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In his new book, Pillow Talk: What's Wrong with My Sewing?, Craig paints an even fuller portrait of his life up to this point for fans, not only opening up about his Southern Charm journey but also his personal and professional struggles after becoming a TV star, as well as the challenges he faced growing up. "I was definitely excited to do the book because it was never supposed to be, like, this is what actually happened; it was supposed to be a this is what also happened," Craig said during an exclusive interview with Bravo Insider over the phone earlier this month. "This was my chance to really just fill in the gaps for everyone."
Craig is, of course, most closely associated with Charleston, but the book kicks off with how he ended up there in the first place, starting with his origins in his home state of Delaware. Though he had an idyllic-sounding childhood with a close-knit family and the freedom to explore his various interests, from sports to cooking, Craig also experienced bullying throughout high school.
If Craig could go back, he would tell his teenage self that "it gets better." "It’s what I want to go around the country and tell kids now is that all the things that you’re being made fun of for now actually become cool as soon as you get out of high school. [Bullies are] just doing it to you because of what they’re dealing with at home. They’re just projecting onto you," he said. "It’s not your fault. That’s what I would tell myself, is that it’s not your fault."
Going through this adversity did help Craig develop a thick skin, which he said has come in handy in his current life in the public eye. "It trained me for reality TV," he said. "Now I’m like, no one on the Internet can do half as what the bullies used to do."
Craig's book is full of names that Bravo fans will recognize, but its dedication includes two people who might not be as familiar to Southern Charm viewers. "For Tim and Alex, who left this world much too soon," Craig's dedication begins at the start of his book.
Tim was one of Craig's best friends who passed away when he was a junior in college. "It kind of shaped my path in a way of like, I grew up quick. I remember kind of being the one that didn’t cry until two weeks later when it was all over, like after the funeral and everything, because I kept it together for everyone else. At least I thought I was, you know. And then I remember crying. I basically broke down in my shower, like, you know, when we got back from the funeral," Craig shared with Bravo Insider. "I was 20 years old, 21 years old, and it just, it was a lot. I saw his parents and his sister and brother, how upset they were at the funeral. And I just, you know, used it as motivation to really step out of that — I was just like, I need to make something out of myself. And I need to do it in a way that I can give as much back as possible."
Alex was another really good friend of Craig's, and she passed away the year prior during their sophomore year in college. "But we were young, we didn’t know — you think you know how to deal with it, but we didn’t really know. And so when Tim passed away, it was kind of a double whammy," Craig said. "I just remember when Tim passed away that I was like, if I ever make it, like, this’ll be partially for him. I just knew from that day, in a funny way, like, if I ever had to dedicate something to someone, it would be for him. And his family’s incredible. And so, that was Tim and Alex. Those were two really close people that I lost in college, and [the dedication] just was so fitting."
Craig also dedicated his book to his parents. "Obviously, it’s cliché, but maybe it’s cliché for a reason. Like, I talk about it plenty throughout the book. The only reason I am where I am today is I always had that safe place at home. And I always knew that my parents were gonna support me no matter what," he shared. "Whether it was joining a reality television show in the middle of law school, leaving law to focus on sewing, or coming clean about an addiction, or messing up, or whatever it may be, I always knew that they were at home to support me. I think it’s perfectly normal and good to kind of recognize that that is the source of the book."
Southern Charm fans should be well-acquainted with the title of Craig's book, Pillow Talk: What's Wrong with My Sewing?. It, of course, references a now-iconic moment from Season 5 in which Craig is having a disagreement with his then-girlfriend, Naomie Olindo, about his ambitions in life. "You sit home and you sew and you pretend to do things," Naomie tells Craig, who responds, "What's wrong with my sewing?"
Being called out for his passion actually did set "things in motion" in Craig's life, even if he was "kind of taken back" by it all at the time. "And so I think in that moment is when I was like, 'All right, it doesn’t matter what everyone else thinks about this idea. Like, you clearly are not gonna get support from anyone,'" Craig recalled. "I finally just made the decision that, you know, me thinking this is a good idea and me liking it is enough. It’s funny that, now [four] years later, it’s the title of my book."
Though Craig may have brushed off Naomie's criticism at the time, he now sees that he was at a low point in his life back then. "No, I mean, I was in a bad place. I was depressed, and I didn’t realize it at the time. I had no idea that I was going through that," he said. "I was hooked on Adderall. I was 25 pounds skinnier than I am today, in an unhealthy way. And I was just lost."
