April 1, 2022

E256: Healing from the loss of a child with Christine McAlister | Trauma Healing Podcast

In this episode, I am joined by my guest Christine McAlister; we talk about her journey from losing her child to getting control of her life again, healing, growing, and now being a mother. She's an amazing human being and a great friend of mine.
See show notes at: https://www.thinkunbrokenpodcast.com/e256-healing-from-the-loss-of-a-child-with-christine-mcalister-trauma-healing-podcast/#show-notes

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In this episode, I am joined by my guest Christine McAlister; we talk about her journey from losing her child to getting control of her life again, healing, growing, and now being a mother. She's an amazing human being and a great friend of mine. It was an honor to have her come on the show and share her story because there's so much light in her and so much energy and so much about what it means to be able to overcome even the most terrible tragedy imaginable and to take your life back and still be able to be filled with love and joy and happiness and hope.

As I sat talking with Christine, I shared some things on this episode that I've never shared on the podcast before. One is she's a friend, and I wanted to be present with her about my own story, and two because I felt like it was the right time and opportunity to do that.

This episode is honestly near and dear to my heart because I know what it's like to go through, as I'm sure many of you do to go just through hell and back. If we can leverage a lot of what she's going to lay out for us in today's episode, it will be incredibly beneficial for our lives, in our journeys, honestly, no matter where we are.

So I'm very excited to have Christine on the show, very excited to go into this conversation. It's one that personally I'm gonna hold close to my heart for a very long time to come.

Learn more about Christine McAlister at: https://www.lifewithpassion.com/

Learn more about Think Unbroken and Pre-Order my new book: Unbroken Man. Plus, learn more about the free coaching and other mental health programs. Click here: https://linktr.ee/michaelunbroken

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Michael: Hey! What's up, Unbroken Nation! Hope that you're doing well wherever you are in the world today. I'm very excited to be back with you with another episode with my guest Christine McAlister, who is the founder of life with a passion. Christine, my friend how are you? What is happening in your world today?

Christine: Oh, I am super honored to be here. I have been excited about this for a couple months now Michael, so thank you for having me.

Michael: Yeah it is absolutely my pleasure, I'm excited to have you here today. You have an amazing story, amazing journey, amazing vision about the future. For those who do not know you tell a little bit about your backstory and how you got to where you are today?

