NeNe Leakes finally made her first appearance in season 12 of The Real Housewives of Atlanta on Sunday — though the reality star was in a much better space than she was when viewers last saw her.
“I am definitely not the same NeNe as I was last year,” NeNe, 51, said in the episode.
Much of that had to do with the fact that NeNe’s husband, Gregg Leakes, was finally cancer-free after a grueling battle with stage 3 colon cancer that nearly ended their marriage.
“Before Gregg got diagnosed with cancer, we were already in a tough place,” NeNe recalled. “It was probably the worst thing we’ve been through.”
NeNe had struggled in the caretaker role, as documented on RHOA‘s 11th season. “I’m just not good. I’m not good at fluffing the pillow; I’m good at buying the pillow,” she told PEOPLE at the time.
She also said his illness had caused strain in their marriage. “He’s changed as a person, his attitude changed,” NeNe said. “I feel like that day, I lost my husband. Our whole dynamic changed. Sometimes I forget that he’s sick and I need to remind myself because he’s so on the edge. He’s not nice, but he can’t help it.”
Now, though, it seems all is on the mend.
On Sunday’s RHOA, NeNe said that her relationship with Gregg was “healing from the cancer journey.”
Also hopefully on the mend? Her friendships with some of her RHOA costars.
“I’ve been working with a spiritual advisor,” NeNe said. “She helps me with not just my personal relationship with my husband, but with my girlfriends, how to move forward.”
Moving forward wouldn’t be easy for NeNe and former best friend Cynthia Bailey. The two had a massive falling out after Bailey invited rival Kenya Moore to the season 11 finale party — a move NeNe insists was meant to be deceitful.
“Cynthia and I’s falling out is very different than me having any falling out [with] any other girl in this group because we were very close,” NeNe said on Sunday. “So my fear is our friendship will never be the same.”
Gregg’s advice? “Own up to what your involvement was,” he said. “Own up to that.”
NeNe agreed. “I know I’ve been petty,” she said. “I’m in a different head space now.”
Unfortunately, RHOA viewers on Sunday didn’t get to see any sort of reconciliation between NeNe and Bailey, 52. The two came face-to-face for the first time at the end of the episode, but the moment was cut off.
However, since filming ended, both have told PEOPLE that they’re currently cordial, though not nearly as close as they once were.
“We’ve had too long of a relationship to actually be in the same space and not speak,” NeNe said earlier this month. “I think that would be very immature of us, considering we thought of each other as sisters. I think that we both just — we’re grown enough to know that we can speak in a situation.”
“We will always be in the same circle, we just won’t be what we were, which was, we talked on the phone every day, all day. We hung out — that will never, ever happen again. Not on my watch, at least,” she added. “It just won’t ever be that way again.”
Bailey said something similar during an appearance on PeopleTV’s Reality Check last week. “My relationship is what is it,” she said.
The Real Housewives of Atlanta airs Sundays (8 p.m. ET) on Bravo.
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