S3, E3: Stories from the Other Side with Guest Rachel Havekost

bookreview divorce divorceadvice divorcecoach divorcehealing divorcehelp divorcejourney divorcepodcast divorcesupport rachelhavekost thecrazyexwivesclubpodcast Jan 24, 2024
S3, E3 of The Crazy Ex-Wives Club Podcast: Stories from the Other Side with guest Rachel Havekost

Join us this week for a Stories from the Other Side. Best Selling Author, mental health advocate and divorce, Rachel Havekost shares her journey of self-discovery, personal growth and healing.

From struggling with shame to celebrating newfound freedom, Rachel shares her experiences, emphasizing solo travel's therapeutic power and the mind-body connection for overcoming trauma. Don't miss their candid discussion as they explore Rachel's book Where the River Flows and her journey to build a life filled with authenticity.

Tune in for an enlightening talk that promises to inspire change and self-acceptance.

Full Transcripts Below

Learn More About This Week's Guest: Rachel Havekost

Rachel is the bestselling author of "Where the River Flows,” “Write to Heal,” and "The Inner Child Journal." Along with her other titles, "The Self-Healer's Journal" and "The Grief Workbook," Rachel has single-handedly built an online social media presence with a combined 300k+ individuals devoted to sharing her story of recovery, de-stigmatizing mental health, and offering resources.

Her current work is centered in life after suffering: asking questions about embracing humanity, living with uncertainty, and allowing for ease after periods of strife. She is quickly amassing a readership on her Substack Publication, “The Messy Middle,” where she writes weekly newsletters about living imperfectly and showing up messy.

Recently, Rachel has completed her master’s degree in psychology, attended Harvard’s first Mental Health Creator’s Summit, given a keynote at Cadre’s inaugural wellness summit, and received praise from New York Time’s mental health journalist Ellen Barry for her memoir. She is grateful and honored to be able to share her story and support others on their journey to joyful living.




Stories from the Other Side with Rachel Havekost: FULL TRANSCRIPTS

Erica Bennett [00:00:00]:
Hey, guys. Super excited for today's guest. It is not only another beautiful stories from the other side, a wonderful transformation of someone who has gone through the process of divorce, but also just a beautiful, beautiful look at mental health, at how we think and feel about therapy. Kind of all the different pieces of our lives, of our individual personalities that create who we are and how each and every one of us are just trying to navigate this path as best we can. So let's get started. Welcome to the Crazy Ex Wife's Club, a podcast dedicated to helping women navigate the emotional journey that is divorce. I'm your host, Erica. And if you're trying to figure out life after the big d, welcome to the club.

Erica Bennett [00:00:49]:
Whether you're contemplating divorce or dealing with the aftermath or any of the many phases in between, the club has got you covered. Each week, you'll hear stories from women who have been in your shoes. This isn't about spilling tea on divorce details. This is about giving you the tools to take control of your own healing journey. Listen in weekly for advice, tips, and tools to help you move through each stage of the process. Hello. Welcome to another episode of the Crazy Ex Wives Club. I'm your host, Erica, and I am really looking forward to today's chat.

Erica Bennett [00:01:25]:
So today I have Rachel Havekost with me. She's a bestselling author of where the river flows. She's an advocate for mental health recovery and supporting others. And fellow divorce. I just crushed your book over the last, like, I don't know, I think I finished it in a week. I was like, okay, hit play. And then it was just on all the time. So welcome, Rachel.

Erica Bennett [00:01:47]:
I'm excited to chat with you today.

Rachel Havekost [00:01:49]:
Thank you so much. I am very, very happy to be here.

Erica Bennett [00:01:52]:
Yeah. So right off the bat, I am going to say we will not have enough time to talk through all of the things that I loved about this book. I just found so many points of commonality. Right. So when you talked about silence is the currency in family dynamics, I was like, oh, my God, I was raised in that family. We don't talk about things. When you talked about not knowing if the thoughts in your head are what other people are thinking and finally getting that validation that, oh, you think that, too? I'm not crazy for having that. Molding yourself into who you think you need to be so people like you, and then, oh, my gosh, the relationship with your mother, especially when you talked about having to tell her about the divorce and carry her feelings.

Erica Bennett [00:02:39]:
I was like, good Lord. I kept taking notes. I'm like, okay, and this and this and this. So it was really hard for me to pick which topics I wanted to dive deeper on, but I actually want to start with the one that you ended the book with. So at the very end of the book, you talked about finally sharing that, hey, we're getting divorced. And when you made that post, people showed up with their like, oh, good riddance and his loss and all these comments that people like to make about celebrating the fact that it's over. And it's been one of the things that I really don't like, but I haven't talked a lot about because it's so trendy right now. People want to hop on this bandwagon about trashing the x and like, you're such a good person and thank God you got out, when the reality is that there's still a lot of loss and it still sucks. And so I loved when you started to talk about that.

Rachel Havekost [00:03:37]:
Yeah, I feel emotional, just like, hearing you reflect that back to me because I remember how isolating it felt to talk to people about going through a divorce because the feedback I kept getting was, oh, that's great, or, oh, you must be so much happier now, or, let's get you over that asshole, and we'll find you somebody better. All it made me feel like was, you want to erase the last ten years of my life. And also this assumption that I was actually talking to somebody yesterday about this. He was asking me about, we were sharing, like, a sauna cold plunge session together, and he was asking me about my book and my writing, and I was telling him one of the hardest things that I've ever had to go through,like, I've been through a lot of mental health issues and diagnoses, but one of the hardest things I've ever had to go through was my divorce. And a lot of that is because of the narrative that when people get divorced, it means one thing, and it's for one reason that the relationship was awful and that you're better off now that you're not married. And that might be true for some people who get divorced. I'm not saying that's untrue for a lot of people and for a whole slew of people as well, that's not the case.

