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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.

  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.
    Balsa11, Cap'n Spanky and tgirl like this.
  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.
    Balsa11 likes this.
  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.
    Balsa11 and Cap'n Spanky like this.
  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.
    Balsa11, Ellen and Cap'n Spanky like this.
  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.
    Balsa11, Ellen and birdsetfree like this.
  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.
  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?

    Lainey likes this.
  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.
    Lainey and backhand like this.
  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.

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