It’s not exactly a controversial statement at this point to say that Clayton Echard wasn’t an especially beloved lead on The Bachelor.
But here’s the thing, Clayton himself now admits:
He didn’t exactly love being The Bachelor, either!
Earlier this week, Echard shared the following photo of himself on Instagram, explaining to followers that it was snapped by Susie Evans one day before the pair filmed ABC’s After the Final Rose special.
"In this moment, I was at rock bottom," the reality star captioned the snapshot.
"I knew what was coming and realized my reality was much further from what I had ever expected. As I looked out the window, I questioned who I was? What had I become?
"Where did everything go wrong? Why me?"
Echard came under extreme fire as The Bachelor.
He told two women (Gabby and Rachel) that he loved them, slept with each in the Fantasy Suite… and then dumped them both simultaneously after he learned he still has a chance with Evans.
Susie actually turned down Clayton’s advances on the season finale, only to get back in touch with him weeks after shooting concluded.
On the aforementioned special, Evans and Echard revealed to the world that they’re seriously dating, with plans to live together.
Continued Echard in his emotional post:
"6 months prior, I was standing outside as the first limo pulled up and kept thinking to myself how I was so lucky to be in this position as The Bachelor.
"6 months later, I was staring out this window wondering how much worse things could get.
"But as I’ve reflected back on it all now since being out of the spotlight, I’ve had the ability to see what I couldn’t see before.
"I was too busy trying to defend my actions and my character, instead of accepting full responsibility for not only what I had done, but for who all I hurt."
Throughout the season, Echard faced harsh criticism from viewers and even from his contestants for some of the decisions he made… including keeping Shanae Ankney around after numerous suitors told him about how she acted when he wasn’t around.
On the After the Final Rose episode, Gabby accused Echard of “clearly pitting” the women against each other, while Rachel said she thought he told her that he loved her just so she would sleep with him.
We can’t say for certain if that’s accurate or not.
But Clayton now admits that he messed up. Big time. On multiple occasions.
"I feel that I finally have learned my lesson," he wrote on Monday, adding:
"I hurt people. Sure, I didn’t have any intention of doing so and ‘did what I thought was best by following my heart,’ but I still hurt people.
"Perception is reality and regardless of intention, the results of our actions hold the most weight.
"So, through therapy and other means of self-reflection, I have been able to finally see the reality of what all I had done."
Added Clayton, who recently shot down rumors that he cheated on Evans:
"I never forget to give myself grace, as we all should do for ourselves. But I am a work in progress and always will be.
"Because perfection is impossible to obtain, but we can all be better than we were the day before. So that’s what I’ll continue to strive to do."
The forrmer football player concluded as follows, thanking his fans and writing:
Without you all and your support and constructive criticism, I would still be focused on defending my character, instead of building upon it.
I would still be coming up with explanations that fit my narrative, instead of working to understand "the other side."
And I would still be looking out that window, wondering who I really am. But I now know … and for that, I am finally at peace.