Rachel Havekost [00:04:45]:
That's absolutely not the case. And I think that it's interesting that we have this idea attached to divorce but not breakups. Like, when people break up, we're like, oh, my gosh, I'm so sorry. How are you? Was it mutual? Was it not mutual. How are you feeling? There's this whole sort of sympathy, empathy, compassion that comes when people break up. But when people get divorced, we immediately have this idea of what it means. I think that was really difficult for me because both of us were devastated that we got divorced. That was not what we wanted to have.

Rachel Havekost [00:05:13]:
We didn't get married hoping to not last. We got married hoping to last. We got married because we loved each other, and we wanted to love each other eternally for the rest of our lives. When we discovered that we might not be able to do that anymore, it was heartbreaking. I mean, it was absolutely devastating to look at each other and say, I love you so much, and I want this to work, but I don't know that we can do it. There was so much shame and so much failure. I felt like such a failure. And he felt the same way, too.

Rachel Havekost [00:05:43]:
And it was really difficult for us to agree that we couldn't make it work, that we were no longer a good fit for each other as a married couple. And so to try and explain that to people was really difficult and very isolating. And I'm really grateful now because I've come to a place where I don't have any shame about the fact that I've been divorced. I don't think that makes me a bad potential partner. I don't think it means that our relationship was inherently bad or either of us did anything wrong. We were two human beings doing the best we could with the information available to us on how to have a healthy relationship. I also recognize that my relationship to him is unique. It's not going to be the same as any other person's experience with divorce.

Rachel Havekost [00:06:22]:
So if someone I meet says, oh, I've been divorced, I don't assume that their experiences are like mine. I don't assume their experience was like anything but probably their own. And so instead of just making those assumptions, I get curious the same way when anyone goes through something difficult. So, yeah, that was definitely a strange phenomenon that you're saying still exists.

Erica Bennett [00:06:43]:
Yeah. I mean, when that concept of divorce parties and trashing the dress and giving you a cake that trashes the ex and good riddance and all that stuff, it really broke my heart because in my marriage ended because he had been cheating. So, in all honesty, those are the ones that everybody are like, good riddance. What a horrible human. He didn't set out to cheat either. Like, you got two people who are hurting real bad, making choices that they didn't want to make, and it led down a path and got too far down a path before it could be fixed. I was contemplating on that because after you had written that part in the book, and I was like, okay, we're very like-minded on that. And I think that there's space for other people.

Erica Bennett [00:07:28]:
There's those accounts, I see them online that kind of, like, celebrate. Like, oh, my God, I'm finally free. And thank God, I'm now happy. And yes, there's space for both. I just think that there's something so important about doing the healing work, about being curious about learning from it and sitting in some silence and some grief and sitting with your heart and figuring out what you want to take away from it, versus just, let's just chalk it up as he was bad.

Rachel Havekost [00:07:55]:
Yeah. And that kind of makes me think of two things. One is almost been four years since we got divorced. I finally now do feel free. I finally now do feel in love with my life. I finally now do believe that it was the right decision. But it took four years for me to get here. And during those four years, I was suicidally depressed.

Rachel Havekost [00:08:19]:
I relapsed in my eating disorder. I was heartbroken. I thought I was never going to be able to find love or be loved again. I didn't immediately go, finally, I'm free at all.

Erica Bennett [00:08:30]:

Rachel Havekost [00:08:30]:
I thought I was really seeped in this idea that it was going to be something I would never overcome. And so I think what you're saying, too, I think it's so real that both of those things can and are true, which is maybe at some point we find ourselves in a place where we're like, okay, yeah, I feel liberated now. And it doesn't necessarily happen at the point of disconnect. I think a lot of times, like you're saying, we have to move. We have to allow ourselves to move through the grief to refigure out Who am I? Who's my identity now that I'm not partnered with this person? What do I value on my own? What do I care about? How do I want to approach relationships in the future? What can I reflect on and learn from based on my relationships? Right? So I think that we have to allow ourselves that opportunity for that really nitty gritty, messy part that comes after. And then the second thing with the divorce party thing, it's so interesting, because one thing that I also really kind of really struck me grieving my divorce, was when someone dies, we come together to honor that death and to grieve. We come together at a funeral, or we share meals, or we sit together and we talk about the person that we've lost.

Rachel Havekost [00:09:35]:
Right. There's a very big communal community aspect, and there is some level of ceremony that happens when we lose someone to death. But when a relationship ends, there is no funeral. There's no, let's gather around a table and talk about this person together. So there's such an isolation and kind of like a drawn out experience of the grieving process, because we don't get that sort of ceremonial closure that a funeral often provides us. And I think that's so different than a divorce party. Right. And I wish that we could honor those kind of endings with the same level of care that we do

Rachel Havekost [00:10:13]:
and again, I don't mean to compare a death to a divorce. It's a completely different type of grief. It's sort of like grieving someone who's still alive, which is a very odd thing, because there's no distinct ending. And that can be really excruciating to not have that opportunity, to sort of have that closure.

