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Could use some advice: What do you do when you know why you have pain, but it still won't go away?

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by maxpower, Feb 28, 2021.

  1. maxpower

    maxpower New Member

    I've dealt with TMS for 15 years, since 2 months after I got married. Started with terrible pelvic pain, but I "beat" that by using Sarno's techniques and actually became a professional cyclist, after being told to NEVER sit on a bike saddle again. The last few years, I've had all different TMS issues: back pain, knee pain, stomach pain, nerve burning, you name it. Now, after 15 years, my wife and I are in counseling and we are FINALLY addressing the issues that I repressed when we first got married, and just as you would expect, BANG, the pelvic pain is back, from a 0 to a 9, overnight. I know it's not real pain. I'm not hiding from it. I'm continuing to ride and sit and drive and wear jeans and everything I refused to do when the pain first started in 2006.
    But despite knowing EXACTLY why I'm in pain, knowing without a doubt that there is no structural problem, and not changing my behavior, the goddamned pain won't go away. Shouldn't talking about what I've ran away from for 15 years with our counselor make my pain disappear rather than get worse? What will it take to break this pain cycle?

    Any advice would be GREATLY appreciated.
    Cap'n Spanky likes this.
  2. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi maxpower,

    I suggest that you're onto part of the solution, and that often that part is all that is needed. In other cases, more is needed. I might list these as "feeling vs knowing," "accepting vs trying to fix," "support to feel safe within the symptoms," "changing the situation" which also might include "speaking my truth." And I'll say right here these additions for you to consider are probably not the only ones, just that these occur to me as I read your post.

    "feeling vs knowing" By this I mean, are you able to feel the situation, make room for feeling, going deeper than the "understanding." To me, this is a fruitful area for most folks. How much your counseling, or journaling has led you to deep feeling, I don't know. Tracking feelings with symptom change is helpful here, and symptom changes with feelings also.

    "accepting vs trying to fix" is also related to "support to feel safe within the symptoms" which might mean being patient with the symptoms, giving your knowledge of the situation more time to "sink in." The more we try to make the symptoms go away, the more they serve their purpose as a distraction. Working with fear is in these areas too. Fear, Dr. Sarno told us, is a greater distraction than symptoms. Treat your relationship with the symptoms --your frustration, fear, pushing away as a possible distraction. If you weren't feeling this, what might be deeper feeling in your life? Also in this realm are reassuring statements that you're not hurting yourself with the pain, affirmations, etc. Reading success stories, re-reading Dr. Sarno's work, or other authors is also good for this. It reassures us --even if we read the same passages over and over. Another piece here is a TMS physician diagnosis, or clearing the issue with regular MD.

    "changing the situation" which also might include "speaking my truth"
    Here we get deeper again than just knowing what's up. How might you clarify your life, make adjustments to be more in tune with your deeper needs? Also, perhaps before changes are made, or along with, can you speak your truth and deal with boundaries, Inner Critic, attuning to your desires, needs? In short, is there room in your life to be more frankly "you" in relationship to others? This kind of work undermines the Inner Tension, because there is less to stuff, less to avoid feeling. There is more clarity, ease, less struggle.

    Hope you can find something here which might ring a bell. Ultimately it is a very individual path, attuning to your own way out.

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  3. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    I saw this on another post just now. A tidbit for you.

    It is interesting though that as soon as she stopped focusing on healing so much, and put the focus on her daily state of being, that her healing occurred.
  4. Cap'n Spanky

    Cap'n Spanky Well known member

    Hey Maxpower,

    Great advice from Andy. I think sometimes that knowledge alone is not enough.

    I, (like you) successfully recovered from TMS pain 12 or 13 years ago. In my case it was back pain (sciatica) and tennis elbow. They have not returned.

    Flash forward to recent times and I found myself struggling terribly with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Long story short, I am much, MUCH better now.

    I used Alan Gordon's Pain Recovery Program: http://www.tmswiki.org/forum/painrecovery/ (Pain Recovery Program). I really dug into it and seriously took it to heart. In addition, I started doing daily mindfulness meditations and they paired very nicely with Alan's program. And of course I read some Dr. Sarno.
    birdsetfree likes this.
  5. Pingman

    Pingman Well known member

    I think this statement is key and is also super hard. This is what I have been working on myself. Trying to be indifferent when my symptoms come on.
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  6. Cap'n Spanky

    Cap'n Spanky Well known member

    From the Divided Mind: "Another crucial element became clear early on. The person must not only understand the nature of the process, but they must be able to fully accept it, as well."

