March 7, 2023

Transforming Trauma into Triumph: Nathan Spiteri's Journey from Pain to Purpose

In today’s episode, we explore the difficult yet transformative journey of healing from trauma. Can you learn to love yourself?... See show notes at:

In today’s episode, we explore the difficult yet transformative journey of healing from trauma. Can you learn to love yourself? Can you become the hero of your own story? Our guest, Nathan Spiteri, is living proof that the answer is yes. He shares his personal story of surviving and overcoming the trauma of pedophilia, and how he turned his pain into power. As an author, speaker, actor, filmmaker, and advocate, Nathan inspires us to recognize our own power to heal and transform our trauma into triumph. This is a sobering and sometimes painful conversation, but one that offers hope and guidance for anyone who has experienced abuse or trauma. Listen and discover how you can become unbroken too.

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Michael: What's up, Unbroken Nation? Welcome to another episode of the Michael Unbroken Podcast. My goal and company is to give you the tools to help you understand your past, get out of the vortex, and become the hero of your own story.This podcast is sponsored by think, and you can check out my new book, think Unbroken Understanding and Overcoming Childhood. This podcast is not a substitute for mental healthcare, but instead, think of it more as a companion where we're here to support each other and to grow. Each episode of the Michael and Broken podcast is less than 10 minutes, though sometimes that does not happen. So hang out with me. Stay tuned. If you have questions, if you want to have conversations with me or you have information you want to share, reach out to me directly on social media at Michael Unbroken, or you can email Enjoy this episode my friend, and until next time, be unbroken

Michael: To help everybody who you are?

Nathan: I’m Nathan, I'm from Australia. I do now live in New York, I've been in New York for the past 12 years, but I guess I'm an advocate and working with a lot of charities on sexual abuse and child abuse and I'm a survivor of child sexual abuse and which went on for quite a few years and I was threatened with my life. I was told if I'd tell anyone, he'll kill me and he'll kill my family so, I kept it a secret for my whole life. And until about six, seven years ago, and as a result, I did some pretty terrible things to myself and the people to survive, it was my f*ck you to the world my way of getting my power back, my way of feeling alive again was to do some, you know, not so nice things but that was the only way I knew how to do it, that was the only way I knew how to survive. So, you know, did that hit rock bottom, come out the other side and now I'm working with a bunch of charities and I did Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, sex Anonymous, therapy Group Therapy, worked on myself a lot and really, you know, got myself to where I need to be and now just kind of helping others. And I have a book coming out about my life, a movie's been written and that's coming out soon after. So, you know, as I guess I'm an activist, if you want to call it that, and just doing what I can to raise awareness.

Michael: That's incredible man. And you and I connected someone put me in contact with you like almost a year ago at this point, I think, or pretty close there too. And we kind of connected on social media as you know, one of the great things about social media is we can meet like-minded people and we can find people have these kinds of conversations and it's fascinating to me that you and I are like very much in the same boat, especially as (a) being men and (b) have done like all this intense work to like create this person that we are now. And so kudos to you first man, ‘cuz I know it's like you go and like, I've had these moments, I rewind, you know, seven, eight years ago and I'm like, oh, what the f*ck was I doing, man.

Nathan: Absolutely. I completely understand. I was in a bad place, I had hit rock bottom, I was shooting heroin, I was smoking, I was dating prostitutes, I just did what I needed to do to forget about my past and to be able to move forward. And that moving forward for me to move forward, I had to do these things and go through these terrible times and do these terrible things because it's brought me to where I am today. And one of the big things people always ask me, do you regret what you've done? You know, and I'm like, sure. I regret it. I'm sorry and I feel terrible that I hurt people and if I could change it again, I would. But on the other hand, I wouldn't change it because it's brought me to where I am today. If I didn't go through all the sh*t I did, if I didn't do all the stuff I did, I wouldn't be here. I wouldn't be talking to you, I'd be dead. I'd be in jail somewhere. I'd be in a gutter with aids, I don't know where I'd be, but I had to go through all of that stuff to work out who I was as a person and to work out what my purpose is in life and it's kind of brought me around to this moment.

Michael: Yeah. It's crazy when you really take a second to sit back and one, like acknowledge yourself for doing the things that create change, but also to like that moment where you go, oh, actually, you know, I don't regret it, I learned from it. I'm not necessarily proud of like the crazy sh*t that I did ‘cuz you know, there's nothing that exciting about like drinking a bottle of tequila and getting extremely high and like driving your car and, you know, it's doing really awfully poor things to yourself and those around you. Like if you're getting excited about that, like we should probably talk about some other things, but we kind of walk down that path and you kind of, you look at where your life was versus where it is and you acknowledge how f***king crazy it is to do all that work and then you recognize, and I don't know if this was your experience, but I came to this realization like, oh, I have the strength, like in myself to work through all of this stuff because I did the NA’s, the AA, all the A's I did 'em all. And this is my experience and I know how beneficial it's for some people. The only thing that I got out of that for years and years was kind of like, oh, these are people who are unwilling to accept that they have to create change. And for me it was very much like, oh no, I see the path that my life is going to take if I don't force myself to create a different narrative.

Nathan: Yeah, absolutely. I appreciate all the NA’s and AA and I met some amazing people and I learned some amazing things. And I think for me as well, what the most I got out of it was just listening to other people, listening to the way their stories and learning from them and learning about their journey. And, you know, I took what I learned from them and took it with me on my journey. For me to get through this and part of my journey was as a straight person, I was going to gay clubs and cruise lounges and picking up men and going home with them or doing what I was doing with them in the club. But then I was beating 'em up and I was robbing them and that was my way again, of getting my power back on the man who abused me as a child. And this started from when I was about 15 years old, I was going to these clubs at 15 years old and becoming violent with these guys and you know, as much as I was kind of being violent towards them and beating them up, they were doing the same thing to me. So, it was a give and take situation and I wanted to take it, I wanted to get that, that beating, I wanted to be raped again, I wanted to feel all those feelings, ‘cuz that was the only thing that kept me push, that kept driving me forward. And then, you know, hitting the rock bottom and then going to these sessions.

And I have to say, I know, I know therapy's not for everyone, but I think therapy saved my life, I really do therapy and group therapy being just to sit in that room and one thing I've always done and I've always promised myself is to be completely open and completely honest and just let it all out. And I learned some of the most important things in my life during therapy and speaking to my therapist. You know, it's amazing, life is an amazing thing because this is a journey I never thought I'd be on, this is helping others and being an advocate and activist is something I never thought I'd be doing, talking about my past, it's something I never thought I'd be doing. But I kind of feel what happened to me as a kid happened for a reason and the reason why it happened to me is to tell my story, is to educate the world, is to help other people. And through all of this stuff that I'm doing with my book and this film, and just talking to you and talking to other people, and if I can save one person's life, if I can stop them from killing themselves, from abusing another child, from going down a road I did of sex and violence and drugs, then my job is done. If it's just that one person, amazing. If it's hundreds or if it's thousands, even better. You know, I can talk to you about that because I had this article come out about me, I think late 2018, early 2019, I'm not sure if I sent it to you or if you've read it. It was in Australian newspaper and it was the first time my story be kind of became public. And it happened, it was Halloween weekend, so I turned, it was 4:00 PM here and it was about 6:00 AM 7:00 AM in Australia when the article came out, the Sunday paper. And I started getting messages and emails and all this sh*t on Instagram and Facebook, and I'm like, h*ly f*ck, I don't wanna deal with it. I can't deal with it. So, I turned my phone off for the afternoon and I went out and had some fun with my friends for a Halloween party, turned my phone on the next day at 9:00 AM and I had over 200 messages from people I'd I've known my whole life, people I haven't spoken to. But then I had about 50 to a hundred messages from people I've never met before in my life, all over the world, telling me that I've saved their life, I've given them the power to now tell their story, to talk to their parents, their brothers and sisters, whoever it is, to get the help they need. And I've had since that day, I've probably had another a hundred over the past year of just people telling me that I've saved their life and I've done things for them. And, you know, women from the Middle East who have never been able to come out about this and India, a lot of boys from India, you know, it's an amazing thing that this little thing that I've done and just to be able to come out and talk about it has allowed other people now to be able to come out and talk about their journey, talk about their story, and kind of get some closure for themselves.