Erica Bennett [00:10:37]:
So my dad had passed away of pancreatic cancer when my son was six months old, and then we separated when my son was four. So having both of those grief things very close together and not expecting all the subsequent waves of grief. Grieving when I finally really lost contact with the extended family because I was carrying, because we have a son together, so those lines are going to continue to cross. Right. But being like, oh, no, this is like, I have to let them go, too. I wish them well, but I have to let them go. And these grief waves that kept coming that you don't expect, and it needs some time. I wish the divorce parties, which is why that podcast is set up the way it is. I wish that what they celebrated was the transformation of that woman who has walked through fire and came out on the other side versus celebrating

Erica Bennett [00:11:28]:
he's such an asshole. Thank goodness he's gone, because it is a big thing. And that was another key concept from your book, was the sense making, to be able for me to get through that process, to start to feel like my feet are underneath me. I did the same thing. I spent a lot of years trying to figure out, why did this happen? What do I need to learn from this? How can I change this? Or how can I control this? Because for two years we were separated, and I was fighting for it, for our son, and I was trying to figure out all the pieces. But you talked a lot about sense making in the book and the search for it, really. The elusive search for it.

Rachel Havekost [00:12:06]:
Yeah. In retrospect, I have no regrets. I can't change the past. So it is what it is. And I do believe that I spent more time than was productive for my well being in the sense making and trying to understand where did we go wrong? At what point could I have maybe done something different and altered the course of events so that this is not where I would be in this present moment? And, yeah, I spent a lot of time just trying to put the puzzle pieces together so that I could have something to hold on to because I felt so out of control, and I felt like I had nothing to hold on to. And so finding answers to why we got divorced was my way of trying to find control in a time that I felt very out of control.

Erica Bennett [00:12:51]:
Yeah. And I wonder how many people feel the same way, though, right? Because hindsight is 20/20. Once you're through it, you're like, gosh, I wish I had learned that lesson faster. I wish I had not spent two years trying to fight for it. But in the moment, that was the best I could do. Right? And I had spent all that time, similar to you, I don't regret it, It was what I needed to do,

Erica Bennett [00:13:12]:
but I try and take the lesson forward that I don't want to get stuck that long again. I did all this research on why do people cheat and the psychology of cheating, and how do you save a marriage in the 11th hour, and how do you become a better relationship? I mean, I learned a lot in that time, but it was 100% with the sole intention of trying to make sense of it so I could fix it. So I could put the puzzle back together the way that I wanted to. And the mind just likes to play games with us, like pretending it's fake. I think of every time, it's like, oh, maybe my ex was faking it all these years. Maybe that wasn't the real person that I knew. Because now this person I see here, who is this? I don't even know. Or you also talk about turning that blame internal. It's my fault.

Erica Bennett [00:14:01]:
I know. I was out to breakfast once, and a friend was like, when are you going to get mad at him? You keep talking about how it's your fault, and you were angry and you were crabby, and you were not good. You weren't the best to be around, and so therefore, you're saying that his choices were okay, and that was really eye opening. And I know you carried a lot of that same internal ownership, the shame and the blame that you could have done something different.

Rachel Havekost [00:14:27]:
Yeah, that was definitely a big theme for me. I don't know if it was a friend or if it was my mom or my therapist, maybe all three of them. I really don't know. But at some point I remember someone important in my life saying to me, when are you going to get mad at him? You've been so protective of him this whole time. Anytime someone calls him an asshole or says, like, well, he wasn't the right guy for you, you stood up for him and protected him and said, don't talk about him that way. This is someone I loved and cared about. And when you say that, it makes it seem like I made a bad decision for ten years. And I don't believe that I did, but I would.

Rachel Havekost [00:14:59]:
I would stand up for him over and over and over. And someone said to me, when are you going to get mad at him? And it doesn't have to be at him directly. You don't have to call him and be like, fuck you. I can't believe you did all this, whatever, but when are you going to let yourself feel the rage and the anger? And that was a good reflection for me because growing up, anger was not allowed. Anger was not an emotion I was supposed to feel. It was an emotion I didn't think. I felt like I would tell people in my life for years, I'm just not an angry person. And I stuffed my anger away in all different fashions.

Rachel Havekost [00:15:31]:
And I think one of the really wonderful things that came out of getting divorced was I learned how to express my anger in healthy ways. I learned to let myself have anger. I learned that a, I do have anger. It's an emotion just like all the other ones that I have to learn to accept and process and move through. And I learned how to identify it and how to name it and how to move through it and how to stand up for myself, which taught me a lot about self respect. And it taught me a lot about the ways I have not respected myself in a lot of ways in my life, specifically with men and in relationships and learning where my anger was and how to express it. It also gave me a really big reflection on what I need and what I want and what I don't want in relationships moving forward and in things that I tolerated because I just didn't think that I was allowed to feel a certain way about things.

Erica Bennett [00:16:20]:
Yeah. For me, I had, prior to the divorce, was so crabby and angry all the time that then I took the healing that I needed to not be angry, right. And so it took me a lot of years before I allowed myself to be angry again because I kind of went into the zen mode, right, of, oh, I can work through this and I can release the resistance and I can find the lining up. But I think when you find those instances where people are going through such an impact in their lives, right. And it's hurting on both sides, but when you're sitting there saying, hey, I was defending him and I was defending my ex, too. And I think that it comes from a place of deep love and respect. One thing that was so apparent throughout the book was how much you two did truly love each other and did truly try and did truly fight for trying to stay together. And I think that it just highlights that when you have that right, you can still, hey, defend him.