Christine: How do I get to being a forty-year-old entrepreneur doing all of the things. I'm an oldest; oldest of four, I was your typical oldest type a high achiever, wanted attention, I was kind of the light of my parent’s life until my twin sisters came along when I was two and I think that really began this whole journey of seeking attention, positive attention because it suddenly wasn't available for me, right? My mom trying to take care of two babies all by yourself plus me so there's a huge shift that happened there and it turning into seeking attention by achieving which is a thread throughout my life. So I want all the scholarships, I was a teacher's pet all the things, all the way through school and I started studying media in 1999.  I'm still a part of that industry today and after grad school studying media I became a professor which is not something that I had ever planned to do I became professor age twenty three and honestly Michael, the reason that I said yes to that job was because it meant that I would get to fulfill my life long dream of having a horse of my own because of where that job was gonna take me it's was gonna take me to Kentucky which was a place where I could afford to live on a teacher's salary of 30K and have a horse. And I also quickly realized that wasn't for me because I had always wanted to do my own thing it took me about five years to get up the guts to walk away from a nine to five and live full time running my marketing agency which had been my side gig and I did that five years whole time and then in twenty fifteen I started life with passion out of an exploration into the depths of my soul that came out of my big trauma which was the full term unexplained, unexpected loss of my first child. So I had been on an infertility journey, I had three early miscarriage, I wasn't even sure if I could get pregnant, I have PCOS and the way that I found out I could get pregnant was unfortunately by having a miscarriage and so I had had these miscarriage and that kinda woke me up to the fact that I wanted to become a parent and then had this perfect pregnancy, I was very very sick but for the baby it was perfect and everything was great when the car seat was in the car we just had baby showers everyone had come in for the weekend and I had one of my last appointments and I went in and I put the ultrasound thing on and they couldn't find a heartbeat. And I was sent to the hospital to be induced to deliver this baby that I now knew was no longer here and so I came home from the hospital without the prize; without the baby and like suddenly finding myself without the former identity that I'd had right like here Christine she's doing, she's done all the great things, she's follow the path blah blah blah, life's been good I mean, I dealt with a ton of my own issues I had dealt with disordered eating and then treatment for that I had anxiety and depression and I was beating myself up for having those things because I didn't have a big tea trauma to point to that caused them and as a perfection I was like I shouldn't have these things, right? I made myself wrong for them well when she died we named her Maeve, when Maeve died I suddenly, I think gave myself permission for the first time in my life to be like this is a big deal like I didn't even know that was possible. Everybody talks about oh once you make it past the first trimester you're good, once you make it past this number of weeks the baby can survive outside the room and I've been told that pregnant. So when I had this full term loss it was like this is a thing; it is a thing that no one talks about, right? And so I used that like profound grief like I would make myself a checklist just to get the dopamine hit of like a take a shower, brush your hair. I use that grief to go okay I am now parent but my baby's not here to parent so how can I create a legacy for her because she was real I don't want people to forget her and I can see two paths by in a wood for me. One of them is lock myself away and numb out for the rest of my life and I get it, I understand why people do that and I could totally picture myself doing that or find a way to transmute this grievance is something good, some kind of a legacy not only for her but for me because I was scared to get uncomfortable and things are fine, right? And then all of a sudden that got ripped out from under me so how is  I gonna rebuild from the ashes and create something meaningful and help other people and create impact and all the things. So I started looking for my next level and that's when I started this business that was almost exactly seven years ago and it looked like a lot of different things over the past seven years at the heart of it is really like make making something positive making sure she's remembered and everyday waking up to get reconnect to being unbroken.

Michael: Yeah that's powerful, and thank you for sharing that. I've never actually shared this on the show before but in kind of like this parallel with you obviously not having the same experience but when I was twenty-three my girlfriend at time she had a miscarriage and so there's actually a sparrow tattooed on my arm from having experience that loss with her. And you know I've never shared that before because it's honestly been that relative to anyone I've had on and so I think that I know that there are unfortunately people who are listening right now have had those same experiences and so I know my heart goes out to you and everyone else who's been a part of that. And you know the reality and the truth about life I think is probably one of the most difficult aspect about the truth of the human experience is loss and grieving and suffering and pain. And I was thinking about this recently I was on a show and somebody I mentioned something like oh you turned your pain into your passion and I thought about that for a while like I don't know what the fuck else to do, right? And so that's kinda where that came from I was like alright well let's think about this if far lives are this thing where there is hurt because there always is but there's also always the other side of it, there's joy, there's hope, there's love, there's compassion, and empathy and happiness and all those things. We often get rooted into the pay like I think to an extent like as humans we like to suffer like they're something about that where we can hold on to it and just be like no i'm suffering, my life is awful so let me be in this. And turn extent like you do need to be in it, you need to grieve, you need to heal, you need to go through that process, it's gonna be different for everybody; it might be a month, it might be six months, might be a year, I have no idea. What I'm curious about here though is in those that moment and then these moments of your life where you're like shit this feels like rock bottom, nothing is working, the world is against me because you know we go to that place whether we want to or not. What's that process of pulling yourself through it? Like how did you go and how do you go from alright I'm acknowledging like terror in my life for lack of a better term to okay I'm going to go forward anyway?

