The hit reality TV show “My Unorthodox life” and Julia Haart show women everywhere that we can all rediscover ourselves after divorce and enjoy your life!
- The resilience and determination of Julia Haart is inspiring
- Once you come into your own, show it off! That’s what she’s doing!
- Family is important, but so is your own well-being, it’s a hard balance
OUR GUEST – JUST US: T.H. & JESSICA
Welcome to another episode of the exEXPERTS DIVORCE etc… Podcast where we give you all kinds of information and tips on everything divorce. Why? We’ve lived it, so we get it! We’re Jessica and T.H.
Jessica: Today, we’re doing another JUST US episode, just T.H. and I. We really have been talking a lot recently about reinventing and rediscovering your identity, especially obviously after divorce. It all stemmed from this new show that T.H. has gotten me obsessed with that you may have seen called My Unorthodox Life. Now we are both equally obsessed with it and using that as the jumping off point. Let’s get into it.
T.H.: Julia Haart, I don’t even know if she reinvented herself, but she’s definitely discovered who she’s supposed to be. For anybody who hasn’t watched the show, you should watch it. She was in, in her opinion, a fundamentalist, ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in New York. She was married at 19, four kids. She made no decisions. She was told what to do, even regarding her sex life. Everything, the most intimate things about her, she was told what she’s supposed to do. She had no opportunity to make her own choices. The show is about how she literally saved her life leaving this community. And holy shit, she’s so exciting to watch right now. Forget about the shoe rack, which is a conveyor belt that I want for my shoes. She was an undereducated woman. She’s the CEO of a company, and she’s made her own way. It just goes to show that you can be anything you want to be if you really want to. And for her, it was sink or swim. Either they’re going to die here, or she’s going to live somewhere else. I had to have you watch this show. I kept annoying you. Also, for anybody listening, Jessica does not watch TV!
Jessica: Yeah, I haven’t–it’s so weird. It’s so ironic having worked in TV for over 20 years and then all of a sudden, I really don’t watch that much TV anymore. T.H. really has been harassing me. I think I had preconceived notions of what this show was going to be because I really assumed that it was going to be almost a documentary of families, this woman, her family, living within this super ultra-Orthodox sect of Judaism, which I have to say for anybody out there listening, that really is an extreme part. They don’t represent the average Jewish families in America. But the truth is the show is very much like the Kardashians. It is like juicy reality TV. This woman is unbelievable. The clothes, the jewels, the bling, and the shoes, it’s so flashy.
T.H.: The attitude.
Jessica: The attitude is really unbelievable. And to your point, I really feel like it really is what T.H. just said, that it doesn’t matter where you come from in life, because if you believe in your heart of hearts that you have the capacity to do more, then you can do more. There are so many women and stories that we hear about all the time of women who feel that they’re stuck in these marriages, they’re stuck in these relationships, and they have no opportunity to get out and do anything else with themselves or for themselves. This woman, Julia Haart, blows that story out of the water. She is like everything and more. It is fascinating to think about where she came from in this very patriarchal society where she basically had no rights of her own as a woman, even in the United States and is now–
T.H.: She was a piece of property. She was a piece of property. Considering everything going on in Afghanistan right now with the women who have finally started discovering themselves and getting an education and working and driving, things that we pretty much take for granted I’m sure living in the United States, and then now with the risk that that can be taken away. They’ve had a taste for that so it’ll be very interesting to see what happens and how they can really live that kind of a life. But we are in the United States, and if you are in the United States, I believe you can make an opportunity for yourself.
Jessica: We hear stories all the time of people coming from nowhere, the rags to riches stories. The truth is it doesn’t even matter if it’s rags to riches because it could be women that have been educated and that are very well off but yet are in relationships where they’re being held back and held down and not able to actually express who they are or do the things that they want to because their partners are really dictating what they can and can’t do, what they shouldn’t and shouldn’t wear, and where they should and shouldn’t go. Women coming out of these relationships and coming out of divorce, it’s like, listen, girls, this is your chance. Be who you are, and who do you want to be? It’s so inspiring this show. It’s amazing and it’s so timely with everything going on in the world.
