Adios (for Now...)

Adios (for Now...)

Lauri Peterson reminisces about the past four seasons of filming, and sends a special message to fans.

Whew! That was a very hard episode for me to watch. Leaving the show was a difficult and selfless decision for me to make. I would have loved to have continued with this wildly successful series. Being one of the original cast members, I was there for the birth, the creation of this show. The past four years have been a thrilling and exciting journey for me, especially seeing the show achieve such great success. We have become a family so to speak and one that I will greatly miss. I would have never in a million years guessed where this show was going when I was first approached by the series creator, Scott Dunlop, but I can tell you it has been the craziest and wildest rollercoaster ride I've ever been on and I've enjoyed every peak, dip, twist and turn! (I learned this from Ashley's toast at my wedding!) This show has definitely taken on a life of it's own, to say the very least.

Our entire family, all kids included with the exception of George's son Slayte, signed on for season 4 in the early spring. We were all very excited, as we had many fun trips and exciting events planned for the summer. Josh seemed to be doing well, however his sobriety took a turn for the worst very quickly. He moved out of the town home to protect me from seeing his decline.

On the first day of filming this season, I spoke to Josh on the phone during my drive to Jeana's house for the trunk show and made a desperate plea for him to get help. I guess you could say that my "motherly intuition" was kicking in, as I felt very uneasy, restless and concerned for his safety. I felt Josh was in imminent danger. I did not even know where he was living to try to help. Because Josh was 19 and is an adult, I could not commit him even if I could have found him. The next morning after the trunk show, I learned that Josh had been arrested on drug charges less than four hours after our conversation the night before. I was shattered and destroyed - yet a part of me felt some relief in knowing that he would be safe for a while. As crazy as it may seem, and only something a parent of a child suffering from drug addiction would understand, is that I actually felt jail was safer than his freedom. Those who love an addict don't have the luxury of reprieve from their suffering. Worry consumed me. At least when high, the addict temporarily escapes from their pain. Trust me, I would not expect anyone else to make sense of this. No one should judge how another person handles the grief of loving an addict. I have learned that there are no right or wrong ways to handle this disease. What works for one may not work for another. I have come to realize that I can't fix Josh. I can only support his recovery when he is ready. I have finally come to terms with the Three C's that Al-Anon teaches: "I didn't cause the addiction, I can't control it, and I can't cure it."

Josh's arrest was traumatic for me. I experienced a gamut of emotions. Tears streamed continuously and uncontrollably down on my face. This left me emotionally unavailable to give time on camera. I wasn't willing to allow the production company to film my son's situation for entertainment value. I do believe however that there is value in discussing drug addiction to educate and raise public awareness, but I didn't feel that this series could do it justice and was no longer the appropriate platform. This illness and disease is much too complicated. I am still in the early stages of comprehension. It is a subject that makes people squirm in their seat when you talk about it. I felt that this was an issue that needed to be dealt with privately for the time being and I really wanted to pull back, focus on the family and try to better understand this illness. Family has always been my priority and I wasn't going to compromise that.

I can say that much of the dust has settled since the first day of filming and Josh is currently going through the motion of serving his time. He really just wants to put this all behind him and live a healthy and happy life. He doesn't have much time left in custody, but he knows he has his work cut out for him when he gets out. There was a time that I was angry with the constant worry that Josh has caused for me, but I now see how shallow it was of me to feel that emotion as there are so many parents out there that have lost their children to drugs and don't have the opportunity to worry anymore. I feel blessed instead that I can still worry about him. Josh has two things in his favor - he is alive and young. It is never too late to change your life.

It has been a delight to work for Bravo-NBC Universal. The last four years of doing the show has been so exciting and has opened many doors and opportunities. I have had the most amazing experiences and have met the most interesting people promoting the show including television talk shows, morning shows, radio shows, magazine layouts and interviews with all forms of the media outlets all around the globe. We were even on OPRAH for goodness sakes! Bravo has spent millions of dollars branding my name and my image to the point that I am recognized all around the world. The term "reality star" wasn't even around when we started this series, but now it is my identity.

Participating in the The Real Housewives of OC has made me realize how much I enjoy the entertainment industry. Leaving the show will allow me to take the next step and open myself up for new opportunities in the industry as well as to utilize the branding of my image for product endorsements or marketing efforts. Being on the series was a great step in the process. It has also led me to journal throughout the process and I have a very interesting book in progress. I will share the details when I can.

I want to close this in thanking all of the viewers and my fans that have emailed, blogged and supported me in every way throughout the years. Thanks to all of the millions of you that have shared your stories and advice with me. I appreciate each of you more than you will ever know and I have been deeply and greatly touched by all! My only regret is that I cannot get back to each of you. I promise I will try to update to stay in touch. Lastly, I would like to thank those that have tried to reach out and make a difference in Josh's life (at least those that did so without seeking notoriety for themselves!) One day, I am certain he will thank you. Newport Coast Recovery, ( thank you for your efforts! Josh's time there was not a waste and the lessons learned are invaluable. He has told me that he learned more about himself in those two months than ever before. Also, I know that Josh would like to thank his attorney Jeff Stivers, who invested valuable time without compensation. Lauri Peterson

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