Lynette Rice
October 30, 2012 AT 04:26 AM EDT

A troubled ex-lover, drug addiction and country music don’t really scream rumba time but that didn’t stop Sabrina Bryan from combining the disparate worlds during Monday’s installment of Dancing with the Stars. The Cheetah Girl earned a perfect 30 with partner Louis van Amstel while dancing to Hunter Hayes’ “Wanted” while remembering an old boyfriend.

“It was incredible,” Bryan told reporters afterwards. “This dance was something that I was so nervous to do and I didn’t know what really they were going to add into the package.  I told them about my own personal experience and it’s hard to let things like that happen and let things out there for people to judge or whatever.  I was nervous but more than anything I was excited to do this dance with Louis because he’s such an incredible teacher and I was so excited learning this dance.”

And what of the old beau? Bryan did text him about her plans to dance for his life. (She didn’t reveal his identity.) “He will always be somebody I really care about,” Bryan said. “He’s married and is five years sober, he has a baby and he has really pulled himself together, which is awesome.  I’m really proud of him and I know he supports me and everything and I’ve moved on to an incredible relationship.  That’s kind of what the storyline was—it wasn’t necessarily what I went through in that relationship but what happened to me after and the relationship I’m in now, the giving and the taking and wanting to love again but being too scared and finally giving in and my boyfriend right now is incredible.

“Last season I never, ever exposed anything like that,” she continued. “This was something I was really fighting with the last season I was on. It [tonight] was more of a celebration of working through an obstacle for me and going through such a tragic situation with my ex-boyfriend. For me, it was a representation of how amazing and how grateful I feel to be at the place I am now, five years later.  And I’m back on the show, it feels like a new experience, and it just feels incredible to be here.  It’s such a happy place that I’m really blessed.”

As for that nifty manuever where Bryan was hoisted between her partner’s legs after performing the splits, Bryan credits Van Amstel’s fine reputation on the dance circuit. “Louis had an incredible partner he competed with. That split thing is something they’re known for and no one’s ever done it on this show and I was so nervous to mess that up so to get those amazing scores and such great feedback from not just the judges but the cast—when I went up to the skybox, it was, I feel so incredibly lucky to be here.” — With reporting from Carole Glines

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