Erica Bennett [00:17:19]:
Don't call him an asshole. Don't do these things. I didn't want to tell people he had cheated because then I knew that they would instantly not like him. And the lesson that I had to learn was that it was okay that I could love him and be angry at him and choose to love myself more. I had started to not love myself more than I chose to love him. And that was a big shift. And I felt that in your book, too.

Rachel Havekost [00:17:46]:

Erica Bennett [00:17:50]:
High achieving, ambitious women, listen up. Hey, guys, it's Erica. And The Crazy Ex-Wives Club Cohort is calling your name. You've conquered the boardrooms, but divorce has knocked you off your game. It's time to move forward one powerful step at a time. This twelve week program with live Zoom calls and an online community is your roadmap to healing. We'll tackle mindset shifts. We'll redefine your identity and will empower you to thrive in your new normal. No more two steps back. It's time to lead again. Visit thecrazyexwiseclub.com and let's rewire your success story, because together we thrive.

Erica Bennett [00:18:17]:
One of the things that I also really loved in your book was along these lines of how apparent it was that you guys really loved each other and fought for this to stay together, but it was this beautiful unfolding of you figuring out who you are. Because one of the biggest pieces is, well, who am I now? And a lot of times we talk about it, or I talk about it in terms of, like, who am I now that I'm divorced? But what you wrote about was, hey, we did love each other, but I was learning that I didn't know who I was when I showed up for this relationship. And the more pieces of myself that I uncovered, the more I realize, like, I'm different than the person that you thought I married. And it's at no fault.

Erica Bennett [00:19:13]:
It's just that people change and they grow and they move through these transformations.

Rachel Havekost [00:19:18]:
Yeah, I just did a keynote talk at a wellness event a couple of months ago, and one of the things I talk about is how we inherently, as human beings, we have this need to belong. It's a biological survival mechanism for us to belong. And one of the reasons that we often don't experience true belonging is we fear rejection. And so to avoid this potential of being rejected, we put on masks, we hide certain parts of ourselves. We wear costumes. We pretend so that we can fit in. And Brene Brown talks about this beautifully. She says, if I have to be like you, that's fitting in.

Rachel Havekost [00:19:51]:
If I get to be me, I belong. And I spent a lot of my life trying to be like you, so I could fit in, which meant I was and so the metaphor I like to use with this is, like, imagine walking into an arena full of hundreds of thousands of people, and you're looking for a place to belong, like, you could stop at the very first group and go, okay, they're talking about Adele, and they're wearing blue. I can do that. I can talk about Adele, and I can wear blue. And then, boom, I have people, right? But over, like, let's say I don't actually really like Adele. I've never listened to, like, I really actually am kind of a purple. Like, if I start to share that part of myself with them, there's going to be shock and confusion on their end because suddenly I'm somebody else and I'm not who I said I was.

Rachel Havekost [00:20:29]:
And suddenly I feel a disconnect. And it's because I've been wearing a mask the whole time. And it takes a lot of courage to show up in a group and say, actually, I don't like any of the things you guys are talking about. These are some of the things I like. And two things will happen. One, I get rejected, or two, I experience true belonging, and I get to continue to be myself. And so I think oftentimes that fear of rejection causes us to subconsciously camouflage or mold ourselves so that we can do things that we think will allow us to experience acceptance and belonging. And then once we feel safe, once we feel like there's time that's been built and trust and intimacy, okay, now it's safe for me to be myself, and all that happens is confusion and disconnect.

Rachel Havekost [00:21:10]:
That's what happened to me a lot in my early teens, my early 20s, both in friendships and in romantic relationships. And it happened a lot with my ex husband and not completely. Like, he was one of the few people that I did feel like I could take off my masks with because he kind of could tell. He was like, I think there's some masks here, Rach. I want to see who you really are. So in a lot of ways, he did truly see me for who I was, and so I did experience a lot of true belonging with him. And I was, like, 22 when we met, and so there were parts of myself I still didn't really know yet or parts of myself that I still experienced deep shame around. And no matter how much he asked me to take those masks off, I was not going to take them off.

Rachel Havekost [00:21:50]:
And so I think over time, through therapy, through aging, through experience, I started to reduce some shame about things, about myself and wanted to kind of allow myself to come into that person and into that woman. And as I did, we noticed a rift. And the same was true for him because he was also aging and learning more about himself. And so I think it's interesting now to be on the other side of that, where I'm going to be 35 next week. I feel pretty confident in who I am and what I like and what I don't like. And I know it's going to keep changing. I'm not going to stay the same. I'm not the same as I was a year ago.

Rachel Havekost [00:22:23]:
But the older I get, the closer I come to that center of self, and the less shame I feel about all the things that are involved in that center of self. And so the fewer masks I wear, which means I immediately get rejected or I immediately belong. And I think that is information for me, because if I show up as myself and someone's like, you're not for me, then that's good information for me, because then I don't have to spend energy and time developing a relationship with someone who I'm not going to be a good fit with, whether that's romantic or friendship or otherwise. I was actually on a date last night. We were talking about this, and I kind of said to him, "the other thing, too, is like, I'm not going to be everything for everyone, but I might be something for someone." And so I also can't expect one person to like every single thing about me. And that doesn't mean I don't get to be all those things, right? And the same is true with someone who I'm with. I can't expect to like every single thing about a person, and hopefully I have enough compassion and understanding to be willing to say, you know what? There's a couple of things about you that are not for me, and 80% of it, I really vibe with.

