Thursday, February 25

Ben Higgins’ Book: Everything We Learned About 'The Bachelor' and Beyond

A different (and darker) side of Ben Higgins. The former Bachelor detailed his painkiller addiction, his time on reality TV and his split from Lauren Bushnell in his new book, Alone in Plain Sight: Searching for Connection When You’re Seen But Not Known.

“The book started like a journal. Coming off [The Bachelor] and really before it even, there’s a lot of, like, emotions and stuff I couldn’t process internally,” Higgins, 31, exclusively told Us Weekly ahead of the book’s release on Tuesday, February 2. “I was going to counseling and they kind of recommended I write down, like, ‘Hey, when I’m in my darkest place, like, what are the things I’m feeling, what kind of brought me there?’ And then when I was in my, like, best and most joyful times, like, ‘What is it that brought me there … how am I feeling?’ So, I started writing all this down and I was recognizing some themes and trying to tie these messages together.”

When Higgins was approached about writing a memoir, he made it clear he didn’t want to write a Bachelor tell-all. Instead, he explored questions of feeling disconnected and misunderstood.

“I kind of went with that angle of ‘Alright, if so many people are feeling disconnected, why?’ And then is there a possibility of connecting again, like, what is it we’re missing?” he told Us.

Still, Higgins knew that fans would have questions about his time as the Bachelor, which resulted in his engagement to Bushnell. Less than two years after their proposal aired in 2016, the pair announced their split in May 2017.

“I wrote [the chapter about Lauren] because it is a part of my story. My life doesn’t fully make sense unless you know the entirety of my story,” he told Us, noting that he sent his ex-fiancée the pages upon completion. “She was super gracious. And she read it and she was, like, encouraging [about it]. One, because there is no ill will. She’s married and pregnant and life’s good. I’m engaged and super happy and life’s great. And, like, there’s no resentment or hard feelings there. When I wrote it, it was coming from a place of being healed and fully aware of how it all progressed, and how good it all progressed for both of us. And so, she was encouraging in it.”

Bushnell, for her part, married country singer Chris Lane in 2019. Last month, the couple confirmed that she is pregnant with a baby boy. Higgins, for his part, got engaged to girlfriend Jessica Clarke in March 2020. The duo, who recently bought a home together in Colorado, were forced to postpone their nuptials amid the coronavirus pandemic, but they have their hearts set on tying the knot in 2021.

“We will get married in 2021. That is something we’ve committed to no matter what. Either way, somehow, someway,” he told Us. “If we have a wedding, that’s fantastic. We would love that; it has been something we’ve both wanted. It’s what we’ve, like, I’d say, sacrificed over the last year to make sure we can do that. If we can’t, then we still make it happen. No matter what.”

Alone in Plain Sight is available now. Scroll through for the biggest takeaways from the book:

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His Father’s Illnesses

When Higgins’ mother was pregnant with him, his dad, Dave Higgins, was diagnosed with stage four cancer. While he nearly died, Dave recovered. However, when Higgins was a junior in high school, Dave’s heart was enlarged as a “direct result” of his past cancer treatment.

“They didn’t expect him to survive,” he wrote. “Three times that year my father handed me a blue folder and told me it contained everything I needed to know in case he didn’t make it. The blue folder is now symbolic and a tangible reminder of the fragility of life. My dad still updates it at least once a year.”


Courtesy of Ben Higgins/Instagram

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Painkiller Addiction

After undergoing knee surgery for a high school football injury, Higgins got addicted to painkillers. “Getting off the painkillers became even more difficult when a different kind of pain hit,” he wrote, referring to getting turned down by his top college, his longtime high school girlfriend cheating on him and his father’s illness. “The final piece of my dark puzzle fell into place when I started to treat people like objects that existed for my pleasure.”

While Higgins didn’t go into detail, he admitted that he “used a young woman as nothing more than an object for my pleasure” when he was high. He wrote: “When it was over, I discarded her. I didn’t care about her story or her desire for a relationship that wasn’t just physical and lasted longer than one night. I didn’t care that I’d hurt her. All I cared about was myself.”


Courtesy of Ben Higgins/Instagram

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Overcoming His Addiction

While Higgins admitted he didn’t remember much from his time of “bedridden shame and darkness,” which lasted approximately four months, he recalled the moment he knew something needed to change after he looked at himself in the mirror.

“When I made eye contact with myself, I felt like the devil himself was staring back at me. ‘Oh, God,’ I said out loud. ‘Who is this? This is not the man I ever wanted to be,’” he wrote. “I really meant the words, ‘Oh, God.’ It was the first prayer I’d prayed in a very long time — and maybe the most honest prayer I’d ever uttered. … I confessed to God how empty my life had become and how I did not want to stay on this path. If you are real,’ I cried, ‘save me from myself.’”