    Acceptance and belief was not easy for me. I knew that my CFS was most likely another manifestation of TMS. But just powering through it was not successful. I tried multiple times. I had to come back to this program and go through an internal process of...

    1. Teaching my brain that the symptoms were not dangerous.
    2. Teaching myself that the psychological stressors that it learned to fear (anger, sadness, confrontation, intimacy, etc.) are not actually dangerous.

    (Items 1 and 2 above are taken from Day 2 of Alan Gordon's Pain Recovery Program).
  7. maxpower

    maxpower New Member

    Thanks to everyone who has replied. I'm doing my best, but as you all point out, the fact that I'm even asking the question shows that I'm not indifferent, and I need to be indifferent. It's just so hard to ignore, particularly with pelvic pain, and particularly when I spend 10-20 hours a week on a bike. I know the WORST thing I could do -- and what I did 15 years ago when it first happened -- is to stop riding, but damn is it hard when each day I get off the bike, the pain is a little worse instead of a little better. But again, I have the advantage of KNOWING there is nothing structurally wrong with my pelvic floor, because if there were, I would never have been able to spend 15 hours a week on the bike for the last 10 years!

    Thanks again. I know I'll get there. It just might be a while until my wife and I work through the issues I've run away from for 15 years.
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  8. Drew

    Drew Peer Supporter

    I have really started to say this to myself. But what do u do if you whole life has become something u resent. Abs your state of being just constantly annoyed frustrated and unhappy you know
  9. Baseball65

    Baseball65 Beloved Grand Eagle

    When I look back with much clearer perception, my marriage which was built on shaky ground and just caulked together was at the root of lots of my recurring symptoms. The conflict was; My beliefs about marriage and what a good man ought to do VS. The reality of the empty materialism that was my wife's ambition. TMS was actually highlighting the cognitive dissonance. We had a fundamental different view on the universe and what is important. I probably married her for some shallow unconscious reason like "She will produce good offspring". It was hard to admit that to myself. It was scary, because it meant 'my life is a lie'

    Once my sons were born , we had NOTHING in common. Oh, she was attractive and sexually we got on fine, but the other 23 hours of the day were complete alienation. We had very different views on child rearing, finance, what was important, religion,ontology...you name it. I really liked and still like being with my sons, but the marriage part? Not so much.

    I think a lot of our modern 'marriage' issues have to do with some biological facts that our 'civilized' brain won't admit, hence the need for TMS as a distraction. I really don't think we are that far removed from being cave men....breed, fight, food.sleep

    To get TMS free, I didn't necessarily need to get divorced BUT I did need to let those thoughts flow through unimpeded...and it was hard to not want to break glass seeing the endless chain of "I want, I want I want" and it's never ending financial pressures. Once you swallow the red pill, its hard to pretend it isn't a business deal....and a bad one at that.

    Getting to the truth. No matter how scary or what the implications are. The pain is simply there to keep you from it. Once you can get to what it doesn't want you to know, the symptoms will have no purpose and stop. It works every time.
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  10. Cap'n Spanky

    Cap'n Spanky Well known member

    It's a matter of finding the joy in our lives. It is possible. There are many resources. I've found the free "joy" related meditations at the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center to be very helpful.
    Day 20 of Alan Gordon's program is about joy.

    Frustration is another form of fear... I'm stuck in this situation and can't escape. Not being able to escape sends fight or flight/danger signals to the brain. These are the same neural pathways that keep us in pain.

    At the risk of repeating myself, each day I have to:
    1. Teach my brain that the pain/symptoms are not dangerous.
    2. Teach my brain that the psychological stressors that it learned to fear (frustration, being annoyed. anger, sadness, confrontation, intimacy, etc.) are not actually dangerous.

