Feb. 9, 2023

Breaking Free from Trauma: The Journey to Triumph with Inspiring Survivors

Join us for an inspiring episode of our podcast as we delve into the lives of three incredible trauma survivors who have overcome their past and transformed their lives into triumph... See show notes at: https://www.thinkunbrokenpodcast.com/breaking-free-from-trauma-the-journey-to-triumph-with-inspiring-survivors/#show-notes

Join us for an inspiring episode of our podcast as we delve into the lives of three incredible trauma survivors who have overcome their past and transformed their lives into triumph. These three guests have broken free from the shackles of their past and are now living their lives to the fullest.

Sue Bowles, a certified life coach, speaker, and author, will share her journey of overcoming rape, suicide attempts, and an eating disorder. Joey Braun, the host of the Mind Shape podcast, will talk about how he used his own story of bullying and autoimmune disease to help others. Lastly, Mallissa J Vogel, a keynote speaker, workshop host, writer, and influencer, will share her incredible story of overcoming child abuse and living a life of purpose.

By listening to these powerful stories, you'll learn how to turn your breakdowns into breakthroughs and become unbroken. So, tune in now on Apple Podcasts, YouTube, or Spotify and leave a review to help others find this show and play your part in ending the generational curse!

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Learn how to heal and overcome childhood trauma, narcissistic abuse, ptsd, cptsd, higher ACE scores, anxiety, depression, and mental health issues and illness. Learn tools that therapists, trauma coaches, mindset leaders, neuroscientists, and researchers use to help people heal and recover from mental health problems. Discover real and practical advice and guidance for how to understand and overcome childhood trauma, abuse, and narc abuse mental trauma. Heal your body and mind, stop limiting beliefs, end self-sabotage, and become the HERO of your own story. 


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A Journey of Healing and Self-Discovery with Sue Bowles

Michael: When you step into that level of grief, it's like, okay, good, you can mourn the loss of the thing that you didn't have, because I think, unfortunately it's like, you know what I used to say, going back I'm painting a picture here, going back to this idea of the stubbornness I would go my childhood. Did it impact me? Are you sure?  Smoking two packs a day, drinking myself to sleep. And so, what I wanna talk about and move into a little bit deeper here is that place of acknowledgement in the beginning, right? For 15 years you kept these secrets and then longer you've gone through this process of healing, you continually stepping into it. And I think that there's some truth the truth will set you free. And I want to go into that a little bit deeper here, because I wanna know about the impact that going on, this journey has actually had in your life.

Sue: If you had told me eight years ago, I'd be doing today what I'm doing now, I would laugh you off the face of the earth because I've mentioned a retreat program. I went into that first retreat, calling myself the holy exception. I'm a Christian. So, my life's based off the Bible and I went in saying that everything in the Bible was good enough for everybody else, but me, I was too screwed up too far gone, I was a waste of space. I was imploding again. And I went in with that mindset and just through the opportunity to be real to kind of start taking off those masks. And we talked a lot about having to forgive ourselves and that's a hard part, that's a critical part of this healing and the grieving. You talked about needing to grieve our stories. I did not realize how much loss my story has and some of this, I learn about myself the more I speak. You know, when I say I didn't have a chance to have a normal childhood, that's more of a realization that's come up in the last year. And I think I knew that, but I didn't know how to put words to it, but it starts making more sense. So, I think the whole grief journey is a critical part of our stories that cannot be bypassed. I had different times where I just totally lost it, my greatest fear was realized, and my greatest fear was shattered all at the same time. My greatest fear and probably the same for many of your listeners, if I tell somebody I'm gonna cry and I'm never gonna stop. And that was my greatest fear and yeah, I cried, and I cried hard and I'm like heaving crying for 10 minutes. And yet that circle of friends, you talked about came upside me, they knew it was going on and they just, they just loved me and accepted me and let me cry, and they grieved with me. And then my greatest fear stopped. I did stop because at some point in time that well of grief will empty. It may not fully empty, there's still little things like now, you know, when it comes back, but it's not a debilitating grief, it's more of a sadness and a thankfulness for the healing that has happened. I never want to be disconnected from the emotion of everything I have gone through because I disconnected myself emotionally for decades - for over four decades. Because again, I just went into recovery from an eating disorder in 2016. So, I had all that time where I didn't know how to deal with emotions, I never want to disconnect again, but because of the hard work, those emotions don't overtake me to the point that I can't control them, the anger I feel at the injustice that was done to me is no longer rage. I have reached a point and for some, this field sounds really weird, but I have reached a point where I am able to have compassion against my rapist not everybody gets to that point. But I get, I'm able to get to that point now because my situation happened in the early seventies, rape was not on the radar, it wasn't something be to be discussed. No one knew to ask anything and I didn't know to say anything. So, if it wasn't on the radar for me, what was Bobby experiencing where he acted out on it? That was an angle it took me a long time to get through and to get to, and not everybody gets there and you're not expected to get there, that's just where I've ended up with my work. But that is the power of grief because until we own our story, we can't grieve our story.