Rachel Havekost [00:23:21]:
So also not trying to project perfectionism them onto my partners or other people and understand that we're human beings and we're not going to be perfect, and I'm not going to like everything about you, and that's okay. And I don't have to change that, right? I don't have to try and change who you are, and I wouldn't want you to.

Erica Bennett [00:23:35]:
Yeah, I definitely showed up in that first marriage and was like, okay, well, now we're supposed to love all the same things. We're supposed to do all the same things. And I got married at 28, so it's a little bit older. We had met at 24 or something, but college years. What are you doing? You're experimenting. And just like you're saying there were all these groups that I was like, oh, this is fun. I can like that. And then you know it.

Erica Bennett [00:23:59]:
If you ever go to host the party and you invite all your different friend groups over and you spend all the time trying to chameleon change yourself into fitting with the groups because the groups aren't meshing, then, you know, like, I knew then that I was like, ooh, I'm really fractured is the wrong word, but I have all of these distinct, different interests, which ones are really me and which ones are just fun? Like, I was in a car club and we were working on cars and spray painting. Painted my own car and did my own body work and rebuilt the engine. Was that great? Yeah, I loved it. Do I still work on cars? No. And so being able to test all these things, but peeling back the layers. To me, I think the deciding factor is, is it a thing that I love enough that I want to keep doing it on my own? Because if it's like, I still love it enough that I want to keep finding more people who like it or investing the time and the money into it anyways, then, hey, this is probably a pretty core piece for me that this is something that's a non negotiable. It doesn't mean the new person has to love it.

Erica Bennett [00:24:56]:
There's lots of things the new boyfriend's like, I'm not going to do not. I'm not helping you on that one. But then it is also nice because I'm like, good, you go do your thing, and I go do my thing. And then we come back, and that was a reading a book by Iyengar in yoga. I did my yoga teacher training, right, in one of the books, and somebody asked him, how do you continue to return to your wife if you're doing all this deep spiritual work, right. And elevating and elevating and elevating. And he's like, I have to make a conscious choice to continue to come back to it because we continue to morph and change and transform into something else that's part of life.

Erica Bennett [00:25:33]:
And do we continue to make active choices on how we can keep those other relationships strong? That was a big learning for me in the marriage. If we didn't build new ways to stay strong or stay connected, it just. You drift.

Rachel Havekost [00:25:49]:
Yeah, absolutely.

Erica Bennett [00:25:52]:
The other thing I wanted to chat about was trauma healing. Oh, my gosh. You brought up Bessel's book. Right? So the body keeps score. That was a big one for me. And you do have your master's degree in psychology, so you got quite a bit of studying in this area. I think that it was interesting for me because there is something that we need to change in the awareness of PTSD, right. I was like, oh, that's something that happens when people see somebody die and they come back from war, and it's this thing for other people who have had really serious things happen to them in life.

Erica Bennett [00:26:28]:
And I didn't think that it was applicable to the average person. But when I had my own experience of being at event and thinking, I'm seeing somebody in tunnel vision and hot flashes, and I couldn't think, and I couldn't catch my breath, and I go back to my therapist, and she's like, that's some PTSD. We need to send you over to EMDR and see if we can get this worked through. I don't think people understand two aspects of that. One, how much your body holds on to all of the things it doesn't process. And two, that PTSD or CPTSD, you'll be able to correct those because you're the one with the master's degree on it, but that the concept that when you experience a loss where you truly believe that your life in that manner is over, that you get stuck. Your mind creates new neural pathways to keep you safe, but that can actually hold you back from actually being able to move through the healing.

Rachel Havekost [00:27:25]:
Yeah, it's so fascinating. I think I also, when I learned the way it was sort of, like, framed, when I learned about it was like big t, little t. So, like, big trauma, little trauma, which I still sort of have some pause around, because, again, I don't like to compare people's experiences, and I know that severity does matter. And something I learned in his book was two people can experience the same traumatic event and have two different reactions to it. So a lot of it's at the time, too. It's not necessarily. It's like this weird equation of, like, it's severity of event plus the person's ability to cope with said event. Right.

Rachel Havekost [00:28:00]:
And there's a variety of reasons that we have different coping mechanisms for stressors or for traumatic events or whatever it is. You and I could both get into a car accident, like the same car accident, and I could walk away just fine. You could walk away with PTSD, and there's a variety of factors that go into that. One of them, the most obvious, is just having an already existing history of experiencing trauma, because then any experience we have of trauma or even chronic stress, because chronic stress will weaken the nervous system or put our nervous system into a state of more kind of like constant hyper vigilance. And so when we're in that state, we see things that are maybe of a lower stress level as higher stress level, and then those big things really impact us because our system is not able to move through them as easily or as readily. So I think once I started to learn more about trauma, I started to learn more about the connection between mind and body. And I think that was really valuable for me because I'm really treatment resistant. I really stubborn in therapy, and I'm real willful.

Rachel Havekost [00:29:02]:
I am. I've been in therapy for a long time, and usually, like, the first six weeks, if I'm with a new therapist or whatever, I'm just like, screw you. You can't help me. I don't want to take their advice. I don't like that they're nice to me. I show up really stubborn, and I know this about myself, and I tell therapists this and I apologize to them in advance. I'm like, look, I'm really sorry, but when I'm in therapy, this part of my brain turns on, which is like, you can't help me.

