Hannah Brown is opening up like never before. On Tuesday, the former Bachelorette released God Bless This Mess, a memoir that covers everything from her childhood to her life today.
A family tragedy and a major health scare are among the most shocking parts of the book, which also provides insight into her past and current relationships with the likes of Tyler Cameron and Peter Weber.
“There are going to be so many things in life that you’re going to be like, ‘How did I get here? How am I in this situation? How am I in this mess?'” Hannah told ET of what she wants people to take away from the book. “I think taking a moment to look back on all those moments that you wondered why, to really find what you’ve learned from that, what you’ve gained, find that internal wisdom and message, you can find that from any mess that you’ve had in your life if you just take a moment to look at it from a different perspective.”
Keep reading for the 9 biggest bombshells in God Bless This Mess, which is out now.
Her Aunt and Cousins Were Murdered When She Was 6
On May 11, 2001, Hannah’s 34-year-old paternal aunt, Alisa Taylor, and her two cousins, Trent, 4, and Robin, 7, were murdered in their home. As Hannah recalls, she knew something was amiss when her dad, Robert, told her that he had to miss her dance recital “to go help your Aunt LeeLee.”
A couple of days later, Hannah’s mom, Susanne, told her and her younger brother, Patrick, that their aunt and cousins “are now your angels in Heaven.”
When Hannah pressed, not content with her mom’s explanation, Susanne told her, “A bad man came to their house and hurt them. God didn’t want them to hurt anymore, so they went to Heaven where they could not feel it.”
It wasn’t until years later, when Hannah looked up the case on the internet, that she learned the full story. Wilson Robitaille, a man who had done remodeling on her aunt and uncle’s house, had come there intending to steal money. Alisa caught him in the act, and he proceeded to stab her and both of her children to death.
Robitaille was convicted of the triple murder in 2002, and is currently on death row.
“Coming that close to something so awful, so terrifying — it was a turning point for me,” Hannah writes. “It changed everything. I was no longer living in the innocence of an untouched childhood.”
After the murders, Hannah frequently awoke in the night out of fear and anxiety. Her parents didn’t believe in therapy, so they “just dealt with it, as a family.” She has since been diagnosed with narcolepsy, and, to this day, feels “tired pretty much all the time.”
She Had a Cancerous Tumor at Age 11
When Hannah was in the fifth grade, she began to have intense stomach pain. Doctors first diagnosed her with IBS and suggested she change her diet, but the pain didn’t subside.
Eventually, doctors discovered an egg-sized tumor on her pancreas. It was pancreatic cancer. The malignant tumor had yet to rupture, though, and doctors told Hannah and her parents that they could get it all with a surgery.
While her parents “were scared” about the diagnosis, Hannah did not feel fearful.
“It’s so hard to explain how, but I just knew deep down that I was going to be okay,” she writes. “I knew deep down that God had a plan for me, even though my purpose was still to be revealed.”
Hannah had such faith, she writes, that she was the one to comfort her parents as she headed into surgery. Doctors were able to get all of Hannah’s tumor and she did not have to undergo chemotherapy or radiation.
She Didn’t Dream of a Love Like Her Parents’
While Hannah would grow up to be known for her love life, as a child she didn’t fantasize about finding a husband and getting married.
“Whenever I found out that my much-older sister or my babysitters had a boyfriend, it made me sad,” Hannah writes. “I didn’t understand why they needed a boyfriend… It didn’t seem like a fairy tale come true to me.”
That could be due to her parents’ relationship, which Hannah labels as “toxic at times.”
“I don’t want the kind of marriage my parents have,” she writes. “I appreciate that they love each other, and they’ve stuck it out and done everything they could to make it work, and I know they always worked as hard as they did to support my brother and me. But I could see — even from a very young age — that their relationship could be toxic at times.”
“The ugly truth,” Hannah continues, “is that their marriage consisted of a lot of built-up resentment, a lot of fighting, a lot of harsh words and threats of leaving that they yelled at each other in the middle of the night, using language that I would never, ever want to hear in my own marriage. It’s bad enough that I had to hear it as a little girl, hiding in my bedroom.”
