Jan. 7, 2021

E48: Rediscovering Motherhood after Trauma with Ameé Quiriconi

In this episode of the podcast, I sit down with fellow podcaster, advocate, and all-around Unbroken Badass Ameé Quiriconi. Listen as we journey through being set up for failure, leaving when the time is right, rediscovering motherhood, and becoming the h


In this episode of the podcast, I sit down with fellow podcaster, advocate, and all-around Unbroken Badass Ameé Quiriconi. Listen as we journey through being set up for failure, leaving when the time is right, rediscovering motherhood, and becoming the hero of your own story.

About Ameé Quiriconi:

I am a podcaster, author, speaker, coach, entrepreneur, and mother. My journey of personal discovery began as I dealt with, yet again, another significant life upheaval and wanted to find a way to finally stop my self-sabotage, for my sake and for my kids. Along the way, I discovered the truths about the impacts of adverse and traumatic childhood experiences on our lives as adults. And then I realized what I was always meant to be and found purpose as a mental health and business advocate by teaching all the knowledge I'm gaining to others through speaking, writing, and my mental health podcast, One Broken Mom.

Click here for the transcript

For more on Ameé visit: https://www.ameequiriconi.com/one-broken-mom-podcast

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Transcript

Michael: What's up unbroken nation. Thank you for joining me again on the Michael unbroken podcast. Today, I have a very special guest, my friend and podcast host Amee who hosts the one broken mom podcast. No, we are not related probably, but here we are. So how are you, my friend? What is going on? I haven't talked to you in a couple of months now. The world is still upside down. But how has your world?

Amee: Well, yeah, aside from the outside world being completely upside down, it hasn't been too terrible. You know, we're talking somewhere, you know, in the month of October. And so what I’ve had to deal with on top of, you know, chaos world is back to school and doing with that in my personal life, as well as with my, you know, my professional life and the challenges of not having anybody ask me if I wanted to take extra time out of my day to educate and be a homeschool teacher for my teenagers and kind of addressing the, you know, the feelings I have about that and try not to get too pissed off about how, you know, it seems like a lot of women are in that position and that doesn't seem fair. And yeah, it's just one more cause on top of the other, but that's the cause [01:06 inaudible], you know, it seems like in day and then the stress of all that, like it's stressful to do that.

 Michael: Yeah. It's kind of like Allah cart, pick the thing that's going to make your hair fall out today. Like we are literally like a week away from flying snakes. Like I just see it coming.

Amee: There's no doubt. Yeah.

Michael: So, so as we get started, I think it's so important. Cause I know you, but I would imagine that some of my listeners don't. What's the deal? How did you get to where you are? You can go 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 20 minutes, whatever, whatever you feel like you want to get out right now. I love your story. I love your journey. You know, I read somewhere or listened to a podcast early on and you said the most powerful, awesome, and dangerous person in your life is our mother. And that like, that's when I like noticed you. And so, I kind of want your journey and your story, like how did you get to where you are right now?

Amee: Okay, cool. This'll be my Ted talk. So, everybody gets settled in well, you know, my rebirth day is this date that I use for everybody. And, it really has a lot of meaning to me. And it was December 17th of 2017. And it was a day that after, you know, several months of having the latest relationship completely implode on itself, and this relationship was connected to businesses that I loved and devoted a ton of time working into. And it happened in the same year that my kids needed, their dad no longer wanted to be their custodial parents. So, there's a story in there as well. And I just had spent months going, man, I mean, you have just been able to recreate, you know, the same, you know, fucked up shit in your life over and over and over and over again, you got to do something different. And so, I'd spent months and months and months and months reading, reading, reading, reading, I think when you and I talked, we had similar things like white papers. There was nothing that was untouchable to me. If it was a psychology journal, if it was a research study, if it was a self-help book that somebody wrote, I was everywhere. I came upon one book by one of my guests that I had on my show, Wendy Buhari. And it was disarming the narcissist and the words were childlike and powerless. And for the first time ever in my entire life, you know, I had this bright flash, literally like stroke moment where it was just like, those words hit me. I instantly burst into tears because this memory that I'd had in my whole life at 40 some years old, if I remembered this one moment in my life, when I was five years old, I always cried, always cried. It was just this eruption of just the strong fear and scariness and sadness that I felt. And that moment was when it connected of like, Holy crap, like this whole thing about childhood trauma is a real thing. Like, you know, and I began to then go back in time through everything that I had been through and started to, you know, kind of like look and see how everything kind of stepped into place and how I finally arrived at that moment and why. And then from that point, how I dedicated myself to, if all of those experiences in my life made me the kind of woman who you know, was really struggled with being a mom herself, didn't matter if I wanted to be a mom, I wanted to be a mom. I just didn't know how to be a mom. And I was terrible at it. I picked people that were going to be abusive and controlling towards me over and over again, and thought I was strong enough to overcome it. You know, I didn't realize that, you know, my whole world and what people should do and how they should treat each other was very warped and shaped by only a few people in my family. And I didn't know how to break out of that. And I knew that if all those things made it to this place where I was sitting on a couch, crying, pacing around my house, certain that I was just cursed that that's what I was as a human being. And as a woman, I was just cursed. Then I could not do the same things to my kids. The two kids sleeping down the hall, like I had to change, you know, dramatically at that point. And so, then I dedicated myself to hardcore therapy weekly. And for two reasons, one was to heal me so that I could get rid of the curse, the intergenerational curse that trauma does to us. And at the same time, I could fix the kids. Cause unfortunately they'd already had me as a mom for the first, like, you know, 12, 13 years of their life. And I needed to undo that and I needed to get them on a path forward so that they weren't in their forties, sitting on a couch, broke, alone, depressed you know, feeling the same feelings that I had at that moment in time. And my takeaway out of that. And as I sat there for a while, was that my story didn't seem that remarkable. You know, I hear your story and I'm just like, Holy crap, man. You've been through some shit. I think that most people would look at my life for the most part and go, yeah, that's how I grew up. That was my life. Yeah. My mom, you know, my parents got divorced and you know, my mom remarried a half a dozen times and yeah, my family was a little strict and rough when it came to, you know, discipline and yeah you know, we had some beatings going on. That's normal. Oh yeah, yeah. I was totally put in charge of taking care of everybody as a young child. I mean, because, you know, mom was whatever, you know, working too hard or emotionally unavailable or whatever. I mean, this fact, this story, wasn't that remarkable for me and why I easily dismissed it as no big deal is why then I believe that it was so important to actually become an advocate for it and kind of like creating an environment and conversations for people to have like a shame free, judgment free discussion that saw parents as humans. Some of them a little bit more fucked than others, but still humans. And that they, in their sense of messed up ness probably came from their own parents of having their own deals and, you know, depression, war, you know, poverty, whatever it was. And I mean, we can just keep going all the way back to Adam and Eve on childhood trauma. And if we could look at that and not ignore it, and then start to respect that the science is showing now that neuroscience is a thing that we know now how neuro pathways are formed. We understand brain architecture in ways we never knew before. That we have an obligation to ourselves, especially for parents to make some really hard changes in our lives. And that's where I then decided that this was hard for me to get to this place. Like this wasn't just an aha moment and I bet, it took all the time like you to research, reading, you know, attacking the problem from a lot of different angles and tell is something finally clicked. Like I just was relentless on myself of not giving up on changing myself. And then once I did it, I was like, man, that was really hard. That's got to be really hard for some people, you know, to do the same thing and how can I help them? Like what can I do? Like, that's my purpose now. Like everything, I lived through, everything that I dealt with you know, living with family members, having my mom walk out, watching my little brothers be abused, watching my little brother's being abandoned. You know, all that stuff gave me these rich and shitty life experiences. But I also felt completely blessed with the brain to be curious, the brain to be strong, you know, to be embodied with fierceness and that if somebody needed somebody on their team to help them get through that. That was what my job was. That's my job. That was my purpose. I knew at that moment on that day too, my life is never going to be the same. Here's what my new purpose is in life. It's fact, it's the only purpose I was ever destined to have and I'm going with it. And so that's how I ended up, you know, becoming a podcaster and starting that journey there.