    Another aspect is we have to learn to truly care about ourselves. We would never miss-treat a child that was in pain and hurting. Why on earth do we do it to ourselves?! We need to comfort, console, and tell ourselves that we are safe ... just like we would tell that child.
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  11. birdsetfree

    birdsetfree Well known member

    In your vulnerability with facing this hidden 'dangerous' relationship issue, your brain is on alert and is sending you a well known pain distraction - your pelvic pain. To calm it down you can talk directly to your brain and tell it you know that it is the source of your pain but you would like it to stop. Tell your brain that you want to feel your emotions and feelings now because they are safe. Reassure your brain that you are safe. The more you can engage with the real cause of the symptoms, the more you are retraining your brain. Focusing on the real cause and refusing to acknowledge any physical cause will result in a shut down of this protection mechanism. Be more determined than the pain or fear of the pain. Your disappointment at the pain returning can be enough to keep it going.
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  12. maxpower

    maxpower New Member

    Man, you said a lot of really poignant stuff here about marriage. My situation is sort of the opposite of yours. I married a wonderful woman, but have known, deep in my heart, that we never had a physical connection. Like...ever. Even before we were married we never clicked, and I was never excited by the prospect of sex with her, and I got the sense she didn't care if she ever had sex with me. Once we got married...pain. And now that we're in counseling and starting to talk about our physical struggles, I'm crippled by a couple of realities: 1. I may say something that hurts her terribly, like admit that while I love her, I've never felt a physical connection with her, or that I've never been overly physically attracted to her in that way, or 2. we may "work" on things, and she may be satisfied with the point we get to, but I won't. Those are both terrifying outcomes to me; I never want to hurt her. This isn't her fault; I know we had no physical connection before we even got engaged, and I"m guessing she did too. We just checked all the other boxes for each other.

    And that brings me to your last point. You say if I get to the truth my pain will go away. It took me years, but through TMS therapy I've realized the truth: that I married a wonderful person that I never connected with physically, and that I have had a virtually sexless marriage for 15 years, and that it's hard to fix something that was never there. When I first accepted those things, and my therapist encouraged me to be OK with how I felt because wanting a physical connection is perfectly reasonable, my pain went away. But now that she and I are in counseling, it came back from a zero pain amount to a 9/10, in EXACTLY the same place it was 15 years ago.

    What more is there for me to learn?

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  13. Baseball65

    Baseball65 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Well, If we knew, we wouldn't have to learn it!

    If there are absolutes, one of them is ; no other person can step into our lives and fix that broken thing that necessitates symptoms. This is were we break away from mental/physical and get into the spirit realm. I believe the carpenter said "You enter the bridal chamber alone". Each one of us has a journey into our own experience that only we can take....not a shrink, not a TMS doctor, nobody but us. Like eating or breathing , we can't hire someone else to have that particular experience for us even though there are many other types of things we might have thought we neatly avoided... like marrying someone cuz they check the boxes. For me it was marrying someone I was having second thoughts about , but plodded on because she got pregnant. I thought I could drown out all of my misgivings and second thoughts with a shrugging compromise; the portrait studio standard lie. Be a good provider. Be a great dad. Be the best worker at work. Ouch. My hip and butt are killing me!

    TMS pointed me in an alternate direction and for that, I am grateful. But it was painful....physical symptoms just replaced the emotional ones I thought I'd dodged.

    Getting well from TMS oftentimes necessitates a spiritual overhaul. Those things that at best used to flutter around at the edge of our awareness need to be brought into full focus. Front and center
    'talking about it' solves problems about as well as it does in the rest of the world. Talk is like Gas on a fire.
    Like the truth?
    It's certainly not the solitary defining feature of a relationship, but there has to be some or else it's a business deal...and a bad one at that!
    Counseling is a strange thing. It tends to be dominated by fem-centric idea's which are anti-male. Even the males in the business are taught and learn in a fem-centric environment and are sort of brainwashed. "Feelings" are talked about. "Feelings" and talking about them is a feminine endeavor. All of us have both traits but that particular ship is listing hard to port. "Feelings" change. Truth doesn't. I assume this isn't new? To any counselour I have ever met, a guy who just isn't attracted to his wife is a criminal of sorts...Most of the men I have met with 'sex addiction' issues always have some large looming wife or girlfriend in the wings
    Thus the need for your symptoms...to distract you from the terror.
    A very TMS personality type trait. If your walking and breathing on this planet, someone is hurting because of it.
    So she owns it. We all own our own experience...everything, the good and the bad. I used to be as conscientious as you and reading your post I could be reaching through a time warp and counseling myself.... In spite of all of your best intentions, you cannot protect another person or yourself from the truth. You can distract yourself, drown it out with dope and booze, or delay it, but when your cab is here, it's time to do something.

