Bravotv.com was fortunate enough to speak to Lauri and her son, Josh, in a very candid conversation. We tried to ask the questions we know our readers would want asked, and we thank Lauri and Josh for being so open. Come back for Part II after next week's reunion.
Bravotv.com: Josh, I don't know if you've been paying attention to the blogs on our site...
Josh: I always wondered why they were so interested...
Lauri: I have my opinion, Josh. You know what? Josh was really open and honest with his problems and I think that people can totally relate. Nobody's perfect — everybody's got problems. And I think that when you open up and expose those types of things, I think you draw people in because they've got those problems too and they want to know how is he handling it, how is he facing it. And I think everyone, even from my blog comments, what I've gotten is that everyone is concerned about Josh. Everyone wants to see him succeed. Everyone wants the best for him, and he's cute! Add your comments, [Josh], I'm sure you have more, but that's just how I see it.
Josh: Like you said, I try to be a nice person. I try to treat people, definitely not in my past, but...I think people see that I'm not happy being a screw-up. I'm not accepting of it like most people are. I'm not a scumbag. I see the mistakes that I'm making and even though I make them over and over, I go, "Why, why am I doing this?" So, I think people know that there's hope and people, they all have the optimism that I do, and that they feel in me, and they just keep checking in.
Lauri: And you don't know how many blog comments I've gotten from viewers that have said my son went through the same types of things at Josh's age and just to let you know, he turned out to be this wonderful man, has a beautiful family and has a successful career. So, just to let you know everybody goes through really dark times in their lives, and that nine times out of 10 they end up happy. And so I think, again, I think viewers are concerned with ... Josh's success.
Bravotv.com: We saw last week just the beginning of Josh coming over to George's house and the therapist appearing. How did that all come about and what was your first reaction when your mom suggested doing that?
Josh: Well, it was my mom asking me. She told me; she asked me, you know, well, it's long...Well, my mom had contacted me, and she told me that...I had let her know that I was interested in going to the wedding. I know that if I had not gone...I know that this is all temporary. This is really stupid to think that the drama that occurs in my life when I'm 18 is going to affect me for the rest of my life. Whereas a lot of things will, family drama...I definitely don't think will be one of those things. I hope that anyone who is fighting with their parents at 18 can resolve all their differences.
Lauri: I think what he's saying is that through everything that we were going through to have him not be a part of the wedding, both of us would regret it for the rest of our lives.
Josh:...I know that my mom really does love George and he's a good guy for her, and I'm not going to challenge that like I have in my past. One day it comes to you, "When are you going to be accepting? When are you going to be accepting of her life. When are you going to just grow up and let her live her life and you attempt as much as you can to live yours."
Lauri: And the whole Stacie thing...as far as how did that all occur. Josh and I, we've been going through therapy since Josh was about six. I mean just with ADD... We've had ongoing and just try to help us with situations over time. He's not new to the therapy, and I think that's good and that's bad. So when I told him basically, really in order for me to bring him back into the family as far as after all the drama had occurred, I needed clean. I needed him clean and sober. That was hugely important for me. With Josh, when he's clean is an entirely different person. He's wonderful; he's charming; he's always the center of attention because he's intelligent; adults like to talk to him. And I just felt it was really important to bring, knowing that I was going to have Josh here, I needed a mediator. And part of that reason is that, when you have your own child there, you just want to believe everything that they say. You must have a third person in there calling both sides out on something that they might not see, as the way it really is. So I just thought that it was good for Stacie to be there and to see the dynamic, and just really help Josh get on the right track, and help set goals, and figure out a future.
Josh: My first reaction was that only I can change my life — no one can do it for me. Of course I have to take initiative, and I have to be the one that steps up, and a mediator is a mediator, then that can be beneficial, but I didn't want someone going in there and saying, "Josh, you need to do this; you need to feel like this." I don't know if you caught how I act and how I am to authority, but...
Bravotv.com: Like any teenager?
Josh: Yeah - never really been good at that. I told her, "I'll give it a shot and we'll see how things go." And I think it went successfully. I'm sure there will be a lot more than they show, like there always is...
Lauri:...I think the producers are very aware of how important it is to tell Josh's story. It's real and to the point and just because again a lot of families are facing these types of situations. And I think they're interested in seeing how we deal with it. At least he showed up.
Bravotv.com: Do you still work with Stacie?
Lauri: No, no. That was just a one-time thing. She lives all the way up in LA. I wish Stacie lived with us.
Bravotv.com: I'm sure she wouldn't mind if you offered.
Bravotv.com: So, Josh, before your mother reached out to you, did you reach out to your mother at all saying you wanted to be involved in the wedding?
Josh: Yeah. For a big part, it was my girlfriend at the time. She was kind of the one that went, "You can't live without your mom. Family is everything." She really was the one that pushed it on me to bandage the hardship that happened in the relationship. She was the one who told me, "You're not going to ever be successful. You're never going to be happy unless you take that step. And it's not much to ask." She said, "I'm sure you'll thank me in the end. And I'm sure when you're successful and you have a successful relationship with your mom, you'll be so happy that you did it." And I was like, "But you don't understand! You don't understand!" She started throwing out quotes on forgiveness. I swear [she was like a] fortune cookie. She pushed that on me, and she said hopefully my mom could forgive me, and after that it would be peaches and cream...I was like, "You don't understand" because I have to resent everything. I made the call, and I was like "Mom, I'd like to go to your wedding." ... And you know I was happy because she said the same thing. I was expecting the but..."But you should probably meet the therapist." Always therapist. Counselor and the therapist...