Michael: Yeah. I mean it's crazy because I relate to that in such a profound way. I'll never forget the first time I got a message from someone and they were like, Hey, what you're doing is impacting my life like, you make me feel like life is worth living. And I'll never forget that in this moment of, I don't want to call it clarity, but this moment where I really came to realize like, I didn't sign up for this job, dude, I had wanted, you take me back 10 years ago I want nothing to do with this. I don't still necessarily, right? But I just feel so called to it. And that was the moment where I was like, I'm so fine. I'm gonna double down on it because I think the best thing that we can do as human beings and as people who've had a very similar background, is to show what the other side looks like. Right. And I know what it's like to sit in those rooms with in group therapy and regular therapy and feel the impact of relation of community and being seen and heard and understood. For me, my experience was, all right, I'm gonna do whatever it takes to just bury this sh*t down and if that means I have to torch everything else in the process, then so be it and I did that for the majority of my life. And when I was about 28 years old, that's where I hit my rock bottom. And it was in that time where I was like, okay, I can do two things here. One, I can die for sure, because that's what's next like whatever's happening right now is the trajectory is not a happy ending or I can do whatever it takes to get healthy and I opted for the latter. And so fast forward many, many years later, here I am sitting talking to you with the realization that had I not had rock bottom right, you mentioned this in your own story, I don't know that I necessarily would be here because I found myself enthralled with the chaos man because you know, we come from a chaotic background and you look at the abuse, whether it's mental, emotional, physical, sexual, whatever. There's something about that, where that becomes your status quo and that was very true for me. And so, by the time I'm in my late teens, early twenties, like I am off the rocker, dude, I'm doing the craziest shit you could imagine. I'm getting high every day, breaking into people's houses, stealing cars, running around with guns, unbelievable things that even now, I sit back and I go, man, I'm lucky I was fast ‘cuz dude, I tell you what, dude, cops were behind me so many times.

Nathan: I'm lucky I've never been in trouble with the police or really with anyone. Yes, I've been beaten up a few times and I deserved it because, you know, the violence and the robbing and the breaking in and I stole a few cars as well with my friends and just the drugs and I was dealing drugs in Australia, someone's looking out for me, there's a higher power, someone's watching over us because we're meant to be here. We were meant to go through what we were meant to go through. We were meant to experience everything in our lives, the chaos, the drama, the fu**ing, the violence, the terrible things because we were meant to be sitting here talking to each other and sharing our stories and educating people.

So, you know, as f**ked up as our past was as much as I wanted to kill myself a few times, and I've hated my life, it was meant to be this way. The chaos was meant to be there, the drama was meant to be there.

Michael: I don't think you get to where we are right now without an immense amount of chaos. But then also, like, my experience is like when I had flipped that switch and decided to do all the work that was chaotic in itself because I found myself like doing, because I'm a hundred mile an hour kind of guy, like I just have to be like balls to the wall going for it. And I found myself like, oh yeah, I'm going to therapy three times a week, I'm working out five times a day, I'm just like doing the craziest sh*t, like to get healthy and trying to erase, you know, decades and decades of abuse, not only from others but myself and found that patience is actually the thing that has gotten to me where I'm at right now is just being vehemently patient with myself and the people around me ‘cuz I realized like, it was almost like I was a control freak, right? Because that's what it is. You're trying to control the chaos. And once I just took a step back, I realized I can't control this, all I can do is ride the wave and do the best I can to set myself up for whatever's next.

Nathan: Yeah, absolutely. We've lived the same life, we kinda have, because it's literally probably been in the last year or two when I've really come to a place where I am comfortable with myself ‘cuz even through the therapy and the group and the, you know, the AA’s and all that type stuff, I was still, you know, falling off the f*cking rock. I was still losing my sh*t. I was still drinking and doing drugs and I wasn't ready; I hadn't found myself mentally and emotionally to be able to accept who I was as a person. So, I kept going back to what I was, I kept going back to what was familiar to me. And, you know, I was taking that one step forward, two steps back, two steps forward, three steps back because I was getting myself better, but then I would just fuck myself up again because I was scared of what was gonna come. I was scared of letting people in, letting 'em in too close and trusting people and opening a do the door to love and communication. So as soon as you know, these relationships, these people in my life come close to me, I'd be like, whoa, you're f**king too close now, I'd build that wall, push you away, and then I'd just fall off again and I do purposely this whole self-sabotage thing, I would do things on purpose to f*ck these things up, f*ck these relationships up, you know, if I got a great acting gig or if I got a great job in general or whatever I was doing, I'd do something on purpose because I didn't deserve it. I wasn't allowed to be happy; I wasn't allowed to feel this way.

Michael: I'm curious though like I understand that from a retrospective perception I go, yeah, that makes sense to me. But I felt like when I was having those same moments, I didn't realize what I was doing. It just seemed like that was the thing that I should do because it was my experience leading up until those moments. So the self-sabotage thing would be like, oh yeah, I'm gonna destroy this thing, but it's only because this is learned behavior, I don't know what else to do.

Nathan: Exactly. That's the reason why, not because I was doing it on purpose. It was what was familiar to me. So, I would just subconsciously do these things subconsciously I'd push you away and I wouldn't communicate and I'd start cheating and doing the drugs and ‘cuz that's all I knew, not because I'm like, h*ly f*ck, she's getting too close to me. I need to go and do something to f*ck this up or I need to start doing drugs, start drinking again, it was just a subconscious thing. It's like people always say to you, just get over it, just move forward. But it's calm because it's part of my DNA, it's part of who I am now, and I can move forward, but I'm never going to forget it and I need to have the right tools in place to move forward so I don't fall back into those dark days much. So, for a long time I didn't have those tools in place, so I was subconsciously drinking again and doing the bad things and beating people up and getting into fights because that's all I knew that's what was for me to me.

Michael: Yeah. And it feels real, it feels like what reality is supposed to be until you have this coming, you know, they talk about the coming to Jesus’ moment, right? Where you're hit rock bottom, but I think it's a coming to yourself moment, where finally, like I had to ask myself how much of my own b**** am I willing to continue to put up with before I fucking do something about it? I mean, how much more can I possibly destroy everything around me? And to be where I am now is a complete, not only 180, but the past behaviors that I had, I don't recognize one because they're not a part of who I am anymore, but two, because like, there's this immense sense of validation, appreciation, love and candor that I have for myself because I've refused to continue down the path that was set for me because much like you, like statistically we should be dead or in jail. But somewhere along the line, something clicked and we've said, you know what? There's something else that there's potential to step into here. And for me, and I'm curious about your perspective, it was fear, honestly, that guided me into change because, it was fear and a chip on my shoulder because one, I was scared that I was gonna end up being what everyone else told me I was going to be. And the chip on my shoulder came from that same thing I was like, you know what? F*ck those guys, I'm gonna figure this out.

