Divorce and Cancer – Rebuilding an Inspirational Life


Jessica: Do you like hearing inspirational messages about how to show up as your best self no matter what’s happening in your life, even after a divorce? And do you feel hearing other people’s stories about going through similar experiences as you helps you do that? Then you’re absolutely going to love today’s episode because those are some of the things we’re talking about here on the Divorce etc… podcast. We are the exEXPERTS, Jessica and T.H. We focus on helping you navigate your divorce and successfully move on with your life. Please follow us on all social media at exEXPERTS, and check out for tons of free divorce-related resources. Let’s bring in today’s guest. Go ahead T.H.  

T.H.: Hey, everybody, welcome to our show today. We are thrilled to have Barbara Majeski here. She is a TV personality and transformation expert. You may have seen her on a number of shows including The Today Show and Good Day New York. We are talking about moving on, and you set an amazing example of strength and transformation. Welcome to our show.

Barbara: Oh, thanks for having me. I love this conversation. We are all in good company here.

T.H.: Yes, I remember when we first met, you were like, “Oh my god, I found my people!” And we feel the same thing.

Jessica: 100%.

T.H.: I mean just so you all know, we’ve been trying to see each other in person. So we both look to this.

Barbara: I know. It’s not easy, but it’s going to happen. It’s happening.

T.H.: It will happen. It’ll happen. But just because you live in Jersey doesn’t mean it’s easily done. Why don’t you give us a quick glimpse into what you want to share about your own personal journey so that people understand how you got from there to here?

Barbara: Yeah, first, I love these conversations, because I know when I’ve been going through difficult times or difficult decisions and I see somebody on the other side of adversity doing really well, it gave me inspiration. When I was going through my divorce and I saw other people getting remarried and having these new lives, I never got jealous. I got inspired. I was like, “Well, if they can do it, so can I.” That’s what I wanted. I left my marriage actually to be married. I know that sounds crazy. Some women are like, “I would never marry again.” But I left a marriage to be happy if that helps anybody else, to be happier and to be more fulfilled. I knew he wasn’t the person. Yes, so I hope to help other people by sharing that I was diagnosed with cancer on the heels of my marriage falling apart. Actually, I say falling apart, but the truth is when everything seems like it was falling apart, my marriage ended, my health was in crisis, my life had been turned sideways, I never saw myself like, “Oh, my god, a single mother of three.” It wasn’t my life falling apart; it was actually breaking me open to something else. It was actually coming together. I just didn’t know it. Because it’s like a bone that breaks, sometimes if it’s only fractured, a doctor will go in and do a full break so that it can re-adhere so that it’s stronger and in a better position for the rest of your life. That’s what I feel my divorce and even my cancer allowed me to just break so that when the pieces came back together, I was more fortified as Barbara Majeski than I ever was before. That’s what I do now through everything I do. I’m like, “Yes, you see me on TV doing these things, but I want you to know the back story of all of it so maybe it can help others.”

Jessica: I think that that totally aligns with our messaging and what we want to bring to other people. Like, you can be going through these really dark and scary and lonely and overwhelming stages in your life, but that doesn’t have to define what it’s going to look like forever. I think so many people get caught up in all of the negativity and the sadness and the overwhelm. It’s hard to see your way through to whatever that light at the end of the tunnel is. But like you said, I feel sharing your story, when we were talking to you last time, I remember when we were telling our story about being married at the same time and our husbands were both cheating and going away with their girlfriends, you were like, “Oh my god, you can’t make this shit up.” Sometimes I felt like I thought I had it bad, and then you hear someone else’s stories. I’m happy to be that example for someone. If someone thinks that they’re going through a really hard time and then they hear mine and they’re like, “Wow, at least it’s not as bad as Jessica’s,” like, okay, then I was able to offer you something to help you through that.

