EPISODE 367
Jessica Buchanan
Jessica Buchanan: Survival Against Impossible Odds

Mark speaks with Jessica Buchanan, a humanitarian worker and activist who was kidnapped and held hostage for 93 days in Somalia. Today, Jessica works to help women foster their authentic self-expression through the development of their own manifestos.

Jessica Buchanan
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Show Notes

Today, Commander Divine speaks with Jessica Buchanan, a humanitarian worker and activist who was kidnapped and held hostage for 93 days in Somalia. Jessica miraculously survived to tell the tale in her memoir, Impossible Odds: The Kidnapping of Jessica Buchanan and her Dramatic Rescue by SEAL Team VI. In this episode, Jessica recounts her experience in captivity, how she coped and healed after survival, and how her kidnapping ultimately led her to a greater purpose.

Key Takeaways:

  • Finding strength in the unthinkable. As a teacher from Ohio, Jessica never thought such an extraordinary event could ever happen to her. But her experience taught her that not only was she not immune to having bad things happen to her, but she also learned she’s a whole lot tougher than she ever gave herself credit for. She says that she can now look back on her story as a reminder of her inner strength in moments of imposter syndrome.
  • Trust your gut. The night before her kidnapping, Jessica’s intuition was screaming at her not to travel to southern Somalia as she was instructed to do for work. In fact, she tried to cancel the work engagement twice, but was pressured by her colleague to go. The whole night before her kidnapping, she had nightmares that she was being kidnapped by pirates. She says her decision to go anyway was the biggest self-abandonment moment of her life. She has since vowed to always go with her gut, no matter what.
  • Finding humor in a hopeless place. Jessica says she relied on her “warped sense of humor” to keep her hopeful and strong over the course of her 93-day kidnapping. At one point, when her captors locked the keys inside all 3 getaway vehicles, she turned to her co-hostage and said, “It’s official, we’ve been kidnapped by the world’s dumbest pirates.” Humor is a hope-builder.
  • Surviving survival is not a linear process. Jessica says that surviving her survival has been two steps forward and 10 steps back. Whether you’ve experienced large or small traumas, you just don’t know what’s going to trigger you from day to day, so be gentle with yourself.
  • When life gives you lemons… Jessica made use of her 93 days in captivity examining every memory she could remember from her life. During this healing process, she reflected, analyzed, and deeply forgave others and herself. (This is actually very similar to an ancient practice called “recapitulation” from the ancient Toltec warriors.) From the ashes of her traumatic kidnapping, Jessica has now built a daily spiritual practice of meditation and journaling, which has become crucially supportive in her business working with women.

Quotes:

“I think so many of us just let somebody else shape us, and we go through life being this product of somebody else’s creation… we are responsible for our own creation and you got to get dirty and got to get messy in it. Growth is painful… but then you… can create this beautiful vessel that is you, that is serving the purpose that you were put here on earth to serve. No one can form that other than you.”

“I think that the whole point of the mess [of life] is to try to figure out what it all means.”

“I didn’t need to prove anything… like, I am not “that girl.” And so I think the deconstruction was that one, I am not immune, I am a human being having a human experience. And two, well, you know, I actually am “that girl,” and I am a whole lot tougher than I ever gave myself credit for. And now I have this baseline of surviving something that is really extraordinary to go back to when I feel like I want to fall into whatever it is… like impostor syndrome, or, you know, whatever mindset, I do have this baseline of… well, I did survive 93 days out in the desert. So maybe I can figure this next thing out.”

“I think one of the reasons my story has so much popularity is that it’s a seamless success. That doesn’t happen very often. There’s just too much at stake.”

“Surviving… survival is not a linear process. It is two steps forward and 10 steps back, and you just don’t know what’s going to trigger you from day to day. And this is very universal for anybody who’s experienced trauma, big T or little t.”

“I felt like I floundered for so long, because… I felt like I’d lost my purpose. You know, I thought it had shriveled up in the desert, and I didn’t get to bring it with me. It took me a long time to reignite and rediscover my purpose and rebuild my life and now… I’m so excited to get to my work day because what I do now is, I work with women who want to tell their stories through memoir manifesto and break into the professional speaking circuit… It’s so empowering to help a woman articulate her essence and what she has survived and then to turn it into a business so that she can make a lucrative income and tell her story, her hero’s journey. It is the reason I’m here.”

Mark Divine 0:04
Coming up on the Mark Divine show…

Jessica Buchanan
Surviving… survival is not a linear process. It is two steps forward and 10 steps back, and you just don’t know what’s going to trigger you from day to day. And this is very universal for anybody who’s experienced trauma, big T or little t.

Mark Divine 0:27
Hi, I’m Mark Divine. And this is the Mark Divine Show. On this show, I explore what it means to be fearless through the lens of the world’s most inspirational, compassionate and resilient leaders. My guests include notable people from all walks of life, martial arts grandmasters, military leaders, high powered CEOs, even kidnapping survivors. Each episode distills the remarkable experience of my guests, and brings you actionable insights to help you create the most compassionate and courageous life possible.

Today, I’m going to be talking about overcoming impossible odds, trusting intuition, speaking our truth, surviving harrowing experiences, and overcoming the trauma that follows survival. The word “survival” derives from the Latin super viver, literally which means to live beyond. Our guest today exemplifies survival and all aspects of that word. Jessica Buchanan, on October 25 2011, while on a routine field mission of service in Somalia as an education advisor, was abducted at gunpoint and held for ransom by a group of Somali pirates for 93 days, forced to live in the desert in deplorable conditions, starved and terrorized by gangsters. Her health steadily deteriorated. Then on January 25, under order by President Obama, she was rescued by our SEAL Team Six. Her ordeal is detailed in her New York Times best selling book Impossible Odds, the Kidnapping of Jessica Buchanan and her dramatic rescue by SEAL Team Six. She’s been named one of the 150 women who will shake the world by Newsweek. And she’s now a highly sought after inspirational speaker and her TEDx Pearl Street talk Change Your Proof of Life has been the foundation for which she travels the world to inspire audiences to help them access their resilience and identify their own autonomy and choice in their own life changing events. She’s the host of the podcast, We Should Talk About That. And she’s the co founder of the project new collective, she works with women to help them find their voice and share their stories with the world. Let’s get into it.

Mark Divine 2:24
Jessica, so stoked to have you on the Mark Divine show. How are you doing today?

Jessica Buchanan
I’m great. Thanks. Thanks for having me.

Mark Divine
Yeah, like I said, before we started, I remember reading about your story. And I told you, I know some of your teammates who were involved in that little episode of your life, which seems to have been a pivotal point for you. So it’s really cool to kind of connect the dots and meet you in person. Thanks for doing the show.

Jessica Buchanan
Likewise, thank you.