That first year at retreat, that's what happens, I owned my story. I was in denial about my story, I hated my story and I hated myself. And I didn't think I was lovable because I had no experience saying I was lovable far as I knew nobody cared because they sure had a funny way of showing it. And I left that experience of being around these people, knowing that I had some value, but mostly I learned to forgive, start forgiving myself not that I did anything wrong that day, but forgiving myself and letting myself off the hook for not dealing with it up to. And healing when Michael and I were saying that those first three years of healing are hell, this is what we mean, this is some of the stuff that gut level stuff that has to be worked through in order to be able to start building on that foundation, because you're not going to believe that you're worthy if you're still blaming yourself for something, and you might be blaming yourself for something that's a total lie. But it's truth to us because that's all we've ever known until we have other people in our lives come in and help shatter that lie and start speaking that truth to us because just like Michael said, it's the truth that sets us free and we have to set that story straight. We've told ourselves a story about what happened ever since it happened, but that story isn't fully accurate, and that's what has to get worked out. And that's where that gut wrenching first few years comes in because you're facing your story. And that means letting somebody challenge you to the different characters that are in it and did this person really play that role. And what role did you really play? And you, okay. So, for me, it came into blaming myself. I would've should have and would've should have land for so long. And I learned that I was putting 50-year-old expectations on a seven-year-old, and I wasn't being fair, I wasn't helping that seven-year-old little girl heal, that seven-year-old little girl was just, you know, thinking, hey, the cools, there's something to see in the woods, childhood curiosity. But I had to forgive myself for that because again, not that I did anything wrong, but the story I had told myself is what was wrong. And that's where I had to let myself off the hook so that I could then own the real story of what happened. Put the responsibility where it really belongs and continue to own that and then start feeling that grief so that I could work through that. And finally realize that the rape was not my fault, that was the hardest homework my counselor ever gave me.

When I first told her when we were first dealing with it was 10 times a day, look in the mirror and say out loud, the rape was not my fault. Up to then I had said it wasn't my fault. And she's like, no, not it names it. The rape was not my fault. And the first two days it was the rape was not my fault. The rape was not my fault, you know, very dispassionate. And then I started changing the rape was not my fault. The rape was not my fault. The rape was not my fault. And it became emphasis on different words, and now, its truth, it was true before, but now I believe it, that's some of the stuff that we're talking about.


Overcoming Adversity with High-Performance Mallisa J Vogel

Michael: I'm sitting with that because it brings to mind these moments and time and my own experience and many people, I've seen in which like you have this for lack of a better way to phrase that it's like coming to Jesus’ moment, right? We're like oh, shit hold on a second, what is happening here. For you coming through that like what did that look like I would love if you had paint a picture of really kind of the next phase in this journey for you going from that mindset of victim into what was next because there's that transition period, right? And I look at mine it was three fucking years for me. I'd love for you to talk about what that was like in the shift that happened in the journey for you?