Barbara: And you know what I love about what you’re doing? It’s really funny you’re like, “Do you think you’ve got it bad? Hold my beer. Hold my beer.” It’s like if she can get through that, so can I. What I love that you guys do is that you create that light at the end of the tunnel without being like, “No, it’s not that bad.” Divorce is bad, period. It’s hard. It’s heartbreaking. And it’s soul-crushing. People ask me, “Oh, cancer must have been hard.” I had surgery, I had six months of chemo, and I had three young kids, and my marriage had broken already. I was healing a broken heart and a broken body simultaneously. Cancer has nothing on divorce. The point of all of this integration in this conversation is tough times don’t last, tough people, do. I love that you’re like, “You’re in the suck, but it is not forever.” It truly is that you can grow through this. Because I remember, “I’m really struggling.” I remember really struggling in my divorce. I was like, “This is crazy. The attorneys, the money, and missing the kids,” I was like, “I am not built for this. Let me get in a support group.” I didn’t know where to go. I didn’t have any divorced friends. I was going inward not looking–I don’t know. I found a support group on Facebook, and it was so toxic. It was just this everybody was bitching about their exes, which I totally get. I was in that same space. But it wasn’t, do you know, I don’t know–

Jessica: It’s not productive.

T.H.: It’s not healing.

Jessica: It’s like, well, you can sit around and all bitch and moan about how bad it is, but you’re not moving forward at all.

Barbara: You need a little bit of both. You need the 80/20. You need 20% of “let me just have a trauma dump”. Okay, let me trauma dump right now. But okay, now let’s get into but I chose divorce because I want to be in a better place at the end of this, or at least have the opportunity to be in pursuit of a better life. I can’t do it with this schmegegge, whatever you want to call it. I think what you’re doing is so good. I wish I found this kind of tribe when I was in the trenches, to just say, all right, we are here with you. We are holding the lanterns through these dark tunnels, but we’re giving you the light, like a little candle to say, “You keep moving forward, I know it’s very dark, I know it smells down here, I know it’s tough, but let’s get you through the tunnel of darkness.” Like, we’re the little candle holders, you know?

T.H.: Yeah, we totally have your back. The other thing I know for divorce, for me, the affair set me free. The divorce was a whole other beast that I–I don’t like not controlling things. Look, I know, “We plan, God, laughs,” I know all that, but I literally was being dragged through the court by my hair is how it felt. But what it did do for me, other than obviously setting me free from this trap, is it made me look really seriously at myself and the hard things that I had not been acknowledging, and relationships I had with family that maybe led me to this marriage, definitely led me to this marriage and unraveling all that and how to not do that again. I think we’ve got the business side of divorce, right? There’s nothing we can do about it. Try to handle it the best way you can. It takes two to tango in good, bad, and ugly forms of divorce. But the emotional side is what’s going to get you through. And so like you said, I mean, you need a place. Jessica and I had each other. We could cry, we could laugh, we could scream, we could curse, we could do whatever, and that is why we created exEXPERTS. But I still needed to do the work on my own because no one else was going to help me take responsibility for the fact that I let him treat me like shit. For years, I enabled and fully allowed that behavior. What the hell is that? Let’s start digging into that because that’s the trajectory for the rest of my life. So the word divorce is so big for so many reasons, the money, the business, and the courts. But guess what, ladies and gentlemen, you’ve got to wake up and face reality now. Otherwise, you’re going back down that same dark tunnel without a candle.

Barbara: You know what I like too is that part of taking personal responsibility is actually healing. It’s not blaming you. It’s just part of a healing journey so that you don’t make the same mistakes twice. Really, taking full inventory of like, I don’t want to do this again, it does take two to tango, why did I choose this, and why did I let it go on so long, or what did I do? Not only do I do lifestyle and entertainment on TV, but part of it is I try to teach people don’t wait till you’re confronted with your own mortality before you start living your best life. Going from here to here takes a little bit of uncomfortableness. Part of my pillars of transformation is actually, yeah, pillars of transformation number two is personal responsibility. I laugh about it because I’m like, “I am the problem.” But I don’t say it to be like, “Oh, I’m always…” It’s not a negative. It’s like I am also the solution.

T.H.: 100%

Barbara: I am the solution. It can be very empowering if you have the humor and are willing to do the work.  

T.H.: And you have the support. You definitely need the support. I mean, I had a fantastic therapist. I don’t think I appreciated how amazing she was until now we’re doing all these podcasts. I’m like, “Oh, she told me this. She told me that. That really did help. So on and so forth.” But we’re going to take a quick pause here. Because we know it’s hard to get honest and reliable information about your divorce, so we’ve done the work for you. Be sure and subscribe to our newsletter to get exEXPERTS in your inbox, join our events where you can ask questions to top experts live, and sign up for private sessions with us so you can move forward and thrive. We’ve lived it, so we get it. You can sign up at Let’s go back to what you were talking about.