Her mom, Hannah writes, “didn’t have her own freedom” and was “stuck” in her marriage, because she was a stay-at-home-mom and wasn’t earning a paycheck. That situation inspired Susanne to teach Hannah to be “independent” so she wouldn’t have to “depend on a man.”
She Knew Her Husband Wasn’t on The Bachelorette Just Hours Into Filming
After appearing on Colton Underwood‘s season of The Bachelor, Hannah was tapped to be the next Bachelorette. She was hopeful about finding her husband as the lead of the season, but, on night one of filming, Hannah became convinced that her person wasn’t one of the men who was there to meet her.
“My first night on The Bachelorette, right after meeting all the guys who were there to be my suitors, I wondered whether one of them might turn out to be my husband — and I sat there thinking, ‘I don’t think he’s here. I don’t think he’s here at all!'” Hannah writes.
Hannah had always believed in the idea that she’d “just know” that a person was for her the moment she met them, and it’s not a feeling she got from any of the men on The Bachelorette.
She “felt a little spark” with Tyler during their first interaction, and likewise felt a connection to Peter, Jed Wyatt, and Luke Parker after they exited the limo. None of it was enough, though, for Hannah to believe that she’d met the one.
“When the guys were all inside… that’s when I thought, ‘I don’t think he’s here,'” she writes.
Nevertheless, Hannah continued on with the show, because she felt pressure not to disappoint people and to help to create a great season. All the while, though, Hannah felt that she had to “almost force myself to feel true feelings for men whom I didn’t have much more than a little crush on.”
She did that so much, she writes, that she eventually came to believe that her initial intuition was wrong.
“At the beginning, when I couldn’t see my husband in the room, I thought, ‘Okay, I’m going to have faith,'” she writes. “And, at some point down the line, the more I got to know the guys, the more I convinced myself there was really was something there with the men I chose going into the final four.”
Something Felt Off When Jed Proposed
Hannah’s final four men ended up being Peter, Jed, Luke and Tyler. Though Hannah had initially promised herself that she wouldn’t sleep with any of her men during Fantasy Suites, she had a memorable overnight in a windmill with Peter, and then had sex with Jed during their date, too.
Though Hannah writes that sex with Jed “wasn’t as good as it was with Peter,” it was during her overnight with the musician that she decided Jed was the man for her.
She still had dates with Luke and Tyler, though. When Luke tried to “shame” Hannah for sleeping with other men, he sealed his own fate. The accusation touched a sore spot for Hannah, whose college boyfriend had once acted similarly.
Though Hannah writes that Tyler “grabbed my attention” physically, they did not have sex in their Fantasy Suite. The did, however, develop their emotional connection, so much so that Hannah sent Peter home, and was left with Tyler and Jed as her final two.
Jed’s southern background and professed faith “felt safer” to Hannah than her connection to Tyler, and thus, that’s the man she picked.
“I sent Tyler home about forty minutes before Jed was scheduled to arrive. I hated it. We had all this potential that hadn’t been fully explored yet, but there just wasn’t time,” she writes. “According to the signs and the experiences I’d had over those crazy eight weeks, Jed was the guy who I thought could give me a life I wanted.”
Jed proceeded to get down on one knee to pop the question, but it wasn’t the fairy tale it appeared to be on TV.
“He got down on one knee and pulled out a ring, and I thought, ‘No. I can’t. This isn’t what it is supposed to be like,'” she recalls. “I said yes anyway… My smile was not a lie. I wanted to be with Jed. I was excited to have more alone time with him. I thought I loved him. I did. But even as we hugged and kissed each other, as the goats ran out on that beautiful hillside in that gorgeous setting and everything looked so perfect, I kept thinking, ‘This doesn’t feel the way I know love feels.'”
Hannah pushed past her concerns, figuring that everything would “just take time” to sort itself out. Signs that it wouldn’t followed, though.