Rachel Havekost [00:29:30]:
Those are neural pathways, the protection. Yeah, exactly right. I don't want to be influenced by you, because then I lose control. I become vulnerable, and you become more powerful than me if you're able to give me influence and suggest something that could change me, even if it's for the better. Right. I want to maintain all of that control. So I know I'm aware of where it comes from, and I'm a lot better than I used to be. But what was really interesting for me is when I learned about trauma and the connection between the mind and body, I started to learn more about how our brains interpret stressful situations, how our nervous system works, how our bodies are designed to regulate not only our emotions, but the physiological parts of our bodies, and what happens when we experience stress, what happens physically in the body, what happens in the brain. And once I started to learn all those things, it was like I was given a scientific map to explain a lot of my symptoms.

Rachel Havekost [00:30:22]:
So the same way, like, when I went to group therapy for the first time and figured out, oh, I'm not alone, like, I'm not crazy. These are not just Rachel problems, like, other people deal with this. That opened me up to being more willing to lean into therapy, because then it wasn't just a me thing. It was like, there's lots of people who experience this, which means the thing that they're providing us probably does actually help, because other people have gone through it before, moved through this process, and improved. So it allowed me to kind of trust the process of therapy and talk therapy more. And then when I learned about the mind body connection and the nervous system and how the brain works with trauma and how it gets stored in the body, then I had the scientific map to lean into some of the suggestions my therapists were giving me around trauma. And a lot of it was because I was understanding how it works. It's understanding, oh, when you're teaching me how to breathe, it's not because people in yoga breathe, and then they're zen and calm? No, it's because when I exhale for longer, it activates my parasympathetic nervous system, which communicates to my brain I am safe and there is no danger, and that I am not going to die.

Rachel Havekost [00:31:24]:
So now it makes sense to me that if I extend my exhales, that's actually going to calm me down based on science. And so I loved being able to kind of learn those sides of things because I think, again, it allowed me to be more willing to try things like breath work or to try things like movement, or to try some of these other bottom up somatic approaches to working through trauma and working through my divorce, because there was a traumatic element of that loss and letting go that using my body was really effective for. So, yeah, that was a pretty eye opening experience for me. To learn about those things.

Erica Bennett [00:32:02]:
Yeah, because we don't realize, in my corporate world, before I launched my own business, we were a wellness company. So we talked about the nervous system and the parasympathetics and what you could do. And so I was aware. I was very aware. I was very aware. We had meditation teachers on site. I was teaching meditation. I was teaching breath work.

Erica Bennett [00:32:22]:
And yet the reality was that when you're in it, you don't always connect the dots, right? And so it builds. We're just a little bit stressed, and now we're a little bit more stressed, and now we're a lot of stressed until your cup is full and there's no more room in it, and then it starts to hit your body. So mine was like, my adrenals were shot, and my digestion wasn't working. Anything I ate, I was throwing up a few hours later because it just turned acidic. Like, rotted in the system turned acidic, and my body's like, get it out. I had hives. I'd eat something and I'd be fine one day, and the next day it would break out. Right. My hormones went to crap, right? Like, all of a sudden, my cycle is not right, and I'm like, there's something wrong, right? And the medical system is like, well, your tests are in the normal range.

Erica Bennett [00:33:10]:
I don't know. Are you stressed? And my answer was like, well, I'm not that stressed because it was normal for me, but it's not normal for other people. And so that whole thing of, everybody has different levels. We get that. And if you have a really high tolerance and then you put this on there, there's probably other things kicking up in your life that maybe you're not really looking at. And so when I finally moved forward from that and it took a few years, I mean, that whole internal system, it's like dominoes. You don't know which one kicks the next one, but, you know, they're all connected. So the hormones to the adrenals, to the digestion, to all the things, but you got to unravel it and start with some of these pieces.

Erica Bennett [00:33:51]:
My favorite, actually, was I do the karate chop. So, like, if you get into eft tapping, but I always do the karate chop on my hand in those five. Just five deep breaths if you're, like, feeling it, just five. To get present again, label the things around the room or tap your hand or do your breath. Give that parasympathetic just a little leg up. Just try and crack the crazy train that's running right, like my crazy train would be, you're not safe, and you need to worry, and things are going to be over, and all the stuff gets jacked up real fast.

Rachel Havekost [00:34:25]:
It does, yeah.

Erica Bennett [00:34:27]:
Did you find so other than that breathing, did you find any other mind body practices that really helped you? What are some of the other things that you liked to do that people could try?

Rachel Havekost [00:34:36]:
Dancing. Lots and lots of dancing. Dancing and shaking, my friend. So I think it was like, probably. maybe it was when we got separated, I went to an ecstatic dance, and I've never been to one before. And I'm always like, I'm at a wedding. I'm the last one on the dance floor. My shoes are breaking.

Rachel Havekost [00:34:52]:
I'm sweating. I love to dance, but in a silly, fun way. It's just fun. And so I went to this ecstatic dance in Bali, and I remember walking in and the DJ was like, okay, there's three rules. Number one, no talking. Number two, no touching. Number three, there's no right or wrong way to move. And then he started the music, and I was like, oh, cool.

Rachel Havekost [00:35:15]:
Fun. And I'm, like, dancing, trying to look all sexy and moving in certain ways. And I'm looking around me and people are like, they're moving really slow. They're just jumping and flailing their arms. Some people are laying on the ground. Other people are just kind of moving in really fluid ways. Other people are just shaking and howling. And I was like, what is happening here? And over the course of the next hour and a half, I started to just tap into what my body wanted to do instead of what I thought I was supposed to do.