Jessica: Well, I really want to have you, Barbara, give us a brief letting people know what your situation is like. How long were you married? When did you feel the marriage was over? What was the impetus that led you to divorce was going to be the only option here?  

Barbara: You know, it’s interesting, you just said that affairs set you free. I needed that kind of break. Because I was happy enough, I was like, things are good enough, but I was masking so much with material items – “Well, I have a good life.” I had an externally good life, but it was very transactional relationship that I settled into because I wasn’t confident enough that–I felt like I was, I don’t know, there’s so many layers to this. But I really did lack self-esteem, and I lacked self-confidence, and I lacked the knowingness that I was a good person. It was the perfect storm that you have to be able to look at yourself and be like you no longer have to buy the narratives of your 13-year-old insecure adolescent self. You’re going to take care of her the way you weren’t taken care of maybe. She’s going to be okay, but we need to move on from her. I think she was embedded in my psyche of you’re not pretty, you’re not smart. It was really toxic. But that was me recognizing that I had some seriously toxic viewpoints of myself, taking that personal responsibility that I allowed to be treated like garbage. When I did catch him in 2015, and this was before my diagnosis, it broke me. Every ugly voice, every mean, ugly, nasty voice literally had an opportunity to unleash. It was like, “See, we were right. You are not worthy. You can’t even–” It was wicked. It was like it had to come out. But it had to come out so amplified and loud for me to all of a sudden stop and say, “Oh, no, no, no, no, no.” I had to hear it and own it and then put a stop to it. It was like you have reigned supreme, and I may be a lot of things, but I’m better than this. I had to be discarded, completely to the point of I had to be completely discarded, which that’s what an affair is. It’s discardment. I felt like, “Why would you do that to me? I’m killing myself over here.”

T.H.: Right. But you are not alone. I mean, I resonate with every single thing that you said. I grew up being told and believing all those negative voices and messages about myself. Then it was reinforced in my marriage, and then this girl’s got legs this big and whatever and whatever. I’m like, “What?” So yeah, really not continuing to buy into those voices and be able to turn the other way is really amazing. For anybody, you’re going to have to watch this video too, so you can see Barbara–

Jessica: Right, she’s gorgeous, amazing personality.

T.H.: Yeah, but we are all really strong women. It’s hard to believe that you ever thought that way. I do not recognize who I was at least the last four years of my marriage. Look at us now guys. We are examples of what can be.

Barbara: And also, it’s important to know that we’re all a work in progress. It is a journey for me. I still battle that little voice, but she no longer reigns supreme. I know how to be like, “All right. Okay. All right, enough kicking, enough of that,” you know, like, all these things. But again, I needed that voice to be so loud in my brain for me to be like, “That is just not true anymore. I am a mother of three. I am no longer willing to allow it.” But it was also in junction–again, a work in progress. It was that amplification of my negative self-talk that I could really, or when I was battling–so my marriage ended in July 2015. I was diagnosed with stage three cancer in November. I was like, “Uh, uh, uh, uh.” When the doctor called and said, “Barb, it’s stage three, and you have to have chemo,” I was like, “Uh, no, no, no, no.” I was at Sloan Kettering and I’m like, “No, no, no, no. I cannot handle this right now.” But again, I was like, “I have to go through this.” I want to share something that really helped me later on. I read a quote by Gabby Bernstein, and I was in a very difficult place. More things were getting pounded on like I was in the middle of the divorce, my son was having seizures, epileptic seizures, out of nowhere at 16 years old. I’m like, “Oh my god, I’m trying to go on TV. We’re in the middle of COVID. I’m here. Okay, if we have an edge, I’ve found it. I’m done.” Gabby Bernstein had a quote and it was, “When you think you can’t surrender, surrender some more.” It’s this faith in the universe of the universe is actually conspiring in your favor. Let it go, let it be, and just grow through what you’re going through. That Gabby Bernstein, man, it pulls me off of the edge and gave me peace. Because sometimes you do have to surrender to an unknowingness of like, “I don’t know why all of these things are really testing me, but I do believe I’m a good person. This will lead me to higher grounds.” Let me tell you, where you meet me today, I’ve never been happier. I’ve never been more comfortable in my own skin. I’m turning 50 next year, and I’m like, I think I’m coming into 50 all gas no brakes, and like, follow me, get on my bus, I’m going to take you to the fifth floor, like how it should be done. I want to share that because I think people in divorce need to hear that. In trauma and difficult times, surrender, and the universe will come through. Just have faith in that. That’s where you’re finding me today. I’m not perfect. My life is not perfect, but I’m content, happy, and grateful for where I am, and glad I’m not the person I was.