Nathan: Yeah. It was fear for me and it was a chip on my shoulder because I was rejected so many times, and not in relationships, but just in life in general, in whatever situation it was. And people would always say, you're gonna all amount to nothing. You are nothing. You're a piece of f**king sh*t. You're this, you're that. And I'm like, what? No. F**ck you. I'm gonna show you. I'm gonna show you I can do this. And I'm gonna prove to myself as much as I'm gonna prove to you that I can do this and I can get over it. And then, you know, I was never really close to my family, but my brother and my sister, I've got two brothers and a sister, one brother and one sister have kids. And when I saw these kids being born, it lits something in me and these kids in my life, now, they're only seven, five, and three, but these kids in my life and I wanna do something good for these kids. I wanna show these kids that yes, I was a f*ck up back in the past. I was not in a good place. But now I am someone. I am something. And I am helping people. And I'm growing into myself and we can always grow, there's always light at the end of the tunnel. You know, it's not always doom and gloom.

So, for me, I wanted to prove this to myself that I can do it, prove it to others, and just kind of getting the validation and love back from my family really pushed me along. And I have two or three really, really close friends who have stuck through me with everything. I've lost a lot of friends, and I've lost a lot of people in my life. And I wanna do it for these guys as well, because, you know, you can't choose your family but these people are my family. And they're stuck with me the whole way and really fucking, you know, I owe these people my life.

Michael: Yeah. I'm right there with you. I've got a handful of people in my life who are closer than any other people that I know, and they're my selected family. You know, my relationship with my immediate siblings was always strained because we all grew up in this hyper violent home. And so, our baseline foundational way that we showed love for each other was what violence. Right. And that really wore, its way on us. I mean, I even recall I broke my right hand on one of my brother's faces on two different occasions. Right. Like, that is the kind of like home we have coming up and I fought all the time all through high school and even into my early twenties I was always getting into fights. And now I think about the friends and you said something really interesting, you know, think of all the people that are no longer in your life, the friends that you've lost. I had this amazing group of friends who always supported me when I was in the chaos but the second I I flipped the switch and I started getting into this healthy thing it's like I stopped getting invited to dinners and out to party and out to hang out and watch the game and all the things. And suddenly it was like, oh, you're a different person. I'm like, yes, I am. And so like, do you want to come along with this or not? And you know, I've come to find that the overwhelming majority of that has been no, and that's fine because, you know, if you think if it's true, they say that you're the sum total of the five people you spend the most time with. Not a single one of my friends ever pulled me aside and were like, Hey dude, you're acting like a complete f*cking moron. Right. And so, it makes sense to me that as I created change, like they would, you know, falter out.

Nathan: Yeah, absolutely. When I first moved to New York, I worked at an Aussie bar just all Australians who worked there, and the place was a brothel. It was literally just sex and drugs and an alcohol. And as soon as I came out about my story and I started getting help and you know, going to therapy and doing all that stuff, they kind of all just dropped me because I didn't fit into their lifestyle anymore and I kind of dropped them as well ‘cause I knew they weren't gonna change. So, people come into your life for a purpose and I've had a lot of people come into my life for a reason, for a purpose and I thank them for that because I learned from them and it was part of my experience, part of my growth, part of who I am today. But now you know, like you said, it's just that select group of people who are there and who are stuck by me and who will always be there and who are my family. But the others were there ‘cuz they needed to be there for that time and for that reason but then it was just time to move forward ‘cuz they weren't gonna grow, they weren't gonna go on this journey, they just wanted to stay drinking and partying and the violence and the drugs and the sex. And that was who they are, that was who they were and that was good enough for them. And I knew I had to get outta that, otherwise I was done.

Michael: Yeah. It’s tough, right? Because you think about, especially in those times, you assume those people are your friend leading up until the moment where you figure out that, oh, actually they're not, they are your drinking buddy, they are your drug accomplice, they're your brothel hangout friend, right? They're not really about making your life better. And so now being in this place where we're both in this situation of not intentionally, but by, you know, happenstance, serendipity, or whatever it may be called we're in this place where now we help people in our way just to be able to facilitate change and growth in their life. And one of the questions that I get asked, probably every single day I'd be willing to say every day is, how do I share my story? And you know, our stories are dark, they're hard, they are things where we write them and they, people go, oh, I hope that God looks over you and you write them and people go, I'm so sorry, I feel so bad for you. And for me, I think to myself, I don't feel bad about anything that happened ‘cuz I wouldn't be here. But that's the thing, like, being able to step into that moment and sharing your story is tremendously difficult. What was the lead up for you to that? Because here's what I always tell people, you've gotta figure that out on your own. I can't give you advice on what to do in sharing your dark pieces. But for me, I just said like, you had hit rock bottom and I was like, I can't carry this fucking weight anymore, it has to just get off my shoulders. I'd already been doing a little bit of the work, but about five years ago, I just made this post, I put it on social media, and then I turned my phone off and I came back to hundreds and hundreds of messages and emails and texts, and people were like, h**y sh*t because you have to think for 28 years of my life, I kept every secret to myself. And so, for people who are in these similar situations, it's very hard for me to go, Hey, you know what, you'll just magically know this moment. But I think that's kind of how it goes if it's something that you want to do.

Nathan: Yeah. I think for me, it was when my best friend, who was my closest friend here in New York, she's actually now moved back to Kenchi Canadian. She said to me, I'm done. I can't do this with you anymore. I'm over. I can't have you as my friend because you're just a f**king, you're a mess, you're a sh*t show, you're getting in a fight, you're just f**king whoever you can, the drinking. And, you know, we went to acting school together and shows, we're on different paths now, I want an artistic career and an artistic lifestyle, and you're just going a complete other opposite way. So, it was my birthday and pretty much no one turned up to my birthday or everyone just kind of was there for five minutes and f**cked off. So, I just got wasted and got f**ked up and got into a really bad place and the whole self-sabotage thing kicked in. I ended up going to a gay club here and kind of picked up a guy, went to the bathroom with him, did what we did, and then I just went to town him I just beat him up and really hit him a few times. And I was getting to the point where I was just, for the first time ever, I kind of looked at myself in a mirror when it was done and this poor guy was on the floor and I didn't see me. I saw my abuser, I saw this guy looking straight back at me and I realized, h**y f*ck, I am turning into this man. I'm not Nathan, I'm not this guy. I'm this f***ing man. I'm who he is besides the abusing kids and doing that stuff, the violent side of it. And a week later, or a few days later, I rang my best friend I said, listen, I need to talk to you. She's like, no, f*ck off. I don't want anything to do with you. Leave me alone. I said, please, please, please, I need to talk to you. So, she agreed, we went to a cafe in a West Village and I'll never forget it still feels like it was yesterday went to this cafe and she got there before me and she got the middle table and the whole cafe, and it was full, it was packed to people. So, I went and met her, got a tea or whatever I got from the counter and went back and sat with her and I just said, listen, I need to tell you something. I said, you're the very first person I've told I haven't told a soul my whole f*cking life. And I just kind of blurted everything out, I just told her everything and started crying, and then she started crying. And I must have been talking loud because I was just so emotional and I didn't realize where I was literally, every single table around us was just staring at us and watching us and thinking, ho**y f*ck, you know, this guy is talking about how he's just been raped and never spoken about it for the first time.