Mallisa: Yes. Let's see, so more backstory on this just to give the audience some more contacts. At the age of twenty-five that was when I quit my last freaking night job, I work up four jobs putting myself through college while building a business because that was the only way I can do it. I'm a big fan of NF and he has a song called ‘options’ and it says, I gotta make it or make it these are the options. And I finally thought that I made it and literally three months later after buying the dream house, the dream car which I came from a very humble beginning so that was not like a gigantic car or a gigantic house but I finally thought that I made it three months later, I was interviewing neuro surgeons, couldn't remember how to get home, I’m right handed and I couldn't open my hand all the way because of nerve damage, my right foot was literally curling up and I was walking with a lip on it and I can barely remember how to spell my name. And what they told me is you have Chiari malformation and for the audience is probably not super familiar about that because it's very rare and also, they are just starting to finally be able to properly treat it, there's about five neuro specialists in the United States that truly, truly specialize it or at least back then that was the case. Anyways, that means your brain doesn't a physically fit in your skull and it's beating into your skull every single time your heartbeat beats. And I had a big, big pity part felt like a victim, I felt like I was cursed, I felt like everything was bullshit, I felt like everything that I worked for literally meant nothing, I literally felt like was just getting laughed at by the universe, there was like screw you Malissa, you're cursed. And I felt like that for a long time, I felt like that basically for the majority of twenty fifteen but every single day I would try to get up and I would try to act like, I didn't feel that way, I tried to go back to who I used to be, I tried to sit there and me like okay, I'm just gonna pretend this didn't happen and that just makes it worse every single time because I wasn't coping with the emotions and the fact that I felt like I was not fulfilling my potential, I wasn't working through and understanding that all of these surgeries because I had to get twelve of them back to back, all of these surgeries were painful but the most pain thing was knowing that I could die spontaneously and I gave up on my dreams, I wasn't confronting any of these emotions. And I wasn't until I started really, really going through and being like okay, who you used to be doesn't exist anymore? You need to build the new version of yourself, that was the only pivotal moment that I could do something because every single morning I'd get up and try to act like, I was who I used to be and then I would black out and be bedridden for about two to three days because I was not able to even be up for more three hours at a time. So, that's what that transition looked like, it came to accepting that it came to seeing other people with the same condition I had dying spontaneously that would give every single damn, second that they possibly could to have the three hours I had with my ability to stand up upright and what was I going to do with it, was going to just flush you down the drain to be a victim or was it gonna make something out of it? And that acceptance in space going through the emotions and seeing that there are other people going through the same thing I was that was the big transformation in which I realized, okay, what am I gonna do with this diversity? What does it mean? I can dictate what it means and everybody does.


Conquering Bullying & Illness with Joey Braun: A Story of Healing and Overcoming Trauma

Michael: And I think that it's okay to be scared about that because it's unknown territory and even today in this moment you're doing something you've never done before for the first time. So, you can have a Grace, you can have empathy for yourself, but I think really, if you want to step in what's next in your life, you've got to be willing to do the difficult things. And so, one of the things that I appreciate about you and I know that you've been able to do and having difficult conversations as starting your podcast and one of the reasons that I did in created Think Unbroken as I was like, I want to put together the thing that I need for other people, that I need for me, that I need for the world, and in a sense, this is kind of be, right? Because I'm always getting to learn from people. What do you think, is one of the most important lessons that you've learned from other people in your journey of healing?

