It’s been nearly six months since Jenni Pulos says Jeff Lewis fired her from Jeff Lewis Design. Now, the mom of two says she’s more than ready to move on.
“Change can be difficult, but I’m embracing it,” Pulos, who has co-starred with Lewis for 11 years on their hit Bravo home design show, Flipping Out, tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue. “There are so many things I’m grateful for.”
The once tight bond between Lewis and Pulos, who began as his assistant, was severed during a lunch when she claims he let her go from the company and verbally attacked her in a manner she found inexcusable. PEOPLE first reported the longtime friends had parted ways in September.
“When I saw who he really thought I was, our friendship was over,” says Pulos. “As a mother, and as the wife of a kind man, the behavior was no longer acceptable.”
Though Pulos says she was always planning to “see the show through,” the explosive fight was the final straw.
“It’s a culmination of things,” says Pulos. “When is it in a relationship where you just decide, enough? When it becomes too toxic.”
Since May, when Pulos says she last spoke with Lewis, the mother of two has reevaluated her often-tumultuous history with the fiery-tempered Lewis.
“We absolutely had a fight and makeup dynamic,” she says. “But who I was 11 years ago is very different from who I want to be today. And I own that a lot of what I enabled by not saying something, or by tolerating certain behaviors, was wrong. Mistreatment is unacceptable.”
Since they parted ways, Pulos has also navigated Lewis’ public allegations that she filed claims of wrongful termination and abuse and victimization against him and that she hadn’t actually worked for him in years, “faking” the relationship for cameras. Pulos firmly denies both allegations, claiming: “It was very real, it was very authentic and I’m proud of what we built.”
Now, Pulos is focused on her family (she has two daughters Alianna, 5, and Georgia, 17 months, with husband Jonathan Nassos) and on a new direction for her career.
“I’ve always been an entertainer, that’s what fuels me,” she says. “And I’m excited about the opportunity about working with people who are just happy I’m there. I don’t think any of us should stand in each other’s light.”