the first to criticize Luann for leaving her second stint in treatment after only two weeks, but she swore Thursday night that she stayed for three. Bethenny repeatedly interrupted Luann's version of events to say she knew for a fact that Lu left after 14 days.
Bethenny felt it was a slap in the face, as did Ramona.
"This is like ABC's, honey pie! The first month didn't work for you? You stay another six months, four months," Ramona hurled across the couch. "You went the first month, it didn't work."
"Don't talk to me, Mrs. Pinot Grigio," Luann replied.
"I don't really give a shit! I don't have an alcoholic problem, okay?!" Ramona fired back. "I'm gonna give you tough love."
"Give me a f--king break," Lu said.
"No! I'm not gonna give you a f--king break," Ramona shouted. "I believe you're still drinking on the side! What do you think about that?"
Lu calmly said she wasn't still drinking, but Ramona begged to differ.
"The Real Housewives of New York" Season 11 reunion concludes Thursday, July 25 at 9 p.m. on Bravo.
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