But in sharing difficult moments from his past in his book, such as his addiction to Adderall, Craig said that he hopes it fosters a greater understanding of what he was going through back then on Southern Charm. "And that’s what’s cool is that when I say 'complete story,' it’s not even about situations with other people; it’s about why I was how I was. And I hope that the explanation and me opening up to people can maybe help other people or reach them," he said. "I hid my Adderall use for a long time, and it wasn’t until the Season 6 reunion where, like, it basically answered so many questions. And I finally just said it. And Andy [Cohen] even told me the other night on Watch What Happens [Live], during the [After Show], he was like, 'I remember just saying to myself, like wow, that makes so much sense.'"
Not only did opening up about this dark time in his life help Craig come to terms with his past substance abuse, but he also hopes that sharing his experience can help others. "I think everyone deserves to hear the story. And it was kind of my penance to myself. I mean, I was a mess. And it was all kind of brought on by myself. It was no one else’s fault. And I think, you know, this was just my chance to share that it’s OK to be a mess. You’re not the only one, 'cause I definitely tried to hide it as much as I could. But there’s also a light at the end of the tunnel. And tomorrow’s the next day of the rest of your life. So I think that vulnerability, it wins people over, in a sense," Craig shared. "I don’t know. I was just excited to do it, in a weird way. A lot of people thought I’d be nervous to share the story, but I was like, well, screw it. Like, everyone’s already seen the worst of me. I might as well, you know, share the full story."
Still, Craig said that there was a level of discomfort in facing just how bad his past Adderall addiction had gotten while writing the book. "I mean, it was definitely the first time that I had to admit to myself that Adderall had way more of a negative impact in my life than I cared to admit. You’re just so full of shame when you’re hooked on something that you do anything in your power to blame everyone else and blame everything else," he said. "And so, this was my first time, now that I haven’t taken it in three years, that I can really just humbly talk about it."
There was another part of Craig's past that he also found challenging to approach in the book. "I was really nervous getting to the Naomie stuff because I really didn’t feel like it was my story to share without her help. And I was really happy that she spoke with my writer [Blake Dvorak] and interviewed with my writer, because then I was a lot more comfortable telling the story," Craig said. "If she hadn’t have been a part of the book, I wouldn’t have told as much of our story as I did."
In Pillow Talk, Craig gives an intimate look at his relationship with Naomie, from all their drama on Southern Charm, in front of and behind the cameras, as well as what really led to their breakup.
At the time of his interview with Bravo Insider, Craig said that he had yet to speak to Naomie about everything he divulged about her in the book since it was released on March 29. However, he did recall his writer mentioning last spring that his and Naomie's recollection of their relationship was "pretty similar," which is not always the case with exes.
Though it was painful to relive those memories with Naomie, Craig said that it was an important part of his life to share with readers. "I hope she’s happy with it, and at the end in the Acknowledgements, I thanked her for allowing me to tell our story," he said. "And hopefully, it helps other people going through breakups or hard times because everyone has that mid-20s big breakup where you think you’ve found your person and it doesn’t work out a lot of the time. And it’s a really, really strange, lonely kind of, like, depressing time where you feel lost. And, you know, I certainly didn’t talk to people about it when I was going through it. So maybe the book will help other people in that situation."
Craig confirmed that Paige has read his book. "Obviously in the first few chapters, she was like, 'I’m gonna need the names and numbers to all those bullies right now,'" Craig said. "And, you know, she cried."
When Paige got to the part in the book where he started opening up about Naomie, Craig admitted that he "was nervous for her to read" it. "Not because it’s a secret, but just because I know how I would feel having to read about her past loves. But she handled it really well. [You've] got to suck it up a little bit. But like I told her, it’s a really important part of my story, and it’s why, you know, without that part, we wouldn’t be together," Craig said. "'Cause I was so honest about my story with Naomie, it could easily be maybe seen as [are] there still feelings? Or was there ever closure? I mean, just being honest. Obviously, like, if you’re an intelligent person, you’re aware of that. I think hopefully by me telling such a complete story, it takes away any concerns about that. And that was the goal, to just tell the story and kind of be done with it."
With his home and apparel brand, Sewing Down South, and now this book, "What's wrong with my sewing?" has taken on a whole new meaning since Craig first uttered the phrase on Southern Charm. Amid all of the ups and downs in Craig's life, it's knowing that fans are cheering him on through it all that has kept him going and will continue to inspire him in this next chapter. "So many people rooted for me that it was one of my biggest motivations. I think so many people saw themselves in me and were like, 'All right, please just make it, Craig. Like, we’ve had your back this whole time, please just make it so we can say, 'Look, we told everyone,'" Craig said. "You can step out of the traditional lifestyle that everyone else tells you you’re supposed to live. It’s fun to share with everyone because I think it really has a message of positivity."
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