So, through that, she helped me find my therapist, and then through the therapy, I went to group therapy, blah, blah, blah. But the big coming out for me, I guess was like you said, you know, and like I said earlier, was having this big article come out about me in an Australian newspaper. But under the newspaper's kind of portfolio were all these other newspapers that, you know, for every lit, literally every single state in the country. So, it went Australia wide and within the first week there were a million views and just having all these people reach out to me and speak to me and like I said, I've had two women from the Middle East reach out to me saying, you're the very first person I've told I can't tell anyone because if I tell anyone in my town, I'll get murdered. One lady said, a lady from her town came out about her story, her husband killed her as an honor killing because she dishonored the family. She disgraced the family, so the husband killed her and just got away with it and went on his merry f**king way. And it's funny exactly what you said, I've had so many people ask me, what do I do now and what's next? And how do I do this? And what's my journey and what should I, and exactly what you said is what I've said. I say, listen, this is my journey. I've come out about my story because this is the way I have to do it. I don't know who you are. I don't know your journey. So, you have to go on your own journey. Yes. Get what you need to get from me and from my story and what I'm doing. But I don't know your demographic. I don't know your family, your background, where you grow up. And if I don't wanna tell you a certain thing, you need to do this, this, this, and you do it, and you confront this person or whatever you do, and you end up getting into trouble or you murder someone, or this person murders you and I'm not a therapist. I don't know, I don't have the answers even for myself still, I'm learning every single f**king day. You know, I take it day by day and that's all I can say to them is the patience thing, like you said, and just take it day by day because I don't know what's gonna happen in a week. I don't know where I'm gonna be in two, three weeks a month. You know, I don't know that in, when I come out, a year after coming out about my story, I'm gonna have publishers reaching out to me to do a book deal. I'm gonna have a script written about my life. I don't know any of that stuff so, I can't tell you what to do, but you just need to go on your own journey and just take my experiences on in any way you need to, learn from it, grow from it, educate yourself and you need to go on your journey. But for me, yeah, it was hitting that rock bottom and then speaking to my one friend who then got the ball rolling into therapy, group therapy, AA, all that type stuff. Still, you know, like I said, it is a learning curve and I'm still learning every day and I still f*ck up every day with relationships and with people and with the way I speak to people, and you know what's funny? I don't know about yourself and I don't know what age you are, it started for you. For me, it was eight years old, I still find this eight-year-old boy in me trying to get out the sh*t I do and sometimes the stuff I say, I'm like, h*ly f*ck, I'm, I'm like an eight-year-old kid who's trying to grow up, trying to live his life, trying to live his childhood because you know when you're eight years old and this happens to you and you are threatened with your life, you f**king grow up, you become an adult and you do what you need to do to survive.

Michael: Yeah, absolutely. And I mean, like, I fully understand that that's embedded in me. Like my mother cut my finger off when I was four years old in spite of my father. And then by the time we were six, she had married like the most hyper abusive dude you could ever imagine like this dude, six foot four, 200 pounds would kick the sh*t outta my brothers and I, right? And so, we grew up so fast, and it's not only about like the necessarily growing up, but you're in consummate fear, right? Every time you close your eyes, you can't sleep. Every time you walk in the house, your heart speeding out of your chest, you feel like you're in a sh*t, your pants like you're in this place of evil where everywhere in the world is a better place than the one place where you're supposed to feel safe. And so that to me was what was the catalyst for, or I guess what I would say my response to you is growing up and filling this urgency. And then next thing you know, by the time I'm like, you know, 9, 10, 11 years old, I'm kind of just taking care of my brothers a lot because my mom was often gone, you know, on these drug binges and my stepfather was an over road trucker. So, you know, we're on our own, there was even a point in time where I spent almost an entire summer by myself at 11 years old with no one around Right. Because that's kind of what we come from. And so, when you're an adult, you talked to your point a little bit ago where you're talking about walls being up. Dude, you're not nothing about you as penetrating me ‘cuz I'm hyper protective of myself while the objects to position of this the irony is that I'm destroying my own life, right?

Nathan: Yeah. Did you ever kind of suffer from Stockholm syndrome or anything like that? Because through my grooming and my manipulation, you know what this guy was telling me and you know, as an eight-year-old kid and we're talking 30, f**k me, 32, 33 years ago, it's completely different now to what, eight-year-old, how eight-year-olds live their life. We don't have internet, we don't have phones, we don't have any of that, the technology we have now. So, you know, this guy was saying to me, your parents hate you, everyone hates you. If you tell anyone you'll die, you'll go to jail. The police will take me away, they'll take you away. You know, so just all the sh*t he was saying to me, really got embedded into my head and really, I believed it. I believed it.

So, for me, I started feeling love for this guy. I started feelings for this guy, and I would wanna see him. I would go to his house, I would ride my bike to his house on occasion, so I could see him and, spend time with him and be with him. And I didn't know his situation, I didn't know if he was married or if he had kids or whatever the f*ck his situation was. But he did have a wife and a daughter, but she left him, so he was in this house alone. So, and it was very violent at first, he would beat the f*ck outta me and shove me up against the wall and choke me out until I'm peeing my pants and just do these terrible things to me as you know, it happened to you as well.

So, for me, I throw that just the change in the relationship where he would just get me in the house. He wouldn't offer me a drink. He wouldn't gimme any food or anything like that. He wouldn't ask me questions about myself. It was just the violence and the sex and that stuff, which then developed into a loving relationship where he would show affection toward me. He would give me a drink; he would give me chips or lollies sweets. He would ask questions about me and what I'm doing and how's school and I used to play soccer as a kid. How's soccer? And blah, blah, blah. And so, it just the change in the relationship between me and him, it really impacted on who I became and my mental thoughts and how I treated other people. It was always very rough and violent at first and then the love would kind of come and then I would push him away ‘cuz as he abandoned me, I would abandon all these other people. So, , that was my kind of experience, my relationship with this guy.

Michael: Yeah. And that's intense and that's very common for so many people because eventually for lack of a better term, you break down and then due to just wanting to have relation or connection of any type you that is Stockholm syndrome at its finest like my grooming was different though because it was violence, right? You said something that I really resonate with where, you know, you started to believe the things that were being said to you. And so, you know, not only do I have a hyper violent mother and stepfather, but I'm going to school in the inner-city school, super violent, I'm not a learned child by any means because I can't f**king concentrate on anything. And so, what am I hearing? Not only from my home, but from school and from my peers. You're stupid. You're worthless. You're never gonna be anything. Nobody loves you. Nobody cares about you. And so, those things started to be the words that played around in my head and then my way of coping with it, or seeking relation was to do the same in return, right? So, what do hurt people do? They hurt people. And so, as a child, I was, even though I was not only the most poor kid in school, we didn't even have our own f**king clothes most of the time. I was failing elementary school about to get held back, even though realistically I'm an incredibly intelligent person and I'm just fighting all the time. I'm so violent, dude. I get taken to the principal's office when I'm seven years old and the next thing you know, I am in one of those units where they take little kids who are violent and I'm speaking to therapists and I'm spending my weekends there and I'm like going through and having these conversations and all the while, here's what's fascinating man. I realize exactly what's happening. I know exactly somehow at that age I was cognizant enough to realize like the entire situation and how it's played out ‘cuz as adults we seem to believe that children are not that adaptable and intelligent when in fact, they know 99% of the time exactly what's happening, they just don't have the tools to process and work through it. So, on the same token where you are seeking that love and compassion from this person, mine is, how can I hurt more people? I remember I broke this kid's arm in second grade just so I could see him cry like that's the intensity of the violence that we were around.