Michael: Yeah. I mean, I totally resonate with that. I distinctly remember having this moment in childhood and being like, this has to be about something greater, whatever this chaos is happening in my life right now. Like this can't just be what it is. There has to be something on the backside of this. Now of course, up until, that's a retrospective understanding. In the moment, you’re like, please, somebody come save me, rescue me. Where is Mr. Moneybags, like somebody put me in a car and take me away from this and give me all the things that I should have as a child. And you discover obviously that person's not coming, no one is coming to rescue and you step down into what I call the vortex, that darkness, that place, where you're just immersed and in this place of just pure chaos, destroying everything around you, everything you touch ad nauseum, right. Again, in the cycle again and again and again and again, and suddenly what happens, you hit fucking rock bottom and you're like, Oh, okay. Here's what happens either change or die. And for whatever reason, much like you, I’ve always been curious. I've always been a learner or a self-learn. I've always put myself in a situation where I had to force myself to learn. Because if you go look at my high school transcript, which is online, I was a 1.4 GPA student. And the only reason it was beyond one is because of gym class. And I happened to be an athlete. Other than that, it'd be a sub one GPA. I am not intelligent from a like standard standpoint. I have had to force all of that information, knowledge in my brain, but here's the thing that's really interesting and captivating about it, without that breakdown moment that complete emotional, physical, mental exhaustion, and looking in the mirror and going, okay, I'm going to die if I stay on this course, I would not be here talking to you right now. One of the things that I'm so curious about is as you are in this place of now helping guide other people down the same journey that you are, what is the impact that it has had on your life since?

Amee: Oh gosh, it's almost feels unfair to be honest with you because every interaction I have with somebody that I have the privilege of talking to on my show is a learning opportunity for me. It widens my own horizon. Sometimes it gives me a different perspective of myself, you know, I do a lot of self-reflection and then there's just that feeling of you know, either your chest can tighten cause you're under fight and you're fighting the world and you're struggling, or your chest can inflate with just passionate love. And, you know, since I started this journey, I’ve just, you know, my whole being has just changed. My body has gotten healthier to be, you know, to be honest. But I do fully admit that, you know, the show in itself has been a part of the journey because as I do this and you know, it's this quid pro quo. Like you know, as the show connects with more people than it's, you know, I get to talk to more people and those people come in and teach me and they teach other people. And so, you know, while it feels selfish, there is a lot of selflessness to it because I feel like I'm not just hoarding all that information, you know, on my own. But the biggest thing really has been this giant pool of resource of empathy and being able to see so many different experiences, seeing how the nuances of trauma really do affect people differently and being just aware of that, which just makes you then a better human, because then you're not so quick to judge an experience as, Oh, well, you know, there must be a fault with you. The truth is, is that none of us are at fault. None of us are to blame for what happened to us as kids. And, and we all do respond so differently because there's, you know, a bazillion different factors that play into how it, you know, ultimately those things, you know affect us and how we respond to them, you know, from temperament to nature, nurture and all that other stuff combined together. And when you have such a big world view, it just, you know, it's hard to not feel honestly more love for people, even the ones that sometimes don't actually deserve it because you're looking at him like, man, you're a horrible person. I don't love you, but I do understand you. It makes me more socially intelligent. It makes me more emotionally intelligent and definitely makes me more empathetic. And it makes me far more compassionate than I really was, you know, before, because I was pretty dismissive of my own experiences, no big deal. Like why are some people complaining about this? I don't get it. Like it's, you know, not that big of a deal, I got over it. Why can't you?