    ...and I assume the counseling was her idea? Just like your unconscious is stabbing you, so was hers. She knew something was wrong too. The very fact that the symptoms showed when they did is indicative of the cause.

    I'll raise you one more stake too... Since you aren't attracted to her, I suppose there are other women you are attracted to??? and every time you feel that attraction, there is a little demon inside you that wants to punish you for not living up to your own unattainable ideal of male-female relationships.

    I usually hold my peace on this topic or at least take it off the forum.I decided to answer you in depth because I hope other men here might benefit from a good stab at the truth. I hope you'll pardon my candor, but I have had this conversation with numerous men in pain on this forum. The one's who couldn't get over their fem-centric conditioning stayed in pain and keep wondering why they are stuck in spite of their full understanding of TMS. Sarno spoke clearly about loveless marriages being at the root of a lot of people's symptoms, but to my recollection, all of the examples he used in Healing back Pain were women trapped in these situations.... maybe his editor or his own conscientiousness couldn't muster the courage to put the balance into print. I no longer have a horse in the race. I also don't have any pain.

    I am 55. I have seen a lot of changes in 55 years. one of them is; most normal male propensities have been demonized, ridiculed and abolished.Men doing normal men stuff, and being normal men is now a crime to polite society.
    I have also been 'cured' for 20something years? I have rarely seen a case of TMS where the symptom chosen isn't an awesomely bulls-eye metaphor for the anxiety the person is suffering and the fact that it is your pelvis is very much in line with Freud, Adler and a lot of the other psychologists who stuck their nose into psychosomatic stuff. Sarno didn't agree with them fully, but I do.
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  14. Lainey

    Lainey Well known member

    Your response was SO elegant .. . .spot on.... . one of best and beautifully written explanations I have read of how to approach our relationship with our healing process. Clarifying our lives, getting in touch and hopefully in tune with our deeper needs, speaking these truths etc. etc. Learning to be more of ourselves.....while relating to others.
  15. Lainey

    Lainey Well known member

    Baseball....love your response too.
    So right.
  16. Sumol

    Sumol New Member

    Sorry to bump this thread back up, but I think it’s an interesting topic.

    @maxpower I think Baseball65 has some real sound advice, but if you truly feel it isn’t an option, Steve Ozanich(writer of The Great Pain Deception) had a similar discussion in a post years ago here. I found this part might be helpful for you:

    “It still comes down to how you react to life. Dr. Sarno said that you don't need to get rid of the tension to heal. Suppose that after you get divorced, your symptoms fade. That doesn't mean that you healed. The reasons you have pain is because of your personality, who you are and how you react to life. So, the next time that things become stressed, or don't go your way you will be back in pain because you never dealt with the cause(s), the trigger was just taken away.

    I say this because it's important for you to do the work regardless of where you are. I healed before I got my divorce, while we were living separately/together in our home. The marriage was a big part of my TMS, but it wasn't the cause. I was the cause. My marriage was a trigger.”

    @Baseball65 It’s always refreshing to hear your take on things.
    I agree with what you’re saying for the most part, but I’d like to pick your brain a bit on this topic with a few questions:

    -What allowed you to recover fully from TMS before getting a divorce even though you were in an unhappy marriage?
    I think this could be helpful for those who cannot change their situation, not just with marriage, but maybe other things in their life like trauma, jobs, family, etc. You and Steve Ozanich both recovered before a divorce, but maybe the process was different and if so that could give people different approaches.

    -How do you battle with that little demon that you mentioned?
    For example, there is nothing wrong with being attracted to other people if you’re married, but you probably wouldn’t leave your partner just because someone else is more attractive. It feels like a conflict between superego and ID.

    The little demon reminds me of that ever pressing urge within to want something more, new, better, etc. and then we find ourselves never satisfied or happy. At the same time, I do think people need to be more honest with themselves and the people in their lives. No one should be with someone they’re completely unhappy with or that they aren’t attracted to at all, but I do think our partners might make us unhappy at times and maybe they start to become less attractive over time(I mean we all age).

