Whenever one of our Real Housewives leaves a franchise, she rarely goes alone: The members of her entourage, who viewers have grown to know and love, also exited. Each week, we'll be looking into the lives of one of these familiar faces. Today, it's The Real Housewives of New York's friend of the housewives Jennifer Gilbert.
RHONY viewers met Jennifer Gilbert, the creative force behind her New York City event-planning company Save The Date, in 2010 when she was hired to put together a skating party for former housewife Jill Zarin during Season 3. "She was amazing and everything I heard about her was true," Jill blogged on Bravotv.com at the time, singing the successful businesswoman's praises.
But Jennifer, a married mom-of-three who's also the co-owner of baby-carrier company Portamee, found she ultimately wasn't a good match for the drama that season, which saw Jill and Bethenny Frankel—who's returning to RHONY next season after a three-year absence—in an epic feud that forced all the Housewives to choose sides. After telling Entertainment Weekly that she was "really normal," Jennifer admitted to the Huffington Post as her season wound down that "I'm probably not the right fit."
Shortly after exiting RHONY, Jennifer revealed that her young son Grey had been diagnosed with the autoimmune disease alopecia. "It was really upsetting and traumatizing. I'd take off his baseball cap and see hair collected in the hat. At times, up to 80 percent of his head was bald," she told HollywoodLife. But, she added, "I just have to keep telling myself he's healthy—it's just hair."
In 2012, HarperCollins published her book I Never Promised You a Goodie Bag. In it, she revealed a shocking secret she'd been keeping for more than two decades—a stranger brutally attacked her when she was 22, stabbing her with a screwdriver 37 times—and detailed how she'd managed to rebuild her life and career despite all she'd endured.
"I got through my sadness and despair through [planning] these events," she told PRNewser of how her work putting together parties that bring joy to her clients has helped her heal. "These events kind of helped me put my life back together."
Jennifer briefly returned to reality television for an October 2013 episode of Lifetime's Million Dollar Shoppers, but her focus these days is firmly on her family, running her company and on doing public speaking engagements to share her story and, she hopes, inspire others who are struggling to move forward after a traumatic event.
"The scariest step is always the first one. You can't control what may happen to you in this life, but you can control who you want to be after it happens. You can decide who you want to be," Jennifer shared in a video on her YouTube channel. "I'm still a work in progress, but instead of worrying about my life and what it has in store for me, I just throw my hands in the air and enjoy the ride."
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