And so, what happens from that dude, you go home and then you get this sh*t kicked out of you and then the cycle continues. So that was the biggest thing that I had to break and the last time I ever got in a fight, I was 24 years old, it was 4th of July, and I punched my brother in the face and I was just like, this is insane, man. I can't do this anymore. Right. Just the violence, the fighting, because like by nature, I'm an athlete, I was a combat sport athlete as a kid, you know, it was at least kind of a place where I could put some of that energy but as an adult to punch your brother in the face, that's pretty f&*king intense. But then come back to your point about grooming, what did we do as children? We fought because the only thing we saw was the violence in our home. And you eventually connect violence and affection and somehow, they're the same thing.

Nathan: Yeah. Did the school, did the teachers ever think it was through home and through what was happening to you at home? Did they question any of that or they just wouldn't?

Michael: It was a different time. You know, I'd show up to school covered in bruises and smelling like piss ‘cuz I wet the bed as a child. And most of the time, dude, we didn't have wearing water, so I couldn't like, bathe before school and the teachers would just kind of turn the other way to go, oh, he's the bad kid. He just needs attention, blah, blah, blah. The reality is, man, by the time I was in high school, I was reading at a collegiate level. I was in all these advanced placement classes and I had straight F's, right? Because I f**king hated school. I hated being there. Right? And so, teachers would just look at me and go, oh, he's the bad kid, so we're just gonna like, throw 'em to the side not realizing what I really needed someone to do was come and intervene and not only from the school perspective was at a different era, but you know, the police would come to our house once a week like I remember distinct times my grandmother would call the police to come and arrest my stepfather after he kicked the sh*t out of me, or my mom or my brothers. And they'd just be like, eh, well, we're not gonna really do anything today. Good luck. Right?

Nathan: Yeah. And it was a different time and it's funny what you said earlier that hurt people, hurt people. That's something that I really resonated with me. I heard that saying probably about five years ago or however long ago it was. And it just stuck with me and I'm like, h*ly f*ck that is so, so true because we're hurt and we haven't recovered, we haven't done the work on ourselves. And probably a year, oh f*ck no, not a year, six months ago, let's say, just after I met the publishers. One of the publishers sent me something on Instagram or an email and said, healed people, healed people. And she goes, that's what you are now. You are a healed person and you are healing people and I'm like, h*ly f*ck, am I really though? Am I healed? I've done the work and I'm doing the work and I'm in a much better place and I can control my anger. And like you, I used to box, I did boxing for quite a few years, so I knew how to fight, but you know, how healed am I? Am I mentally, emotionally, physically am I healed? I don't know. And it's just a work in progress all the time. But I guess we are healed because we are where we are right now. We are helping other people. We are talking about our stories. So, you know, as much as that, it always will be with us and as much as it's always gonna be a part of my life and who I am, I don't know it's a tough one. I guess we are healed. We were hurt and we were hurting people, but now we're healed and we are healing other people, we are helping other people, it always didn't sit good with me. And it's what you brought up as well earlier, people always praising you and saying, oh, you're amazing and you're a hero and you're saving me, you know, you're saving my life and you're doing this. And I f**king hate hearing that and I hate hearing people say to me, I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry what happened to you. It doesn't sit right with me. I hate the praise and I hate people telling me how good I am now, or that I'm a hero now, or that I'm saving people now. I still need to kind of get into my head that that's where we are going and we're gonna be hearing a lot of that stuff.

Michael: I get that man, and I'll have these moments and I actually shared it with my partner just yesterday, I was like, it's really fascinating to me when I get a message from someone who is looking at me towards inspiration or who has sent me a message or a text or a voice note, and they're just like, you're changing my life. And what I've come to realize with that, Nathan, because it's a really valid point that you have, because for the first couple of years of doing this, it struck me as odd. And now what I've come to realize is because of the choice that I've made to continue down this path, it's actually in part my responsibility to just acknowledge that it's okay that I can have that kind of influence because you have to think about growing up, dude, this is my experience when I was invisible. And so, to be in this place to be seen, it was really uncomfortable for a long f**king time. And then now it's like, it's not that I necessarily welcome it or I seek it, it's a part of this thing I think by proxy, if anything, and a lot of people understand and have this similar experience, whether it's in work or relationships or in hobby or sport, where an acknowledgement to them feels so f**king uncomfortable that they would rather it not be said than to just sit with it for 10 seconds and go know what, yeah, I'm allowed to have this. Because it's hard, man ‘cuz you come from this f**king place where no matter what you do, it could be the greatest thing or the worst thing ever you're invisible and no one seems to give a f**k, but you have to give a f**k. And so like, I had to bury it into my brain that it's okay, it's not that it doesn't still feel, and it may forever feel slightly odd and strange, but I just acknowledge the fact that the ability that I have by stepping into this thing that I never planned on being a part of is something that benefits people and by proxy it benefits me because it helps me feel more like I'm on the right trajectory when I read things like that.

Nathan: That makes sense, that does make a lot of sense. And I think you touched on it earlier, just having that patience and taking that step back. You know, acknowledging it, yes, you know, as much as you may not like it and hearing those words, but I think just taking that step back, acknowledging it and realizing that you are doing a good thing because yeah, we did come from a life of chaos and we have flipped it, we have flipped the switch and now we are in a good place. We are good f**king people. We are helping others. We are educating the world and saving lives as much as, you know, you hate to say it, we are f**king saving lives. You know, it does take a while to get used to and to sit comfortably with but I am getting more towards that now, especially with this book being written and the people I've been speaking to. And one thing that was really fascinating for me, I was a keynote speaker for, I think it was the seventh annual Child Abuse Conference, it was in Wisconsin in Madison. And I spoke for, it was the first time I'd got up and spoken in public about it. And it was an audience of about a hundred hundred 50 people, you know, people who had been abused, but then there was counselors, therapists, teachers, people in the law, all that type stuff, politicians. And there was a guy who come up to me and he said, do you know why this guy abandoned you? And I'm like, f*ck, I don't know. I think it's just because he got in trouble or he had to get outta town or the police caught him or whatever. And I never worked it out, I never thought about this and he goes, no, it's because you were growing up, it's because you were getting hair on your bodies, it's because you were turning into a man, you weren't this little f**king boy anymore and that's why he abandoned you. And I just kind of f**king hit me and I was like, h*ly f*ck I never, ever once thought that, I thought he abandoned me ‘cuz he just didn't like me anymore because he got in trouble, not because I'd outgrown the situation he wanted. I wasn't this little boy anymore, I had hair on my body, whatever the f**king situation was so, it just kind of stung me. And one of the biggest things I learned in therapy, which kind of relates to that, and my therapist, it was here in New York, my therapist was these five feet just little f**king bulldog of a woman. And she's retired and I think she passed away recently, she would always harp onto me and said, Nathan, if you could go back now at this age and speak to the eight-year-old boy, what would you tell him? And I'm like, oh, f**k. I don't know. And she would just f**king rip me a new one and just really get into me and say, what would you tell him? Think about it. Think about it, think about it. And then it just can't hit me after a week or two. And she goes, do you know what you would tell him? I said, yeah, I do know what I would tell him. I would tell him it wasn't his fault. And as soon as I come to that realization because I'm not sure how it was if, but for me, everything that happened in my life was my fault. I deserve to have all this sh*t happen; bad shit happened to me. I deserve to fail and everything. I deserve to get beaten up. I deserve to get raped. And as soon as I realized that it wasn't my fault, it was just a f**king such a weight off my shoulder, it was such a relief, it was such a freeing moment in my life to realize that. And it still, it took a while for me to actually process that and realize that and really believe it. And I still sometimes kind of fall back into it, but it took a long time for me to realize that it wasn't my fault and there was nothing I could have done as much as I could have talked about it and got gotten help it, it wasn't my fault.

