"I could not breathe -- literally, could not breathe."
In her new book, Point of View: A Fresh Look at Work, Faith, and Freedom, the 41-year-old TV personality reveals how she felt when she was asked to leave the show in 2013 after nearly 10 years on the morning show.
“By March 2013, 10 years after I first got the job, things had begun to feel unusual. There was a lot of guest hosting going on," Hasselbeck recalls. "I remember Brooke Shields coming in with a team of assistants studying the topics really hard in the makeup chair, going over notes with an effort that seemed, well, familiar. I remember the instant I thought, 'Wait a minute!' And it dawned on me: Brooke was not just guest hosting; she was applying for a job. My gut instincts had been telling me that someone was going to be joining the show, and those instincts were being proven daily."
After that initial feeling, Hasselbeck recalls a knock on her door that changed everything.
"When I looked up, not one but two male figures stood there -- the producer of The View and an ABC executive. 'We would like to speak with you about something,' one of them said," she writes. "Without emotion, without wasting a minute, they told me they were not renewing my contract. They said the show would be going in a less political direction, and that I could leave that day or the next day or stay for the remainder of this current season -- but, come September, they were replacing me."
"I could not breathe -- literally, could not breathe," she continues. "Gasping, I asked permission to get my inhaler and, after fumbling around the mess of my office (asking myself why I couldn’t have cleaned up that morning so it would have been easier to find the thing), took a puff, then another. I was bent over -- shock, asthma, and betrayal all stealing my wind."
Despite the "challenging" nature of the show, Hasselbeck writes that she "would have done anything to keep" her position. Though she didn't maintain her role at the time, Hasselbeck says she was recently offered the opportunity to return to the long-running ABC series.
"Although I could let go of it in my head, it took about six years for my heart to match what I had been asking it to feel. The checkup on my true sentiments came with a call I never thought I would get: The View asking me back," she writes. "Jim Ornstein, my broadcasting agent, let me know that ABC wanted to talk with me about something. Hours later, I was on the phone with an ABC executive who told me they wanted me back in the chair five days a week. The chair I had? The chair they had truly pulled out from under me? That chair? Six years after they took that chair away, they were offering it to me again."
"I would have anticipated my response to be 'Nice try, I’m busy now' and hanging up the phone. But God had changed my heart over the years. He allowed me to leave well enough, to heal well enough, and to hear that call as an invitation in my right-now grace instead of my back then resentment," she continues. "I decided to pray about the offer and talk to [my husband] Tim. Making sure I could hear God’s direction was more important than anything else. Through prayer, peace about the decision came. And with that, I also felt thankful that they asked me back."
Though she hasn't returned to the show in a permanent role, she did appear on The View during its episode on Tuesday. While discussing her new book, Hasselbeck expressed only positive feelings about being back at her spot around the table.
"I think when you spend a decade with anyone, I mean, when you think about it, it's between the ages of eight and 18 in many ways, and I feel like I grew up here. I had babies here. It's like a family," she said. "So this actually feels really good, I have to say. And I'm thankful. God's been really good to let me come back."
"I'll be honest, when I wrote this book, one of the things I said was, 'I'll write this book, God, but I won't go back to The View to talk about it,'" she quipped.
Throughout her book, Hasselbeck also discusses her relationship with View co-host Whoopi Goldberg.
"I love Whoopi Goldberg. That shocks many people. Apparently, people are not supposed to love someone who thinks differently than they do," she writes. "I guess we are not even supposed to like her. But I don’t just like Whoopi; I love her. In fact, I love her a lot… She and I started off our friendship on the wrong foot. We approached each other like two stranger dogs at the park -- circling, then a little biting, and then… forever friends."
"What began as enemy status by the world’s standards became a life-long friendship because what Whoopi and I know is that life is about people, not politics," she continues. "… She was strong in her positions, but did not expect me to change mine.”
On Tuesday's episode of The View, Hasselbeck further praised both Goldberg and their friendship.
"Whoopi and I don't think the same about a lot of things, but we love the same and that's good," she gushed. "We should be able to hold our beliefs, which we have a right to, thank God, and hold the hands of our friends."
While Hasselbeck and Goldberg may be on excellent terms, the same can't be said for Hasselbeck and her former View co-host, Rosie O'Donnell. In a recent interview for an upcoming book, O'Donnell says she had "a little bit of a crush" on Hasselbeck and claims there were "underlying lesbian tones on both parts."
O'Donnell further calls attention to Hasselbeck's time playing softball in college, saying, "There are not many, in my life, girls with such athletic talent on sports teams that are traditionally male that aren't at least a little bit gay."
"I think what she said was reckless, untrue and, not only insulting, disturbing when it comes to how she felt about somebody in the workplace," Hasselbeck said on The View, echoing her own comments on Fox & Friends earlier on Tuesday. "... If you replace what Rosie said and you take her name out and you put in 'Reuben' or 'Robert' then we would be in a situation where you would see the objectification of a woman in the workplace. That's disturbing because where we may be really against that when it comes from a man to a woman, you don't get a pass because you're a lesbian objectifying a woman in the workplace. You just don't."
"The feeling was not mutual, but I did respect her as a co-host and as a person in the office as I think it should happen in all workplaces, but I think what we're hearing is we should be as disturbed about that in this case as we [would] have been in the fact if her name was Robert," she continued. "Secondly, I think what she said about female athletes... it's a lie and it's reckless to attach a sexuality to that. And I think it's selfish on her part... Just because you're athletic, doesn't have anything to do with your sexual preference. It just doesn't."
Hasselbeck concluded her statements by discussing the grace of God and offering her forgiveness to O'Donnell.
"I absolutely forgive her because I was disturbed by what she said and I was offended by it. She has my forgiveness, full heart and I really pray that she can just have the peace that she deserves. That's my ultimate prayer," Hasselbeck said. "There may be some truth tackling to be done in it, but it's not without the grace that I hope that she's OK. And I hope that she's at peace and I hope she and I can get to a place of peace at some point, but more I want it for her more than anything else."
Watch the video below for more on Hasselbeck and O'Donnell.
Rosie O'Donnell Says She Had a 'Little Bit of a Crush' on Elisabeth Hasselbeck While on 'The View'