Christine: That's a great question. I think it's different the past seven years, so in the beginning there this very raw feeling of the grief I'm obsessed with making something good happened like said I don't know what else fuck to do. Right? Like I've got to figure it out because I'm still key. I would much rather the roles have been reversed, right? Like I had a good life, I would much rather her have had the chance if I had the choice to trade that. And it wasn't my choice to make and so it was just that like grind of like getting up letting myself feel, process, surrounding myself with people who could support me. To that point in my life I had not been somebody who was willing to accept help and so what my relationships looked like were codependency you know family, friends, everybody, I took care of them and then I couldn't get out of bed anymore. And so it looked like finally letting people bring meals, finally letting people support me, finally acknowledging that. I would say today what I'm doing is a lot of like somatic healing and regaining a sense of trust in my nervous system and in my body because i've realized that hey to joke like the body does keep the score, right? Like there's still as much work as I've done so much trauma stored in this body because essentially in a way it failed me and it failed Maeve. And my nervous system in a way it feels to be me so it's a lot of like right now I'm like my feet on floor. Anytime I get a massage or energy worker or anything they always say something like man you got a lot going on in your head, you got a lot going on your crown or whatever I'm like no shit welcome to my life, right? So a lot of it is just how do I begin to access this feeling of safety and my body and life it is even just being willing to feel; to feel my hands, to feel my feet, to use my voice, to speak my truth tech to get in touch with what is it I'm actually feeling, rather than masking it with work rather than masking it with with whatever because I'm really comfortable doing that.

So it's just the uncomfortable work of like my adrenal crashed last year right okay how do I make sure that doesn't happen again because that was the result of being in a certain kind of way so it's basically Michael like if I'm gonna boil it down it's essentially undoing and un learning everything I've learned over the last forty years and all my conditioning and going that got me here it's not gonna get me there, how do I begin to come back to the state in which I was born, right?

Michael: Yeah. I wrote a note as you talking just now and a wrote learn to trust your body again and I think that in my own personal experience understanding dissociation, understanding trauma and abuse and how our brains and bodies get just totally unmatched from each other and looking at the tremendous amount of work that it took for me to get associated again and get back into this thing while still simultaneously like you every single day the first thing I do I put my feet on the ground I go, I am in controlled of my life and it's like alright. Think about my body,think about my mind, kind bring those things together, step into the routine, start doing all the things because it gives me I think through the I guess for lack a better way to phrase that I think through the habit nature of creating my life around making sure that my brain and body is connected I'm able to function in the world. But I think so many people don't know where to begin with this and so with removing this idea of journal and meditation because we've talked about it eight million times like what have you done that you have found has been beneficial for you learning to trust your body again?

Christine: Basically all of the things that I thought that I had dismissed as being not productive, not a money making tag, I have talked for that's other people for instance eating freaking walk. I was the person that I was like if it's not cardio it's dumb and I have time for that shit, right? I want abs, I have time for yoga you know I mean yoga, going on a walk, sitting under the tree in my backyard, when you up against it, all hippie things that you Christine seven years ago would've have been like bullshit are you never gonna have what you want? Is you're doing that, you're lazy all that and be will to oh gosh like work with somatic healer, right? I mean even things like one of my doctors taught me the cross body like you're tracing a seat belt like from your shoulder to your diagonally doing that five times on each side and next sides of the body, putting your hands out in front of you twisted and pulling them like this and talking through things while I'm doing this creates a sense of safety and connection in the body. Anything like your point get you in touch with the actual feeling with the senses and out of the head that's spinning in anxiety and fear and overwhelm and sympathetic nervous system dominance, I mean it's breathing, I mean breath were apart for meditation even this idea of breath as work. All of it coming, I'll tell you one of the most annoying things is coming back a million times a day to being like I'm here right now. In the past trying to change it I'm not trying to control the future because then we can say like troll and I would say like maladaptive control is language for me like that's my comfort zone. So what can I do to be here to literally be in the room or the virtual room as opposed to multitasking as a form of control, right? That perceived sense of control that doesn't actually exist.

