NEW YORK – Former "Real Housewives of Orange County" star Lydia McLaughlin left the world of reality television for the sake of her family. Her new book, "Beyond Orange County" discusses the downsides of putting her personal life on camera, and how her ‘Housewives’ friendships were fleeting post fame.
FOX411: You said you decided to leave the show but some insiders said it was not your choice. You were never asked back. What is the real deal?
Lydia McLaughlin: Well, I was asked to come back. I just decided not to. I don’t know why that would be controversial or anything like that. I guess people can’t believe that someone would walk away from it but I definitely was asked to come back, and it was a really hard decision for me.
FOX411: What was the reason you left the show?
McLaughlin: Filming got harder and harder. Then, on the reunion show just seeing Brianna and Vicki because I am so close with my mom so I obviously really related to a mother/daughter on TV as entertainment but it’s still a real relationship, and they got into a big battle in the middle of the reunion, and they were just fighting. I remember thinking, 'Why am I here? I don’t have to be here right now.' So I felt inside the Lord telling me to get up and leave. So, I just got up and I walked out of the shot.
FOX411: Are you still in touch with any of your former cast members?
McLaughlin: I am. Gretchen (Rossi) and Alexis (Bellino) both read my book and came to my party for my party. So, I’m still good friends with the two of them but pretty much once I said I wasn’t going to do the show the text messages from all the other girls were gone. I was friends with them because I was a housewife and when I didn’t have that any more I think I wasn’t worthy to be their friend.
FOX411: Do you think it is possible to have fame, family and fame altogether?
McLaughlin: I do. I think it’s possible. I think right now I have that. I definitely get recognized so I’m famous, and I love my family. I just had a baby so I have three little boys. There is a balance with that. The more famous that you get the harder that can become. For me, I did have to choose at a certain point and who knows may be in two years I’ll be a housewife again. Who knows? But right now it’s just not for me.
FOX411: Do you know Kim Richards?
McLaughlin: I’m friends with her sister Kyle. Watching the reunion I had to turn it off. It’s one thing as entertainment but once you’ve been on it you know that it’s real and seeing that there’s so much drama in that relationship that it was hard for me to watch it. These people become your friends. They’re not just people you see on TV they are people that are a part of your life so it’s not entertainment it’s real drama. It’s hard to be around and stomach. I wish Kim the best and hope that she can read my book, and may be find the Lord.
FOX411: Do you have any thoughts on Richards' recent arrest?
McLaughlin: I just feel bad for her and her family. May be she needs to take a step away from the cameras because I think that would be good for her because honestly it’s so much pressure, and I can’t imagine if you’re dealing with an addiction or anything like that she needs to take care of herself. I’m hope she can choose that over fame.