Mark Divine
So before we get into, like what you’re up to now, and some of the great work you’re doing, helping women be more courageous and confident, which is, like very important, obviously. And I applaud your efforts. Let’s talk about the Jessica, as a young woman, kind of trying to figure out her way in the world, like, what were some of your influences in your childhood, and one of my things that fascinates me is just what, how people are shaped and conditioned. And then, and then how that conditioning gets shattered, right, either through introspection, or through a life experience, like you had. So let’s talk about like, the piece of clay that became Jessica before, you know, Jessica became known to the world?

Jessica Buchanan
Wow. Well, that’s a great question, and one that I hope that people have the opportunity to actually sit with, because I think it’s an important thing for all of us to think about. Yeah, I was raised in the Midwest, essentially. I’m the oldest of three kids and very much raised in the church. So that was very much a part of our existence and our daily routines. My parents were very committed to their faith, and raising us with a strong moral compass and a commitment to values and to our faith. And so I think, largely, that is really what shaped me in terms of what I was going to do professionally, the way I showed up at work in my my personal life, I think it’s why I became a teacher, you know, it was very much instilled in me to whom much is given, much is required. And so I had been provided this life with all of these, you know, resources and given these tools, and I think the expectation was that I would then in turn, go and help. And I can see that because my sister is a social worker, my brother is an active duty Green Beret. So I think that we all have pursued a life of service and some regard and so I think that that is really what propelled me to go to Africa.

Mark Divine
Were you required to do a mission as part of your church?

Jessica Buchanan
Yeah, I mean, I went to a Christian school growing up and so like my senior year, we did a mission service trip to Mexico and I did, you know, lots of mission type trips, my first teaching student was in Honduras. And, you know, so just lots of exposure and opportunity to see the world and to experience just a whole different socio economic reality for so many people.

Mark Divine
In what ways did that limit you? I hear how it offered you broader perspective and taught you about service and some certain values, but in what ways could it have limited you?

Jessica Buchanan
That’s a really good question. I think in some ways, it limited me because I didn’t allow myself to explore any other types of alternatives. Right? You know, it was just like, well, this is what’s expected. And not that I don’t love teaching, I’m intrinsically a teacher at heart. But um, I’m not sure especially like that, you know, like, I’m in my 40s now. So I’m like hanging on the edge of the Gen X generation. And it wasn’t really like, instilled to me that as a woman, I could really go out and pursue whatever career I wanted. Like, there were a few different career opportunities available to me, they were all very service oriented, very focused around family, the expectation was that I would have a family.

Mark Divine
With this thing about this idea that you were only kind of allotted, you know, a few opportunities as a woman, there’s two kinds of comments that popped in my head. One is how quickly that has changed. How quickly that has changed. And then two is, I’m curious how much of that was related to the Midwestern values versus kind of the coastal values, right? Because it seems to me that let’s say this was 20 years ago, because you’re in your 40s. So in your early 20s, when you’re kind of coming out into the world, on the east coast, in the West Coast, or in the big metro areas, there seem to be a lot more opportunities, a lot more expectations. And so it’s curious to me like whether you perceive that, that the Midwestern, maybe the values were just a little bit more rigid or a little bit slower to evolve?

Jessica Buchanan
I think so. Absolutely. I mean, it could have just been my family, but I don’t think so. Yeah, I think so. Right. You know, and it’s not like no one believed I couldn’t do what I wanted to do. But it was just like, the options that I felt like I could pursue that were supported by my, like, my culture and my community, were very much at the heart of like, making room for a family, like being supplementary income, like the whole, like concept of making money as a woman was not something that anybody ever talked to me about in terms of like, you can do that. Right? Like you’re unlimited in your potential. Like no one ever said that to me, it was more like, you should be a teacher, because you’ll have kids and you’ll have your summers and your Christmas vacations off. Right? So what did I do? I became a teacher.

Mark Divine
Putting myself in your shoes, I could see how you really have no, you’d have no choice but to buy into that, because it makes so much sense.

Jessica Buchanan 7:57
Well, it’s the right thing to do.

Mark Divine
Your parents did it, your aunts and uncles did it, your siblings did it.

Jessica Buchanan
Right? 100%, it’s the right thing to do. And so I did that for a while. And I got married really young, because that’s what you did in the church. But that was a disaster. And so then I was like, 24, 25, divorced, and I’m trying to figure out what to do with my life. And so I kind of like, bucked at everything that had been told to me that that was what was available. And I was like, No, you know what, I get a second chance here, I’m not going to be limited. And so that’s really, I did have my teaching degree. But um, that’s when I started traveling. And that’s when I started, like, seeing the bigger spectrum of what the world consisted of

Mark Divine
And you used service as you’re traveling kind of vehicle.

Jessica Buchanan
Yeah, I think so. I mean, it’s a really good one. You can do some good and it’s safe. You know, again, as a woman who’s traveling alone, it’s a great way to go out and meet people and experience the world because it’s an amazing place.

Mark Divine
Sure, it’s so incredible that people don’t get off their butt and see the world.

Jessica Buchanan
It’s scary.

Mark Divine
I think, honestly, I grew up in a tiny little town, upstate New York, 375 people. It was a bumper community to town. They had like 80,000. And it wasn’t until I spent seven months over in Europe that I really woke up and recognized it. There’s a pretty big world around me. It’s not just all dairy farming and Future Farmers of America and…

Jessica Buchanan
Yes, and it’s intoxicating, right?

Mark Divine
I remember coming home from Europe, just being like, high. Like, I was in a flow state for months and months thinking, wow, something’s changed here.

Jessica Buchanan
Yeah, because you’ve changed. Yeah, cuz like you can’t come out of that without being changed for sure. Like I remember it was like all I could think about was okay, when I went to Africa for the first time, I spent the summer they were traveling around with a girlfriend doing volunteer work working in orphanages and you know, and I was hooked. I was like, this is like, this is the life for me, like I’ve got to figure out a way to do this. And so, you know, teaching is a really good avenue, because you can find a job anywhere.

Mark Divine
What organization did you find or align with to do that? What are the opportunities for young women who are listening going wow, that sounds cool. I want to do what Jessica did.

Jessica Buchanan
You know it’s tough like working, trying to get an internship for an international NGO is pretty competitive. There’s always the Peace Corps, but they don’t pay anything. And so that’s tough if you need to be compensated in some way. I think the best way is to if you are a teacher to become a licensed certified teacher, and then you can start off working in international schools, which is what I did, I finished up my student teaching at an international school in Nairobi, Kenya, and then they offered me a job. And I was like, yes, thank you, I will take that. And so then I stayed there for two years. And I’m an elementary school teacher, actually. So I taught fourth grade for a couple of years. But I met my husband at that point. And he, he’s Swedish, and he was working as an international… kinda like the equivalent of an international human rights lawyer, working for a Swedish organization. So then that opened up a whole new professional world for me as well, that I didn’t even know existed. Again, competition’s steep, but you know, if you’re studying international relations, or something along those lines, getting an internship to study abroad is like key.

Mark Divine
It’s nice to see that happening more and more with American kids. You know, for me, I was lucky enough that my college had a, you know, an overseas study program. That’s how I experienced my first and then I joined the SEALs, which was a whole different level of travel.

Jessica Buchanan
Yeah. That’s not available to everybody.

