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Afraid to journal; afraid to face the trauma

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by bleuchaton, Jul 4, 2023.

  1. bleuchaton

    bleuchaton Newcomer

    I've had a traumatic life. It took me a long time to even admit that because repression and stoicism has been a significant part of my identity and personality for most of my life. 4 years ago I developed a complex, multi-system illness that continues to evolve and morph in increasingly disturbing ways. In the last year, I began noticing a pattern. I have my baseline pain and issues, but will cycle through others that come and go and shift, one at a time. For instance, I developed debilitating vaginal/pelvic nerve pain. That went on for a few months where I saw specialists, a PT, kinesiologist, nothing helped, and then suddenly it disappeared. The next day, nerve pain in my foot and leg. Constant odd sensations. This has been going on for 4 years.

    I came across Sarno's work when researching DNRS, bought his books, as well as Peter Levine's. It all makes so much sense. The clues for me that make me believe I am dealing with TMS is the ever-changing pain and the fact that EFT works for me, at least sometimes.

    I started to make my lists to begin Journalspeak.

    Like I said, my life has been traumatic, but there is one incident that's a different type of trauma. Most of my life, my traumas were oriented around someone hurting me, or my hurting myself in some way. The most problematic memory for me is of something I participated in. I have extreme guilt and shame associated with it. So much so that I have never told anyone about it. For years this memory haunted me. I'd feel nauseated and disgusted with myself anytime it entered my mind. I realized one day that I needed to forgive myself, so I began saying out loud just that. The first time I said it I felt a sense of relief, and over time, it no longer had quite the same gut wrenching effect any time it crossed my mind. The problem is that I still have not processed it. I can not even think about it fully without feeling like I'm going to cross some line where I lose my mind or just become so overwhelmed by shame and guilt that I can't function, or worse, I make myself sicker.

    So when I began making my list of past traumas and it came to that, I wrote it, just the few words that symbolize it, and was instantly flooded. I almost had a panic attack and my symptoms have been worse since. I don't feel emotionally equipped to go through the process of actually writing about this. I don't know how to safely let it out, and I'm scared that once I do, it will hurt me or make everything worse. I feel like I can't proceed because I don't know how to deal with this particular traumatic memory.

    I've tried to find a therapist in my area that does somatic experiencing, but none are taking new patients. I've spoken to an EMDR therapist, but was told somatic experiencing was safer for me.

    Has anyone been in a similar situation? How did you get through this?
    Ellen likes this.
  2. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Oh, @bleuchaton, that's a lot! I'm thoroughly impressed by how far you've already come - this feels like great work on your part!

    I don't have personal experience with something this traumatic, but I've got a couple of ideas for your consideration.

    First, I want to be sure you are deleting or disposing of your writing exercises. You mentioned JournalSpeak, and Nicole recommends not keeping what we write, which in my case gave me a lot more freedom to express the stuff I reeeally did not want to write down.

    I also suspect that I don't need to tell you how to recognize that this resistance is 100% your fearful primitive brain trying to protect you, or how to soothe your brain and have compassion for yourself when you face the fear of accomplishing this task. But perhaps these reminders are helpful.

    So one idea is a meditation with a visualization, where you see yourself writing this thing down, getting it all out on the paper, and then burning the paper. This doesn't have to take long, maybe a few minutes. Repeat, maybe once a day, or whenever you find yourself ruminating over this task. Perhaps the idea of getting it done and gone will start to feel slightly less terrifying and slightly more appealing over time.

    Another idea is to free-write all of the feelings and reasons and fears you have for not being able to put the incident on paper. So instead of writing down any details about what happened, write about how you feel about being at this impasse, or what this means, or whatever random thoughts come up. Write as fast as you can, not stopping to think about or edit what you write, not worrying about whether it's legible or rational or makes any sense whatsoever. Because of course you will immediately throw it away. You could also repeat this exercise whenever you find yourself ruminating over this impasse, especially if you are beating yourself up for it.

    Allow yourself as much time as it takes.

    I know that others will have thoughts and ideas.


    PS, I like your username.
    MWsunin12 and Ellen like this.
  3. bleuchaton

    bleuchaton Newcomer

    Thank you, Jan. I really like the idea of visualizing and then writing about the fear of writing. Kind of treating the journaling like a present trauma in and of itself and inching closer to it. I'll do it.
    And yes, I will be sure to delete and then save the empty document like Nicole suggests.
    I'm so grateful to have come across TMS and all of the communities of people talking this. I've spent 4 years in all of the chronic, environmental, and mystery illness forums looking for clues or some kind of answer. I have not seen anyone as passionate as the people with TMS success stories. It gives me so much hope.
    Ellen and JanAtheCPA like this.
  4. Cactusflower

    Cactusflower Beloved Grand Eagle

    Remember that we no longer have to see a local therapist. If you are comfortable and private at home, you can Zoom your therapy, often you can find therapists who can work with insurance in few places (especially if you are in the States).
    Or sign up for a wait list locally. You never know when an opening can happen.
    Know you are not alone in your shame, and you can still make some steps in your mental health through some somatic exercises.
    Have you heard of Somatic Tracking for symptoms? Pendulation is a similar exercise. Both are forms of meditation for busy, anxious, fearful minds. Dr. Les Aria has two youtube videos with these exercises. You can do them with eyes open or closed.
    Here’s a grounding exercise:

    You can also ground by being in a room of familiar comfort and slowly look around. Lightly put attention to objects and note, say a color then move on to looking elsewhere.

    These last two grounding exercises are simple things that send messages of safely to your brain, and can be done before writing. You can use Somatic tracking afterwards to send messages of safety to your body. If you like affirmations, you could use those too.
    BloodMoon, Ellen and JanAtheCPA like this.

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