Michael: That actually leads perfectly in a thought I have is looking at. My greatest superpower and flaw is stubborn; this I could change the world or destroy it with that power I know this and so I've learned how to leverage it for the better. One of the things that has been probably one of my greatest victories for lack of better way to phrase it is learning to let go of control and you mentioned a couple things that I wanna bring light to because I think it's really important especially people who have survived traumatic experiences. We go to control as an autonomic response to create these parameters of safety because without control it feels like the world's upside down like we can't seem to fucking do anything and the moment like I mean I remember I'd used to be so controlling of my life and the people around me that they would just stop talking me and hanging out. And I recognize the truth of it like the only real sense a freedom that I had was when I figured out how to let go. And I think one of the more difficult aspects of life is you know when it comes to loss, when it comes to grief, when it comes to even like being type an and on a high level achieve who gets scholarships and you know that's how you get your attention that significance for you, right? How do you go through that process of creating a space to let go of that control?

Christine: Great question. I think because I am so stubborn. For me it had to be a universal two by four, so there have been glimpse of me getting these messages of like when you play, when you do something for the sake of it because it's not does not come naturally to me I literally multiple books on my shelf that are like why it's important to play one is called when I relax I feel guilty. So for instance there was a period of my life when every time I would go to the barn was riding or not every time I go to the barn to see the horses just play and pleasure for me I would come back to something positive wonderful positive happening in my business. And it became a thing that I've been new okay now I'm getting attached to if I do this then I do this and of course it doesn't work but essentially I needed to get to a point where I burned myself out so massively that I realized that I had to change the way that I was doing things or I wasn't going to be able to continue with life. Like I couldn't get out of bed, I couldn't stop crying, I didn't know what was wrong with me and that was even more terrifying which compounded the problem. And so because of my own stubbornness and like oh yeah that works for that but not for me. I needed to get to the point where I was literally like I think I'm dying so let's try to do this a different way in order for me to accept some of these practices to get this idea that on some I had made improvements but it wasn't going to enough to get where I wanted to go help me reach my goals that there is value in surrender and that is a daily practice, surrender, presence, learning too as cheesy as it is be being rather than human doing like these are the things that I'm working to embody now because natural tendency always going to be, oh you just need to work more. Well what if you can't work more, right? What if you literally can't work anymore? Okay let's figure out a different way to find piece and satisfaction in the now instead of going oh when I hit this milestone or oh and this happens in my personal business or whatever, it's a destination thinking stuff that I lived in for so long that now coming back to again like how do I be here? How do I be here? Even when it sucks. How do I be here? How do I actually let myself feel good because on the other side of it I love to like make something great my life and then promptly like feel guilty for doing it or enjoying it or achieving, right? So how do I let myself feel more fully and let that again feel safe to my body.

Michael: I love that you brought in that word guilt around it because that's been this really impactful part of my journey is letting go of that as an achiever. Like you know people look at me and they go man you've got this podcast, all these books, you coach, you on all these businesses, you volunteer, you spent a lot time over here and I'm like there was a period of time where I would feel guilty for not doing those things, right? And now I just embrace I go, oh actually this is who I am. It's okay to do this, it’s okay to show up as myself, it's okay to not be the guy who watches netflix on, it's okay to want to build something beautiful and allow it just to exist and at the beginning of this year I was thinking about like what word I wanted to use to define the year just a single word not a phrase is not a sentence but something I could call back to that is just a reminder of like why the fuck am I here? Why am I doing this? And the word was fun and it became because like you I've actually read a couple of those books as well because I'm like if you grow up not knowing that you're allowed to have fun or if when you do have fun there's some type of punishment or ramifications or when you are trying to move towards these big goals and youth fun becomes like outside of the scope of acceptability then suddenly you're like alright I'm twenty eight, thirty six, fifty two years old and you've never enjoyed life. And I've noticed that was me and like there are certain things about me I will always gonna work on vacation it's who I am. But I'm also gonna turn off you know I'm gonna go to basketball games and football games and plays and musicals in the amusement park and chill and play like last night I went bowling with friends like you know it's about can you get to that place of and even though I don't necessarily love this word I don't think there's a better word to use but can you get to this place of balance of moving towards your goals but also like enjoying your life because it hit me I was like shit man I'm gonna die and I don't wanna die having experienced the fruits of my labor, right? Which as I think the thing that high achievers get caught up and is suddenly  you know you're ninety and you're like shit I never had fun ever and that to me I don't wanna be the old me which I probably will be cranky old man who's always like you kids instead I wanna be having fun with them. And so I think that's a big deal to go through this process of of allot yourself that space. But I wanna rewind and go back to that word guilt though because I know that in the beginning especially for me like I would beat myself up about it like dude you can't go to the movies, you gotta run this business, you gotta coach these people, you gotta do all this shit. When you started getting deeper into this process of allowing yourself to be a human being, what was that process around with guilt and shame and self judgment and criticism?

