The 'Flipping El Moussas' star dove deep into his past traumas and successes in the tell-all memoir meets self-help guide, released on Feb. 6
Tarek El Moussa is revealing the most personal details of his life in a way he never has before.
In his new book, Flip Your Life: How to Find Opportunity in Distress—in Real Estate, Business, and Life, the Flipping El Moussas host, 42, takes a look back at the struggles and triumphs that led him to become the expert house flipper, TV star, husband and dad he is today.
From crawling towards hospital doors in excruciating pain to reliving the end of his marriage with Christina Hall, El Moussa opens up (and spares no details) throughout the tell-all's 12 chapters.
Keep reading for the most shocking bombshells El Moussa shares in his new book, released on Feb. 6.
What Really Happened During the 2016 Gun Incident
Nearly seven years after his split from his ex-wife and former Flip or Flop costar, Christina Hall, El Moussa finally tells his perspective of the highly publicized incident that ultimately led to their split in Dec. 2016.
After a heated argument with Hall, El Moussa reveals he decided to hop “over the fence” in their backyard because he “craved some exercise” in the nearby Chino Hills State Park. He adds that the .38-caliber pistol Christina saw him stuff in his backpack as he was leaving was brought as an “insurance policy” in case he encountered wild bobcats or mountain lions on the trails.
Not knowing what state her husband was in, Hall called the police who quickly tracked El Moussa down in their search for a “possibly suicidal male.” In Flip Your Life, Tarek recalls being in disbelief about the moments that followed once the police found him.
“For the next several hours, I sat on a cooler on my driveway, handcuffed. That was the very last time we were together as a family: with Christina walking down the driveway, crying, and me sitting there in handcuffs, asking myself, What in the world is going on?”
Looking back, he writes that he understands why Christina thought he might hurt himself. He admits, “my mental health was as bad as it had ever been. But ending my life was just something I wouldn’t have done.”
He Spent Two Months in a Halfway House
Immediately following the split, Hall asked for some space from El Moussa, so he packed up a few things and went to camp out on their boat, named "Flip or Flop" after their hit HGTV show. The next day, he quit the testosterone he was taking because, he writes, he knew the steroid was to blame for his poor mental health in the time leading up to the gun incident.
“As I later learned,” he writes, “quitting testosterone cold turkey creates havoc with your hormones. The biochemical shock made my emotional upset much, much worse. Without really understanding what was happening, I was experiencing the biggest emotional trauma of my life, and I needed professional help.”
He recalls barely eating, feeling depressed and drinking heavily when a group of his friends stopped by the boat to check on him. While they were there, El Moussa says he suddenly “passed out” which prompted a concerned friend to connect him with the famous addiction and mental health specialist, Dr. Drew Pinsky. El Moussa “eagerly accepted” Dr. Drew’s suggestion that he check into an inpatient facility in the hopes that it would help him get healthy and reunite his family.
“I checked myself into the facility, which was a halfway house occupied mostly by heroin addicts. Suddenly, I was under twenty-four-hour care, ” he writes. “This extremely structured environment turned out to be exactly what I needed. I lived at the rehab center for two months, and during that time—away from the glare of the spotlights—I talked to several therapists.”
He Was Once Arrested and Charged with Attempted Murder
Even longtime fans wouldn’t have guessed that El Moussa was once charged with attempted murder after being involved in a gang fight when he was a teen. He spent a short amount of time in a juvenile detention center after he was arrested.
El Moussa told PEOPLE that the harrowing event was a turning point for him: "I'll never forget. I was terrified when I was there, because the charges I had were really bad charges, and I didn't know if I was going to be there for days or years."
In the book, he reveals he grew up in a “rough neighborhood” in Los Angeles County where he claims some of his friends were involved in gangs. At the end of his sophomore year, he was dragged into a fight that little would change everything for him.
“During the free-for-all, an older guy—maybe nineteen or twenty—stepped toward me and swung his bat. I tried to jump out of the way, but the bat connected, hard—hard enough to break my ribs. As a reaction, I dropped my arm and knocked the bat out of his hands. I grabbed the bat and hit him in the head. He dropped to the pavement and went unconscious.”
In the aftermath of the event, he remembers “seeing bodies everywhere” when a new group of rivals started coming at him. Luckily, the police arrived just then and broke up the altercation. Although he was arrested for being involved in the fight, he writes that the police determined he acted in self defense. He explains, because he was a juvenile, the records were sealed.
El Moussa says the fight was a blessing in disguise.
“I was sitting in the back of a police car, in handcuffs, charged with assault and battery, aggravated assault, attempted murder, and assault with a deadly weapon. Today I’m convinced that the police arrived at exactly the right moment. If I hadn’t been arrested, I would have been killed.”
A Painful Back Injury Led Him to Crawl to the Hospital Doors
After being diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2013 followed by testicular cancer shortly after, the Flipping 101 star experienced “fifteen months of a whole new medical challenge.” Nearly nine months after his cancer treatment, he slipped several discs, pinching a crucial nerve in his back during a game of golf.
He recalls being on one of the last holes of the course when he felt a “spasm” in his back that led to “continuous pain.” While he admits that it probably would have been wise to stop playing the game right then and there, he pushed himself to keep going.
“At the next tee, I set up for my drive and started my swing. As I came down to swing through, suddenly I was on the ground, seized by the worst pain I’ve ever felt in my life,” he writes, adding that the pain “radiated” throughout his body.
His friends helped him into the golf cart and got him to his car. He drove himself to the nearest hospital, but writes, "when I pulled up in front of the emergency room, opened my car door, and tried to get out, I dropped to the pavement. I started crawling to the door. Nurses came running. All I could say was, ‘Please help me.’”
His Recovery Had Him ‘High as a Kite’ on Painkillers
Following his back injury, El Moussa writes about the severe pain he felt that made it impossible to do simple tasks. He recalls being on a “hamster wheel of painkillers."
“On a typical day, I would swallow eight or ten painkillers just to get through the day. Between the Vicodin and the Dilaudid and the morphine, I was as high as a kite all day long,” he admits.
During this time, El Moussa also says he was on a “sick man diet” that caused him to lose 60 pounds. Feeling worse than ever, he decided to get back surgery to hopefully resolve the issue for good. His recovery after the procedure led to more painkillers and bedrest while his then-wife, Hall had to manage the entire household. He recalls feeling lonely and depressed over the course of six weeks while he recovered in their downstairs bedroom.
Eventually, there was a light at the end of the tunnel. The dad of three credits the TV series Intervention for inspiring him to get up and take a walk around their neighborhood one day.
“When I finished my walk, 90 percent of my pain was gone, which I’m convinced was the result of all that movement,” he writes. “And that was the very first step of my recovery. I once again had hope that through hard work, I would be able to get my life back.”
Read Tarek El Moussa's full story in Flip Your Life: How to Find Opportunity in Distress—in Real Estate, Business, and Life, out now.
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