Michael: And it's a realization that I think once the majority of people who have suffered abuse come to things begin to change. What I think is really strange is because I was a very cognizant child of, to what was happening, I knew that what was going on in my home wasn't what was supposed to be happening. Right. I never necessarily took fault for the abuse that was happening to me, but I did in my adulthood, well I should say in my late teens, early twenties, I came to this place where the sabotage was my fault because of like what you said about not deserving Right. Not feeling worthy of any of those things. And it was in an amazing, amazing therapy session where kind of everything clicked for me one day because I was in men's group therapy, which I think was probably the best thing that I've ever done because it was a relation and community that I was seeking for so long where I just needed someone else to be like, oh, yeah, I get it. I've been there. And then you go, oh, okay, good. So, I'm not alone. And one of the guys who I'm still very close friends with, he goes, you know what you need to do is you need to learn how to be angry. And I was like, no, man. I'm angry all the time. I've been in hundreds of fights. And he goes, no, no, no, that's not being angry, that's lashing out. He goes, what you need to do is be able to feel the emotions and feelings along with it. And so, what I realized is I was an emotional recluse across the board. So, like for the first 28 years of my life, I never tapped into happiness or sadness or joy or hope or any of those things, it was just very gray area. And so, what happened was the therapist who proctored the group, he said something to me that was really profound. I should read this book called Radical Acceptance by a Lady called Tara Brach. And I read this book and it changed my life because it made me realize, going back full circle, to your point about it not being your fault it wasn't necessarily a fault thing for me it was the way that I was talking to myself that was interrupting my life. And because I had no patience, no kindness, no compassion for who I was as a person. And so, like stepping into that, that's kind of where the gear started to shift for me in the same way that they did for you.

Nathan: Yeah, it's therapy and my group therapy as well, I think, kind of saved my life ‘cuz it was myself with three gay guys and a female and she was gay as well. And I was straight, or I was having relationships with men. I mean, having relationships with women my whole life, but acting out with men and having sex and being violent with men and doing what I was doing with all these guys. And I remember one time our therapist said to us all next week, I want you to bring in something that you're proud of. Bring in something that you've done work-wise, in life in general, that you're proud of, and that you're really happy and, and you're happy to talk about. And as soon as she said that, it kind of just f*cking hit me and I'm like, h**y f*ck, what am I gonna bring in? What am I gonna talk about? What am I gonna do? So, I just thought about it that whole week and then the next week came therapy, came session. And one of the guys was, he worked for one of the biggest PR agencies in New York, worked for one of the biggest Ad agencies and produced all these ads. The female, she was a head fashion designer for a fashion house. So, she brought in her portfolio for that. Ben were the two guys; one was a singer and brought in some of his songs. The other guy was a poet and brought in his poems and stuff. And then it was my turn and as these guys were telling their stories and talking about themselves and what they're proud of, I was just getting more and more emotional and it was starting to hit me more and more. And when it was my turn, and this is probably as much as my lowest point was when I beat up that guy and I went and spoke to my best friend about it and she got me help for the first time. I think this is the lowest I've ever been, this is where I felt like the biggest worthless piece of sh*t in the world like, I had nothing. So, it was my turn, I had nothing to share, there was nothing in the past f*ck 3 odd years, 30, 32, 33, 34, how whatever year it was now, however old I was, there was nothing that I was proud of. There was nothing that I was happy about in my life and I just broke down and that was the worst moment in my life. And I remember it was like it was yesterday, I'm like, I've got nothing in 35 years or however long of my life. I've got nothing to share with you guys that I'm proud of, that I'm happy about. And then one of the guys said to me, Nathan, you should be so f**king proud of yourself ‘cuz you're here, you're actually doing this. And that's stronger than anything else you could have done in your whole f**king life was actually to turn up, was to actually come out and tell your story. You know, therapy as well, that group thing just really f**king saved my life and I learned so much from these people and realizing that I hadn't achieved anything in my life, realizing that I was just still after coming out about my story, after going to therapy and AA and all that stuff, and now I'm in group therapy, and this is probably about a year into my recovery, year into my coming out. I'd still felt that way. My way of thinking was that I still hadn't achieved anything in my life. I was still a f**king, the scum of the earth. I was still a piece of sh*t, and I still hadn't achieved anything in my life.

I remember just sitting there and just crying and just feeling the lowest I've ever felt in my life was at that moment in therapy, a year into recovery as much as I thought my lowest point was when I beat that guy up, I almost killed him, and I tried to kill myself. And then I finally came out to my friend that was low and that was tough, but then to finally beginning myself better and be on the road to recovery, but still feel that way and still have those thoughts that's what killed me, that's what really f**king got me.

Michael: Yeah. And I think that, dude, I imagine so many people who are listening to this can relate to that. You know, it's such a hard moment to come to this place because I think now pride, I think, gets thrown around perhaps in the wrong way and people talk about egos and things of that, but you should be proud of the things that you've done in your life. And sometimes because of the depth of how toxic your thoughts are, it's almost impossible to get to that place. And I relate to that on a really intimate level because, you know, as an athlete, as a child at all these awards and ribbons and trophies and Letterman jacket and stuff, and it just would get hidden I would never see it in one year. In my twenties, I was an international wedding photographer and I got published in this huge magazine that went around the world, and I get a copy in the mail and I look at it and I throw it in the trash can. And my then girlfriend at the time, later that afternoon, she comes up to me and she hands it to me and she's like, you're not allowed to throw stuff like this away. And to me I was like, that was a really interesting moment because it was this place where normal people, for lack of a better term, would be very proud and they would hang that up and they would flaunt it and show it around. And I was just like, okay, it doesn't feel worthy. I just did this ‘cuz it seems like the thing that you're supposed to do. And so, like, yes, going to therapy and being group therapy really helped me start to understand how to like navigate and work through that.

I think there's something really difficult, especially in Western societies as men stepping into that world. What's that been like for you to be like acknowledging the fact that men are supposed to dust themselves off and pick themselves up and stop being fucking pussies and, you know, all of the other little adages that come with it? Because for me it's very simple. I don't give a f*ck what other people think about me. And so, I was able to navigate it pretty easily but what's your experience been?

