Bravotv.com: We see you get really emotional when your mother comes over to visit and her and Michael hug. Can you explain what you were feeling in that moment?
Ashley Darby: The world has witnessed the ups and downs that have happened within my family. It makes sense that there are road bumps in familial relationships, especially with extended family. To think you live your entire life (in Michael and Mom’s case, at least 50 years) without knowing a person at all. Then one day, you are deemed to be family by a romantic relationship or legal document. In my romanticized mind, that would be a seamless transition since I love these people so deeply, but alas it wasn’t. It took some real tears and heartache for Mom, Michael, and myself to understand each other. When we were in the midst of our growing pains, I never thought it would happen and it caused more pain and anxiety than I could express. To witness Mom and Michael putting their differences aside meant the absolute world to me. That just reminded me that even though the skies are grey and gloomy for a period, blue skies are certain to return again. That is just what I’m reaffirming to myself about the gift of life I hope to receive.
Bravotv.com: You call Candiace a "freh" not quite friends. What does that mean to you?
AD: Candiace and I are “freh” because we haven’t gotten to a place of agreed understanding. There are elements of her character that I don’t quite understand, which causes me to feel that she’s being disingenuous. At times I feel that she’s aiming to be the loudest or most looked at person in the room, which strikes me as immature. But I have been wrong about people before, and friendships have bloomed in some of the murkiest places. Time will tell if Candiace and I can add the other half of that syllable and eventually become “friends.”
Bravotv.com: The party you hosted for your uncle seemed like a lot of fun. What were your overall feelings on the evening?
AD: First and foremost, the party was an incredibly fun time! Our family has been having this party for the past four years to celebrate the birthdays of Uncle Rodney and his wife Monica, but this year was even more special because it was a true celebration of life.
I can’t quite put into words how much Uncle Rodney means to me. Even though he’s an uncle and not my biological dad, he has stepped into the role of guiding me better than any other man ever could. It is because of this man I understand male love and know what to demand in a romantic relationship. The example he set for me and my siblings, as well as every other young person in our family, has impacted all of us so much!
The first male love I received was from my grandfather, Shot (Papa to me). He was the patriarch of the family, taught us all how to chop wood, cut grass, and skin rabbits (we ate what we caught in true country fashion). But more than that, Papa came to every game, made pancakes in the morning, and held me when I was sad. After he passed and left a hole in our hearts, Uncle Rodney stepped up to the plate and became a father/friend/cousin/mentor to everyone! I even lived with him and Aunt Monica when I was in college. When Unk was diagnosed with leukemia, I felt the walls cave in and my heart plummet to the center of the earth. Thankfully he survived leukemia, but then tore his aorta and had a 2% chance of surviving six months later! I almost lost my uncle/dad twice within one year. It was a harrowingly scary time for all of us and I’ll never forget that fear. So this celebration was even more special, looking at his smiling face and hugging him extra tight. It was also very special for Uncle Rodney and Michael to hug it out. They’re two incredibly smart, driven men whom I love so much, and I am so happy they love each other too.
It feels really silly to need to address this, but for some reason my husband is commonly misunderstood. Michael is a man who prides himself on his appearance. He cycles hundreds of miles, kiteboards, surfs, plays golf, lifts weights, hikes - you name it! Physicality and sport are two of his favorite things and he talks about them frequently. When he is speaking to our family friend about his physique, Michael compliments himself and also the person he’s speaking to in a way that was genuine and complimentary. For it to be taken any other way is very small minded. Michael speaks his mind and will pay a compliment where it’s appropriate. He’s a confident man who is comfortable in his own skin (and has experienced enough to earn that). That may be hard for some people to understand, but that’s who he is. The way others try to twist and tangle that narrative for their own gain is their prerogative, and only reflects on them.