Mark Divine 11:36
We went to the most beautiful places in the world… not. Yeah, enjoy. The people try to kill us. That was a great vacation. But like, it just was not a big deal when I was growing up. And now like today, and but I would just hear about, like Australians and Europeans and, you know, doing your walkabouts. And we had two exchange students from Australia live with us. That was very cool. But it just wasn’t something that a lot of Americans did. And now it’s becoming more and more common, I would like to see it be part of everybody’s experience, you know, it should be like, Okay, take your year off, or your junior year of high school, you just go overseas, because it’s so important for us to develop that global mindset. If you don’t do it, you get really stuck, where you can get stuck in ethnocentrism or, or lo and behold, egocentrism, you know, which is really not good as you get older.

Jessica Buchanan
Well, it’s like, what’s her name? She’s this wonderful Nigerian writer. And she did this incredible TED talk called the danger of a single story. And it’s all about like, when you have not been exposed to the other parts of the story, the other sides of the story, how dangerous just like that one truth can be. Right? And I think that that’s what travel and those experiences do for us. Is it really, you know, I was, I had one single story, because I grew up in southern Ohio, like in the church, like there was one way and one way only, and then, you know, suddenly my whole world is blown up. And it was hard, like, I hit a wall. And I had this like, existential crisis that was real, like I had to go to therapy, like I had to deconstruct my faith, but necessary for growth.

Mark Divine
By the way, did that happen before after the main incident?

Jessica Buchanan
That happened before, it was right after I turned 30, and I was getting ready to get married. And all of a sudden, I just, I was just hit with overwhelming anxiety. Because I didn’t know what I believed anymore. I didn’t know what was happening to me. I thought I was going insane. And I found a therapist, and we started really unraveling, like this whole narrative that like just how we started this conversation. It was necessary actually, for me to have that experience prior to my main incident.

Mark Divine
You’re certainly not alone. I think more and more people are having those wake up, existential… I mean, look at something like COVID that can be like, a slap in the face to an entire culture or humanity. And it’s to me, as painful as those appear, they’re necessary for full adult development, right? To like, you used the perfect word, to deconstruct the story of how that clay of your unshaped mind is shaped by your family by culture. And it’s not optimal for you. I mean, there are aspects as you know, that will work but you know, it’s a good chunk of that, that you just want to reshape to work well.

Jessica Buchanan
Yeah, you have to be the artist shaping it. Like some of us, like, I think so many of us just let somebody else shape us and we go through life being this product of somebody else’s creation and we are responsible for our own creation and you got to get dirty and got to get messy in it. Growth is painful.

Mark Divine
It really is.

Jessica Buchanan
But then you become… to stick with this metaphor. I love metaphors. But you know, like, then you can you can create this beautiful vessel that is you, that is serving the purpose that you were put here on earth to serve. No one can form that other than you.

Mark Divine
That’s right. It’s like that… I wish I knew off the top of my head and I’m sure a listener will immediately identify the Japanese art where they put broken vases back together and they’re considered to be even more beautiful than the original?

Jessica Buchanan
Yes, I know exactly. They fill with the gold, like the gold line, they fill in the crack with the gold, right?

Mark Divine
Yeah, yeah, I love the idea that it seems painful. But then, in retrospect, it appears necessary and beautiful, right? So there’s a grace to that. And when we can become aware that these are important events in our life, then we can embrace the suck of the pain, right? And kind of really lean into it, as opposed to run away from it, which just prolongs the agony, so to speak.

Jessica Buchanan
Yeah, I mean, I think that the whole point of the mess is to try to figure out what it all means. And I have spent the last 10 years in dogged, like I think of the word dogged and I just picture myself like in the dictionary, like… I am the definition of dogged determination to figure out what this all means.

Mark Divine
Nipping at the tire of your spinning life. We’re gonna take these metaphors all the way, you know, right?

Jessica Buchanan
Oh, I do love a metaphor. But, that’s the whole point. If you miss out on that, then I think it’s just going to keep happening.

Mark Divine
Or you go into you know, you numb, right? You are in such deep denial and such compartmentalization. And then you’ve just kind of coast and 30 years will go by, and then suddenly, you’re 50 or 60. And you’re like, and then you can’t deny it or ignore it anymore. Right? And then it becomes a real crisis, because it shows up as disease or, or something even worse.

Jessica Buchanan
Yes.

Mark Divine
Here’s what’s on my mind. Can you articulate a few things that you deliberately deconstructed, and then who was the Jessica, what was the reconstruction, and then I want to talk about the incident where you were kidnapped, and kind of see how that helps you survive psychologically, emotionally, spiritually.

Jessica Buchanan
I think that prior to the kidnapping, it’s embarrassing to admit, but I think that I thought that I was somehow not invincible, but I ended up part of this has to do with being young too, right? Like you, you just don’t understand because you’re young, that the world can be really hard and painful. If you’re lucky. Some people learn that I think really early on,

Mark Divine
And you think everything’s bad is gonna happen to other people, never happen to you.

Jessica Buchanan
Yeah. And I’ve been through pain in my life, for sure up to that point. But I think that something broke in my trust, that I was like, in some sort of bubble, I don’t think I realized that I thought that I resided in some sort of, well, white privileged bubble. And that bad things didn’t happen to good girls like me. You know, I’m a school teacher from Ohio. Bad things don’t happen to girls like me. Right? And turns out, yeah, they do. But the thing is, is that if you had said to me, you know, even a week before this happened, hey, you’re going to be kidnapped, you’re going to be held hostage, and you’re going to be rescued by SEAL Team Six, I would have said, there’s no, like, I’m not that girl. Like, that’s not me.

Mark Divine
You’d be saying, on what TV show?

Jessica Buchanan 18:05
Like, I actually worked with a lot of girls who I think would have… like, no one wants to go through that. But you know, they kind of like, they were tough, right? And they like, wanted the street cred. And you know, all of like… that was not me. Like, I didn’t need to prove anything like I am not that girl. And so I think the deconstruction was that one, I am not immune, I am a human being having a human experience. And two, well, you know, I actually am that girl, I am a whole lot tougher than I ever gave myself credit for. And now I have this baseline of surviving something that is really extraordinary to go back to when I feel like I want to fall into whatever it is like impostor syndrome, or, you know, whatever mindset, I do have this baseline of like, well, I did survive 93 days out in the desert. So maybe I can figure this next thing out. And so I think the deconstruction of, again, like that narrative of like, I can’t do this X, Y, or Z, because it was not meant for me or it’s too complicated, or it wasn’t… a girl like me, can’t have something like that. I don’t limit myself anymore. Does that make sense?

Mark Divine
Yeah, I think what’s cool is that that was accessible to you before, but you just needed the experience to expose yourself to your inner strength. That’s cool. Okay, so let’s just talk about, you’re in Somalia, you’re teaching, right? You were teaching at a school there?

Jessica Buchanan
No. So I worked as an education advisor for a Danish organization. So we worked in community safety and armed violence reduction. So I was teaching but it was like, non traditional.