Rachel Havekost [00:35:42]:
And by the end of it, I had cried, I had laughed, I had made eye contact with people that I didn't know, but felt like we had this deep connection. It was just like a really cathartic experience. When I left, I just was like, I don't understand what just happened. Why did I get so emotional and go through such a high and a low? And I had a session with my therapist, and she said, oh, yeah, no, that's probably because it's like a somatic movement and somatic healing. And I was like, what is? I'd never heard the word somatic before, right? And she kind of explained to me. She kind of started to talk to me about this, like, the mind body connection and the bottom up approaches, meaning using the body to heal the mind rather than the mind to heal the body. And she started to talk to me about how she was like, you know, if you've ever seen a dog or horse, like, after it gets startled or scared, it'll kind of, like, shake itself. Right? And that's because our bodies know how to get rid of stress hormones.

Rachel Havekost [00:36:32]:
So if I experience something stressful, then there's all these stress hormones running through me. And shaking is a way that biologically, animals, ourselves included, can kind of move those stress hormones away and through. And so literally, if I feel like I'm going to have a panic attack, if I feel like I'm going to cry, if I feel like I need to move through something, not avoid it, move through something, I get up and I shake. I either get up and I shake, like jumping, shaking my arms, asking myself, where do I feel this in my body? And trying to shake from that spot and out. Or I'll put on music and I'll ask my body how it wants to move. And that oftentimes allows me to get out of my head and stop cognitively processing. Why am I so upset? Why am I anxious? What am I anxious about? And trying to think through it. I feel through it by moving.

Erica Bennett [00:37:17]:

Rachel Havekost [00:37:17]:
So doing that as a sort of intervention in those moments has been really effective and preventatively, if I dance for like five minutes in the morning before I start my day, look in the mirror at myself, lovingly move my body, connect with my physical body, the rest of my day is so much brighter, it brings in so much joyful energy, and it allows me to connect with my bodies in ways that I have not connected with my own body for a very long time. So I found that to be one of my favorite things to do.

Erica Bennett [00:37:47]:
So as the other side of the dance floor, the one who, it's like pulling teeth to get me out there, I'm like, oh, can I just sit on my favorite bar stool in the corner and not get out there? I found it super helpful to close my eyes. So for those of you listening who are like, I don't want, because I would judge myself. I would judge my body on how I felt it was supposed to move to look sexy or to do right, like what you're supposed to do. And I realized that I wasn't connecting internally. I was external looking at myself. And so I had put on, and it actually was probably through one of the polarity, deep, feminine, dynamic sex worker programs, the crazy side, the real woo woo side, where we were like crystal pleasure wands and everything else, having conversations. That's where I first stumbled across the same similar practice.

Erica Bennett [00:38:39]:
Like, put the song on, put on a song that makes you happy. Put on a song that makes you sad. Put on a song that makes you feel angry, or put on a song that makes you feel empowered and just ask your body how it wants to move. Close your eyes or leave them open. But what does it feel like doing? How does it want to move that emotion through the body? And it was rocking my world. It makes such a huge difference, you guys. So give it a shake.

Erica Bennett [00:39:03]:
Or just bouncing. Bouncing, shaking, jumping up and down. We miss that. I was thinking about that. If you think back in the day, way back in the day before we drove all day and then sat at a desk all day and worked behind a computer all day, we had to move a lot more. We were walking out to the fields or we were out to the barn, or we had long distances to make. And that movement, that rhythmic movement, helped our body move through a lot of things that now we don't get out. Like, even I'm amazed. When I was in a corporate office, again, again wellness based, so I was 15,000, 20,000 steps a day because I'd set up two wellness walks.

Erica Bennett [00:39:45]:
If my steps are low, I'm going on a 15 minutes wellness walk at 03:00 and now I work out of my house, and if I don't make myself go, it's like 1300 steps for the day. You don't move. So got to move, got to shake, and then you always feel better. Get to the gym. And we're not talking about. At least I'm not talking about, like, don't go kill yourself. That spikes your cortisol again.

Erica Bennett [00:40:09]:
Don't go to the gym and think that you need a high impact class or a sweated out class or that you need to do a spin class. You can just go gently walk on the treadmill for 45 minutes, and you will feel that in your body.

Rachel Havekost [00:40:25]:

Erica Bennett [00:40:26]:
Well, is there any other tips as we close out our time together? If you think back over your learning journey, is there anything else that you would share with other women going through the same process?

Rachel Havekost [00:40:39]:
Have a lot of grace for yourself. Just a lot of grace and self compassion. There's no right way to grieve. There's no timeline. A lot of people ask me, how long does it take? And I can't answer that because it's different for everyone. Right. And that's frustrating because we like to know when pain is going to end. But I understand that infuriating response, and it's going to take as long as it needs to take for you.

Rachel Havekost [00:41:05]:
So don't beat yourself up if you feel like, oh, I should be over this by now, I should have moved on by now, or why do I feel like it's so easy for me to move on? Shouldn't I feel worse about this? If you can have a lot of grace and compassion for yourself and know that there's no right way to move through it, there's only the way that you do.