T.H.: It’s so exciting to watch and they’re very fashionable. I’m not a super fashion maven. If you’re watching our video right now, I’m in a traditional golf shirt. Jessica and I are pretty conservative dressers, we definitely like nice things, but she is taking it to the sky and she rocks it.
Jessica: This woman is boobs out, five-inch heels–
T.H.: Oh my god, leather pants, every day is a platform heel. Like every day, there’s no sneaker, it’s a platform heel. Then it talks about how she’s encouraging her children to explore a world outside of that ultra-Orthodox fundamentalist type of thought process and that you can still be Jewish. You can still be religious and acknowledge the religion. Being fundamentalist in her mind is not the same as being Jewish and respecting the religion for itself.
Jessica: It’s fascinating to see how her kids too are trying to navigate. This is so relevant for people coming out of divorce because think about it, your children have had a certain experience the whole time that you’ve been raising them. Not you T.H. personally, but in general, anyone out there listening, you’ve raised your kids in a certain way, and they have seen the relationship that you and your spouse have been modeling. That’s what they’re taking with them as the example of what a relationship should be, or to some extent what a successful relationship is.
T.H.: A healthy relationship. Healthy and successful–really, healthy makes a marriage successful. Good communication and just being you, bringing your best self, now you know better.
Jessica: But when you’re in a relationship that’s leading towards divorce, you’re not having those things. So many people talk about staying for the kids–
T.H.: That’s what I did.
Jessica: I think that getting out is actually such a better decision, because then you’re showing your children, both spouses, that it’s okay to be alone, and it’s okay to be who you are. But for your children who have been raised in a certain environment, religious or not, that may not even be the basis of it, but used to things being done a certain way for 15, 20 years, or more even, and then having to navigate, well, what did they watch for all of their life up until now? Was that authentic and was that real? Has everything been a lie? Has everything been fake? And so to watch on camera, this woman, Julia Haart, and her children navigating this lifestyle that is so the polar opposite and 180 of what they’re used to–they’re having discussions about whether or not women should be able to wear pants. That’s a huge conversation.
T.H.: You guys have to watch the show because her–I’m not going to do a total spoiler alert, but I will say that her oldest daughter got married to a man who she really did love. It wasn’t an arranged marriage like Julia’s. Then her mother decides to leave, and her daughter was like, wait a second, you just modeled this for me. You allow me to get married in this place, and now you’re out? How can you do that? So now it’s showing the whole learning process, and I’m sure it can be relatable to so many different family and marriage situations. But the big thing that really I can relate to anyway is fear. Everybody has the fear of the unknown. I will say that I subconsciously over many years, slow burn, trained myself to not listen to my gut, not hear the things that were being said to me, not hear the tone of the voice that was being used towards me. I had trained myself to protect myself in the name of the kids, because it was easier. I look back and I now know because it was easier and a valid excuse, right? No one’s going to say anything to me if I say in retrospect, it was for my kids. Except that it was really for me, because I was afraid. I wasn’t afraid of being a working mom or single mom, I was essentially a single mom, except on paper, but like, what would people think? What’s going to happen to my kids? That I didn’t know. Like, what is going to happen? Whether you’re in an abusive relationship, we have spoken so many times about abuse, financial abuse, like what are you going to do and how you’re going to earn a living, well, guess what, you can find a job in two hours now anywhere. Everybody’s hiring. Everyone’s desperate for someone. If you want to get out of the house and feel productive, I don’t care if you’re making a hamburger or you’re answering a phone, it’s so fulfilling. Don’t let fear hold you back for too long. You probably have to go through it a little bit, but don’t let it hold you down too long, because you’re going to miss out.