Mark Divine
Okay, so you’re involved in trying to make Somalia safer place… transition out of a long period of violence, which they’re still in. So thank you for doing that work. By the way, that’s important work.

Jessica Buchanan
Thank you.

Mark Divine
Let’s talk about the incident. What happened? And what were your thoughts and emotions? And what was it like when you suddenly realize that shits going down and this wasn’t an average day over there.

Jessica Buchanan
So it’s interesting, because this is an important part of the story that I’ve only really started talking about, really recently is that, like, I knew something bad was gonna happen. My intuition, my gut, it was screaming at me that day, or like, I tried to cancel, I canceled this training twice. And then had actually been pressured by my colleague to come down. Because I was living in Hargeisa up in the north, and this training was taking place in the southern part of Somalia. So like a less safe area. I didn’t want to go, I didn’t feel good about it. But he was basically like, if you don’t come down and do your job, I’m gonna report you to your supervisor. I went against my better judgment, but the whole night before October, I guess 24th, 2011 I had nightmares all night long that I was being kidnapped by pirates.

Mark Divine
Oh, shit.

Jessica Buchanan
Like, how much more specific can it get? I mean, my subconscious knew what was up.

Mark Divine
I bet you have serious like, you know, punching yourself in the face for not following that intuition.

Jessica Buchanan
Well, I learned that lesson, right? It was THE moment of self abandonment of my life. And I walked away from myself because I listened to what everybody else was saying. And I’m, you know, like I just…

Mark Divine
Which was a throwback to your upbringing.

Jessica Buchanan
Yes, 100%. I didn’t have a connection. I didn’t trust myself. And so yeah, we do our trainings. About three o’clock in the afternoon, we’re put in a convoy of vehicles when we’re supposed to be going back to the guest house, and we were apprehended at gunpoint, driven out into the desert, you know, for hours, forced to march out into the desert surrounded by 30, maybe 50 armed men, I don’t know, it felt like a whole militia, and then forced to participate in a mock execution.

Mark Divine
Were there just two of you? How many were there?

Jessica Buchanan
Just two of us, just me and my colleague, Paul, who’s a Danish gentleman at the time, he was 60. And yeah, like, what’s going through my mind is like, Why the hell didn’t I listen to myself? I’m 32 years old at the time, like, I don’t know what I did to deserve this to get here. Like, I put off having kids. I’m never going to become a mother. Like, this is bad.

Mark Divine
Did you think that you weren’t going to make it out of there at that point?

Jessica Buchanan
Yeah. Oh, 100%. I said my final goodbyes. I said goodbye to my husband, my dad, my mother had passed away the year before. And so I was very, like, deeply connected to her because I thought, like I was going to be meeting her really, you know, in that moment, when I was on my knees, waiting for my head to be cut off from my body.

Mark Divine
Oh, my God. So when you said mock execution, it was you. So you thought for a moment that they were going to cap you like they’re gonna end it?

Jessica Buchanan
Yeah. And not for a moment for like, a long time. Like on my knees. It was the most terrifying moment of my life thus far.

Mark Divine
Of course, yeah. Oh, my God, just I mean, my heart renders just thinking about that. Like, were you hooded, like we see in a lot of the, you know, scenarios?

Jessica Buchanan
No, no, you know, as dark we were out in the desert. I don’t think anybody was filming it. This group wasn’t, you know, and at the time, I didn’t know if it was like an ideological thing, or yeah, like… but they were gangsters. They call themselves pirates. You know, this happened at a time when there was a lot of piracy going on off the Horn of Africa in the Indian Ocean.

Mark Divine
It was the most lucrative profession in Somalia. Right?

Jessica Buchanan
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, we think of like Captain Phillips, that had happened, I think the year before. But then there were four Americans that had been there, like little yacht had been taken over and they all of them died. There’d been some British like a couple of British sailmen…?

Mark Divine
Sailors.

Jessica Buchanan
Thank you. They had been held for quite a long time on their boat, I believe a French woman, she died. So I mean, they and what was happening is the water was becoming so heavily patrolled. Thanks to, you know, people like you, that they were moving inland. And so they were taking, they were starting to take aid workers out of refugee camps. And in my situation, it was an inside job. We had a local security adviser who rigged the entire thing and I believe we were sold for $100,000. So his job was just to set it up so that they could take over the vehicle and then he got his money, I guess. And then we were, you know, at the hands of these guys, but it was like it was such a deeply well, I think, organized operation that had webs into the UK and into the US. There are financiers, like, it’s still an open investigation with the FBI like, it’s a big crime ring.

Mark Divine
It’s like, set up like a business, right?

Jessica Buchanan
100%, you’re just a commodity.

Mark Divine
So they finance this operation so they can get this, get you as a commodity to sell at a higher price, buy low, sell high. It’s just another form of human trafficking.

Jessica Buchanan
It is essentially, yeah. And then the guys on the ground who, you know, I had the most interaction with, they could be anywhere from like, six to 30 youngish men who were there, they were being paid like 20 bucks a day they got their chat to chew, cigarettes, and you know, they, they it was just a way to make some money. I mean, in a country where I think people live on like, less than a dollar a day, the average life expectancy at the time was 46 years, like, you know, as long as they don’t hit me, then, you know, it’s fine. They’ve got kids to feed, you know, it gets gray really fast.

Mark Divine 26:00
Okay, we’re gonna take a short break here from the Mark Divine show, to hear a short message from one of our partners.

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Mark Divine 29:13
Okay, so what was the experience when suddenly you didn’t die at their hands in that mock execution and kind of what was what unfolded from there? Probably a huge sense of relief, but then it’s like, okay, now you suddenly realize you’re in this for the long haul?]. Because one day turns into another, and another.

Jessica Buchanan
Yeah, I mean, I think that night, I knew somewhere in the back of my mind because of some training that I’d had through my organization that if I survive the first 48 hours, then my chances of surviving were pretty good. Like if they didn’t kill me in the first couple of days, then they’re probably going to let me live. I thought because we were aid workers, we had such a, you know, we had such a presence in the communities and lots of community support. And we’d been working there for years, that this thing would be resolved in a week, and then it didn’t and then maybe two weeks, and then it didn’t. And then weeks rolled into months. And you realize, I think probably I finally started to understand I was in it for the long haul, like 40 days in, when they had us record a proof of life video, they had this little, little camera that they record us making a message to our families that, you know, they need to, to put more money towards negotiations because things aren’t moving in the right direction. And then I thought, oh, boy, like, this could be the last time my family ever sees me alive, like splashed across AlJazeera, this is really not good. And so you know, there’s the complication of trying to stay sane, and trying not to fall into despair. And then also to keep your body healthy. When you’re living outside, like I was not taken to, like a house or any like a room or you know, anything. I was sleeping outside.

Mark Divine
Did you have a ground pad or anything?

Jessica Buchanan
I had a mat like just a mat. And for like, the first few weeks, not even a blanket or anything.

Mark Divine
Were there any critters you had to worry about, like you think about scorpions and snakes?

