The Real Housewives of New Jersey star Teresa Giudice shared the candid prologue to her upcoming fifth book, Standing Strong, exclusively with Us Weekly. Check out the full excerpt — titled “My ‘Glamourous’ Life” — below, and pick up Standing Strong when it hits bookstores on Tuesday, October 3!
It was just before midnight, and I could barely keep my eyes open.
I was absolutely exhausted.
I was drained physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
I had almost no strength left.
I took two shots of espresso before leaving the house so I didn’t fall asleep while driving to the airport to pick up my oldest daughter, Gia, who was returning home with her high school team after a weekend cheerleading competition in Orlando.
I’m so proud of all my daughters, but because Gia is the oldest, she’s really stepped up and helped out our family in ways that no sixteen-year-old should ever have to. I was so excited to see her, even though it’d been only two days.
I blasted the radio in the car so loud it was deafening. It’d been a very long day, but then again, it seemed as if every day was just as long, a virtual repeat of the day before.
I felt like Bill Murray in the movie Groundhog Day.
It was as if I was running on a hamster wheel that never stopped. Around and around I went, running full speed, but I couldn’t seem to get ahead. I needed a break, but I couldn’t seem to catch one.
The day stayed for me earlier than most, about twenty-four hours prior, when my seventy-three-year-old father, who now lives with me (more on that later), came into my bedroom – not long after I’d returned home from a friend’s place in Connecticut – and woke me up, asking me to take him to the hospital. He had a nosebleed that wouldn’t stop and he was also coughing up blood. It wasn’t the first time this had happened.
Before we left for the hospital, I woke up my twelve-year-old daughter, Gabriella, and told her I was putting her in charge while I was gone because I had to take Nonno to the hospital.
My poor kids.
There’s always something.
It’s as if we have a dark cloud hovering over our house.
I often think to myself, maybe we should move and start over. I fantasize about what life would be like if we picked up and relocated to a place like Kentucky and started from scratch. What if I was no longer Teresa Giudice, reality television star from New Jersey, and I became Teresa Smith, real estate agent from Louisville or Lexington?
What would my new house look like?
What would my new friends look like?
What would I get my hair hone?
Are there any good Italian restaurants in Kentucky?
Would the paparazzi come looking for me?
Would I be happy?
I snapped back to reality, my reality, not what you see on TV, as I walked into the ER with my father. As we sat in the waiting room, which was absolutely freezing, I was rubbing his back affectionately, just like he used to rub mine when I was a little girl and I was sick.
I couldn’t believe I was only a few weeks away from my forty-fifth birthday. I couldn’t believe I’d just buried my mother. I couldn’t believe my husband was in prison. I couldn’t believe that I went to prison.
My head hurt. My mind was racing, I was literally all over the place, both everywhere and nowhere at the same time. Is that even possible?
Recently a close friend of mine suggested that I go see someone, a therapist, to try and sort things out. I wish I had the time, but sadly I don’t. And I’m not sure if I’d even know where to begin or if it would even help. Are my problems the type that can be solved by sitting across from someone for an hour every week? Lying down on some stranger’s couch and telling him or her my deepest, darkest secrets. Who are they to judge me? I’m not someone who opens up easily. Or, at least I haven’t been in the past. I guess I just feel like my time would be better spent getting things done for my family.
Around and around on the hamster wheel.
In addition to caring for my seventy-three-year-old father and my four young daughters, I also have to work, work, work, work, work like Rihanna to play the bills and keep things afloat after my husband made a mess of our finances. Such a massive mess that it makes the Exxon Valdez oil spill seem like a glass of spilled red wine (more on that later).
And speaking of my husband…
While I was sitting in the ER waiting for the doctor to examine my father, I checked my phone to find a new message on CorrLinks, the email system used by inmates who are in a federal prison.
My husband, Joe, is currently serving a forty-one-month sentence, but you already know that, just like you know that I spent eleven and a half months of my life inside a federal prison camp for women in Danbury, Connecticut. (And if you didn’t know that, you should read my last book, Turning the Tables.)
Like Frank Sinatra, my husband did it his way. And look where it got us.
So there I sat on that particular Sunday at 4:00 a.m. in the ER waiting room, reading Joe’s email from late Saturday night, just a few hours before, asking me in a not-so-polite way where I was, who I was with, and what I was doing at that moment.
Was he f–king kidding me?
Well, honey, here are the answers to your email:
On Saturday, I woke up at 7:00 a.m. to get our girls ready for their various activities and spent the next hour driving them around and dropping them off at what felt like a million different places. Soccer, cheerleading, dance – the usual.
Then I raced home to meet my glam girls, Priscilla and Lucia, who were doing my hair and makeup for a big event that was scheduled to start around noon, where I would be doing a meet-and-greet and book signing for fans, taking pictures, hosting a Q and A, and a cooking demonstration all while the producers and cameras from The Real Housewives of New Jersey followed my every move.
By 10:00 a.m. I was in the car – a black SUV with dark-tinted windows.