    I appreciate your insight as always. It’s helpful for a person like me who recovered from TMS and plans to keep it that way, but I struggle with the ever growing responsibilities that come with marriage, a mortgage and kids. I like to think those things are hard, but there is also a lot of joy that comes with these things. I dont want to live alone in my parents basement playing video games and jerking it everyday, even if that's less stressful and sometimes the most desirable option lol.

    Maybe that would be my last question: studying, working, exercising any other form of self improvement. Are those hindering recovery?
    Last edited: May 2, 2021
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  17. Baseball65

    Baseball65 Beloved Grand Eagle

    The Truth. after submitting myself to a lot of inventory and reflection, the things in my life that were 'a fraud' so to speak, were not unbearable. I just had to 'Hold my peace(piece)' LOL and allow myself to walk around knowing that the life I was in was NOT chosen. I hated the consumerism my wife revered. I worked for the 'bad guys'(entertainment). I still tried hard to work with what I had, but from the position of knowing I wasn't honestly ever going to be the Husband my wife wanted, be excited over my career or PRETEND to care.

    Eckhart Tolle (who I hadn't read then ) explains this really well in his discussion on FORMS. I was like an actor in a play who realized mid-play that it wasn't real... I still showed up and read my lines, but I was more like a stage hand aware of the fraudulent nature of my being.

    There were also things about the deal I did like. One was being a father. Another is music. Another is Baseball and being involved in stuff..... Turning my focus to the things I did like about my life, the other ones sort of withered and died.

    But the absolute key was the raising my awareness of the Fraud....even while doing it.
    Actually, I try to avoid the guy, but symptoms usually come up to push us into the ring together.
    ..and if not them, drugs and alcohol. I did relapse BIG time. I put a shot of Bailey's Irish creme in my coffee one night and woke up 3 years later addicted to opiates and drinking a quart of booze every day.

    I guess that's why I am still involved... to continue to put my own feet to the fire and to maybe be of service to others who might have my same problem. No one can deny their nature too long and if you do, TMS , drug addiction, OCD and a lot of other funky deals are out there (in here) waiting to distract us..

    Funny. didn't have any TMS relapses while I was living in my van and sleeping on friends sofa's. I suppose I had enough drama to keep me occupied. Later, when by the grace of god, I got a sober breath, I had to play catch up with all of the stuff I'd ignored. 100% interchangeable with TMS.

    ALSO.... I have partnered up with a couple of other different women since then. One of them drove me to the brink of emotional illness and I had to take a really hard RED PILL look at male-female relationships. When I did, it was like learning about TMS or Alcoholism. A landslide of new truth I could no longer postpone or deny...about them and myself. Since then, I have had no more partners. The 'Demon' has a hard time speaking over the truth. Briffault's law and Tomassi's ironclad rules have not been disproved or even mitigated by any of the women I have met in my little world. I no longer care about that particular aspect of life. The myth of the lonely old guy is just that... a myth. I have plenty of stuff to keep me busy and rarely reflect on my lack of a partner.
    Funny... there is a problem ...for me at least.
    Most of the women I have been partnered up with are caught up in the external, their looks, their fitness etc. That is the part I care about the least, and is the part they care about the most....probably why I am single. For being a nobody with no particular wealth or other obvious resources I have dated a lot of beautiful women in my life.... Models, dancers, actresses,etc. I have also been around some of the wealthiest most powerful people on the planet and seen them slave to the same delusions and vanities as us proles...front row seat to God's best punch lines.
    THAT has made me jaded like a jeweler and the Demon can't get a lot of traction. ..... but I still have 6 of the other 'deadly sins' to keep me writing down stuff (LOL)
    NO...as long as you know those are all EXterior and subject to death. The only thing that you can work on that is not subject to decay and gravity is your relationship with God, the truth and the piece of that which resides in your own innards. The one that has no Wife, No home and no stuff... No divorce lawyer can take it away, no prison can contain it and No vicissitude can destroy it.

    (Love that word 'vicissitude'. I learned it from Sarno in HBP)
    Last edited: May 2, 2021
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