Michael: That to me, that's, fevery at its finest, right? Because we, and especially as speaking as a man and American society that is not allowed to be talked about. How dare you talk about the idea that you may have had a bad childhood when there are children getting their arms cut off in Rwanda and children getting murdered in China because there's more than one of them. And the world is chaotic. And we kind of allow ourselves to accept this idea. That circumstances are not necessarily as bad as they are. And I'm not saying anyone's particular circumstance is as good or not as someone else's, but realistically, some of us had some really fucking terrible things happen to us and to be dismissive of that or comparative of that to someone else's is to negate your human experience. And we find ourselves in this place where now if your thing, and maybe its virtue signaling or social justice, and that kind of plays a role in it too. But so many people are just throwing them out into the world and then they're not getting it reciprocated. And they're like, Oh, I must still not be important. The thing that we have to recognize, and I want your opinion on this, because I'm so curious about your thought processes. When I look at the state of the world that we are in right now and understanding that so many of us have had so many traumatic backgrounds and looking at social media as a whole being this thing that has comparative mechanism, it is literally a device that we look and go, is my life as good as this person's and yet no one is sharing the darkness in authentic ways there, what kind of factors is that playing in people's mental health right now? You see it firsthand because you have these incredible conversations with people who are in this space.

Amee: Yeah. It is, you know, I believe that there are people are starting to recognize that kind of that toxic you know, the toxicity of social media from that perspective of the, you know, totally showing all the highlight reels and none of the reality. But the other thing that I think that actually prevents that in some ways, which is really kind of, you know, painful is to think about when people do get vulnerable and share their experiences, if it's not in a safe place. And social media is not honestly a safe place, unless you actually curate your friends list and you make all your posts completely private, and, you know, everybody on a one-on-one personal level, it really is unsafe to expose your vulnerabilities and your weaknesses out there. And I’ve experienced that. And I'm sure you've experienced that as well, you know. And so, you know, people, we can't handle the discomfort of someone else's experience, you know, because of our own inabilities of being able to acknowledge our own negative experiences or negative beliefs or negative feelings that we have. I think that right there is kind of the poison that's in the, is in the system, you know, because it's what will limit us from being able to have these spaces in these conversations with one another, that are honest and not again, not judgmental and intended to neutralize shame rather than build up on shame. But there are too many people that, because they don't have that sense of their own self-awareness and of their own humanity. And like you said, they deny their own experience. And then they've grown up with the messaging of, you know, like stop crying, shut up, don't be weak, don't be whatever. And you're only doing this for attention. That's one of the most toxic phrases out there is like, you're only acting this way for attention. And I’ve heard that out of parents when talking about a kid that's acting up, and that is dangerous for that kid, because a kid is signaling to you that they are hurting and they are, yeah, they're trying to get your attention because nothing else seems to be working for them. We as adults still do that to each other on social media. And so why would people want to show anything other than their highlight reel, right? Like you can, you rarely get attacked, you know, for showing your great vacation pictures, you know, but people will judge you if you make a post and I’ve seen this, like, you know, I decided that you know, leaving my situation, some people will support you and some people will go well, did you actually put in enough time to make it work? You know, did you, did you, did you? And a lot of people just can't do that. Because again, it's not a safe space.

Michael: Here's what I think is really fascinating is you and I have had this experience of negating our own experience, but you mentioned something of being able to acknowledge your own situations, the things that have happened, you, and be able to, for me, I use the word ownership, right? Not ownership as an IE this is my responsibility, but ownership as an okay, this thing happened to me. So, I need to work through it. Where do you even start? Because what was the, what I'm so curious about is like, what was your catalyst? Because for me, it's this rock bottom moment. I'm looking in the mirror. I'm 26 years old, I'm 350 pounds smoking two packs a day. My life is fucked up and I was like enough. And not like it's got to stop here, I think. And maybe, hopefully you'll steer me in a different direction here. I think that, because we are humans and innately, we require pure suffering to create change. I don't know that has ever created change worth note without suffering rock bottom. Was that your experience as well?

Amee: Yeah, and my rock bottom was more like a you know, it was a gradual tumbled to the bottom clawing at the walls, trying to keep it from happening. So, it was like a level and a level in a level. And, you know, which is painful. It's painful when it takes you a long time to get to the bottom cause you get bumped and bruised, definitely along the way. You know, one pivotal moment that I had in 2017 kind of, as I was sitting there, you know, in the middle of destruction again, and trying to figure things out and trying to understand is, is I sat there as I was having another, you know, argument baseless argument with my ex that I was, a relationship that was coming apart there. And I got tired of it being a tit for tat like, will you do this? And you do that. No, I don't. That's not what I meant. I mean, which is just a dysfunctional way of trying to like to have a conversation, you know, and repair conversation relationship. And it was never going to be anything other than that, because this was an abusive situation that I was in, but I sat there and I thought, what if everything he's saying is a hundred percent true. I mean, and I'm like, I know it's not like I know that he's, you know, he's narcissistic and he's abusive and whatever, but just, let's just suspend reality for a moment. What if I'm sitting here and I let everything he says to me and all of his accusations and all the gaslighting, what if it's all true and believe it or not, that was the moment at which I was able to finally take some accountability for some of the things that I did.

