Oct. 22, 2021

E126 Understanding The Past | CPTSD and Trauma Healing Coach

In this episode, it's another dive into my book Think Unbroken Understanding and Overcoming Childhood Trauma. Like an episode of the podcast, I'm going to give you a chapter of the book that was super meaningful that will create massive value in your life on your healing journey.

Learn more at https://www.thinkunbrokenpodcast.com/

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In this episode, it's another dive into my book Think Unbroken Understanding and Overcoming Childhood Trauma. Like an episode of the podcast, I'm going to give you a chapter of the book that was super meaningful that will create massive value in your life on your healing journey.

I share with you about understanding the past and finding the proper error code that came with learning more about the foundation of my trauma. I had also discovered real metrics data and examples of findings based on the impact of childhood trauma and toxic stress. Just get focused, listen, and be ready to learn, and I'm going to do my best to bring massive value to your life and your trauma healing journey.

Learn more at https://www.thinkunbrokenpodcast.com/

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Learn more about coaching at https://coaching.thinkunbroken.com

Get your FREE copy of my #1 Best-Selling Book Think Unbroken: https://book.thinkunbroken.com/



The worst crime is being expected not to tell. – Darrell Hammond.

You cannot fix a car with the check engine light on if you don't first run a diagnostic test to get the error code.

This concept is not that dissimilar to being able to pinpoint the baseline of your trauma to create a game plan. I think about trauma in the same way. If I suffered sexual abuse and I am a man, then it probably wouldn't do me any good to see a therapist who specializes in women's sports psychology. Like our physical health, our mental health cannot be addressed in a one-size-fits-all methodology and there are countless avenues to pursue while healing.

The primary reason that I saw so many different therapists and practitioners was that I needed to find the right fit and find the right mechanic for the correct error code. Finding the proper error code came with learning more about the foundation of my trauma. Someone once asked me if I was cognizant of the fact that I was being abused as a child initially, I wasn't but as I headed into my preteens, I started to notice that most families didn't look like mine, at least, not on the outside.

In these other families’ children were hit with wires, branches of trees, shoes, fists, feet, and belts. They weren't called stupid, useless, retarded, or good for nothing. They weren't left to scavenge for food or other necessities and when they were hurt or sick, they were treated with compassion and care.

I began to notice the difference between my house and the homes of the families I lived with during various stents of being homeless as a child. While there were indeed some families that were in full range to my home experiences, the vast majority of the families that I lived with were full of love, compassion, and care.

The juxtaposition was mind-blowing. I couldn't understand why – when little Timmy question his father's authority, he didn't get picked up by a short collar and thrown to the ground as I did.

In looking back at the foundation of my childhood, it was abundantly clear that my understanding of self and those formative years was primarily shaped by abuse.

As I started my journey, I was forced to take an intimate and hard look at what happened to me as a child. Certain moments of my past often sat on my shoulder, hovering like a shadow, and more often than not I would pretend that they weren't there. I knew on some level that I would need to attend to my past trauma in the coming years because those events directly correlated with my behavior in my teens and my 20s.

I had convinced myself that despite my health and my behavior that nothing was wrong, something was obviously off. I knew that I had suffered trauma and though, I prefer to pretend it didn't happen, all signs pointed to a breakdown in the system.

There must have been some deep-seated reason that I smoked, drank, ate, fought, sabotaged, and harm myself. I could feel that there must be something in my past that would explain why I was having 5 panic attacks a day. Walking down the street with keys between my knuckles and had the same recurring nightmare for 20 years. It was Freddy Krueger murdering my mother and a log cabin grocery store as I screamed. No one looked up from what they were doing.

My system had dozens of error codes, but a hadn't run the diagnostics to figure out what they were. This is the equivalent of getting into a car that is on fire eventually in sooner than you think it will explode.

One sleepless night, I came across a study that would forever change the way that I thought about my past in the mid-1990s Kaiser Permanente and the California Center for Disease Control along with Dr. Vincent Felitti and Dr. Robert Amba, conducted a research study called the ACE study or Adverse Childhood Experiences study.

During this study, they were able to link long-term physical and mental health issues to childhood trauma. What I discovered was that in a sense, the ACE study was the error code list in the childhood trauma owner’s manual. This was the first time that I had discovered real metrics data and examples of findings based on the impact of childhood trauma and toxic stress.

The ACE study research changed the course of my life. My mother and stepfather yelled and cursed at me daily. They often beat me, slapped me, threw things at me, and as mentioned before my mother, cut my finger off. When I was molested, my mother refused to believe me and didn't offer any help or support. There were many occasions that I had to steal food from the cafeteria at school or the local corner market. The summer between my eighth grade and freshman year of high school, I lived alone in our house as my mother was out on a bender and no one could find her. I survived almost entirely off of gas station snacks that I stole. If I were sick or injured, they would refuse to take me to the doctor.