Lauri: You know I have to say, right here, I think is a good time that for some reason everyone thinks that Josh and I weren't communicating with each other. Even when I did have to kick Josh out of the house for a time, we were still talking to each other a lot. And we never ever really stopped talking. I was angry at Josh for things that he said that weren't true. I was mad at how he reacted. He was probably mad at me when I kicked him out of the house. Josh knows we had a contract that we built with the psychologist that if any of the rules had been broken then this is what had to have happen. It was tough love, which was harder on me than on anybody. But at the time when Josh was out of my house, his behavior was unpredictable and he knows that, especially at the time of the planning of my wedding, he was probably at his lowest point in his life. And he was doing all sorts of things that weren't healthy for him, and I think...he was just having a party and I don't think he realized what was happening and the pain it was causing me and George because that is so hard to watch a child go down and not be able to do a thing about it. And there were so many times that I tried to help and he wasn't ready. He wasn't ready. And it was only I think, Josh, it was probably close to three weeks before the wedding where he did reach out. And basically he said, "I need help. I know I need help, and I need help. Will you be there?" And so we started meeting for lunches and dinners and he's absolutely right in saying that his girlfriend was very instrumental in trying to just get him down on the right path. So, you know, we started talking about the wedding a lot and eventually he said that he would be able to show up, be healthy, and not cause problems, and so I asked him to escort my mother down the aisle, which she was very proud to have.
Bravotv.com: Is that girlfriend still around?
Josh: You had to ask!
Bravotv.com: She's the one we see you sit next to at the wedding, right?
Josh: Yeah. ... We're both making lots of changes in our lives right now. You know, it's sad because I lived with her. ... when you live with someone and when you date someone, when you're living with them, you're getting to know them ten time faster. And I lived with her for six months. And I loved her more everyday. She was the one person that was really trying to push my family, me into reconciling with my family. She was the one that pushed me. She watched me do drugs everyday, and she told me, "You can't keep doing this. You can't keep living like this. You're going to end up dead." And I knew she was right. I knew she was right. I looked her in her green eyes and just ignored it. Until one day I said, "I cannot not go to this wedding. There's no way I can't do it." My family is changing, not disappearing. I just have to step up and just be happy with it. And she was like, "I'll be there with you for every step you take through it." I was like, "Alright, let's do this." I called my mom. My mom actually picked us up. I was actually car-less at the time. Life has changed. ... Now I bought my own Audi and I'm trying to make things happen just in the last minute.
Lauri: Wait a minute - who helped you buy that Audi [ laughing]? ... I have to give props to [Josh's ex-girlfriend] because it was interesting hearing Josh just then say, "She watched me do drugs everyday, and I couldn't do this anymore..." Well, we all said those same things too. But as parents, children don't hear parents' voices. So, thank God, he had her in his life at that time. He heard her. He didn't hear us, but he did hear. So, I appreciate her for that. But I think Josh kind of summed it up...Josh is 19-years-old now. That's another thing that viewers don't realize. They still think of him as being 16 or whatever. So, Josh is 19, and both of them just needed to make some changes. They needed to work through the changes and be strong people, so they can be good for each other. So, they're both working on their lives individually. Who knows what the future holds?
Josh: In other words, no we're not together. In the nice well-mannered presentation it's more of a break. She told me the night before, she actually asked me if I love her. I said, "Yeah." She said, "I love you too, but this, we're not going anywhere." She was heavily involved with me in ... cause that was my job ... was parties. I was an event coordinator for three different companies...helping promote clubs, things like that. That type of stuff takes a toll on a person. [I] lost 15 pounds. I mean it's a lot of staying up and partying all night. It's not healthy. I wasn't the mature person to say, "You have to go to school." I was the immature person saying, "I have a hot girl next to me." I didn't look at it right. I didn't handle it the way I should have. I think she's on the East Coast right now. ...I don't get that much information on it, which is hard. I figure how bad could it be? She's been gone for three or four months now.
Lauri: It was interesting that you just said that you lost 15 pounds because actually, what viewers don't know, is two weeks after the wedding, Josh took a major step to get himself out of the situation he was in. So, he went into a hospital, and I mean his weight was 130 pounds. He's now at, what 170, Josh? It was a huge amount.
Josh: I looked like shit at the wedding. I was like, "God is that me?"
Lauri: Josh's appearance was...it was shocking to me, especially when I got my wedding photos back. He looked like a concentration camp survivor or someone going through chemotherapy. I don't think Josh realized how close to death he was. He was so emaciated.
Josh: Moms always say that - I don't know about that, but I was definitely on a track towards death. No one can live a life like that. No one can live a life ... what most people do on Saturdays for fun, you're doing everyday. It's a source of income for you. At the time I was like, "This is the best job of my life... ." ...have a drink in my hand. It's 3 p.m. and my day is just starting. And that's everyday. It takes a toll on you.
Bravotv.com: You're not doing those events anymore?
Josh: No — I'm not. ...I actually attended one, but I didn't work the party. It was massive...40,000 people, and I was sober and I had fun. It was great.
Lauri: He's working at a local restaurant. You've been line dancing, huh, Josh?
Bravotv.com: Wait, what?
Josh: They have this little thing where three times a day... they dance. I hide.
Be sure to check in next week after the reunion, for part two of the interview.