Erica Bennett [00:41:23]:
Yeah. And I think, I wish that I had found my confidence, my self worth sooner. But when I did find it, it was pretty rock solid by that point because it just took me a while to get really stable in it and know who it was and having that grace. I think the only thing that's consistent is we can't tell you, as two divorced women, we cannot tell you, oh, it's going to take you three years, because we both kind of talked about, hey, there's this three year mark, and I do believe there is this thing around a three year mark. But the one thing that doesn't change is you have to show up to do the work. So the more you avoid it, the more you don't look at the pain. You don't heal through the process. You don't ask yourself, what did I learn and who have I become and what do I want in my next round? Then the longer it takes to be able to move through it, because I think the reality is the pain doesn't ever go away. You just get better at handling it.

Erica Bennett [00:42:15]:
So even right now, when we're recording this, we're closer to the Christmas holiday. And I dropped my son off this week and I saw his dad get up through the window and walk to the door to let him in. And I was sad. I was sad at the loss that had to happen. And it's like, it's hitting me right now again. But it was, a couple of tears slipped out and I did a couple of deep breaths and then I was like, yes, and this is okay. This is where it was supposed to be. And so these things will always come up.

Erica Bennett [00:42:46]:
Sometimes they'll catch you when you're not ready, but when you've done the work, then you know that you've got yourself, you know that you're going to be able to pick yourself up and that you're safe to be able to move forward in where you're supposed to be.

Rachel Havekost [00:42:58]:
Yeah. I could not agree more.

Erica Bennett [00:43:00]:
Yeah. Now, one of the other things that I did find that helped me out was travel, because when I could travel. Nobody knew who I was, right? There was no story. There was no energy already started, and I could manifest some really crazy fucking shit. And it was delightful. I mean, like, the magic that happened on these solo adventures, and everybody's like, what are you doing? And I'm like, just wait. And we're not talking about any romantic stuff. I'm just saying I would have the best conversations and the perfect places. The hotels.

Erica Bennett [00:43:35]:
I did a ten day driving my ass around Colorado in a big old suburban, doing my own thing. Had no idea where I was staying the next night. Every single day, and every single day was perfect. You have also found a little bit of travel, and you have something that you are launching and working on. So why don't you tell our listeners what you've got going on?

Rachel Havekost [00:43:52]:
Yes. I am so excited. So in August of 2024, I'm going to be hosting a group trip to Bali. It's a week long trip, and I honestly believe that exactly like you're saying, travel is an incredible way to connect with yourself. And also kind of like what I was talking about earlier, it's an opportunity to show up without masks. It's an opportunity to show up in spaces where nobody knows you. Which means I like to think of it less of like, oh, I get to reinvent myself and more of like, I get to be myself, right? So I'm hoping to cultivate a space with human beings on this trip who are kind of in that space of like, I'm ready to show up as myself and I'm ready to connect and make meaningful connections. And I also think I've done a lot of solo travel.

Rachel Havekost [00:44:32]:
I also did a lot of traveling after I got divorced, and I have done a lot of traveling prior to that. And I have found that I really love solo traveling, and it's really scary to do for the first time. So I also know that it can be really daunting for folks who are like, I want to go on a trip on my own, and I don't know how to go about doing that, or I'm scared, or I don't know if it's safe, or I don't know how to plan this, or I want to meet people when I go, but I don't know how to. So I think this is also going to be a really great way for people who want to travel alone for the first time and do it in the context of, I'm going to be with people who are on the same journey as me. Rachel's going to be there to help guide me through. It's kind of like a nice ease into what would it be like for me to do this again on my own? And so I think it's going to be a really incredible trip, and I'm very, very excited.

Erica Bennett [00:45:17]:
Yeah. And I agree with you. I think I am grateful that when I worked in corporate, I traveled a lot. I was on a global education team, and so I had to go. And you had to go by yourself, and that erased some of that shame around. Oh, my gosh. You're dining alone, like, what's wrong with you? Because I wouldn't go out to eat alone in my town that I live in. But you're traveling and.

Erica Bennett [00:45:37]:
Well, I'm traveling for work. I'm by myself. It's not that people don't like me. I just am here by myself. So at least I got the solo traveling part there so that then I could do it by myself. But I agree. I think that your trip looks like the perfect opportunity. So if you're sitting there and you're like, I want to travel, but putting together an itinerary or figuring out where I want to go, and especially in an international trip, that adds a whole level of complexity.

Erica Bennett [00:46:02]:
This is a really great way for you to show up to enjoy it, to know that you're safe and you're taken care of. But to remove those masks so you can show up as who you want to be. Try it out. You don't even know who you want to be by the time you get there, but you will by the time you leave. So I highly recommend travel as self exploration and self love. It's a little treat for yourself. Well, thank you, Rachel, for joining us today. You guys check out Rachel's book.

Erica Bennett [00:46:30]:
I've got it linked. It's in the show notes. It's also on the crazyxyclub.com under episodes where you can read the full transcripts from today's call. It's called where the river flows. Now, she has a whole host of other books. She has also authored and is best selling around, but this was the most recent one, and I just found it to be a really beautiful testament to the journey and the transformation that people go through. So thank you, Rachel, for joining us.

Rachel Havekost [00:46:55]:
Thank you so much, Erica.

Erica Bennett [00:46:56]:
Yeah. And until next week, you guys give yourself a little extra grace, take some time for yourself and sit down and decide what you want to come in the year of 2024. And until then, take care. And that's it. Another great episode of the Crazy Ex Wife's Club, a podcast for women learning how to heal from their divorce. Tune in next week for more advice and tips to help you figure out life after divorce. And until then, give yourself grace. Do the best you can and know that this is all part of the process.


Learn more about navigating the emotional journey of divorce and all that comes with it.

You're safe with me. I'll never spam you or sell your contact info.