Courtesy of Ben Higgins/Instagram

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Becoming the ‘Unlovable’ Bachelor on Kaitlyn’s Season

Bachelor Nation met Higgins on Kaitlyn Bristowe’s season 11 of The Bachelorette. While Higgins’ feelings of being an “outsider” throughout his life was a common theme of the book, he referred to his insecurities as feeling “unlovable” on the reality show during a one-on-one conversation with Bristowe in 2015. He was sent home a couple of episodes after his confession. 

“Her rejection only confirmed my outsider feelings even more,” he wrote, noting that the moment “felt very private” even though it was captured by the ABC cameras. “A few months later the entire world (or at least the fans of the show) watched my moment of vulnerability play out, complete with added background music. Then something very surprising happened. … My words must have connected with all the outsiders out there, because one person after another wrote to tell me that they, too, struggled with feeling unlovable.”

ABC/Rick Rowell

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Signs of Trouble With Lauren

Higgins wrote that the first “crack in the foundation” of his relationship with Bushnell was in the “form of mistrust.” While he noted that the pair didn’t watch any of the episodes, it was clear that she wasn’t happy that Higgins told his runner-up, JoJo Fletcher, that he loved her the same week he said the L-word to Bushnell.

“Everywhere we went people asked about what they’d watched on that week’s episode. The questions were not healthy for us. Even without the questions, we wouldn’t have made it,” he wrote. “As we got to know each other outside of the fantasy dates of The Bachelor, we both started to realize that this perfect fit wasn’t nearly as perfect as we once believed.”

Higgins admitted that the twosome had “to work very hard at even the basics of our relationship,” including having daily conversations. “At times we had trouble talking. … Something just felt off, not at all what two people who were supposed to be madly in love with each other should feel,” he wrote.

Courtesy of Ben Higgins/Instagram

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Filming ‘Ben and Lauren: Happily Ever After?’

Not long after wrapping The Bachelor, Higgins and Bushnell started filming a Freeform spinoff titled Ben and Lauren: Happily Ever After?

“The producers added the question mark because they sensed there was trouble in paradise. By the time Happily Ever After? came along, there wasn’t a lot of joy left in our relationship,” Higgins wrote about the eight-episode spinoff, noting there was “tension and pain” in their romance at the time. “Neither of us was happy, but we were still doing our best to make the relationship work. We went to couple’s therapy and counseling, yet, no matter how many steps forward we took, it seemed something would hit us, and we’d be right back to confusion and doubt.”

Freeform/Adam Larkey

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Ben and Lauren Broke Up on the Phone

Higgins wrote that he and Bushnell struggled to admit to themselves — and each other — that their engagement wasn’t going to last.

“By the end we were barely speaking. The breakup itself came over the phone. If you wonder how you can end an engagement with a phone call, believe me when I say that both of us preferred it that way. Neither of us needed another tortured, face-to-face conversation about our relationship,” he wrote. “It was like our time on the show never really ended. At least, not the bad part. When the time came finally to throw in the towel, doing it in a phone call felt far healthier for both of us.”

John Salangsang/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

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The Last Time He Saw Lauren

Higgins recalled spotting Bushnell in New York City shortly after the breakup. He subsequently darted away from his ex and revealed he still doesn’t know whether she spotted him. “Two days after ending an engagement with a woman I once thought I’d live happily ever after with, I was happier hiding behind a street corner in New York than making eye contact with her in a crosswalk,” he wrote.

Courtesy of Ben Higgins/Instagram

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Meeting Jessica Post-‘Bachelor’

Higgins revealed that he was so “nervous” about getting into another relationship after Bushnell that when he met Clarke, he tried to fight his attraction to her. He also wrote that he was worried about dating in the real world again after the “unrealistic expectation” of Bachelor dates.

“The fantasy level for those dates was off the charts. But now, without ABC, I didn’t have access to a biplane and pilot to whisk us off on a perfect date in the desert where a hot tub was conveniently waiting for the two of us,” he wrote. “Outside of the television fantasy world, I no longer had any idea what a good date looked like, much less a perfect one like I’d want to arrange. And yet, I had met this amazing woman I couldn’t stop thinking about, and I didn’t know what to do. I felt like I’d set a certain standard on television, and I was sure she’d be disappointed if dating me outside of that world didn’t live up to it. That fear left me frozen.”

Higgins went public with his relationship with Clarke in February 2019.

Courtesy of Ben Higgins/Instagram

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