Christine: I listened to enough like tapping videos, around detachment and basically it needed to start with me not getting what I wanted because I was doing again because it's so stubborn. And so I had a lot of attachment to like oh well I'm gonna do this thing to act like I'm surrendering or letting go of guilt really it's because I want the thing, really it's because I want this client whatever and what I realized and listening to enough of those itching was like let's unravel, why you want those things? Because you believe what eventually if you ask why, why, why I enough, it's to be happy in order to be happy. I believe that if I make six figures in my business then I'll be happy. I believe that if my coaching or whatever booked out then I'll be happy, they pinned too be business for me. And so I did that for a while and then I would hit things, as we do, as high tubers do it's part of the process I would hit these things and I would go feeling different or I sat across from a friend mine who had her million dollar year and she goes great to quit and go a coffee shop I'm super burned out, I'm so miserable and like wow okay so looking studying myself, studying the people around the end going this belief that I've had for so long that has been running the ship and driving me and pushing me isn't true. Looking around at people who actually appeared to be content that I had judged as being lazy or not ambitious or whatever projection, man they are happy, they are content what is my issue? And I’m going okay I'm also just gonna have to feel guilty for a minute because this is my state of being, this is my conditioning at this point, this is my experience. So it's not automatically going to feel great if man what I've really wanted for so long as a massage but I wouldn't get myself permission to spend invest the money in that, right? I might be laying on the table feeling hell guilty and it's the practice of letting myself feel that and it not driving me back into the thing that it is designed to do which is to keep me same. I have this silly saying that to your brain safe is same even if it sucks and it's true I mean everything that we're dealing with, ego all this stuff trying to keep me sane so that guilt, I just have to feel it, that shame I just had to feel it and go right when we survived that now maybe the next time we'll feel a little bit less.

Michael: I was thinking about as you were talking about your friend who hit a million dollars and wanting to quit from being burned out but also not like my thought with that and having those experiences whether it's you these big contests I've won or speaking or writing books or whatever is it it always comes kind of comes back to like there is this two seconds of like euphoria joy and then I go next. And one of the things so Grant Cardone, if folks don't know who is one of my mentors. He told me one time I'm on stage in front of ten thousand people talking at his event and he was just giving me these massive accolades and he goes dude dude dude take your flowers and that was this really beautiful moment and even I think was the first time anyone had ever said anything like that to me and what it meant to me and that was just acknowledged the truth of the accomplishment. Like sit in it for a moment, be okay with it because the next thing is still coming but can you have eight minutes of joy about what it is you just did because if not then like why are you doing it? Right? And I think that's a really important part of this entire journey as when you accomplish things because we all are accomplishing things like and sometimes like accomplishing things like getting out of the house for the first time in a week and that really is true and I feel like you know there was a point of time in my mid twenties where I was just like I'm not fucking leaving I'm gonna play video games all day, I'm ordering pizza in like I'm gonna get high all day, I'm not doing anything and there were weeks like that at a time and then I was like alright put on your shoes go for a walk. And sometimes that's the victory in that moment and it doesn't feel like it because you go with such a part of lightly like you should be doing it anyway which yes you should be doing it anyway let's be very clear about that but I think more so in those moments of when you've accomplished something, when you've had a milestone, when you've done something of a valor to yourself not to anyone else what you're letting is incredibly important is to just simply set it and be like yes I did that, congratulations to me, take your fucking flowers and I think that's a part of this experience too that's so often this out on. So what I'm curious about is how do you celebrate yourself when you have milestones, when you have victories when you do things that you're like man this is important, this matter I accomplished the goal today?

