Gina Neely Says She Would ‘Cry In Her Pillow at Night’ Before Divorcing Ex-Husband Pat Neely

Food Network alum Gina Neely is sharing emotional details about her divorce from her ex-husband and former co-star Pat Neely on Bravo’s new series To Rome for Love.

“It’s part of my life I never seemed to move past,” she says in a scene from Sunday’s episode. “I never aspired to be a chef. My ex and I worked together at a family restaurant BBQ business. I thought it would be one show, we’d go back to our regular lives. Who knew it would be the highest-rated show on Food Network?”

The couple, whose shocking split came in 2014, starred together on Down Home with the Neelys. The hit show debuted in 2008 and captured their love for one another while they whipped up family recipes.

The 51-year-old, who previously opened up about her divorce on OWN’s Where Are They Now? and revealed she tried to leave five times before she finally did, now says she never wanted to be on TV.

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“That was Pat’s dream. Everybody was over the moon except for me. This wasn’t the life I planned for me,” she says. “The TV show became bigger than the marriage. He became more my business partner than my husband. I didn’t ask for a business partner. I needed my husband.”

Gina added that the pressure from the show proved to be stressful on their relationship. “I was always seen as this person that has it together,” she says.  “I would cry in my pillow at night. I would cry in the car. I would cry anywhere anyone couldn’t see me.”

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But the chef was not alone—she claims other women reached out to her after announcing her split.

“I had so many inboxes on my Facebook page of women asking me, ‘How did you have the courage to leave 24-year marriage.’ And I applaud myself because I didn’t think I would have the courage to do it. And I did,” she says. 

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The mom to two daughters—one she shares with Pat, 52, and another daughter from a previous marriage—says she kept quiet about her relationship for so long to protect her family.

“I was always worried about my girls,” she says. “And it was also important to me that I just didn’t go out blabbing on their dad and being ugly because at the end of the day, they’re our daughters.”

After revealing her feelings on the show—which follows five black women on their quest for love in Italy—she says, “I feel like layers are dropping off of me. Finally I can breath.”

To Rome for Love airs Sundays at 10 p.m. ET on Bravo.

PEOPLE.com

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