She soon found out that Jed’s full name was Jared, something she hadn’t known, which made her “question whether any of this was real.” Next, she realized that their engagement had fallen on the same date of her aunt and cousins’ murders. Then, came the news of Jed’s girlfriend.
Jed was “constantly changing his story,” Hannah writes, when first confronted with news that Haley Stevens was claiming that he was in a relationship with her when he went on the show. Though she initially “took him at his word” that things had ended, texts and photos eventually surfaced that made it too hard to deny the truth.
“I felt so ashamed and just plain stupid for falling for the same old thing from another guy. By misrepresenting his intentions, he’d stolen the chance I had to find love with Tyler, or maybe with Peter,” she writes. “It was unfair to them. It was unfair to every single guy who came on that show with true intentions.”
The pair split and didn’t see each other until the After the Final Rose special, which Hannah writes was “as awkward as it looked.” During that chat, Jed said that he hadn’t seen his relationship with Haley as “exclusive” and that he had “ended it in my heart, not verbally.” Though he still professed feelings for Hannah, she realized that “there were no lingering feelings there at all.”
She Eventually Decided to End Her Friendship With Tyler Cameron
While feelings for Jed didn’t linger, the same can’t be said about Tyler. Fans were delighted when Hannah asked Tyler out for a drink during ATFR, but what they didn’t know was the pair had already been chatting before the reunion special. Hannah, she writes, had come to believe that Tyler was the guy she was “supposed to be with.”
Soon after ATFR, Hannah invited Tyler to her apartment so they could speak privately. The night was “awkward” at the start, but eventually they opened up about their remaining feelings for each other and kissed… just kissed.
“We were pretty hot and heavy there for a while, and a part of me was ready to open myself up to him completely. But then he stopped. He stopped… which made me fall for him all the more,” she writes. “We slept together in my bed, and I mean that all we did was sleep.”
When Tyler went to leave the next morning, paparazzi snapped photos of him and Hannah saying goodbye to each other, but the pair “laughed it off.”
Two days later, Tyler called Hannah to confirm that they were not exclusive. She expressed that she had wanted to date only him, but he got off the phone quickly with promises to call her back. The next morning, photos of Tyler out with Gigi Hadid surfaced.
“Tyler met up with a supermodel after getting off the phone with me. This wasn’t a TV show. This wasn’t some game,” Hannah writes. “My time with Tyler at my apartment wasn’t some meaningless hookup, the way it was portrayed in the press. My heart was on the line. And he broke it. With a supermodel.”
Eventually, Tyler did call, but only to tell Hannah, “You got to date thirty guys, so I’m gonna date around and see if I still want to be with you.”
“We were both going through these nightmares at the same time, and we seemed to be able to lean on each other,” Hannah writes. “The weight of what was happening was just so much more important than any of the problems we’d had. Our hearts rose above the mess of it all when it mattered most.”
Hannah later attended Tyler’s mother’s celebration of life, and he floated the idea of quarantining together amid the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. She agreed, thinking she’d be there a few days, but she ended up staying almost a month.
Tyler and Hannah, who were also quarantining with Matt James and others, documented the experience on social media, and the flirty posts made fans think they were rekindling their romance. In actuality, though, the whole thing was shrouded in confusion.
“We slept in the same bed for twenty days, and he never tried to kiss me or anything… After a while, he started treating me like I was just annoying. Like he didn’t want me around. Some days, he wouldn’t even talk to me,” Hannah writes. “… There were moments when it felt like Tyler and I were going to be more than friends… And then he wouldn’t talk to me the whole next day.”
Hannah eventually figured out how to get home to Alabama, and, besides a text from Tyler making sure she made it home safely, she didn’t hear from him for a week. While the pair tried to maintain their friendship, even making a YouTube video about their time in quarantine, Hannah writes that it “just got so weird.”