Jessica Buchanan
Yes. Yeah, I got very skilled at killing scorpions with my Birkenstocks.

Mark Divine 31:11
I don’t know why I’m laughing, just the image is crazy.

Jessica Buchanan
Yeah, I mean, it’s crazy to me to like sitting in my suburban DC home to think like, you know, I’ve got two kids now, like, if they knew what I was able, like, what I’ve been through, I mean, they do, but the extent like of like, yeah, I’d smack that Scorpion with my Birkenstock and get rid of it. Like what else are you going to do?

Mark Divine
What about at night? I mean, did you sleep at night or? I mean, what was it like? What was your daily rhythm like?

Jessica Buchanan
Well, 12 hours, you know, it’s it’s very predictable along the equator, that the sun comes up at six and goes down at six. And so, they made us sleep out in the open at night, which I never really understood. I felt like I’d be more protected under a tree or a bush. But they made us sleep out in open fields, which was really frustrating, because you would wake up soaking wet the next day from the dew and there was no way to like protect yourself from it. And then I would sit or lay depending on what bush I was instructed to go sit under. Sometimes I couldn’t sit all the way up, I would just have to lay there for 12 hours during the day undercover. And you know, we moved around a lot, I think probably 50 to 60 times, different, like camping spots, if you will. And I think that that had a lot to do with where we were allowed in terms of like clan permission. Maybe we were in clan, a particular clan territory. And then we needed to leave because, you know, we overstayed our welcome. So we needed to move into other clan territory. I never really knew. And it felt like we were running all the time. Sometimes we’d be woken up in the middle of the night, they’d get in my face and scream, you know, basically get in the car and then we drive all night. And for what I don’t know.

Mark Divine
They thought maybe someone had a beat on you or something like that. Was this like raw desert or you said field, was it like grassy?

Jessica Buchanan
It was like scrub, scrub desert and acacia trees and thorn bushes and rocks, lots of rocks.

Mark Divine
And what did they feed you?

Jessica Buchanan
Typically I had small tins of tuna fish that I could eat straight out of the can, and then I had a can of pineapple at night. I don’t know why these were what we were able to get. And then I learned how to make bread, you can actually bake bread in the ground, which is kind of a cool thing. A cool little trick I picked up.

Mark Divine
Might come in handy someday, you never know.

Jessica Buchanan 33:32
You never know, I can wow people with my camping cooking skills someday. But you know, and water, fairly regularly every once in a while we would run out and then they’d want you to drink like something from a diesel can and that always turned into a big huge ordeal because I wasn’t going to drink that. And you know, I lost about 40 pounds. So I’m a very tall person. I’m almost six feet tall. So when I got out, I believe I weighed 119 pounds.

Mark Divine
Oh wow.

Jessica Buchanan
So yeah, it was very dismal.

Mark Divine
Paul’s health didn’t do so well. Did you like get to talk to him? Was there any interaction during all this any type any schemes of escape or anything going on between you and Paul?

Jessica Buchanan
Yeah, not really any escape? We just knew that that wasn’t an option. Like I mean, yeah, people always think like really, seriously? But I mean, we’re out in the middle of the desert, you have no idea where the nearest town is, you’re not really even sure which direction to go in. It’s hot, can’t carry enough water, and we knew that we realized early on that the rest of the community was in cahoots together so if somebody found us, they would have returned us and then whatever like positive interaction we were having with our captors would end and the treatment would be worse. So Paul, actually I think his health did okay, it was my health started to decline like about two and a half months in. We did get to spend large portions of time together sitting on the mat, but then, you know, that was such a leverage thing for them. Like, if negotiations weren’t going well, then one of us would be dragged off, and they would drive us somewhere. And then they would like fire off a round of ammo, and then so that the other person could hear and then come back and say, well, we shot him. So you’ll never see him again, or vice versa. Time together was used as a reward and punishment tool. And, you know, the relationship with us was, we were friends. Absolutely. But it got complicated, because really, you know, he knew that this was, he actually divulged to me on day 27, that there had been a direct kidnapping threat on the organization that he had never told me about, because he didn’t want me to cancel my trip.

Mark Divine
Oh my gosh

Jessica Buchanan 35:45
So I was like, well, that sucks. And what am I supposed to do with that now, because you might be the last person I ever see in my life, like, I might never talk to another person who can really understand me. So I just shelved that until we got out. And then I still process that, like, I still have a really hard time with that. And then I got a urinary tract infection, just due to the lack of hygienic conditions, and it spiraled into a kidney infection, which was extremely painful and super scary, and really is what propelled the rescue mission.

Mark Divine
So I want to talk about the rescue mission. But one thing that kind of struck me, and I was curious about but I know you don’t have the answer to this, but just something to reflect upon is like, why did it have to come to you getting, you know, this life threatening situation for a rescue mission to be initiated?

Jessica Buchanan
So my understanding is that in a military intervention, there are a couple of different things that need to happen in order for a rescue operation for those wheels to be set in motion. One of them is if negotiations have stalled for such a long time, and that there has been no movement. And I don’t know what the criteria around time is. But if it appears that there’s just no way forward, then it could be brought into consideration. The other one is if the hostage is in imminent danger of loss of life. So if there I guess, is word of an execution, that’s, you know, valid, or if their health has declined to a certain extent. And so my understanding is that as soon as word was relayed through all the different layers of communication, that there was an American that had been taken hostage in Somalia, the SEALs started out on their rescue practice, if you will, immediately. And they were just like, practicing the different exercises over and over again, just waiting for word.

It was December 16, 2012. I, of course, I didn’t know that at the time, but I had what would be my last proof of life call, where they put me on the phone, and I talked to a representative for the organization. And I told her, you know, I am so sick, that if you guys don’t do something, like I need a doctor, I need an IV, you’ve got to get me out of here. Otherwise, I’m gonna die. And so they relayed that to Eric, to my husband. And then he took that information to my doctor, and my doctor said, exactly these words, well Eric, you gotta get her out of there. She has two weeks. And so he took that information to the FBI, Matt Espin Shane, who is the lead FBI agent on the case, and he is literally just God sent, that man, Eric will say that he was in the room with him. They were at the US embassy in Nairobi, and Matt and his colleague that he was with just looked at each other, and walked out of the room. And he knew something was going to happen. He didn’t know what, he didn’t know when, but he knew that the wheels had been set in motion.

Mark Divine
You didn’t know any of that, of course.

Jessica Buchanan
No. Oh, god. No, I had no idea that anything like that, I had no idea anybody knew I was out there.

Mark Divine
And they couldn’t tell your husband, they couldn’t even kind of assert that something was happening.

Jessica Buchanan
Yeah, nothing.

Mark Divine
That’s fascinating. I don’t know a whole lot about hostage recovery. But it seems like the risk would go up, the longer something goes on. Just seems like the earlier you can intervene and get someone out, if you know their location, or they I just think one, they want to see if it can work itself out. You know, if payments are made, that’s great and ends happily.