Nathan: I'm kind of the same mindset as you because coming out about it and just kind of talking about it, I've realized how taboo of a subject this is, how people turn a blind eye and sweep it under the carpet and don't wanna know about it especially when it comes to men because of the whole masculinity thing and like you said, we need to dust ourselves up and get up and just f**king get going again and be man, and not show fear and not cry and not show emotions. And for me now, yeah, I don't give a f*ck, if you wanna hate me, hate me because the world, it's all about ego. It's all about Instagram, it's all about f**king, you know, the whole Kardashian thing and all reality TV and all that type stuff. So, if you wanna call me an asshole, if you wanna call me a homopho, because I used to beat up gay guys and I'm trying to have a relationship with women and go for it. I always say that I live my life when I was growing up as a kid, a teenager, and in my early, you know, twenties and thirties, that you could be a seven-foot, 400-pound muscle man and you, we are gonna get into a fight. Go for it. Beat me up. F**king jump on my head, go to town on me because what you're gonna do to me right now is nothing on what I've experienced in my life. And it's kind of funny with this article that came out about me, and I'll send it to you once we get off here with this article that come out about me. I didn't have one troll, I didn't have one person on the internet say anything bad about me or any of that bullshit. And for me now, if someone was to say bad shit to me, and I actually, I did have one, not through that article. I had one guy come out after I did an interview with a good morning, Lala Land or, or some TV interview I did. And he was from the Midwest, he was abused as a kid, by priest. And he got a $650,000 payout. And he told me this in all his email, in his email, and he's like, get the f*ck over it. Move on with your life. You're a f**king a**le. Shut up. No one wants to hear this b***t. You're acting like f**king kid. Move forward. Be a man. You know, all that type stuff. And what I come to realization after speaking to a few people was that this guy had something terrible happen to him like you and I, but he was given a $650,000 check. There you go. Sh*t the fuck up. Move on with your life. He's never dealt with it emotionally and mentally. So, like you said, he's still so very fu**king angry at what happened to him. And he sees people like you and I who are able to talk about it, who are able to understand what happened to them and to move forward and to be able to help other people now. But he's not in that place yet mentally, because he still hasn't dealt with it mentally or emotionally. Like, here's a check for $650,000 now get on with your life and shut the f**k up. And once I realized that, I was like, h**y f*c and there are most of the trolls you get, most of the people who are gonna abuse you and say sh*t to you, and are people who haven't dealt with situations like ours or other situations in general, they've just never dealt with them, they've pushed it down and pushed it way down inside of them and just angry at themselves and angry at the world and we're the easiest people to take it out on because we're talking about it. We've found peace with ourself and found peace with the world, and we're moving forward where these people still haven't. So, for me, yeah, if you wanna f**king say you're an asshole and you deserve to be raped and you're this and you're that, go f**k yourself.

Michael: Yeah, I agree. And, you know, I think what we do particularly because of being in the same topic and in talking and advocating for the same thing, we polarize people. This is a topic across the board, whether it's childhood sexual abuse or physical abuse, mental, emotional abuse, doesn't matter, especially in America ‘cuz I've lived around the world, but America is where I've done the majority of this conversation. And the one thing that I always kind of feel like is that it's the elephant in the room, right? So, many people have been impacted by this in this country and in this culture, but no one wants to talk about it. And as men we have this, now it's like two layers of wall between us and the topic because first you have the child abuse side, then you have the men's side. And I constantly have this stupid thought in my head where it's like, dude, if I were a woman and I was slightly attractive and I was talking about this, I'd have 10 million followers on Instagram because that's the superficial fucking world that we live in. But then I come to this realization where like, it doesn't matter because if one person reads my message and they find any type of validation in it, it's worth it. ‘Cause it's not a numbers thing. I don't give a shit about Instagram. I don't care. That's not my point. My point is just like, as a man, it's an exponentially more difficult journey that we're walking down because of the society that we live in, which as we're stepping forward and we're attempting to create change and be advocates and advocate for adults and for children. What's that journey like for you now that you're on the other side of it? I know my experience is still, you know, something that I'm wrapping my head around even three years in. What is it like for you?

Nathan: Yeah, I'm still wrapping my head around it too. I think I will forever. It's something that I'm just learning every single day and I'm learning about myself every single day. And the journey's it's been a rollercoaster ride. And I wouldn't change now and as we spoke earlier; we've been through what we've been through to be where we are now. So, I'm still learning every day, I've gotten close with my family now, so it's still hard for them ‘cuz I don't really wanna talk about it. I think because of just, you know, where my family comes from and that sh*t doesn't happen in my family. So, for me, they're getting used to who I am as a person now and me coming out in this story and the book and the movie. But for me, this journey's gonna be an ever-growing journey, an ever-learning journey for the rest of my life, whether it's today, tomorrow, there's gonna be something new, a new person's gonna come into my life and really test me. And I always in and outta therapy and group, and AA and group therapy. I've been doing some AA, online sessions now because we can't get outta the house, which has been really nice and I've really enjoyed doing 'em. I haven't had a drink this year. I probably, last year I was probably drinking once a month and even that was a bit of a test for me and I couldn't completely get off it as much as I want to. I get no enjoyment out of it anymore, but it's still f**king there and I just need to get away from it. So, you know, for me, this journey is it's ever learning and I'm never gonna be able to. I am at peace with it. I am at peace with it. And I've moved forward and I don't know if you can relate to this, but for me now, I feel like I'm more of a man than 98% of the men in the world, because I know who I am as a person. I know what I want in my life. I know what's gonna make me happy whether I'm maintain 20 million a year, or whether I'm making $20,000 a year, it doesn't worry me anymore. I just wanna have that simple life. What I want now in my life is just simplicity and I want to feel joy and love for the first time ever. I wanna feel these things and I just wanna live on a little f**king shack on the beach and just have a wife and a bunch of babies and that's what life is to me now. So, you know, my journey is ever growing and ever learning and ever evolving because I don't know what's gonna come tomorrow. I don't know where I'm gonna be, what's gonna happen like this whole f*** coronavirus thing, like you said in the very beginning with, we had so many things to look forward to this year, and we've had so many things set out and it's just, you know, completely thrown a spatter on the works and I don't know where I'm gonna be and what's next and who I'm gonna meet. And I don't think I've met my wife yet, and the girl I'm gonna spend the rest of my life with and so, I'm taking it a day at a time. I'm learning things every day. Even just speaking to you, I've learned so much through you and your story and it's a journey, it's a rollercoaster and I'm kind of glad to be on it. Sometimes do wish I just had that simple f**king life and I had a normal childhood, but then I'm like, how f**king boring would that be, just to have a normal childhood and just to, you know, whether that's right or wrong to say I don't know. But I wouldn't change who I am now and I like who I am as a person. I know who I am as a person. I appreciate myself as a person. And I still do bad things or not bad things. I still do the wrong things sometimes. I'm not beating people up anymore. I'm not going to gay clubs and having sex with men. I'm not doing any of that. I just wanna be with a female and that was another thing, just to get off topic a bit. Everyone would always ask me, are you gay? Are you straight? What are you, are you bi? Blah, blah, blah. And it's something I thought about a lot my whole life and my family and my best friends have asked me, my therapist and group therapy. And I always said, I know I'm not gay, maybe I'm bi or I don't know what I am. But all the sex I had with men and all the time I was with a man, there was never, ever any, any intimacy. I wouldn't hold your hand. I wouldn't kiss you. I wouldn't touch you, caress you, there was no love in the relationship whatsoever. I just needed to feel that feeling. I just needed to feel that act again because from eight years old through to 17, I first had sex with a girl when I was 17. So, from eight through to 17, I was being raped by all these different men and having sex with all these different men, and it was violent, it was rough, and it was dirty, and that's all I knew. You know, nine years of that was just ingrained into my head, so that's all I knew was just this rough, dirty s*x with men and that's what made me feel alive again, that's what gave me life, that's what that was my f**k you was then to beat up these guys and do that whereas with a woman, whenever I was with a woman or touched a woman or there was just so much intimacy and love and I wanted to kiss her. I wanted to hold her hand. I wanted to caress her. So, you know, there was never love with a man. I was never attracted to a man. I just needed to feel that feeling. Whereas with the woman, I was always attracted to her. I always wanted the love with her. If that makes sense.