Not that, that I deserve to be abused. Nobody ever deserves to be abused, but it did alter my perspective of how to view myself from the outside. So, what was I doing? Well, yeah, I'm actually deflecting a lot. I'm answering too quickly. I'm defending my positions, but do I have growth opportunities in this conversation? Like, is there something I can take from this? You know, was I behaving, you know, all the time as a, you know, a considerate person? You know, no, actually there were times that I wasn't doing that. And again, I was able to go back and go, not everything that he said was true, but that level of kind of skeptical thinking and self-awareness then allowed me to kind of approach a lot of other things that way, because it allowed me to be able to see my accountability. Then when you get to that point, when you're actually starting to take accountability, that's when you hit the bottom. Like to me, that was the bottom of like, Holy shit. I'm responsible for a lot of stuff here. Like I was clawing at the walls, keeping myself, but once you start to actually go, man, look what I was doing the whole time. You know, look at all these excuses I was making for myself, look at, you know and you know, I had this one moment where my daughter was sitting next to me and she leaned her head on my shoulder and it made me feel so uncomfortable. Because that loving act was so abnormal to me as mom. Like, I didn't know that feeling because I had no relationship with my own mother, and I hadn't seen my own mom or talk to her for like over half of my life. And here I was with a daughter and I didn't know what to do. And that made me feel like fuck, you got to do something like, I don't want this feeling, but that's the instant body signal my body got was, this is weird. This is totally weird. And then that accountability, what are you doing? What do you need to go look into? You know, does that make sense?

Michael: Yeah. A hundred percent. And you know, I'm going to put a word in your mouth because I’ve resonate with this. And if I'm wrong, please tell me. But it's kind of going from the victim mentality into the hero mentality. And maybe you don't necessarily know it at the time, but accountability is such a terrifying word for so many people. Raise your hand if that's true, self-included, right? Because I look back on these moments going, okay, I'm really high right now. I'm really drunk right now. I'm cheating on my girlfriend again, I'm stealing this, I'm doing that. I'm breaking into houses. I'm still in cars. I'm doing drugs. I'm hurting my friends and myself and my partners and blah, blah, blah. Not my fault. It's not my fault. None of it's my fault. Nope. I am programmed to do this, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Well, guess what? That's not fucking true, because you have this thing as an adult called an agency. Now, sure as a child and I was a very moronic child, like looking back on it, like I did shit that is insane. Like even now I'd probably still go to prison if I talked about it. And I think about that and how that translated into my adult years and having to step into accountability, which in those moments too, when I had a reckoning, for lack of a better term, I had these moments in which like the account, the pressure of my mistakes felt so incredibly heavy because I had tied it to shame based on my own behavior. But at the same time, I was doing it anyway. So, it’s kind of negated it and I kept doing it and doing it, do it until that rock bottom came. And within that, this idea of accountability and responsibility and a word that I love, which you just use excuses. I had to have a reckoning. I had to have a coming to Michael moment and go, I created a framework for which in that moment I set up the baseline for the rest of my life. And it's very simple, no excuses just results. Because I had recognize that I had only been measuring myself against what had been laid down in the road for me. Everyone had said I was going to be a failure. Everyone has said I was going to be a loser. Everyone said I was never going to be capable of love or happiness or health or growth or any of those things. And thus, of course, that was true. We become the stories that we tell ourselves. And so, I imagine that's very much the story you're telling yourself. Okay. So, I haven't seen my mother. I'm now and perhaps neglectful mother, all of these things. What are the stories that are starting to like to transpire in your head?

Amee: Yeah. And that was a lot of it. And you know, and I wanted to say like, you know, if you think about what rock bottom means, it means that the point at which you're not going to fall anymore. And the only way you ever stop yourself from continuing to slide and fall is once you actually have that accountability moment, that reckoning moment, like you said, because if you still don't have that, your life can get worse because rock bottom for everybody is different. Sometimes it is like the house caught on fire and everything. But I think that the thing that actually changes somebody is when they realize what their role was in that, because, and again, that's what it means. Rock bottom is actually the best place to be because it's where you're not going any further. You're not going any deeper. And the only thing that keeps you from going any deeper is the accountability, the reckoning, the looking around and seeing, you know, what, you know, you may not have started the slide, but you can stop it and you can take control and some power over it, and you can actually do something about it. But, you know, you know, all the thoughts I had, like I said, I thought I was cursed. I thought here I was a, you know, a person that just, you know, was gifted with some really great ideas to be able to do things in business and professionally, but I was ever intended to be financially wealthy from it. Like my job was to build wealth for other people and I was never going to get it like that was, you know, for a while that's what I believed. And where did that come from? That came from being taken advantage of and growing up and, you know, never having you know, having a really messed up money mindsets in the family and also the, you know, demanding that I work whenever I wanted to ask to get an allowance or get paid to do something that's helpful, so that I had money to spend, you know, being told no that, you know, what I did, wasn't important. And that carried all the way through and my self-sabotage and business and professional. And with motherhood, it was, you know, I want to be a good mom, you know, I really do. I wanted it, but there I was repeating the exact same shit my own mother had done. And I was just like, man, how is this, like, what is going on? Like, I didn't know, you know, the seven, eight years before when my ex-husband took the kids, he became the custodial parent because it was obvious. I didn't have any tools in the mother toolbox, like, yeah, that wasn't my thing. I wasn't going to be able to you know, take the time out. I had no desire. Here's kind of the ugly thing. Like, I didn't want to go to PTA meetings. I didn't want to, you know, take time out of my work life to go you know hang out in their classrooms. I felt like I was an independent, intelligent woman who had contributions to society and why should I be the one that has to make all those sacrifices? Like I had a very you know, sense of, that's just not going to be me and I'm not going to do it. And so when everything started to fall apart in my business, then, and my relationship with my ex, it was pretty obvious that, you know, I needed to work on those tools, but I didn't, I spent another seven years plummeting down the Hill, scraping at the sides, going further into risky behaviors and you know, and getting into an abusive relationship and really tolerating way too much and not knowing how to stop that. And before, you know, again, I had that moment where I sat there and I thought, what if everything's true? This is my fault. 