Jessica Buchanan
I mean, the thing is, I think one of the reasons my story has so much popularity is that it’s a seamless success. That doesn’t happen very often. There’s just too much at stake.

Mark Divine
Right? You’re committing enormous resources and other lives to do a rescue. And sometimes they go bad. You know, I remember we lost a SEAL on another rescue. Tim Keatings, a great operator, you know, and just the way things went down, successful rescue, but he took a bullet, you know, just like a stray bullet that ended his life.

Jessica Buchanan
And my family knew that too. They were never, they never pushed for a military intervention because if there had been loss of life on the American side I would never, I don’t think I would ever have been able to recover from that.

Mark Divine
Just the guilt complex?

Jessica Buchanan
No, there’s no way. So my recovery and what I’m able to do now is largely in part to the fact that the rescue was so successful, you know, because I think about like, these men that jumped out of this plane, and I’ve had the good fortune to meet many of them, and some of them, their families, and like, the one that actually carried me out of the desert, his wife was eight months pregnant at the time, you know, and I’ve worked through a lot of trauma counseling, and a lot of therapy, like, you do carry around a sense of responsibility, like I made a choice that put me there. And then all of this had to happen to get me out. And you know, who am I and like, that’s a big huge, like, identity crisis, really. And then, like survivor guilt and everything, but like if something had happened, oh, gosh, like, how do you carry that around? But I’m glad I don’t have to.

Mark Divine
Can you identify one or two of the most important things that you did psychologically, that helped you maintain kind of your composure and your strength while you were in captivity?

Jessica Buchanan
I definitely think the turning point for me, I kind of have like a warped sense of humor, in general. And so I would find things to actually laugh about. I remember, at one point, it was kind of early on, Paul and I woke up on the ground, and I looked over, there was all of this, like, shuffling and all of this like, I don’t know, drama happening over under the trees. And there were three Land Cruisers, like our getaway vehicles. And I realized, after watching all the pirates run around, they were all freaking out, like what is happening, they had locked the keys inside of all of the vehicles. And I was like, I looked over at Paul and I was like, It’s official, we have been kidnapped by the world’s dumbest pirates. Like they just locked the keys in all of the getaway vehicles, like seriously? And there were things that would happen like that, that, you know, you just had to laugh like, this is so bonkers. These guys are so stupid, like, seriously. But I think really, the thing that was the turning point for me, when I realized I was in this for the long haul like this, we were talking, I’m starting to think I’m going to be here for years, I had been really considering when I got back from this trip, before everything went awry, I was going to take some time off and go find myself. I had mentioned I had lost my mother the year before. And I lost her very suddenly and very tragically. And I was still very much in the middle of processing and in grief. And I was going to take like three months and like go to India and sit in an ashram and just…

Mark Divine
So the universe had you sit in the desert in Somalia instead.

Jessica Buchanan
100%, I remember I woke up one morning and I was like sitting under a tree. And I thought, well, the Buddha reached enlightenment by sitting under a tree. Jesus wandered around the desert for 40 days. So maybe this is my chance. Like, you know, I don’t know, I have all the time in the world, I have nothing to do. And so what I did was I got my thoughts organized. And I decided that I was going to segment my life, like go back to as far back as I could remember, my first memory was like when I was four years old. And my mom took me to the movie theater for the first time, I have this very distinct memory of her taking me to go see Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. And I got so detailed in my mind around the memories of that, like the color of her dress, what did the popcorn taste like? I went through every single memory that I could possibly come up with that had ever happened to me in my life. And I held it. I evaluated it, I analyzed it, I felt it. I forgave people, I forgave myself, I went through this, like day after day, and it had gotten to the point where it was like, I started to look forward to it. Because it was like, like, who gets to do that? Who takes the time to do that?

Mark Divine
I don’t know if you knew this, but I’m going to share it anyways. But the ancient Toltecs had a practice called recapitulation. And it was for young warriors before they were allowed to become, you know, like fully admitted into the warrior class. So they sent them out into the wilderness alone. Of course, they didn’t have armed men around him. But you know, they were there alone. And they had to go back through their life day by day and remember everything in full detail like you just described, and then come to terms with it, meaning they had to acknowledge the regrets and like go home and they had to appreciate and you know, the experience for what it was, but it would have had to teach them. They had to do this all the way back to birth. And it took them a full year. The purpose was multifold. One of them was to be alone and to learn, you know that you’ve got all the resources you need right inside of you. The second was, and this is my thinking, right? Like my interpretation of why they did it. I’d never read this. But the second thing was to develop their mind right, as you experience like using imagery and sitting in silence and using your mind, you suddenly realize you have this enormous capacity that you know, when you’re just completely distracted and focused outwardly, you never develop, you never notice. And then third is to release all the energy of regrets, all the energy of victimization, all the energy of trauma that has happened naturally to humans as they grow up, to release all that, which then frees you up to be spontaneous and pure as a warrior. It’s so incredible that you had that experience, because that’s a very powerful spiritual practice.

Jessica Buchanan
It is, and I didn’t, I’ve never heard that before. So I’m definitely going to go look that up.

Mark Divine 45:39
I don’t know where I found that. I’ve studied warrior stuff for years. And so I’ve come across some of the most interesting things.

Jessica Buchanan
I appreciate that because that is exactly what I did. And that is exactly what I found on the other side, is that I call it my shero’s journey. We all have the capacity and the opportunity for that.

Mark Divine
You just got to take the time.

Jessica Buchanan
Yeah. And I was forced into it for whatever reason.

Mark Divine
Yeah, I wouldn’t recommend that approach.

Jessica Buchanan
No, no. Yeah, no. But you know, I think that I think it could have been, I guess, in a weird way, a missed opportunity. And I seized that moment, just out of sheer desperation to maintain my sanity, and it ended up being a really beautiful, spiritual experience.

Mark Divine
You answered one of my bigger questions, I was gonna ask you, did you have a meditative practice prior to this? Now that I know the answer, and I want to come back to kind of like your rescue piece, but um, do you have a meditative practice now as a result of that?

Jessica Buchanan
Oh, god, yeah. Oh, yeah. I mean, like, I spend the first hour of my day in meditation and journal writing, and, you know, I pull cards, like, I’m very reliant on my spirit guides, like, while it’s not like streamline the way I grew up, but I have a very rich spiritual practice and connection to myself and to my Creator. And I just can’t imagine getting up and starting my day without that, so, and I do have the, the kidnapping to thank for that, for sure.

Mark Divine
I’m so glad you shared that. Because in my training, and I talked about a lot, that morning time of introspection, however you construct it, you know, and I agree journaling, meditation, visualization, support, you know, such you called drawing cards, my wife and I have this, these cards that we love called Earth warriors, which are fascinating and just love them. We reflect upon different lessons such as Course in Miracles and you know, different Yogis that I love who you know, and we and so we’ll just pull something and reflect upon it. And I get to do it with my wife. And so when you can do a spiritual practice with a partner is powerful, but I couldn’t imagine a day without it now. And I, you know, once you get into that, and you habituate that and you suddenly realize, wow, that’s the most important time of the day for you. And we call it winning in your mind before you step into the battlefield.