Jessica: Right. And I think that that’s such a powerful message and one that I think that we are regularly trying to put out there because you do have to let things happen. We did a whole podcast episode on owning your outcome, and another episode on the things you can control in divorce. Because there’s so little that you can actually control and you end up getting caught up in a lot of, I don’t want to call it minutiae, because it’s your life and it’s important, what you’re going through during divorce, but sometimes you have to be able to compartmentalize to a degree and figure out where should your focus be, because it can’t be everywhere, otherwise you’re just drowning. I feel last year I was a little bit in a situation like that. I felt I was up to my ears and I could not come up for air. I think everyone who goes through divorce goes through that to an extent at some time or another. It’s like talking about it and letting everybody know that we’ve all been there. We have all felt those feelings, and unfortunately, some people longer than others. My divorce process was shorter than T.H.’s, so she had to deal with some of those challenges for a longer period of time. But at the end of the day, our tagline is “We’ve lived it, so we get it.” It’s really that is the truth. At the end of the day, divorce sucks. When you go through it, it sucks. But over time, it does get better.

Barbara: Oh and where you land, so you’re going to–it’s a war. It’s a battle. I mean, I don’t know what’s up with Gisele Bündchen and Tom Brady, they got divorced in 24 minutes and whatever, and mazel tov to you. But the truth is heartbreak is really hard. A broken heart is a real thing. You literally feel it in your chest at times. You feel like the breath has been sucked out of you. No matter what, administratively, it might be easy, but there’s still a healing process that takes time. But where you ultimately get to, you can either get bitter, as they say, or you can get better. I was just on a podcast and I said I didn’t let it buckle me. I didn’t let it break me. I’m better for it. I’m better for every crappy thing that’s ever happened to me. I’m funnier, I’m kinder, and I’m more compassionate, right? I know that’s like so crappy. Literally, I’m a more compassionate person because I realized I’d be like, “She should just leave him.” I would just judge everybody. “Oh, my god, your husband is such an asshole.” You don’t realize leaving a marriage takes a tremendous amount of courage, and heartbreak, and all the things. Now, I’m just such a nicer person of this knowingness from a point of experience. So yeah, I mean, I think there’s just so much in there. But listen, you can grow old and bitter. That’s your choice. You can sit there and bitch, but you only control your own circumstances, right? You control you. When I control me, me is going to live a good life. I can’t control what he does. Sometimes the adversary is always trying to tweak you. It’s all how you respond to it.

Jessica: Well, and that’s what we say all the time too. Especially with my specific circumstance, a lot of times people are like, “I don’t know how you have the relationship with him that you have. I don’t know how you overlooked–not overlooked, but I don’t know how you moved past this and how you do it this way.” At the end of the day, I can walk around pissed for the rest of my life, but the only person that’s hurting is me. I, for me, personally, cannot walk around carrying that load of negativity. Some people can, great. I don’t have the personality for it. It weighs me down. I can’t walk around with a chip on my shoulder like that. I have to be able to smile and see the world through my rose-colored glasses. I have to think that things are going to be better and that I’m moving toward that. I totally feel you have such a similar personality.

Barbara: Yeah, well, drinking the poison and expecting the other person to die, that’s what bitterness, anger, resentment is all going to bring to you. Listen, you’re supposed to be in pursuit of living your best life. That’s what you’re supposed–God wants you to do that. I don’t care what God you subscribe to or whatever, but you are here in this life experience to really live your best life. You are supposed to be challenged. There are times that you are going to suffer. The Buddha says that that’s the common experience, we will suffer. But we make the choice of where we’re going to end up, and I’m the same way. Can I slide back into bitterness and anger? I can, but then I’m like, it’s never going to work itself out. The best thing I ever do and continue to do is live a good life, to live a good life, date really great people. Like, I have a great boyfriend right now. I don’t think it’s going anywhere, but I’m happy.