“I had to get honest with myself: even though I saw the good in him, my relationship with Tyler was not good for me. I realized we were on two different paths, and while I supported him on his, I wasn’t gonna do it at the cost of mine,” she writes. “No matter how much we talked, and connected, I always felt like his bench girl. Like I was the backup player who never got to play in the game. I was the girl he would confide in. He told me I was the only girl he could talk to for hours and hours on the phone. But my vulnerability and availability seemed to get used only when it was convenient for him, in between me watching him go out with other girls in public.”
Hannah soon decided to tell Tyler that she “couldn’t really be friends with him anymore.”
“‘It just hurts me too much,’ I said. ‘I just need some space. Maybe down the line we can try it again.’ That happened about six months before I sat down to write this page in my book — and I haven’t heard from him since,” she writes. “His last poetic words to me were, ‘Well… if you rock with me, you rock with me. If you don’t, you don’t.’ I wish I was making that up.”
She Hooked Up With Peter Weber After His Season of The Bachelor
While Hannah sent Peter home on The Bachelorette, her feelings for him didn’t disappear overnight. She was questioning her decisions as her relationship with Jed crumbled, when producers asked her to appear on the first episode of Peter’s season of The Bachelor. She did so reluctantly, still under contract, and “literally had a panic attack” when she arrived.
Producers called on her again shortly thereafter, this time to host one of Peter’s dates. Her hosting duties left her in tears, and Peter left his date to check on her.
“Peter offered to quit the show if I’d take him back. ‘If you can say without a doubt that you want to be with me, I’ll quit the show,’ he said. I couldn’t say that. I didn’t know if I truly wanted to be with him. I didn’t want to make a decision that would affect his life so deeply in that moment,” Hannah writes. “… None of this made any sense, and I wasn’t ready to make another big decision. I had to trust my heart there. I had to put an end to it.”
So Peter went on with his season, which ended with an engagement to Hannah Ann Sluss. Their relationship didn’t last, though, and they broke up before the season even began airing. As he struggled with his breakup, Peter called Hannah to catch her up on his life and failed relationship.
Shortly thereafter, Hannah and Peter saw each other at a party. They couldn’t be seen together, because Peter’s season of The Bachelor was still airing on TV, so they snuck out and Peter drove them away. They ended up at Peter’s house, which is the home he shares with his parents.
“His mom was still awake when we got back… Peter just went upstairs and went to bed and left me there with his mom! His mom said I should just spend the night, and offered me Peter’s brother’s room,” Hannah writes. “… I crawled into Peter’s brother’s bed, and a few minutes later, Peter texted me: ‘Come cuddle.’ I lay there in the bed, hitting my head against the pillow, like, ‘Hannah, what are you gonna do? Don’t do it!’ But I did it.”
While Hannah writes that she “didn’t go there expecting us to have sex,” they did just that. The experience “wasn’t good,” unlike their infamous windmill encounter.
“I thought we were reconnecting. I was lonely. But it wasn’t right. Our connection wasn’t the same as it used to be,” she writes. “He wasn’t as caring in bed. It was awkward to have to be quiet, knowing his parents were basically down the hall. The sex didn’t last very long, and afterward, we both rolled over and fell asleep.”
Afterward, he called her and confessed his lingering feelings for his runner-up on The Bachelor, Madison Prewitt. He and Madison went on to date briefly, before calling it quits.
She and Alan Bersten Had a ‘Volatile’ Relationship During ‘DWTS’
Amid the drama in her love life, Hannah was tapped to compete on Dancing With the Stars. She saw the opportunity as a way to combat the anxiety and depression she was feeling in the wake of The Bachelorette, and jumped at the chance.
Her romantic life managed to still be a topic of conversation, though, as rumors swirled that she and her partner, Alan Bersten, were dating. That, Hannah writes, was the furthest thing from the truth.
“Off the dance floor, we were not compatible people. We performed well together, for sure, but we weren’t really compatible in the rehearsal studio, either,” Hannah writes. “We both wanted to win, but our communication styles were just totally different.”