Michael: Yeah. I'm curious about how one rebounds from this. Cause I don't have children. I will say I probably never will. I do fully intend to probably foster and adopt at one point, but actually having children feel so far out of the scape of normality for me, I don't even know how to put my finger on it. But what I do know in a really true way is that at 18 years old, I told my mother, she was never allowed to speak to me again. It literally was my saving grace because of her abuse, her neglect, the number of drugs and alcohol, her being a bipolar narcissistic, like threatening to kill me and my brother, like the list goes on. It's like a dark comedy time 10. And I remember distinctly, I told her, I was like, you are not allowed to be in my life. You're not allowed to speak to me, show up, call me, text me, email me, Facebook, me, myspace me. Cause I'm that old, like none of those things you're allowed to do. And until the day she died, about six years later, I only actually saw her one more time. And even to this day, it is still one of the most important decisions I’ve ever made. I had given her opportunities upon opportunity upon opportunity. You're talking about like a 12-year-old boy who would go and sit in AA with his mom and be blamed for her problems. And I recognize that that was not true, right? Because for whatever reason, I'm super cognizant as a kid. And so, opportunities had fallen. I had said, this is the end. Cause you can only, you know, shame on you. What does it? Fool me once shame on you, blah, blah, blah. And so eventually I came to that recognition. How being, I'm not labeling you are like my mother. That's not what I'm getting at here. But how, when you are in this place where you're like, oh fuck, I’ve made so many mistakes. I am repeating generational behavior. I see where this is going because I have had a similar experience. How do you flip that? Because there are people right now who are listening to us because trust me, I know the people who reach out to me, who go, my kids won't talk to me. They're mad at me. I'm stuck in my trauma past. I can't seem to get them to connect with me. How do you flip the script? How do you step now into the unknown here?

Amee: Yeah. Well, it's terrifying, but yet I’ve said this before too, you know, the fiercest act of motherhood I ever took was putting myself in therapy, you know, and, and not just studying what I needed to do to heal myself, but actually committing myself to studying how to parent as a trauma informed parent, you know, how to see not only the, the, the specific, you know, abuses and neglects and things that I had, but you know, what do we do as a society and parenting that actually contributes to this intergenerational passing on, like, you know, how do we as good parents neglect our kids and, and all the other ways, because that actually has an impact on a kid's, you know, confidence and abilities and belief systems. You know, in many ways the, you know, the ship had sailed, the had left a barn like they were gone, you know, by the time my kids came back into my life full-time they were undergoing another set of trauma for them because their dad, they were both entering into adolescents and that's a whole another, like, you know, brainstorm for the human brain, you know, from 11 to 25 and it's profound. And he was beginning to have his own traumas starting to play out in his parenting. And it was getting very difficult for him. And he gave up and he had called me up and, you know, early 2017 and said, either you take the kids back or I'm sending them to my parents. And the kids didn't know that that's how their dad felt. But there had been a lot of like really bad situations in that household. And I had decided at that point that come hell or high water, I was not going to abandon my kids. Like my kids were not going to grow up because I had had my own mom walk out on me. I had been sent away to live with other family members. I had been rejected time and time again, by my own mother, there was no way I was going to ever do that to my kids. But at that point, I didn't even know I was still dealing and had all these problems, you know, in me. So, by the time you fast forward 10 months and I'm sitting there on the couch, I'm like, I have to do that. Like I have to get in. And the first things I did with my kids was, you know, they just need to know that you got their back, and they don't expect perfection. Children don't need perfection. In fact, you know, it is okay for them to learn how imperfect the world is and how imperfect humans are and how that's okay. You know, it's not to be judged or shamed or you know, if you make mistakes, it is you know, to admit when you've messed up and let them know, and then actually show up like you're changing. And my kids have shared with me and you know, here's what I do wish.

Amee: I wish that as soon as I started therapy in January of 2018, that within six months, everybody be fine and that didn't happen. You know, my daughter has been dealing with depression because she had dealt with abuses in that other household that she'd been living in. My son, you know, really had a lot of issues you know, because of his relationship with his dad. I mean, at the end of the day, I think the kids would think that, you know, when push comes to shove, they had more issues that they're still working through with their dad than with their own mother. Even though I feel like, you know, the whole thing started with me, you know, being mom, but like you've said, and like I’ve said before, the most powerful person in a child's life actually can be their mother. And that means you can destroy them, or you can be the force that actually brings them back. If you were committed to, you know, doing whatever it takes at all costs. And that means you know, if all costs is, Hey, you've got to figure out how to parent yourself, because you can't parent yourself and your kids at the same time. So, you know, an adult need to show up and you can't, you know, be a 14-year-old trying to parent your two children, you got to be an adult. I mean, you got to be 40 years old. You got to be an experienced, capable, competent, compassionate mother to them. So work on your so that when they have their that's who shows up for them, not the kid, not the you know, the angry teenager, not the scared ten-year-old or five-year-old show up as the mom that they actually need for you. Handle your own shit off to the side. Don't make it their. That's yours, go to therapy for that. And my kids today, we've had conversations about this and the difference between their parents and their eyes are they have a parent who may not be perfect, but she's working her off and they see it every day and they love and trust that I really do. I'm here for them. And then they have a parent that they don't feel that trust with. And I think that when you have one of those situations, that's the first thing you got to get back. You have to respect who they are as individuals, they're humans. They are mini versions of you, you know, and you show them, you know, that you care about them entirely as who they are as people, and you own your mistakes. And then you do something about it. Like that accountability matters to everybody, kids or adults, right? Like you and I have talked about this before. Like, you know, you don't earn respect or apologies from people if you don't back up your change. And as a parent, you have to change. Now, can you bring kids back to you that you've damaged? Yeah. Maybe you can. But the only way that, that will actually happen is again, you live in a different way and they can see the actions, not just the words. And a lot of people, words are cheap. A lot of people hope that they can just say, sorry. And I think people have a right to sit back and wait to see if there's actually something. And I had a guest on my show that you know, had a terrible relationship with her mom. Her mom was a co abuser as she grew up. And she never imagined she'd be able to have a relationship with her mom, but here's her mom, her abusive dad passed away. Mom started doing work on herself. Mom took accountability. Mom started to like, make it. And she's like, man, she's like, it's slow, but I'm hopeful. Like, because what she does this mother every day shows up as this changed person and has been doing it day in and day out. So that's how.