Joey: We've had a ton of people on the podcast, you know, it does. It's the perspective of the world while we have our own worlds and it's important that we take care of ourselves, it's also really, really important to understand what's going on in other people's lives. What other people deal with on a daily basis is going to be completely different, it could be similar but a lot of times it's really different from what we go through in life. To be able to sit down with over 80 people now and hear stories about someone who is in a house fire, someone who was sexually assaulted, someone who had cancer, someone who's going through chemotherapy. So many different stores, someone who went through a huge weight loss campaign, lost a lot of weight, you learn about what people go through, mentally and physically and how they deal with the things in their lives and it's so powerful to gain that perspective and understand that we all are going through something difficult. If someone's not showing that, they might be a good actor, but we're all going through stuff on a daily basis and it's important to have that perspective and understand that so we can show more compassion there's other people, it's huge. And like I said, there's this dichotomy because you said, we have to be kind to ourselves, and we also have to be real with ourselves and that's a balance, right? You can't be so hard on yourself that you destroy yourself, and you can't be so easy on yourself that you never go anywhere, so there's this balance that needs to be found. And when we say balance, I think people get confused that they literally have to balance it right now. I think with balance you go one way and then you adjust to kind of balance it out, right? I went really hard on myself, I got really hard on myself, not just hard on myself and like I suck, right? It's hard on myself like, hey, I don't like this about me, I don't like that, I don't like how I do that, I don't eat right, I don't stretch, I don't go to the gym, I don't run, I don't like that about myself and I don't listen, when other people I'm in conversations, with people I just talked about myself, those things like that self-awareness you build is insane and it helps you grab control of the life that you have and we can only control us, we can't control other people but with you said, with the podcast with perspectives, it's important to be able to step into other people's shoes and hear their stories.

Michael UnbrokenProfile Photo

Michael Unbroken


Michael is an entrepreneur, best-selling author, speaker, coach, and advocate for adult survivors of childhood trauma.

Joey Braun & Avery ChatmanProfile Photo

Joey Braun & Avery Chatman

Podcast Host

Joey and Avery are both hosts of a podcast called Mindshape. We are a podcast that helps people from all around the world share difficult life stories. Story examples include cancer survivors, school shooting victims, 3rd degree burn victims, extreme weight loss, loss of a child, spending time in prison, rare diseases and more. Why did we start the podcast? Joey- Diagnosed with a rare autoimmune at 12 years old, bullied throughout high school, lost 8 inches of growth, mentally carried the trauma for 10 + years. At 22 Joey shared his story which he kept private his whole life to a group of 10 people and it changed his life. Joey started the podcast 2 years ago to help other people share their stories and get that same experience. Avery was brought on and had the vision to help people share their stories as well.

Mallisa J VogelProfile Photo

Mallisa J Vogel

Author, best seller, thought leader, high performance coach

MJ Vogel’s life journey trademark is persistence, resilience, and courage. From sleeping on a mice-infested kitchen floor as a child, to later surviving – and thriving – through 12 excruciating surgeries, she has learned the true meaning of courage, facing your challenges head-on, and the keys to developing a powerful mindset built around the principles of mastering the habits of success. She masterfully moves her clients and mastermind groups through her powerful, life-changing programs, techniques, and trainings. She is intense on stage, and speaks with a raw, captivating, electric persona that has captivated audiences around the country.

Her keynote speeches, workshops, successful book, and countless podcasts have influenced and motivated thousands of people around the world, reminding them of their true greatness and amazing potential to fully achieve their dreams.

Sue BowlesProfile Photo

Sue Bowles

Master Certified Life Coach / Speaker

Sue Bowles is a survivor turned author, speaker, and Master Certified Life Coach. Having done the hard work of healing from a childhood rape, an eating disorder, other sexual assaults, and being twice suicidal, Sue now defines the effect the life-altering events have on her. The events no longer define Sue; she defines them.

Sue leads My Step Ahead, an organization committed to breaking the stigma around mental health struggles. “You only have to be a step ahead to help the person behind you” is the bedrock to the value Sue brings. She helps stuck people get unstuck by discovering Hope, journeying together for the next step ahead. Whether speaking on a podcast, a stage, or one-on-one, Sue's enthusiasm is contagious, shining the light of hope wherever the listener needs, cheering them to see their dreams become present reality.

Sue's award-winning first book, "This Much I Know...The Space Between" is available on Amazon and Kindle.