“After sharing something really personal with Alan, there were times when he would just blow me off. He didn’t even ask about my Bachelor stuff,” she continues. “I would tell him everything whether he asked or not, so he could understand why I seemed to be crying for no reason, but he never asked me about any of it himself until a week before the finale, in mid-November, in the context of filming a scene for the show. So it felt like we were on pretty different frequencies.”
In fact, Hannah writes that she and Alan “had the most volatile relationship of the season, by far.”
“It was either we acted like best friends and true partners, or we couldn’t stand each other,” she explains. “He’d push me too far in rehearsals, and I’d say, ‘Get out of my face. I’m not doing this,’ and he’d say, ‘You’re lazy! You’re not trying!’ While I worked hard and focused on the prize, and concentrated on becoming a better dancer every day, the process itself kept bringing out the worst in me. I was emotionally unwell.”
Despite their strained partnership, Hannah and Alan ended up winning DWTS. In her memoir, Hannah shares a journal entry from the night she won the show. In it, she reflects on feeling “empty” after her big win.
“I didn’t hear them announce my name as the winner, because I was perplexed by how numb I felt. Why wasn’t I excited?” she writes. “… I was happy for the excitement and celebration Alan was feeling, but the feeling I had was ‘Well . . . I did it. What’s next?’ I hate admitting this. It shouldn’t have been that way. I worked so hard but I was so miserable. Winning and having no feeling, and still feeling defeated because the high wasn’t all you thought it would be I think is more heartbreaking than losing and feeling the sting of the defeat.”
She’s Learned a Lot Since She Sang the N-Word on Instagram Live
On May 16, 2020, Hannah “started drinking at 11 a.m. — and never really stopped.” Drinking was something she’d been doing a lot more of since coming off of The Bachelorette as “another way of avoiding big problems.” She didn’t question her increased alcohol consumption until that night, when she got on Instagram Live and sang the N-word.
“If you had asked me when I was sober, I would have told you that of course saying the N-word is wrong and not in my vocabulary,” she writes. “A white person should never say it, under any circumstances, even when singing along and it’s right there in the lyrics. But on that night, I was so drunk that I truly didn’t know I said it.”
During the Live, Hannah “reacted very defensively” when commenters began to call her out, and was in “a state of total drunken, nervous embarrassment,” she writes. The next day, the reality sunk in.
“It was so out of character, and so very wrong — all kinds of wrong. I felt sick. I started crying uncontrollably. I wanted to apologize to everyone and talk about it, but I also knew that I had stepped into something that was much bigger than I knew how to handle,” she writes. “Plus, I was in no shape to talk. I needed to fully understand what I’d done, the repercussions of it… I was filled with shame.”
She lost her endorsement deals and cried her “eyes out for days on end,” before becoming “humbled by the education that resulted from that moment.”
Hannah hired an ethnic studies professor, who led her through an “extensive personalized training” on ” the history of race, racism, and white privilege in the United States.”
“I didn’t feel as if I could have conversations about race before it happened. That’s just not something a southern Christian white girl from Alabama has any place or practice doing,” she writes. “But now? It’s not even a ‘could’ thing. It’s a ‘should’ thing. I’m trying to focus on that, and not let this moment go away.”
The experience, Hannah writes, made her want to “work to be part of the solution. To raise my voice and to help others learn from the mistake I made, which I own, and for which I am very, very sorry. I promise to try to do better for the rest of my life.”
After all the ups and downs detailed in her memoir transpired, Hannah found a therapist, who allowed her “to feel, and to grieve, and to deal with my own emotions, so I could finally move forward instead of staying stuck in the mud.”
“After a year of self-reflection, and breathing, and writing, I can honestly say I’m a changed woman. I am shocked at how little time it took to really start to change for the better,” Hannah writes. “I was so worried about taking the time I needed, and addressing my past, and so anxious about looking in the mirror, and so scared about not knowing where I was going or what came next — and it turns out that none of those things were nearly as difficult as my anxiety led me to believe.”