How ‘RHOC’ Star Shannon Beador Found a ‘New Identity’ After Divorce (Exclusive)

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“Single Shannon is here!”

Shannon Beador isn’t shy about announcing her “new identity,” as she calls it. The Real Housewives of Orange County star returns for season 13 of the Bravo show for the first time as a single woman, and she’s fully embracing her new life.

“I think that I've always been kind of a fun person, but I feel like I'm back, so to speak. And, you know, I'm in control of myself,” the 54-year-old reality star tells ET. “I get to make my own decisions and I'm excited about that.”

Shannon tearfully confessed that she and her husband, David Beador, were splitting up after 17 years of marriage during RHOC’s season 12 reunion. The announcement came after years of trying to rebuild the relationship, following an extramarital affair by David. Shannon admits she “lost a part” of herself during that time.

“I was a big proponent of, you know, keeping my marriage together and now that we aren't together, as unfortunate as it is, especially for my children, it is the best and only decision,” she now shares. “I would never want to go back to that marriage. I think that I'm very happy today and I'm blessed and grateful for everything that I have right now, and the people in my life, so it's all good.”

Shannon says she took six months off from life, not even going out to dinner with her girlfriends, in order to learn to love herself again.

“I didn't go out once,” she says. “[I] just kind of stayed to myself and it was miserable, and it was painful, but I felt I needed to go through something like that, to know in the end that I can stand on my own two feet.”

“I learned that I'm a strong person,” she adds. “I always kind of felt that I couldn't do anything by myself or on my own, and I'm kind of proud of where I've come so far.”

Shannon describes her relationship with David today as “not a good one.”

“But that's OK,” she says. “Hopefully someday we'll be in a better, amicable position. We tried, that was the intention. It didn't end up that way, but you know, we're hopeful … If it happens, it happens. If not, I'll be OK.”

Still, Shannon admits she’s not mad at David anymore. Near the end of her half-year break, Shannon faced her ex in court (their divorce is still not finalized), and she realized something had changed.

“I didn't even feel anger toward him,” she recalls. “I just felt like, [nothing] you know? I didn't really feel much, which is crazy after you spend almost 20 years with somebody.”

It was at that point that Shannon realized she was really ready to move on with her life and start dating again. David had started dating much earlier, something which will be addressed this season on The Real Housewives of Orange County.

“I mean, it's not like I want to hop back into a serious relationship,” Shannon notes of getting back out there. “I did date one person, it didn't work out, but I'm open to dating. I'm excited about it. It's kind of fun.”

Shannon says her daughters have mixed feelings about seeing their mom with a new guy, but also realizing that it is inevitable. As for what she’s looking for in a partner, Shannon’s checklist is pretty simple.

“Sense of humor, easygoing, really in love with me,” she shares, with a laugh. “I don't have, like, the Vicki Gunvalson checklist. I just want someone that respects me and respects out relationships, whatever that may be.”

Viewers will see Shannon date on season 13 of RHOC, as well as bond even closer with co-star Kelly Dodd, who’s going through a divorce of her own. The two have very different outlooks on divorce, though.

“It's a nice support system to have, but yes, I'm very old-fashioned and old school, and you know, I don't -- I think it would be difficult to date more than one person,” Shannon says. “But she's like, 'You need a bench! Recruit a team!' So, it's funny to see us play off each other, 'cause we're just at such opposite ends.”

Shannon sums up the new season as one of “growth” for her, and she’s excited for the fans to see her come out of this dark time stronger than ever.

“You're gonna see me go through these changes, and it's not always positive and fun,” she says, but adds that she finally found “peace” with herself.

The Real Housewives of Orange County airs Mondays at 9 p.m. ET on Bravo.

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