Well, watching Brooke Cleal get dumped on national TV on The Bachelor Australia finale was brutal. I don’t know how else to describe it and I shan’t ever watch it again.

We chatted to Brooke about her turbulent time on The Bachelor Australia, including her decision to return to the mansion following the passing of her grandad, as well as her final goodbye with Jimmy Nicholson.

PEDESTRIAN.TV: Did you watch last night’s episode?

Brooke Cleal: No, I didn’t watch it.

PTV: That’s totally fair. How are you feeling?

BC: I’m feeling good. I think if I watched it I wouldn’t have been able to do anything today. I wouldn’t have been able to get out of bed, but right now, I’m feeling pretty good, pretty positive. But look, it changes pretty quickly for me. So, yeah, I suppose that’s been the whole rollercoaster of this whole experience.

PTV: How did you find the overall experience?

BC: So the three months of actually living it and filming it was the best three months of my life. I was always happy and smiling and there were just so many jokes and banter, I loved all the girls. But then, actually watching it and coming off it has been very tricky for me. And that’s where it’s been – that’s where I’ve had some of my lowest points, I think. But, you know, it was such an emotional rollercoaster and I could even see that watching it back. Some episodes I could watch and some episodes I’m like, ‘Nup, nope, nope – not watching it. I know it’s going to be cringe as hell.’

PTV: So your decision to come back to the mansion – was that Jimmy asking you, or was that 100 per cent your decision?

BC: Yeah, look, that’s a good question, and I think that’s been the one on a lot of people’s’ lips, hasn’t it? But, you know, I was told from the show that, “It’s up to you, you can come back.” So they had given me the opportunity to come back and the chats I had with Jimmy, he did say to me, “I’m going to be really disappointed if you don’t.” And that kind of thing, so he sort of made me feel very hopeful about coming back. But I was in a terrible headspace when I came back home, like I wasn’t processing things as normally, I had brain fog – all that stuff. And so, it took a lot of courage to go back, for me. Like, I really had to build myself up for that and it wasn’t easy, but after about two and a half weeks I made the decision to go back. It was two days after my grandpa’s funeral and I felt like I had closure in that part of my life, but I didn’t have any closure with Jimmy, at all.

And Mum sat me down and she pretty much said to me, “You’re going to be asking yourself what if, what if, what if? for the rest of your life if you don’t go back and that will haunt you.”

When I went back, it was hard. Cliques had formed, memories were formed, the girls were protective over their connections with Jimmy – it instantly put me as an outsider, you know? Yeah, it was hard. I lost a lot of time – three weeks in the mansion is like three years.

PTV: Were you happy with the way you were portrayed?

BC: Parts that they showed were really, like – parts of me were really me. I do say a lot of cringey things here and there, I’m a little bit unhinged at times. I think, you know, it’s hard because they sort of portray me as as a ‘clinger’ and like a huge ‘stage-five clinger’ and I kind of was like, “Why? Because I have an opinion and I want to work things out?”

I wanted to work through this relationship, I had questions and it’s like as soon as you start acting that way, you’re the stage-five clinger.

PTV: You were talking about closure before, by the end of the experience did you feel like you did receive closure from Jimmy? 

BC: The funny thing is, generally when someone dumps you, you don’t ever have to look at their face again. Watching parts back I did try and watch for things, red flags and doubts that he had. But honestly, watching it back I was like, “I just can’t see it!” Like, he gave me nothing in terms of giving a sign, apart from when he was at my hometown and he said that really sad line, where it’s like, “Brooke can make me happy, but can I make her happy?” And I was like, “FAR OUT! Why didn’t you tell me this stuff?”

But look, I did get closure because I asked all the questions I wanted to ask. I was nothing but authentic and true to myself. I stood up for what I believe in, no matter how much controversy that might have caused and he knew exactly everything about how I felt, right to the end. And my closure was that it wasn’t meant to be. He couldn’t do life with me and that was enough for me to be like, “You’re not my man and that’s fine with me.”

PTV: How has the social media reaction been?

BC: I mean, it’s been very mixed. And I get that. Look, the thing is that in this environment, and this situation, as soon as you start speaking up and having opinions, people have opinions too. And that’s fine. But look there has been some unkind things said and like, you know, they’ve commented on my appearance, my voice, everything, but it’s just the risk you take when you’re vulnerable on television and going on reality TV. And with my vulnerability, that was completely scrutinised. And it’s like – what, as soon as a woman starts standing up for herself and starts expressing herself, that’s seen as like, “Oh my god, what a clinger!” I take risks when it comes to love! I completely put myself out there in hopes it would pay off. Even when I walked away from that finale, one thing I can say is that I gave it everything. I gave the whole experience everything.

And also, when you’re living it in the moment, you’re not really conscious of what the public would think of you. You’re just in the moment with Jimmy all the time, you know?

PTV: Was there anything else you wanted to add that we haven’t talked about yet? 

BC: I mean, what’s come out a lot is the fact that I am codependent and that a lot of people have centred on that. One thing I want to put across is that I am an OT [occupational therapist], like I enable independence for people and I maximise that in their lives. So I am an independent woman, but what I was trying to say is that in my relationships, I like to be close to my partners. I like quality of time and that was amplified to the max, you know [laughs]. I’m just aware of my needs and what fulfils me.

Stream The Bachelor Australia on 10 play now.

Image: Network 10