Jessica: Yeah, I mean, that hits so deep, and it hits home so hard. It’s so interesting, just getting back to the show for a second for My Unorthodox Life. Julia talks about how she lived in a society where women were uneducated and were not allowed to work and she had started selling life insurance on the side, and her husband didn’t know, so she could actually start having a bank account and start making a plan to be able to move on with her life. I will say the whole idea of rediscovering yourself, I don’t feel like I reinvented myself to the extent obviously that Julia did and to the extent that I think a lot of women have to when they get out of their marriages, but I do feel like I had to rediscover myself. In particular, just thinking about wanting to set an example for my kids about what a healthy relationship should be as a woman and trying to model for my daughter what I want her to be able to look at, and what I think her expectations should be, for her to be in a healthy relationship with a man. Coming out of a relationship where my ex had cheated, I don’t want my daughter to think that it’s okay to be in a relationship where someone’s cheating on her, or that she has to stay in a relationship where someone is cheating on her or isn’t valuing her. There were times in my second marriage when I would think about, okay, well, I only have a few years left before my kids are out of the house and getting worried I’m not happy inherently. I’m an inherently happy person, but I wasn’t feeling happy and like myself on the inside. Is that what I wanted my kids to see the last couple of years before they left? I really felt like I had to rediscover who I was once I left, like, finding who I was beforehand, and that happy person that I want to be.
T.H.: And also figuring out–we talk about it a lot that it didn’t work out because he cheated, but that’s not really why it didn’t work out. That was like the last straw. So really looking back and taking responsibility for your role in your marriage as to why it didn’t work out is so critical, and it does take time. It’s a humbling experience, but it’s really, really important. I feel like you’re doing that now. You’re doing that hard work now, and you feel so much freer. It’s like you let that shit go. You’re not carrying it around. It’s totally subconscious. Once you put it out there and talk to a therapist, talk to a friend, you can definitely go at a faster pace moving forward.
Jessica: I also think that when it comes to getting out of these relationships, I almost think I was too naive at the time to really be afraid of it. Or maybe it’s because you and I had each other and so we were so heavily reliant on each other and being able to talk and support through it all. But when I listen to other people talking about their fears of divorce, of leaving, or their experiences shortly thereafter, it does a lot of time center around, well, who are their friends now? Are the friends that they had as a couple still their friends? Are those people still supporting them? Do they still matter in their life? Are they there for them? I think that a lot of times, again, talking from a woman’s perspective, we fall into these roles in our marriages where we have the set expectations of what we’ve accepted our roles to be in those relationships. It’s like, well, what are people going to think if I leave and I go someplace else or do something else? I personally think that Julia Haart is so brave for what she did, because not only was she strong enough to be able to leave this community, the only thing I can really relate it to is the stories that I hear about people who are leaving Scientology, or leaving a cult, because everyone is going to shun them and everybody is going to cut them off. And so the fact that not only did she leave the community to be able to give herself and her kids a different perspective and life, but knowing that everybody that she had grown up with and that her family and everyone around her was going to cut her off, I think is such a hugely brave decision and not a lot of people would have the strength to do that. I don’t even know if I would have had the strength to do that. I think that it’s just important to remember you have to be true to yourself, no matter what, no matter how bad you think it’s going to be.
T.H.: Right. She was not thinking of anybody but herself. It was full survival mode. At least what I saw, she’s fully distanced from her family, her mother. She had no support. How did she even come up with life insurance? Who is that person that planted that seed that literally gave her a life jacket? I mean, that’s what it is, because she wasn’t having any other good role models there in terms of leaving. Now I think her purpose, at least with this show, is to put it out there that you can do it, there’s an opportunity. She’s leading by example. She is your life jacket if you want it, whether you’re in an abusive marriage, any kind of relationship, whether it’s marriage or not, or any kind of relationship that’s just toxic for you. Yeah, I think she’s a rock star.
Jessica: I think she’s a fucking rock star.
T.H.: She is! Oh my god, and all that energy. It’s like she’s been unleashed and now she’s got so much energy. She is not going to freaking stop. Look, we know it is TV. We know there are cameras. We know there’s drama. We know all this stuff. But the message is she did it herself, and she made something of herself. She made a life for herself, and she did it for herself first. Her mission, leaving, wasn’t to find a better guy. It wasn’t to be in a healthier relationship with someone. It was to figure out who the fuck am I? And where am I going? She put herself first and then everything fell into place, it seems. But you have to put yourself first. You and I also talk a lot about when people are getting divorced, they look at you in a way that they’re like, don’t worry, you’ll find someone else.