Jessica Buchanan
Yeah. 100% Yeah, I mean, it’s, it’s crucial to my business too. And what I do now, because it’s largely intuitive, and the work that I do with other women, and so like that time is a non negotiable, like, I do it by myself and I have two little kids. So like for me to carve out from 530 to 630 in the morning, when people want breakfast and are trying to get on the school bus service. It takes a commitment. But I have a partner who is very supportive of that and shields everybody so that I can do that because he understands how crucial that is for my health, and my spiritual health.

Unknown Speaker 48:46
okay, we’re gonna take a short break here from the Mark Divine show to hear a short message from one of our partners.

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Mark Divine 52:52
You know that I’m a Navy SEAL, I was never involved in a hostage rescue. And I love my teammates at Team Six, I didn’t get to experience Team Six, because I got out of the Navy because I got married. And I was heading that direction. But when I got married, it just got, I had to make a choice. My wife wasn’t going to go that direction with me. So I chose to stay married and you know, got out and stayed in the reserves and you know, ended up having some pretty cool experiences. But um, so SEAL Team Six, obviously these guys and the whole team. It’s not just guys, the whole team is very, very skilled. And you got to experience that skill firsthand. Tell us about that. What was that like? Did you know that? Did you feel like with your intuition that they were coming or did they just show up like ghosts out of the night?

Jessica Buchanan
Oh my gosh, yeah. Well, ghosts in a blaze of fire.

Mark Divine 53:40
Right? Must have been both exhilarating and terrifying at the same time.

Jessica Buchanan
Well, I didn’t know. I mean, I didn’t know that it was help.

Mark Divine
Could have been warlords, could have been anything, right?

Jessica Buchanan
It could have been, yes, that and that’s what I thought, again, it was my second, like, what I perceived as a near death experience. Because I went to bed that night. There are two stars that would come out at the same time every night, and really big and beautiful and bright, because there’s no ambient light so the sky is just gorgeous. And I named one for my mom. And so I would talk to her, you know, every night. And this night, like, you know, literally and I mean, it is just so synchronistic that I, I said to her look, I need you to go and tell God that he needs to do something because things are not going well, like I am… my mind is strong, but my body is not, like it’s starting to fail. And I knew I had a couple of weeks left. I go to sleep, I wake up a few hours later, probably somewhere around midnight, really and I need to be sick. And there were nine guys on the ground that night. And I said the word toilet which is always how we asked to be excused from our match. And no one was awake. Like everybody was completely passed out which was odd because there was always at least one guy on the ground that was keeping watch in guard, but everybody was completely passed out. I say toilet a couple of times. No one wakes up. So I pick up a small penlight like a flashlight and start flashing it as I walk to try them, I remember like crawling at this point really, to a nearby bush, do what I need to do, come back to my mat, wrap myself up in my blanket. And then I start to hear what sounds like a small animal coming toward me in the brush. And I think that maybe it’s these big beetles that would come out in the middle of the night and they would like crawl in my hair, and they would get in my clothes and I was just like, like, you know what I mean? Like done, like, I’m done with all of this, I can’t do, I’m not in the mood for this tonight. I get up and trying to shake things out. Nothing’s falling out. So I don’t know. I think maybe it’s, it could be like hyenas or something coming, I don’t know. And then I lay back down and get settled in. Because really, sleep was so protected for me when I could finally fall asleep. Because it was my only escape. It was the only time that I wasn’t present in that hell. And so the pirate on the left, his name is Dyeer, he jumps up and I can’t see him because now everything has gotten clouded over there’s no moon, I can’t see the stars and it’s just really dark. And he starts whisper-screaming at the other guys, you need to like basically get up, get up. And they’re like, rousing but they’re confused. And then the night just erupts into automatic gunfire. I can hear that guys like the pirates like some of them are being shot, like they’re hitting the ground. They’re moaning. And I am still on the ground just like pressing myself down into the ground trying to disappear because I’m thinking it’s another group or maybe it’s al Shabaab. And if it’s Islamic extremists, then I’m dead. And so somebody grabs my arms and my legs and starts shaking me. And I’m trying to fight back. But then they pull the blanket away from my face, and I can’t see anything, you know, it’s just like dark, like masks like figures, you know, and I’m in shock. Like, I’m just, I’m so terrified. And then I hear like the voice of a very, like, sounds pretty young. He sounds like my baby brother, American man. And he knows my name. And he says something to the effect of like, Jessica, it’s okay, we’re the American military. You’re safe now. We’re gonna take you home.

Mark Divine
Wow.

Jessica Buchanan
And he helps me sit up. And then I’m starting to make out like things a little bit more clearly. And all I can say over and over again is like, you’re American? You’re American? We were like, because I’m trying to picture like, how did anybody know we were here? Like, where did they come from? Like, how did like, what did you plan this? Like, what is going on here? And we get to a point, like, someone picks me up, takes me over to a place that’s safe. And Paul is there and he has survived. And he says, you know, like, do you know who these guys are? And I’m like, I have no idea. He says these, like, this is SEAL Team Six. Like, these are the same guys that got Osama bin Laden. And I’m just like, having a full circle moment of like, I’m a school teacher from Ohio. Like, how is this my life? Right? And yeah, like, we then are hauled onto helicopters and then taken to an airstrip. And then we’re taken to Djibouti to a military base where I get to talk to my husband, like over the phone and my father and then were reunited in Italy at a military base. And yeah, so then, then the rest is history.

Mark Divine
And you got healed up no problem?

Jessica Buchanan
Yeah, I mean, I was in the hospital for a while. But got that. I mean, all I needed was antibiotics, and some hydration and stuff. So. So the body healed faster than the mind did for sure. I think that’s an ongoing, that’s an ongoing journey.

Mark Divine
Let’s talk about the trauma healing from that, again, because that’s traumatic, the healing is traumatic, just just like the experience is traumatic. But sometimes in the experience, you’re not aware of the trauma that’s happening.

Jessica Buchanan
Well, exactly right. And because you only have to survive.

Mark Divine
Just surviving. Right.

Jessica Buchanan
So I call that that next part surviving survival. And that’s a whole other can of survival worms,

Mark Divine
You know, just let’s just kind of like, talk about surviving survival. And then how you… and I imagine part of that was turning around to help other people, right. And so how that parlayed into you, helping other women overcome trauma and emotional development and becoming stronger, and then what you’re up to today, and that kind of stuff.

Jessica Buchanan
So I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Mark Divine
Imagine that.

Jessica Buchanan
Not surprisingly. Right. And then shockingly, I got pregnant with my son two weeks after the rescue.

Mark Divine
Oh, wow. Didn’t waste any time.