Jessica: That’s all that matters.

Barbara: And we travel and we are like, it’s so great. I’m like, this is so great. I just focus on the things – on me, and living my best life, and every once in a while, I post about it on the Instagram so they can make sure they’re yellow. Sneaky, peaky.

Jessica: Right, I mean, again, you literally just reiterated its focus on the things that actually you need to focus on that are the most important. You’re talking about living your life, your kids, and right now, knock on wood, everyone’s health, that kind of stuff. Because being pissed that my ex-husband did this and then moved on with her and then did that, it’s literally getting me nowhere. I would rather just Kumbaya. You know what? It’s okay. It didn’t work out. Shit happens.

Barbara: Yes.

Jessica: Yeah.

Barbara: And honestly, we’re living so much longer, so don’t spend a lot of time in that bitter stage. Have your moment, like I said, 80/20. 20%, just go ahead but focus on like–when I talk about my ex-husband, overall, 80% of the time, I want to focus on the takeaways. I learned how to be a really good business person, I grew as a professional, and I learned a lot about myself. He did hold up a mirror to me, so allowed me at times to really be introspective on things that I couldn’t see, that I needed to develop. There were a lot of great things about him. He was a risk-taker. He was always in a real estate. He was okay with every once in a while making transactions that ended up losing money. He didn’t mire in it. He didn’t sit there. He was like, “All right, that’s part of making gazills.” He taught me how to just move, fail forward kind of thing. If I stayed in all the bitterness…I don’t know. It just doesn’t serve me. But I just encourage people to try to be reflective. I do not have a good relationship with him now. I can’t control that. It’s out of my hands. And that’s his choice. I cannot control it. I don’t want people to think we have this great Kumbaya. We do not. We do not. It’s actually a very–we’re, you know, it’s not great. But it’s okay. I’m like, you know what? You want to keep it like this? That’s on you. But I’m just going to be here living my life, doing my thing, being a good mom, I love my kids, having a sense of humor. Because at the end of the day, we all live in the same place, I just want when people talk about me, they’re not like, “She went through a divorce,” like that’s like my highlight. That’s my highlight. I have much better highlights. Maybe my highlight is my next marriage, which I do hope to get married again, is maybe an inspiration to somebody else. Like, look what she found and look what she has. I’m like I hope it’s so beautiful and magical that it inspires others. That’s where I want to land. Dan, don’t worry. I’m going to send Dan the video. Dan, put a ring on it.

Jessica: I’m like everything about you is so inspiring. I feel you’re the person everybody wants to be friends with, everyone wants to hear the stories with, and everyone wants to share their stories with. Everything is so real and relatable. I think we definitely are going to want to have to continue this conversation further down the line because there’s so much more to unpack. I mean, people listening, she hasn’t even scratched the surface. But I really appreciate you taking the time because I do think that anybody listening will be able to be inspired by your story and hear in your voice, and especially with the fact that you’re saying it is still an adversarial relationship and everyone doesn’t get along, it’s okay. Things can still be better on the other side. And so I feel your whole message epitomizes exactly the messaging that we try to put out there with exEXPERTS. Thank you so much for that. I really appreciate it.

Barbara: Well, keep it up, because it is perfect in its imperfections because it’s a net positive. I have three amazing children, and I have so much to be grateful for. That is not going to consume me, but it is part of my experience. Life is imperfect, but yet there’s so much perfection in that. What you’re doing is so good, and I needed you guys through my divorce. I’m grateful to be part of this community and add in any way if I can hold a candle in the tunnel of darkness for anybody to know that there’s light at the end for sure.

Jessica: Thank you for that. So for everyone listening, if you enjoyed this podcast with the exEXPERTS today, then can you help a girl out, or two girls, or three girls really? When you subscribe, rate, and review, it really helps us get the word out so we can help support more people like you going through divorce and beyond. Check the show notes for more info on Barbara Majeski. And of course, share this episode with anyone you know who could benefit from listening. Have a great day.

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