Michael: Yeah. And I agree with you, actions do completely speak louder than words. We feel things that you do as a human being versus the things that you say, right. It is tangible words are not tangible. I can't touch, I'm sorry. But I can feel you showing up and doing the things that you said that you were going to do. I also think there is a place for words and one of the questions, and I don't know how to answer this. And I always tell the people who reach out to me, with this question I say, you have to do what feels best for you. What are your thoughts with how you communicate your traumatic experiences with your children?

How to talk about trauma with your children

Amee: I make sure that there's some, for me I make sure there's relevancy to what they're going through, because one of the things that from all the like parenting experts that I talk to is, you know, your kids need to know that you are human too, because they have a lot of questions going on. I mean, if we sit there and imagine like all the things going on through our heads, whether it's sex or, you know, our political are, you know, whether we hate school or not, or whatever it is that we go through in our teenage mind, individuation is what's going on. And when I share experiences, it's to be able to teach them something and what I don't want for them. So, you know, for example, I had a long conversation with my son one afternoon and I said, listen, this is why I believe in these things. This is what happened to me and why it made me do these other things and why now I'm fixing that. And we talk about finances a lot, because I self-sabotage terribly, you know, my financial situation. I mean, I torpedoed it in so many different ways. And so when I talked to my kids about saving and, you know, not taking out a lot of debt and you know how to do budgets and, you know, and I keep them in the conversations to a safe extent of, like, what are certain finances or like, well, like, you know, gosh guys, this is how I budget it all out. I take it all back to, I was never shown this. And as a result, what happened to me was that I didn't value money in the same way. And I didn't value myself with money. And I made several mistakes. There are things that they don't need to know about. But if it helps them make sense of their own experience then I’ll share it with them. But, you know, sometimes people like, you know, they do blurt out too much and it’s kind of can make a kid unsteady. And I don't think that I definitely try not to do that. Cause there's the other danger, which is in [37:03 inaudible] where you talk so much about your trauma and your weaknesses, and then you're relying on your kids to be your emotional support through that. And so, when sharing trauma with my kids, it's done in a way of, I'm a parent, this is something that happened to me in my past. You don't owe me any emotional support for this. That's not your job. Your job is to be my kid.  My job is to support you emotionally, not for you to give it back to me. And I think there is a danger when a parent blast out their trauma, like you keep treating me like my dad did, you know, and if you've just gone on about how your dad was, you know, an abuser, you just told your kid, you basically equated them to your abuser and that's an unhealthy way of sharing your trauma story. And I think people do that because it's also kind of that reaction again, that's one of those learning experiences, you know, I'd be mindful of how you say it.

Michael: You really do. And that's entirely learned behavior, right? Because I even noticed my mother would say things similar like that. And then I discovered, you know, there's levels of covert incest in there too, and a [38:04 inaudible] and all the things that start. And then I was carrying that over into my teens and adult life and my relationships. And then ended up getting in the beautiful, wonderful codependent relationships. And we know how those go and you know, one of the things that kind of hovered over me for so long was just the shame about all of it. And just feeling like, how, how am I supposed to share this? How do you, not only as a human being, but as a mother, how do you share these things? And whether that's in your personal life and your professional life with the kids, with the friends, with partners, how do you work through shame where it is so abundant in society right now? And especially when we have reflections of ourselves, for me, shame doesn't carry nearly the weight that it used to. I can talk about 99.9% of things in my life and be okay with it. How do you navigate that?

Amee: Yeah, that's a great question. Because I did have a lot of, you know, it took me a long time. For example, I’ve said this before about using a word, you know, describing and being able to own that, or I was in an abusive relationship because that felt victimy. And I didn't want to feel that's the shame of not wanting to feel like I'd been victimized by somebody. And I had to kind of sit with that, like, what's stopping me. Like, I didn't ask for this. Like, you know, I overlooked things, but again, that's that accountability. What do I do differently with my life to understand how did I, you know, what navigated me into this situation? How do I stay out of those? How can I honor and trust myself more? And my red flags, when they start, you know, and the alarms start going off, you know, why didn't I listen to my alarm system? You know that kind of stuff. My own constitution though, is it has a deep sense of confidence, self-confidence and resiliency that while I have the same feelings of guilt and shame, particularly around my parenting, like that still brings tears to my eyes. I still feel ashamed that my kids have suffered because of some of the things I did and didn't do, then I go back to, but you didn't know what you didn't know, and guess what? You're showing up today. And you're actually making real concrete changes to that. And you have the evidence of that. Your kids are reinforcing that with you. You know, the consistency with the show that I do. And the work that I do is me, is me showing up every day for myself to say, see, you're still working on it. And you should be proud of that. Cause not everybody does as much as you've been doing in this whole thing. So no, you can't change what happened to them. You can't rewrite history, but you have full power and control over the future that you're going to give them. And so, don't worry about what you can't change, worry about what you can change. And that's my pep talk I have to give myself when I see my kids struggle and I realized, man, they wouldn't be there if I hadn't done that. And I pull myself out of that despair.

Michael: Yeah. And that’s such an important conversation to have with yourself, because again, it comes back to we are the stories that we tell ourselves. And even now I have these moments and I think when you've suffered and experienced enough trauma, you will always and forever have to navigate the shadow part of yourself. That part of you that says you're not worthy, you're not capable. You're a fuck up. You're the reason why this happened. And that self-talk narrative becomes smaller and smaller and smaller and more insignificant over time as you step further into it. But you know, where do you even start? Like, I recognize that yes, rock bottom is a part of this. And my goal, one of the things I really want to figure out how to do is how do I mitigate the risk of rock bottom and interject before that moment? I don't know that this is actually a possibility per what we talked about a few minutes ago, but once you even get to that place and you're like, okay, now I see, like where do you even start? A lot of people jumped right into therapy. But my argument is, I think that first you need to like have some introspective reflection and educate yourself, but that's my thought. 