Jessica Buchanan
We always joke that that’s called impossible odds. I know, right? Our book is called impossible odds. But that was the impossible odds. Because like, Who would have thought that that would happen? So I was thrown into juggling PTSD and motherhood and moving because we, you know, we left Africa after a year, my son was born there, but my anxiety became so unmanageable that we had to leave and so we relocated to the US and I’ve got this Swedish husband and a baby and I got a New York Times bestselling book and I like can’t sleep at night. And so it was a dark, dark night of the soul. Dark. And I’m just really grateful that I’ve had support from my family and mental health professionals.

Surviving survival is not a linear process, it is two steps forward and 10 steps back, and you just don’t know what’s gonna trigger you from day to day. And this is very universal for anybody who’s experienced trauma, big T or little T. And so I think, for me, I would talk about it in the context of like an interview or the book or you know, then I started speaking professionally, but to talk about the real, people want to hear this, I was telling the story that people wanted to hear, but I wasn’t speaking my truth. And it takes a long time to navigate and to articulate what is your truth. And that, you know, has really just come about in the last couple of years, I started a podcast called, We Should Talk About That. And we’re very focused on providing a platform for hard conversations, so that we can reduce stigma, and other people can hopefully feel less isolated and alone. And I think that that’s really when I started to turn a corner because all of a sudden, I was saying, in articulating and calling out the things that were hard and I was changing. I’ve been telling this story very much as in, this happened. And this SEAL saved me as if I was a damsel in distress. And while I needed the help 100% and always grateful to the end of my days, I realized after I was… had a reuniting, meeting with several of them, about four years ago, that there could actually be room for more than one hero in a story. And that I could be a hero, too. And so I think that’s when I really started to step in my power and take ownership of the strength that I had stood in and walked in and the strength that it took to survive that then and then in this surviving survival, and then it was kind of like, oh, well, then you couldn’t shut me up. So now I’ve got all this stuff to say.

Mark Divine 1:02:08
I love it. That’s cool. Yeah, it unlocked a whole nother, you know, gusher of sharing. Because now you are able to share your trauma and your recovery and all that as part of your hero’s journey. Whereas before you were probably shameful about it and had some guilt.

Jessica Buchanan
I think so. And I just didn’t know, like, where I was in that story, like what part I played, really. But now I know.

Mark Divine
What healing modalities were most effective for you?

Jessica Buchanan
So I’ve had a lot of different types of trauma treatment, I would say accelerated resolution therapy.

Mark Divine
Tell me about that, I don’t think you’ve ever heard of it.

Jessica Buchanan
It’s a spin off, if you will, of EMDR. So I am good friends with Rebecca Gregory, who’s a survivor of the Boston Marathon bombings, an amputee and she runs a foundation called Rebecca’s Angels, and they provide trauma treatment for children and their families who experience trauma. And the modality that they use is accelerated resolution therapy. And it is intense. It’s very intensive, like it’s like a week long treatment, but it is highly effective. And basically, what you can do is change the ending somehow in your brain to these traumatic events. Like it doesn’t bury them. It just helps you change the way your brain remembers it. And it has been highly effective for me.

Mark Divine
Super cool. I’m gonna dig into that. And I’m gonna I’m gonna reach out to Rebecca.

Jessica Buchanan
Yeah, I’m happy to connect you.

Mark Divine
Yeah, thank you. That’d be awesome. I’ve never heard of that. But I am a big promoter of EMDR. And, you know, what’s worked for a lot for vets and my, my peers, you know, brain stimulation, electric stim, psychedelics, you know, these things all work together. And then we have a nonprofit that I started called the Courage Foundation, and we do integrative development. You know, we do post traumatic growth. So all these interventions are important, but then we work on them for a year to help with that long term growth because as you know, you can slip back and your environments are important and teamwork is important and getting a new mission is important.

Jessica Buchanan
Well, I was gonna say that’s exactly it. Because that’s, I felt like I floundered for so long, because I didn’t, I felt like I’d lost my purpose. You know, I thought it had shriveled up in the desert, and I didn’t get to bring it with me. It took me a long time to reignite and rediscover my purpose and rebuild my life and now I wake up, like, you know, I get up at 530 in the morning, do my things. I’m so excited to get to my work day because what I do now is, I work with women who want to tell their stories through memoir manifesto and break into the professional speaking circuit, because still, I mean, you know, 70% of the speakers that are hired to keynote at conferences are still men. I love men, they’re great, but I think there needs to be more representation, a female contingent. And I’ve, you know, been working. It’s so empowering to help a woman articulate her essence and what she has survived and then to turn it into a business so that she can make a lucrative income and tell her story, her shero’s journey. It is the reason I’m here. And so it’s yeah, it’s really gratifying.

Mark Divine
Well, that’s probably a great place to kind of wrap this. So what’s the organization that you run called? And what’s your website? What’s your social media? What’s all the data?

Jessica Buchanan
Great, so you could look me up under my website, just jessbuchanon.com my services are under Soul Speak. I am starting my own publishing imprint. I just actually today sorted that all out, it’s called Soul Speak. So super excited about that. And my podcast is We Should Talk About That. @westatpod and you can find me on Instagram at Jessica C. Buchanan, and that’s where I hang out the most. I like to hang out on Instagram.

Mark Divine
Jessica C Buchanan at Instagram.

Jessica Buchanan
Yes, sir.

Mark Divine
Jessica, man, this has been so awesome. What a great, great story. What a great person you are. Thanks so much for doing all the work and to be able to show up like you do and for helping women the way you are.

Jessica Buchanan
Thank you. I appreciate the opportunity. This has been just amazing.

Mark Divine
Thank you. Yeah, that’s neat.

Jessica Buchanan
Thank you. Appreciate that.

Mark Divine
Hoo-yah.

Mark Divine 1:06:19
That was an incredible episode. What a really interesting person. Jessica Buchanan. Incredible story of her experience. 93 days in the Somali desert, dealing with what she calls the dumbest pirates ever. I loved her sense of humor. I loved her talking about her survival and coping mechanisms using humor and also what I call a practice of recapitulation, where she went back to every important powerful event of her life and relived it and positively recontextualized it, what an extraordinary practice. How her failing health led to her ultimate rescue at the hands of my friends and teammates at SEAL Team Six. Really cool to hear that story.

Summary of the episode is up at our website, show notes and transcripts are there at Mark Divine.com You can find a video on our YouTube channel at Mark Divine.com/youtube and social media you can find me on Twitter at Mark Divine and on Instagram and Facebook at real Mark Divine, always find me on LinkedIn and send me comments notes or recommendations for guests questions you’d like me to answer on my next q&a.

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As you know, the world is constantly changing. And that change is picking up pace. I say that we’re in an exponential age. And we need an exponential mindset to deal with an exponential age. That mindset is one of great compassion, inclusivity, global mindset, a mindset of courage, and a mindset of healing and a mindset of growth. And with these different aspects of an exponential mindset, we can navigate VUCA with ease, but we don’t do it alone. We do it with our teams. So we’re developing here, a team of teams or a tribe of teams who thrive on creative exchange, thrive on growth, and thrive on service. Gotta cultivate these qualities in ourselves first, you become a light for others. Thanks for doing the work. Thanks for following the Mark Divine show, and until next week, hoo-yah.

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