Jessica: Right. It’s okay.
T.H.: You’re a great catch. I fucking hate that. I’m not a catch! He could be a catch.
Jessica: Yeah, it’s so patronizing.
T.H.: I’m going to go and get my shit together. If he comes around, and I think he’s worth it, awesome. But nobody needs a man in their life, so if that’s what anybody’s thinking out there right now, then you’re going to follow the same mistakes that you have made in the past. This is not easy here. It’s not an easy journey to get through to get there, but I’m just telling you the truth. A guy isn’t going to make your life great. You make your life great. Then if a guy can complement it and help you grow above and beyond your 100%, great. But you’re not 50% or anything. You are 100%, and then anything else is gravy. That’s like the big thing with Julia. She’s 100% for herself, and then anybody else who wants to come along for the ride, she’s ready. I love her.
Jessica: Yeah. She keeps talking about how her whole goal and her whole mission to empower women. And listen, she’s inclusive with everything. She has a daughter who’s bi. She’s really just about whoever you are, be your authentic self, and don’t be afraid and don’t be held back. I think that so many of us as women getting divorced, especially that have kids, you worry about putting yourself first. How can you not worry about your kids and how are they going to manage? How are you going to navigate these situations when you’re dealing with children who you still have to teach and you still have to set examples for? But like T.H. said, honestly, it’s almost like when you’re on an airplane, put your own oxygen mask on first and then help those around you. Because if you aren’t using your strength and your courage for yourself to be where you feel like you need and want to be, you’re not going to be able to set that example that you really want to set for your children, for boys or for girls. It really is just so important to be able to recognize where you are. When you wake up in the morning, does your heart start pounding and do you feel anxious about where you are and what you have to do that day based on who your partner is? Or do you wake up in the morning thinking it’s going to be a fucking great day, I love my life? We all have down moments, but the majority of the time, you really should be waking up thinking, sigh, I’m so happy with where I am today. That’s the goal in life. I promise if that’s how you feel, and your kids see that, and your kids feel that, no matter what you think you’re doing wrong, and we all do, you’re giving your kids a gift. By helping yourself first, you’re helping them.
T.H.: It’s funny you say that because my daughter said something to me. We were on a trip together and she’s like, you’re acting like you’re on your honeymoon. My first reaction was like, holy shit, we’re being too affectionate. We’re being too whatever. I said something, and he’s like, I think it’s a good thing. It’s not a bad thing. She’s not used to seeing this. This is good. It’s not inappropriate. This is love. This is excitement. This is friendship. This is everything that people don’t even know that they can have. I really did think about that, because I know on the other side, it’s a different dynamic. My parents have always been affectionate and then bicker on the other side, but still affectionate. And so I feel if you can’t always be the best role model, but like my parents are good role models, my brother and his wife are a good role model, give yourself a break. You’re also only human. I was like, oh, let’s go hang out with Uncle Greg, let’s go see nanny and pappy, so I could not have pressure and I could go and cry if I’m upset and overwhelmed and whatever. This is not an easy 1, 2, 3, when I change, but it is a path that you should definitely set your sights on. I can’t wait for season two, oh my god.
Jessica: I know. Everybody out there, you guys, you’ve got to watch My Unorthodox Life. You can download it on Netflix. It is totally addicting and we highly recommend it. But as T.H. said, it’s such a powerful message for everyone watching, be who you are, be who you want and need to be, and fuck everyone else. It’s your life. You only live it once. If you don’t live it the best that you can and you’re not happy with your life, you’ve got no one to blame in the end but yourself.
Jessica: Alright, till next time. Bye!
Goodbye: For everyone out there listening, if you know anyone at all who would benefit from what we talked about today please share this episode and everything exExperts. Be sure and click to subscribe to the Podcast on iTunes or wherever you listen to your podcasts and please follow us on social media @exEXPERTS Divorce etc… on Instagram and Facebook and YouTube and our website at www.exexperts.com. Thanks for listening!