Christine: Yeah. I like to have a dance party by myself, I now have two living children, two and five so sometimes I do them, turn on a silly song and just I act like a kid which you know it's easy for me to do that in business I'm real quick in this just whatever I've own that part of myself it's harder it's definitely an edge for me to enjoy being parent I thought super challenging because I go into like control protective mode like I anxiety about something happening to my living children based on my experience and so consciously making talk, hey mommy's podcast got released today, this is a big deal don't know a podcast is but hey we're gonna dance about it, right? So I would say that's one another thing random silly like my mouth is watering right now because the other thing I love to do is go for some really good seafood. So I live in Kentucky or land and there are a couple of places that fly in seafood and so that's such a feels like such an expansive thing for me, go sit in a beautiful restaurant half yummy shrimp. So those are the two things that really help me to kind of like body and recognize like this is something that you worked for. And to your point it could be really really small like, yes I just had a great interview like so good or it could be huge and I think either way it's marking it, it's anchoring it with something.

Michael: Yeah. Minus pizza like that's one of my favorite things to do like I'll go rock one of these because I don't need pizza to except when like I've got accomplished something it's like you know when you give a mouse to cheese it's kinda like kind of concept. Accomplish the goal get the cheese when you come through the maze and that's what I will go to. So, it's little things like that but it's also you go into the movies it's doing things as well as just in the moment giving yourself a pat on the back and I will go, I'm fucking crushed it like sometimes I think people believe that I'm arrogant or ego which may be true I don't know, I mean I'm just me but I have self belief in such a strong way about my accomplishments because if you do not have that and I tell people all the time if you don't believe in yourself who will? And so, Christine my friend, I appreciate you coming on here, I appreciate you sharing your story and your vulnerability. Before I ask you my last question can you tell everyone where they can find you?

Christine: Yes, thank you. So totally unrelated to this conversation. I have a podcast guest checklist you wouldn't be a great guest you can grab it at lifewithpassion.com/checklist

Michael: Brilliant. And I think it's like everyone has a story to say, right? Everyone has a story to tell and if I want to point people that to a moment yes it may be unrelated but all of this is about telling stories, this is how we come together, this is how we share experiences, this is us at our most native self sitting around the fucking virtual camp fire, right? And so if you've been curious and you're like I've always wanted to be a podcast because I know some of you guys reach out to me if you wanna be on a podcast and be a guest go and go and click the link we'll put it in the show notes and then the bio and check out what Christine does because it matters. My last question for you my friend what does it mean to you to be unbroken?

Christine: It's as simple as is getting up again every day I mean I would say the reason that I've survived that one of the experiences you can have as a human is making that choice every day but what what story am I gonna tell today and how am I gonna come back stronger because of it, right? That to me that's everything that is the essential quality of being staying unbroken.

Michael: Beautifully said my friend, thank you so much for being here.

Unbroken Nation, thank you so much for listening.

Please like, subscribe, comment, share.

Tell a friend.

And Until Next Time.

My friends, Be Unbroken.

I'll see you.

Christine McAlisterProfile Photo

Christine McAlister


I’m a business coach for high-achieving women all over the world who want to quit and stay out of their 9-5s, replace their incomes, and make 6 figures running online businesses.

I help my clients overcome self-doubt and get the clarity and focus they need to make progress toward their dream life.

My superpower is uncovering who you really are. I help you get clarity on your unique zone of genius, the confidence to get visible and share your talent with the world, and the clients who’ll pay you to help them change their lives.

Michael UnbrokenProfile Photo

Michael Unbroken


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