Bethenny Frankel's decision to leave the Real Housewives of New York City was so sudden it left the other cast members feeling lost. As part of a lengthy video to fans, Frankel revealed she had been debating the move to exit the beloved Bravo reality series but this week decided to just "do it. Let it ride."
The surprise decision reported left the other cast members — Ramona Singer, Luann de Lesseps, Sonja Morgan, Dorinda Medley and Tinsley Mortimer — feeling a "bit lost." The show also has a spot open for a new Housewife, with a few women reportedly testing out for the spot.
"Filming began hours after the announcement came out and it really threw everyone for a loop," a source told PEOPLE about Frankel's shocking exit earlier this week.
"Usually before a season, these women have some idea what the next few months will look like based on the dynamics of the group, but this has left everyone a bit lost," they added.
The insider said "most of the folks in production" thought Frankel would return for the 12th season of the reality television series, which started filming Wednesday — the same day Frankel announced in a statement to Variety that she would not return.
"I have decided to leave the Housewives franchise to explore my next chapter," the statement read. "It's time to move on and focus on my daughter, my philanthropy and my production partnership with Mark Burnett, producing and starring in shows which represent a shift in the conversation for women. With the changes in modern culture, I want to highlight the strength, confidence and unstoppable power that women have. My experience at Bravo has been an incredibly magical ride. I am so grateful to them for highlighting my entrepreneurialism and allowing me to pave the way for many women to achieve their goals. I am excited for my future. The best is yet to come."
Shortly after news broke Singer told PEOPLE Frankel had not talked to her co-stars about her decision. But the next day, the source added Bethenny "reached out to many" individually and that "the conversations between her and the cast were nice and supportive. Everyone wishes her well."
"She explained it was a very sudden decision. Bethenny didn't even consult [boyfriend Paul Bernon] about it," the source said. "She really listens to her heart and said she felt like it was the right time to take a leap and jump into this next adventure."
As to how Frankel is handling her decision, the source added, "she's feeling very emotional about it, but knows that you can only win at life when you swing big."