When I was 11, I walked on a broken foot for three weeks and had to have surgery. I witnessed the chaos of their divorce and at the height of it, they were more violent than ever especially towards each other. The first time, my mother tried to kill herself. I was the one that called for help. I watched as police kicked down my grandmother's front door and dragged my uncle away in handcuffs.

These events were only a few that could be on a laundry list of my error codes. I don't know that I could ever fully tally, the number of traumatic events that I experienced, but I was starting to see a picture take shape.


There are 10 questions that are a part of the original ACE Study.

For each question that you answer YES to, you get one point.

I'm going to read the question and I want to tell you the score.

  1. Did a parent or adult swear at you, insult you, put you down or humiliate you?
  2. Did a parent or other adult, push, grab, slap or throw something or injure you?
  3. Did an adult ever touch or fondle you or attempt to have oral, anal, or vaginal intercourse with you?
  4. Did you often or very often feel that no one in your family, loved you or thought that you were important or special?
  5. Did you ever feel that you didn't have enough to eat, had to wear dirty clothes and had no one to protect you were too drunk or high to take care of you or take you to the doctor if you needed it?
  6. We're your parents divorced, or separated?
  7. Or one of your parents, hit, bit, slapped, pushed, or punched by the other?
  8. Did you live with anyone who was a drug addict or alcoholic?
  9. Was a household member depressed, mentally ill, or suicidal?
  10. Was a household member arrested or go to prison?

On average. If you answered, YES, to one of these questions. There is an 86% chance that you answered yes to two or more.

If you answered yes, to four or more of these questions, you are at increased risk for physical health issues, including random and frequent sickness, bedwetting, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, asthma, allergies, IBS, groans, early-onset Alzheimer's, obesity and multiple types of cancer.

You are also more susceptible to mental health diagnoses has including bipolar, depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts.

There is an increased chance that you will smoke, become an alcoholic, and have unsafe sex.

In some case scenarios, these rates increase up to twenty-two hundred percent versus someone who did not experience traumatic events.

There's also up to a fifty-two hundred percent increased chance of suicide associated with the number of questions you answered, YES to.

My score is 10.

In essence, trauma is the psychological-emotional and physical response and the manifestation of adverse experiences that have occurred in the course of a person's life. These experiences can come from abuse as a child, the death of a close friend or family member accident events, like rape, physical, and mental abuse, illness, divorce, or a multitude of other types of distress.

Trauma can manifest itself in the body, through unexplained illness, fatigue sores, gastric issues, headaches and migraines, muscle spasms, and sleep issues.

The way trauma manifests itself in the human psyche is through PTSD and C or complex PTSD, anxiety, depression, mood swings, triggering, anger, flashbacks, guilt, shame, isolation, eating disorders, and suicidal ideation.

Trauma has no boundaries and affects people around the world regardless of race, gender, socio-economic standing, or sexual preference.

It is estimated that 70% of the world's population has suffered at least one traumatic experience. In the United States of America, it is estimated that approximately one in five adults forty-three point eight million people experience mental illness in a given year.

Some trauma survivors are 15 times more likely to commit suicide, four times more likely to become an alcoholic, four times more likely to develop a sexually transmitted disease, four times more likely, to inject drugs, three times more likely to use antidepressant medication, three times more, likely to be absent from work, three times more likely to experience, depression, three times more likely to have serious job problems, 2.5 times more, likely to smoke, two times more likely to develop a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and two times more likely to have serious financial problems.

When I learned this information, I have the same response that you are likely having right now. Holy shit. I read the research and took a headfirst dive into countless studies, blogs, videos, and workshops. I immediately had a better understanding of my filling health, addictive behaviors, self-harm, and more. I was always the one who couldn't play because of asthma or at home in bed because of another unexplained flu.

As an adult, I had the liver enzymes of a sixty-year-old. I was morbidly obese, manically depressed, suicidal, in and out of doctor’s offices for colds, flu strep, and sinus infections, and always on a heightened sense of fear.

It was in finding this study that I was able to start to piece some of my trauma puzzles together. By nature, I am hyper-analytical and I need to know the reason behind everything. It is through understanding why trauma equals illness, behavioral problems, CPTSD, and negative self-perception that I have been able to make sense of my environment. The impact that it has had on me and vice versa.

Learning about the ACE study and deep-diving into the research for years was Einstein light because I had a light bulb moment and then another, and another, every behavior, action, sabotage, and frustration made complete sense now.

The evidence wasn't an excuse for anything that I had done, but it sure as hell help me understand the why. Though I so desperately tried not to be, I was a product of my environment and I was utterly terrified of the fact that I had only just learned about this research. This study is something that every trauma survivor should have access to.

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Michael Unbroken


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