Yesterday I was reading "The Great Pain Deception" when I was waiting for my train into NYC to work and I came across a saying that hit the nail right on the head with my TMS. Steve uses the term AVOIDANCE TECHNIQUES and if that doesn't describe my personal circumstances with TMS I don't know what does! I have shared before that my TMS symptoms started when my friendship with a married man became romantic. For me, my TMS hit my looks and my appearance, I began to lose about 60-70% of my long blonde hair leaving me now looking disheveled and a mess and in constant fear (which I still have most of the Time) of losing the rest of my hair. I have isolated my self from much of life due to the embarrassment and trauma of it and waited it out since my DR said it is all stress related and will eventually grow back. But the big avoidance for me has been avoiding the MARRIED MAN. Since my TMS I have refused to see him, again being ashamed of my looks. When I read Steve O's description, TMS as an AVOIDANCE TECHNIQUE it hit me hard. MY TMS has been an avoidance technique for me to avoid being in this relationship as well as dealing with all of the feelings of it which on some level I must feel are too painful, or dangerous or unpleasant. Since the change in my looks from my TMS, I look in the mirror several times a day over the past several months and say the words to myself " OH there is no way I can see Bill (my married man) now, no way! I THINK and THOUGHT I was saying this all the time because of my appearance from the TMS but now I see that I nave been saying " I cant see Bill" because maybe I really can't see him emotionally on some level and my TMS is just a convenient excuse for me to use instead. I don't see this consciously of course. It is all unfelt consciously. When I read Steve's book I see that my TMS has really been a way to avoid this man and my feelings around the affair. How can I have any time to think of him when I am trying to fix my TMS or obsessing about how much my symptoms bother me don't ya know. When he calls or asks to see me what do I do...? I AVOID HIM! My whole relationship is about trying to keep him close (god forbid I lose him) while avoiding him (with my TMS) at the same time. I can't seem to be with him yet I can't seem to cope with losing him either. If I REALLY felt my feelings I might see how damaging and hurtful the whole affair is and that would risk me leaving him. I suspect my mind thought it was safer to obsess over TMS than to really examine my true feelings. I was not aware as much as I am not that my symptoms were an avoidance technique even though every day I was saying to myself concurrently I need to avoid him and I can't see him (because of my TMS). Now I am dealing with the real reasons I have been trying to avoid him. It is painful but my symptoms are suddenly getting much better as I deal with the feelings underneath it all. I thought I couldn't see this man because of my TMS. Now I see it it the other way around. I have my TMS because I can't see him, not I can't see Him because of my TMS. My TMS is a masterful " avoidance technique" A safety bubble of symptoms and obsessions that have kept me from dealing with that which has been all too painful and threatening to me, continuing or losing a very dangerous affair. In the last week, As I have finally begun to take the focus of my TMS and begin to deal with my true feelings of how I feel about this relationship and this man, my fears and resentments and hurts (I never knew how hurt or afraid I was) I am amazed how much better I feel and how much my symptoms seem to be going away. The more I make myself feel my feelings about the affair instead of focusing JUST on my TMS, the less my TMS seems to bother me, the lesser my symptoms have become. I am now in much more emotional pain feeling my feelings but my TMS feels so much better.