Amee: Well, and that's how I got there, you know? And I think that that's pretty normal because therapy can be really, it can be really kind of mind blowing for people that aren't used to having conversations with themselves, let alone now conversing words out loud in a room to another person. If we've never been able to hear ourselves tell our own story back to us, it will be almost impossible to be able to open up our mouth and tell that story to someone else. And so, I do think that you have to sit with it on your own for a bit, if it helps to do self-help books. I always encourage that like, I think that that's like kind of like the gateway to therapy is to go self-help and whatnot. And you know, and sometimes our gateway too is, you know, talking with a friend, you know or whatever the case is. I also think that you know, you don't have to go as crazy as probably as you and I did with all of the work, but you know, maybe groups are easier, but again, I think that you have to be mindful of your own experience. The other thing that I also recommend is, and it's pretty natural. The first people we actually diagnose [43:14 inaudible] people around us, we are wired as humans to not be mindful and self-reflective. We are wired as humans to be observant of the environment around us. And so, one of the first things would be is if you were scripting out a play, who are the characters around you, like you're the central figure in your own story, but who are the supporting characters? And are they the same as that you've had before? Are there different ones, you know, are you choosing and casting the same roles in your life over and over again? Cause there's a lot there. And that's how I kind of got back to me was, you know, there's this mindset like I'm a victim and I never believed a victim, but I always believed I was a magnet. That's another word. That's a word that non victims use is that they're magnets that they're, you know, we are not a victim. We just attract bullshit to us. And it's not our fault again. Well, that's another bullshit, you know, mindset. We steer ourselves into situations that those people then kind of, you know, come into our world. And so, if you feel like you've been a magnet for certain types of people will then start to break that down and see where it's at. When I started to see common people narcissist in particular, it allowed me to go, God, I wonder where that came from. Why am I always in situations where I have a hard time defending, protecting my boundaries and saying no to those types of people professionally and personally in my life. I wonder where that comes from?

Michael: Hold on, I got to pause you really quick. How do you even get to the place of asking yourself that question?

Amee: Of asking like, why the question, the why question? Well I got to that place because the first question I asked is why am I attracting these people? That was it. I could see that, that my hardships and the people around me had a lot of common characteristics and personality traits. And then I was like, why do I attract them? You know, what is it about me and my personality that brings them all to the table, you know, or to the, you know, it brings the boys to the yard. But I don't, let me see if I can think about this. How did I get to that place? It started with one person who was making my life, a living hell and me diagnosing who they were, what they were, what type, you know, what was it about them, their behaviors and stuff like that. And then from there, I then was like, wow, actually, these behaviors, these traits look like that person there and that person there, and that person there. Well, then now I'm a magnet for narcissists. Like that's how I came to that conclusion. But yeah, I don't know where, except for just hardship, you know, being in an abusive situation where I just like my life sucked and I wanted to solve that person. That was it. I'm a fixer. And I wanted to fix the person around me in order to make my life better. And that's what started me on the path was that if I can, because that's codependency, if I do certain things and I'd behave certain ways and I keep picking up the Slack for somebody, eventually they will be the loving spouse, parents, you know, whatever surrogate you want to plug in there for me. So, my codependency and my desire to fix people is actually what got me looking at people and wanting to study them more deeply so that I could fix them all. And then realizing that at that point I was magnetizing and attracting them to it. And then asking that question and then getting to a place of, you're not attracting them, like in a sense that you're a victim here. You are actually, you are recreating these roles over and over again. You're recasting the same role with different people over and over again, because you're replaying the only script and the only model of life and the only model of relationships you even know.

Michael: Yeah. And what's super fascinating about that is that movie ends the same way every time. 

Amee: Every time. That was self-sabotage. That was me standing in the road in 2017 going, what the fuck? Okay. Here's science brain. When you have one incident, that's nothing. When you have two, you have, whew, that's a little interesting, but still nothing. But when you have three, three times that this happens to you, you have a pattern, a mathematical pattern. Okay, common denominator. Well, if the cast of players has changed and the companies have changed and everything else has changed, but to me is the only common denominator. That's the only variable that matters, me is the variable that matters. That needs to change.

Michael: Totally. Yeah. And I think about that so often because I definitely am a reformed perfectionist. And I would spend all of my effort and energy molding everyone around me to justify my behavior. Cause I was like, as soon as they get it, I’ll be fine. As soon as they fucking understand what I'm trying to do. This'll be fine. We won’t argue, we won't fight. We'll be in bliss, you know, come to recognize that's nonsensical. And so, as we start to kind of trail off here at first, I think this is beautiful. I love this conversation. What is the mission? What are you stepping into? What is the goal? What are you trying to build? What does your future and your understanding of not only your world, but the world and especially around trauma, like paint me a picture.

