Paras Griffin/Getty Porsha Williams
Porsha Williams is opening up about the death of her father when she was a teen — and the “impact” his absence had on her as she grew up.
On the latest episode of The Real Housewives of Atlanta, the Bravo star reflected on her parents’ divorce when she was a young girl and the relationship she had with her late dad.
At the time that Sunday’s show was filmed, Porsha, 40, was working on The Pursuit of Porsha — a book about “me becoming who I am,” she told her mother, Diane, and half-sister, Lauren. “And a lot of the things that I’ve been through in my life, you all have played a pivotal role.”
In a confessional, Porsha told cameras that writing the book was “very therapeutic,” saying she’s “had to learn a lot through hardships” and that “there is a lot that I would love for young girls to know. I’ve actually dealt with depression, abuse, etcetera, and I’ve made it in spite of all.”
That day, the trio got together to reflect and talk about the past, including the sisters’ differing relationships with the family patriarch.
Diane recommended the discussion begin at the time the RHOA star was a 3-year-old girl, following her parents’ divorce. “We probably should start after the divorce, when you basically stayed with me,” said Porsha’s mom.
Recalling her early adolescence, Porsha said of her parents’ divorce: “It was just kind of confusing at first, because I had my home with Mommy that felt complete, solid, and then over here with Dad, it was another home that could be complete and solid. And why am I going in between?”
Porsha explained to cameras that although she and Lauren are six years apart and shared the same dad, “saying ‘half’ anything would get you a spanking in the house.”
Growing up, Lauren lived with their father, while Porsha “more so came over on the weekends.” Despite not spending the majority of her time with her dad, Porsha said her parents seemed to had found a healthy co-parenting rhythm. “I feel like a lot of kids feel like divorce is, you know, traumatizing. But, I mean, I think y’all did a really good job with the go back and forth,” Porsha told her mom.
And while Porsha didn’t “really identify with daddy issues,” she did admit to facing personal hardships as a result of her father’s absence — specifically when she began to date.
“Unfortunately, once he died and I’m in those years of 17, when you start to date and all of that, he wasn’t here. He died,” Porsha recalled, going on to reveal that she faced some “abusive situations.”
“That mindset of me just having a skeleton idea of what a man should be led me into like, seriously abusive situations,” Porsha told her mom and sister.
In a confessional, Porsha admitted that when she was younger, she “didn’t think about the impact of not having my dad in the house.” But as an adult, “now doing something like [working on] my book with my mom and my sister, I am realizing I was lacking something,” she said.
When Porsha asked her sister, who was 10 when their dad died, about her own relationship with him, Lauren seemed to recall only happy memories. “Because I had a totally different experience…” Porsha said.
Lauren remembered that he used to take her to his doctor’s appointments and gave her a kiss every day. “I remember him waking up in the morning, kissing me on the forehead and going to work, and not coming back until it was time to go to bed.”
Asked Porsha, “You got kissed on the forehead in the morning? Every morning?” Confirming that he did, Lauren went on to say that “he would go to work, and then he would come back, and then he would go to bed. So he was very consistently there, definitely.”
Given that they were raised in separate households, Lauren didn’t know “how to compare” her experience with Porsha’s. Hearing Lauren’s memories about their father, Porsha began to cry. “She experienced a whole different dad than you,” Diane said as Lauren hugged Porsha, who cried, “She did.”
“When it comes to PJ, the part that I do get sad [about] is that I do wish we could’ve worked out, for Dennis to be in the house,” she said to her sister and mom.
During filming, Dennis and Porsha weren’t together, but she still praised him as a father. “When I look at it, I know that Dennis is such a powerful father figure,” she said. “I honestly do feel like as much as I’m going to put into her to know about the real s— out here in the world, he will too.”
Porsha Williams/Instagram Porsha Williams and Dennis McKinley with daughter Pilar
“I picked him. Like, she wasn’t no mistake,” she added about her daughter.
Sharing a child with her ex, Porsha said she pushes to make her relationship with Dennis work “not only because I love him to death, but because I want Pilar to be close with him,” she told cameras. “I don’t want her to miss a beat in his parenting.”
The Real Housewives of Atlanta airs Sundays (8 p.m. ET) on Bravo.