Chris Bukowski describes personal demons and life-changing struggle as reasons for 'Bachelor' retirement
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 09/02/2015
Chris Bukowski announced his retirement from The Bachelor franchise on After Paradise on Monday night, and he's released a lengthy letter deemed "the most honest thing I've ever written" to better explain his decision.
Bukowski experienced extreme ups and downs while appearing on five different seasons of The Bachelorette, Bachelor Pad and Bachelor in Paradise, and now the 28-year-old is letting his feelings rip -- the good, the bad and the ugly -- with a message to fans entitled "No BS With Bukowski: My Retirement Letter From The Bachelor Franchise and My Apology" on Rant Now.
"You've never experienced the real me. It's time to hang up the roses and share my story, my demons and my struggle," Bukowski wrote in the letter. "I'll be honest. I won't hold anything back. I became obsessed with being on TV... I always convinced myself I needed to go back. Bachelor Pad 3 is where I would say my whole life was turned upside down."
Bukowski apparently had a "perfect" life prior to being cast on Emily Maynard's edition of The Bachelorette, however, the longing for a significant other brought him to reality TV. He could never get enough of the spotlight after that, calling television "a disease, an obsession, a sickness."
Bukowski's first TV experience was great on The Bachelorette and he came out of that show feeling like he was on the top of the world at age 25.
"After being a likable character on The Bachelorette, I was thrown into the lions den of Bachelor Pad. My competitiveness got the best of me and with that came some serious consequences. I will NEVER forget the feeling I had when I woke up in the Bachelor mansion knowing every single person in that house hated me. I'd never felt that before and honestly, I didn't know what to do."
Bukowski got involved in a little love triangle with Jamie Otis and Blakeley Shea. He said he "really liked" Otis but allowed other people's opinions of her to get inside his head. He learned the hard way he should've trusted his own heart.
"I am extremely sorry for the way I treated Jamie during Bachelor Pad. Blakeley, on the other hand, is a different story -- for another time. Bachelor Pad was the pinnacle of my Bachelor career to say the least. It almost completely ruined me, my family and my career. As I mentioned before, I couldn't believe the hate towards me," Bukowski wrote, adding that he just "couldn't handle it."
Bukowski's father apparently became obsessed with the negativity and the show ruined their relationship. While Bukowski's father basically disowned him, his mother also distanced herself. Thankfully, former co-stars Jaclyn Swartz and Sarah Newlon stood by Bukowski and supported him through these tough times.
"What did I do!? Why did I do this!? It was so not worth it. I hated myself even though you couldn't see it... I continued to move forward. On the surface I was fine; I opened my dream bar out in DC and life seemed great. Things couldn't have been more opposite. I needed to fix everything," he explained.
"As my popularity fizzled, I felt the pressure from my business peers to get back into the spotlight. People weren't showing up at the bar just to see me anymore. I was old news -- and believe me I was OK with that. But constantly being told that I was irrelevant played a major role in my unexpected arrival during [Andi Dorfman]'s season of The Bachelorette."
Bukowski liked Dorfman and saw potential for a great relationship, but he regrets ruining what was supposed to be a special night for her and her suitors.
"I selfishly wanted to be a part of that again because I wanted to repair my image. I didn't know at the time that sometimes walking away is the best thing to do," he noted with another apology.
"At this point of my career, I had officially become the biggest joke on reality TV. Attempting to fix my reputation had ultimately made it worse. My obsession with television had completely taken over my life. I had to fix this; I needed to show everyone the true me. But how could I? I thought to myself, 'This isn't how it's supposed to be.' I was on the brink of giving up. I struggled daily. Literally, every single day."
Things became increasingly worse for Bukowski as time went on. He headed down "a dark road" and battled "anxiety" and depression.
"I compounded the problem by getting addicted to my anxiety medication. How was this happening? How did everything go from perfect to complete crap? It didn't matter how much money I had or how many women wanted to date me. I was just a hated, desperate person," Bukowski confessed.
"Then, I was asked to be on Bachelor in Paradise. I thought to myself, 'Here's my chance...' I'll find my dream girl and I'll show America exactly what they want to see every Monday night. On Bachelor in Paradise, I met [Elise Mosca]. I actually really liked Elise. She even met my family, and they liked her too. Just as things were evolving, I listened to my castmate's opinions of her and decided I didn't like Elise."
Bukowski didn't know what was wrong with him and had failed to rehab his image again, so he eventually decided to take another stab at Bachelor in Paradise 2. But he just got drunk out of his mind on the first day and everyone viewed him as a hopeless fool -- an incident he labeled his "absolute weakest moment." He left Paradise without a date to his sister's wedding and any memories of his time there.
"As you can see, I'm fighting demons. I'm far from perfect. All I've ever wanted is what many would call a 'fairytale ending...' From my experiences, I've learned the only people who look out for your best interests are your family. My problem is I trust everyone. And that backfires on me," Bukowski explained.
"I apologize that you've had to witness my struggle publicly over the last three years. Thankfully, I've finally realized my life outside of television -- my real life -- is spectacular. My family, my friends, business, etc. Everything is good."
Bukowski noted he can't fix his mistakes but he's learned from them and realized it's time to let go.
"I won't miss it. I can't wait for my television career to be over. I miss being me... I'll never have to be sorry for being myself. I've made great friends through this journey and for that I will be forever grateful to The Bachelor franchise. I'll never say I regret being a part of it because at the time I always had a reason for doing what I did. At this point, it's all in the past," he wrote.
"I want to be Chris again. I want to be the 'grown ass man' I was before I was a reality television star. I want to make my parents proud, my sisters proud, and my friends proud. And I will... I've had these emotions bottled up for some time... I could continue on for pages upon pages, but this will do for now.
Bukowski then stressed the importance of keeping family and friends close, concluding his letter with a shout out to a few of his loved ones.