Michael: Yeah, I mean, it totally makes sense and I think a lot of people, I mean, maybe this is a gigantic blanket statement but this was my experience because of the things that happened to me I faced an identity crisis where I was asking myself questions like that too, on a different scale where it's just like, who am I? What do I really want? What am I really interested in? You know, being exposed to sexuality at such a young age led me down these crazy ass adventures, man, going to these clubs at like 18 years old and doing this f**king gnarly stuff, and you're just like, all it was is, man, I just needed someone to see me, to feel me, to touch me, to show me that I mattered while realizing like, there was no benefit in any of it except that I was feeding into the experiences of my childhood. And so, this huge identity crisis I was faced with was trying to decipher like, who am I really? Like, what is it that I really want? And being able to also make a declaration about it and being okay with it and not feeling bad about who it is that I am, which I think is a really hard place to be. And so, now on the backside of all this work and relating to what you said in a really intense way, I now exist in this place where I'm 100% self-aware. I know who I am through and through top to bottom because I have spent so much time trying to figure that out because I had no idea. Dude, if you would ask me why I was getting stoned at seven o'clock in the morning and going to a work at a Fortune 50 company and wearing a suit and tie, I have no idea. Right. But that was my experience like that's what I was doing. I was just getting wrecked and spending money and having anonymous sex and like hurting people and hurting myself and having, you know, $500 dinners ‘cuz I got successful in corporate America really young because I was trying to solve the equation of how do you solve poverty and its money, right? Or at least I thought, and that money exacerbated my lifestyle, making it far more chaotic. And I had no idea who I was. When I looked in the mirror, it was a stranger as a reflection on the other side and now I wake up in the morning and I'm good like, I love my life. I love my people, my partner, my family, my friends, my career, this speaking, writing a book, like hosting podcast, like I love everything that I do because now I know exactly who I am.

Nathan: Yeah, I get that. That's how I feel. I know who I am like I said, I know who I am, I know what I want in my life. And whether if there's money involved or not, I'm okay with that now, yes, I always wanted to be rich and famous and, and do all that type bullsh*t, but now that's the last thing I care about because I'm comfortable in my own skin. I'm comfortable with who I am. And I think there's so many f**king people in the world who are so lost, and it's just all about ego and numbers and there's all this background noise and the conversations in the background and in their head and they're influenced by so many other people. Whereas now, I just don't give a fuck about other people. I don't care who you are. I don't care what you wear. I don't care what I wear, as long as I'm comfortable, as long as I'm happy this is me and that’s what's important to me now. And as long as I'm doing the right thing by myself and by others, helping others, educating, putting my story out there to help others, then that's what's important. And, you know, if this book comes out and it's a huge success, amazing. If it's a f**king dud and no one buys it, so be it. Same as this movie. If this movie comes out and it's a f**king huge success, amazing. If it's shit, so be it. But at least I've gotten closure on my story and I can now move forward as much as you know, I'm always gonna be an advocate and activist and do this stuff and the same as you. There's a lot more to us and than this story. We're not defined in life by this story.

Michael: In fact, I almost look at the story now as work in a sense, right? Even, you know, through dating and friendships and other places, this isn't what I talk about. This is such a small portion of my life. This is what I do, you know, as my nine to five, for lack of a better term. I mean, it's much more in depth than that, but like that's the simplification of it because I've found that the best thing that I can do is use this as leverage to help people, it's a part of my career, but it is not the waking, eating, living, breathing part of who I am. And that in a sense is almost like taking it back and that to me is where the biggest part of the advocacy comes from because, you know, honestly, dude, like I gotta turn it off, it doesn't have to sit with me every day like it used to. And it doesn't get an inform all my decisions and everything that I do in my life is just kind of, you know what, it goes away and I step into it when I need to do what I need to do it. It's kinda like Batman and Bruce Wayne in this odd sense where, you know, during the daytime, I'm Michael and like, this is just me and I'm normal guy and that nighttime, like I put on this superhero f**ing cape and I make a poster, a podcast, or I write a blog or do a video and somebody says something to me where they're like, Hey, man, that helped.

Nathan: Yeah. And I kind of would go into relationships like that where I would take all this f**king heaviness and all this drama and all this sh*t going on in my life. Even when I was in recovery, I would be taking it into these relationships and the relationships were doomed from the beginning because it was just all such a heavy..

Michael: It's trauma bonding.

Nathan: Yeah. And you know, how long have you been with your girlfriend? Because I was never able to hold relationships. I was never able to really stick with it because it was just always on my back, it was always heavy, it was always just f**king on top of me.

Michael: You know what it was I think more than anything, man, is the time of a single, ‘cuz I was single for three and a half years. And I was just like, I gotta just focus on me. ‘Cuz you have to think, man like if I imagine if you really break down all the times that you are with other people, that is a lack of time that you have with yourself. And I've got a better understanding of who I am alone than I ever have with another human being.

Nathan: Yeah. And I'm very comfortable being on my own. I love my own space, my own time, and just doing me, I need that.

Michael: Yeah, and I think that like, once you get through this place, that is uncomfortable, especially initially, especially when you've gone down paths like you and I have gone of where it's like the validation and seeking and wanting to be with other people is the consummate drive for everything that you do. Once you move out of that and you come to this place where you're good, just being by yourself, everything's different because then you go, oh, no, I'm comfortable. I don't need to be with a stranger to make me feel happy. I don't need to, you know, go hang out with my friends every night so I don't feel lonely. You find this space where you're like, oh, you know what, tonight I'm good. I'm staying in, I'm netflixing and chilling with myself.

Nathan: Yeah. It's very, very true. And this time alone now ‘cause I'm in my house and I'm alone and I don't live with anyone at the moment, it's literally the last 30 days I've been in isolation, however long it's been and it's really let me get in tune with myself to another level. It's let me kind of really allow myself to really get to know who I am and realizing that I am very comfortable just being on my own as much as I do wanna partner and I do wanna meet someone, and I want the family. I'm okay with just being on my own and being in this environment, and it does. It sits comfortably with me. And I'm not craving that attention, craving that love and yes, I obviously, I'd love a bit of attention and just to have to hang out with someone and talk to someone.

Michael: Sure. That's human nature.

Nathan: Yeah. But for me right now, I'm okay being here on my own and just being in this situation.

Michael: Yeah, there's a great opportunity for us here to really learn more about each other. Man, Nathan, this conversation's been amazing, dude. I think we're gonna have to do a few more of these for sure. But for the sake of time, can you tell everybody who's listening where they can find you?

Nathan: I guess best way to find me is on Instagram, that's where I post a lot of my stuff that I'm doing, the organizations and the charities I'm working with. So, it's just Nathan Spiteri. So, you can get me on that, on Instagram or on Facebook or even my website's I guess Instagram is the one that I'm on most.

Michael: Awesome. Dude, this conversation has been incredible like I feel like this is just literally the beginning of unpacking what could be like a really deep dive into some lessons that we've learned together. So, I think we're gonna have to do this again.

Nathan: Absolutely.

Michael: But thank you my friend. I appreciate you.

Nathan: Mate. Me too. I've really enjoyed this. Thank you. And we'll be doing it soon.

Michael: Yeah. All right, man.

Nathan: All right. Take care.

Michael UnbrokenProfile Photo

Michael Unbroken


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

Nathan SpiteriProfile Photo

Nathan Spiteri


Nathan studied intensively in Sydney at The Actors Lab with Annie Swann before he was encouraged to further his studies in New York at the prestigious HB Studio, in the West Village, where he studied under the likes of Carol Rosenfeld, Edward Morehouse and Austin Pendleton. Once graduating from HB Studio, it wasn't long before Nathan attained a green card. He went on to study with Larry Moss and consistently with Brad Calcaterra, at The Studio, as well as Tim Phillips.

Having starred in several short, feature films and theatre productions in both Australia and USA. Nathan has started writing and producing. He just finished writing, Toy Cars, a feature film about his life, a gritty, dark, independent, real life story that he is in pre-production for. He has also just finished writing a short and starting to write another feature.

Nathan is a man on the mission to create change in not only the way that the public perceives childhood sexual abuse but in the way that men talk about Mental Health.