Amee: Yeah. I would love to, because you know, a couple of years ago when I started this, this was all about my own personal experience, you know, just trying to heal everything. And, you know, my one broken mom, you know, idea was is that I recognized all the fractures in the cracks, scaffolding that was weak. I needed to tear it all down and build it all back up again. One thing though that I’ve always been passionate about, to be honest with you, is my drive as this very independent person. You know the oldest child tends to be that way. You know, especially if you've been neglected, you become a very independent thinker. You can deal with a lot of challenges and things. And it led me down into entrepreneurship. Like I actually love entrepreneurship, but I also love being a cheerleader. Like I love helping people and I’ve had a chance to work with so many different business owners, particularly women. And as I’ve grown this amazing toolbox of just the psychology and, you know, and really being able to get in and up my game on neuroscience, coming back to business has actually been kind of fun because it was like, man, cause I wanted to solve that other problem. How can I be this creative and intelligent businesswoman and not fuck it all up again? Well guess what, it's trauma like, it's literally trauma. Trauma is the reason why I'm a really good math person. I have a master's degree. Like I have degrees and you know, lots of things that contribute to business. So why couldn't I make businesses stick? Why am I, why was I chronically under earning and underpay? Why was I in poverty after the last relationship? What did I need to do to change that and fix that? And that's either how you behave professionally because, you know, you need to collect a paycheck one way or another because things cost money. We're not in a barter system, we're in an exchanging of dollars system. And so, I'm actually after two and a half years of like psychology boot camp into the world of trauma, I’ve actually been going back into and bringing it that harmony into business. And beginning to help, you know, especially women understand how their traumas may be supporting or hurting their abilities for financial freedom and an ability to take care of themselves and whether they are childless or not you know, not have to worry about some of the grooming that we have in culture based on that or trauma based of, you know that help have some women relying on a spouse in order to be able to pay their bills and, you know, salary gaps and stuff like that.  So, my like expansion out from this point is coming back to the other passion that I had coming in, which was business. And so, all of this to business and entrepreneurship and, you know, coaching and teaching and writing books. I have a book coming out in the spring called the fearless woman's guide to starting a business. And I'm excited about that. That's how I blended it and molded it all back. And that feels the most authentic for me because I'm not a therapist I'm really terrible at that because I, you know, I do have a hard time holding a lot of another person's pain. That's very difficult for me to do. So, you know, sitting down and, and, and working one-on-one with somebody through all their deepest traumas and it, it, it gets overwhelming for me very easily. And that's part of what my story is, is having to hold everybody else's trauma pain and having an overwhelming, I get overwhelmed really easily. But on the other hand, I’ve always been super excited about helping people with businesses and creative and all the good stuff that's in there. And so, this is the most authentic step for me

Michael: Yeah. I love that. That's really beautiful. And I resonate with that. I tell my clients, you know, I coach people around the world, and I say, I'm not a therapist. Like, I don't care what happened in your past. We're talking about the future here. And I think that's really important. I think your past will always, always, always play a factor in who you are right now, but it doesn't get to dictate your future. And so being able to like step into that and recognize your power, which [52:09 inaudible] is what you are doing, tongue tied. That's really powerful and really beautiful. And I actually have hosted a course about trauma and entrepreneurship in Singapore and Thailand and unbundle. And it's so profound. Like if you look at the correlation between failure and business and trauma, it is hand in hand, like no questions asked. I think that's really beautiful and really powerful. I super encouraged us tell everybody where they can find you.

Amee: Awesome. Thank you so much. So, I'm at [52:41 inaudible] is like a good jumping off point. So, and I’m, you know, I'm sure you'll have a podcast and somebody needs to figure out how to spell that, but that's my main website and you'll get you know, links to my books. My social accounts you'll see there. The podcast is on there. The podcast show is one broken mom is on every platform. It's also on Alexa and on Amazon and Spotify. So, you can actually listen to the show there and subscribe I'm in the third season. So, I'm pretty excited about that. And you know, as like I mentioned before, I have a book that'll be coming out in the spring of 2021. And so, I'm probably, that's kind of the plan is I’ve been developing online courses that are really business-related courses, the business and the harmony with the psychology and the underlying stuff. And I have a few of those that'll be coming out at the end of the year and beginning of the next year. And, you know, I’ve actually been toying with doing like a business-oriented podcast. So, taking trauma and keeping one broken mom is that raw, deeper stories and working with the psychologist, but then actually then tailoring my fearless women's guide to business and creating a show on that. So we can kind of blend the two of them together and have examples of entrepreneurs and business people that have had to come with this inner work and their inner world and how they've been able to turn the corners, you know, the real corner, you know, turning, not just, you know, I applied this new social media content planning campaign, or, you know, I was able to get $20,000 in startup funding. Like that's not, that's not the hard stuff. Like that's the easy, the hard stuff is turning your life around and building a, you know, a business or changing careers, you know, to fit your purpose and your passion because you're letting go of your past and you're moving on. I mean, those are amazing stories that I can't wait to tell them.

Michael: Yeah, that's beautiful that, you know, and I’ve been an entrepreneurship for 25 years, ish, you know, and some legal, some not. And the one thing that I’ve discovered in all of it is that the best entrepreneurs, the people who are like the people we recognize as entrepreneurs, they own themselves. And that is the difference between success and failure there. So that's beautiful. I can't wait to hear these stories and my last question for you is what does it mean to you to be unbroken

Amee: To be unbroken. You know, for me, I think that's a great question. I, because I think of the Japanese and I can't think of the name I wish I could, but you know, the Japanese pottery of taking cracks and filling them with gold. And I think that unbroken doesn't necessarily mean you actually obliterate the presence of those cracks, that you've been able to replace it with something that's stronger and more beautiful than what you were before. 

Michael: I love. That. That is super beautiful. And I completely agree. So, thank you so much for your time. I'm so stoked for you to be on podcast and you found value in this conversation, please go and check out the one broken mom podcast. And if you enjoy this one, please like share, subscribe.

Until next time my friend…

Be Unbroken,

-Michael

Michael Unbroken

Coach

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

Ameé Quiriconi

Coach/Speaker/Entrepreneur/Author

About Ameé Quiriconi:

I am a podcaster, author, speaker, coach, entrepreneur, and mother. My journey of personal discovery began as I dealt with, yet again, another significant life upheaval and wanted to find a way to finally stop my self-sabotage, for my sake and for my kids. Along the way, I discovered the truths about the impacts of adverse and traumatic childhood experiences on our lives as adults. And then I realized what I was always meant to be and found purpose as a mental health and business advocate by teaching all the knowledge I'm gaining to others through speaking, writing, and my mental health podcast, One Broken Mom.