When Hugh Hefner died on September 27, 2017, his former girlfriend Kendra Wilkinson didn’t pause to mourn. Hours after hearing the news, she was getting high at a Sublime concert.
“I smoked a lot of weed,” the 38-year-old admitted during an interview with PEOPLE. “Look, at the end of the day, I owe Hef nothing. I’m not going to sit here and protect him.”
“Hugh Hefner decided to date millions of girls, right?” she continued. “That’s not my responsibility. And whatever happened with him, with his relationships, that was his thing. It’s not my responsibility to protect a man for his life choices.”
Wilkinson dated the Playboy founder when she was only 18 and he was 77. She lived with him and his many other girlfriends at the Playboy mansion for around five years. She told the publication that her time there created layers of trauma that she’s still working through.
With the help of a therapist, the former reality star has been processing her “deep regret” from that period of her life, saying she fell into the relationship because she hated herself.
Kendra Wilkinson went on to marry former NFL star Hank Baskett in 2009. The couple had two children but divorced ten years later. She eventually hit rock bottom this past September when she was hospitalized with anxiety and depression.
Kendra Wilkinson Feels Like She ‘Just Pressed a Rebirth’
Today, Wilkinson understands that Playboy “messed up her whole life.”
“It’s not easy to look back at my 20s,” she continued. “I’ve had to face my demons.”
After Hugh Hefner’s death, dozens of women came out with accusations against him, which brought people back to Kendra Wilkinson looking for answers. Re-hashing her history made her mental well-being unsteady.
“Do you know how many people were putting pressure on me to stick up for Hef with all his allegations and all this stuff? That’s not my responsibility to stick up for someone like that,” she said. “That’s what started triggering me because people were like, ‘Well, why don’t you stick up for him?’ And I had a marriage to my ex-husband and now two kids to focus on now, not Hugh Hefner.”
Kendra Wilkinson is continuing to process her decades-long pain, but she’s moving forward with a real estate career and focusing on her children.
“I have so much good in front of me,” she noted. “I have two of the most amazing kids who are good, solid human beings, and I feel like I just pressed a rebirth. Whatever that hurricane I was part of is in the far distance now.”