I called my lawyer, Jim Leonard – who also handles a lot of my professional commitments – and screamed into the phone, “Jim, did you know I’m going to MetLife Stadium for this event today?! How many people are coming to this thing?”
“Teresa, you are so popular the only venue big enough for you was MetLife Stadium,” Jim replied, being his usual sarcastic, smart-ass self.
“Seriously, what time will I be done?” I asked, because I’m always thinking about the next place I have to be. There’s always a child to be dropped off or picked up. Or another work obligation.
“When you’re done signing books and taking pictures,” he responded. “Let’s hope you’re there all day. That will mean you sold a lot of books. Also, while you’re there, look for Jimmy Hoffa’s body; they say he’s buried there somewhere.”
“Goodbye,” I said, rolling my eyes as I hung up.
As I sat in the back seat of the SUV, enjoying the serenity and rarity of a quiet moment, I let myself rest for a split second, tuning everything out, or at least trying to.
“Miss, can I ask you a question?” the driver of the SUV asked.
“Sure,” I said, prying my eyes open from what I’d hoped would be a longer moment of silence. I put on a half smile, as he met my weary gaze in his rearview mirror.
“Do you think when we stop I could take a picture with you?I would love to send it to my family and friends back home in India,” he said. “They won’t believe that I had a real life movie star in my car today.”
A movie star? That made me laugh.
I felt like telling him, Buddy, if my life is a movie right now, it’s a f–kin’ horror movie that should be titled What Else Could Possibly Go Wrong?
But, instead, I answered back, “Sure, although I’m not a movie star. I’m on a reality TV show.”
I’m not sure he knew the difference, or even cared. He just smiled and said to me, with a big toothy grin, “Such a glamorous life you have, God bless you.”
A glamorous life?
I can see where it may come across that way to some, but the truth is, there is nothing glitzy about my life, at least not in the last few years, and certainly not on that day as I was on my way to MetLife Stadium, completely tired.
When we arrived, my driver was very kind and helped me out of the car before we posed for a selfie together. I thanked him for getting me there safely.
I stayed at MetLife Stadium until almost 4:00 p.m. I guess that means I sold a lot of books.
Afterward I went home, quickly got changed, and ran around like a lunatic getting things in order for my seven-year-old, Audriana’s, communion, which was one week away. By the time I was done with all the prep work, I had to pick up my eleven-year-old, Milania, from her friend’s house before driving to my own friend’s house in Connecticut. Once I got home later that night, I passed out.
When my father woke me up at 3:00 a.m. about going to the hospital, I still had on a full face of makeup and my fake eyelashes. Miraculously, I’ve mastered the art of sleeping in such a way that my hair doesn’t get messed up. Joe used to tell me I looked like a mummy when I was sleeping.
So you can imagine what I looked like sitting in the ER with only a few hours of sleep in me, sporting a full face of makeup, eyelashes the size of butterfly wings, and perfectly coiffed hair.
As luck would have it, after some quick tests the doctor was able to stop my father’s nosebleed and, once he’d examined him, we were sent home later in the morning.
I dropped off my father and headed back out to the supermarket to pick up chicken cutlets, raviolis, and a variety of vegetables so that I could make a nice salad to eat with our Sunday dinner around two o’clock.
By that night, I was really happy to have Gia home from Orlando – when I picked her up she was so excited to see me – and I was obviously relieved that my father didn’t have to be admitted to the hospital. Unfortunately, even though we were finally all together, we would be apart again very soon, as I was scheduled to leave the next day for a week in Italy to film for The Real Housewives of New Jersey.
Lights, camera, DRAMA!!!
I was up bright and early the following morning, and guess where I was?
Back at the hospital with my father.
He was still coughing up blood, and now he was having trouble breathing.
They were admitting him. I was in a panic. Over the last few months I had spent so much time in hospitals, I felt like an extra on Grey’s Anatomy.
I called Jim at 7:00 a.m. and hold him, “My father is in the hospital, tell them I can’t go to Italy.”
Jim, always a calming force in my life when he’s not busting my chops, said, “Let’s give it a few hours and see how things are then. You can make up your mind a little bit later, when we have more information. How does that sound?”
We got off the phone and, immediately, he called Lucilla D’Agostino, the executive producer of Real Housewives of New Jersey, who was already in Milan with the entire production crew. Jim briefed her on the situation regarding my father.
I can only imagine how that call went.
I also reached out to my brother, Joey, and told him what was happening. He agreed to come join me so that I could leave the hospital if and when my father was stable.
When Joey got there, I said to him, “Unless Daddy is stable, I’m not going anywhere.”
He took one look at me and asked, “Teresa, did you get any sleep?”
“I don’t have time to sleep,” I replied – a statement that just about sums up my world right now.
Welcome to my (not so) glamorous life.
I’m about to get very real. More than I ever have before. No holding back. No glossing over. No smiling through the pain. I’m digging deep, opening up, and putting it all out there. I’m spilling my true feelings about what’s gone down in the last couple of years.
It’s my time to speak up.