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Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by Hummingbird, Mar 10, 2018.

  1. Hummingbird

    Hummingbird Peer Supporter

    Hi there, I haven't posted in a long time. It was a little over a year ago that I began on my TMS healing journey. There really isn't a day when TMS doesn't try to trick me in some way and I am relieved to mostly know it is TMS and it subsides. I have had a recent flare-up of low back, hip, and knee pain. It will sit on one side, coming and going, sometimes intensifying and then going away. So my usual methods aren't working on this area. This past year, TMS has led me to face my feelings, journal, and dive deep into healing what is psychological and not physical. When I began writing on this forum I was off work, in too much pain to continue on. Emotionally, I was breaking down. I recently learned I was experiencing emotional flashbacks by reading Pete Walkers book Complex PTSD from Surviving to Thriving. Since The reading of the book my TMS has flared up in the low back, hip and knee.

    I finally feel like I am getting to the root of things now, emotionally speaking. It is extremely challenging to face it all and yet a relief to finally understand my entire life of surviving and trying so damn hard to be a good person and prove my worth. It is like the puzzle pieces have finally come together of how I came to be coping and surviving.

    Now, with the recent TMS flare-up I know of course my CPTSD and TMS are entwined, TMS attempting to protect me and help me avoid the trauma. Now for the questions...

    1. Are there any TMS authors or programs that speak of CPTSD?
    2. Any other "survivors" of CPTSD out there in this forum?

    Most of all, I have not found a safe place to talk about any of this as I have found talking about TMS with people in my community is like a literal people repellor. People seem to really struggle with this concept!

    Also, talking about CPTSD? It is another people repellor.

    My professional background is a teacher and then transitioned to a counsellor. All I trained in did nothing to prepare me for TMS or CPTSD. This realization now shocks me, how could a trained counsellor not know any of this? I was a fairly newly trained counsellor. (5 years working) My job was to work with parents and the government for Child protection. Working in the area of Child Abuse was very painful for me. This is when my TMS developed and literally took me to a place where I could not continue working due to pain.

    The counsellors in my area have very little understanding of anything I have been researching this past year. Which leads me to another confession. This past week I had a job interview to return to Counselling (for women & violence) and the nightmares, flashbacks and TMS all flared up. Honestly, I thought all this growing, learning and healing I have been doing have led me to be strong enough to return to work. I feel like I have so many more tools in my Counselling bag. I even feel called to help people who have been through what I have. It seems like my CPTSD and TMS do not agree and does not feel support the idea of counselling again. This creates within me a conflict, a struggle, as I try to move forward.

    I have rambled a lot here and yet I know I need to get it all out and find some humans that understand in some way. Thanks for reading.
  2. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    Sweet Hummingbird,

    Fret not, many people here understand. I have written here about Pete Walker's work (both the CPTSD and his enhanced and hybrid survival typologies) but it never gained much traction so I am delighted to hear that another soul has read and been profoundly influenced by his contributions.

    Your post is very rich but the main thing I feel like picking up on is the conflict you speak of. I certainly experienced a measure of this. For me I think it boiled down to respecting the fact that I needed to engage with more personal healing followed by an organic period of integration and then resting. The psyche has its own seasons and seems quite resistant to our more intellectual comprehension of our emotional life.

    So I would say there may be the necessity of dialing back on making this a part of your professional life and identity and instead allowing this incredibly powerful seed of healing and insight the abundant time and space it wants to germinate. Speaking personally I have come to see how much I try to control things (from the tiny to not so), how I try to delude myself about this tendency and how exquisite the moment is when I release, let go, let be, let God.

    Surrender remains a greatly misunderstood yet immensely beautiful experience. In so many ways it rests at the heart of healing and most especially for those who have long and bitter memories of harm and hardship. But there it is, learning to trust again, learning to have faith in yourself, in others and the universe, allowing yourself to be open and vulnerable. It's one thing to know it but quite another to feel it in your bones, feel it flow and flower in your life.

    I do hope there are some other Pete Walker readers out there who will lend their voices and thoughts. And if not maybe we can tempt a few to explore his therapeutic endeavours.

    http://pete-walker.com (Pete Walker, M.A. Psychotherapy)

    Thanks for the lovely and insightful post my dear.

    Plum x
  3. Hummingbird

    Hummingbird Peer Supporter

    Dear Plum,

    Thank you so much for your loving words, I have re-read them many times already allowing them to sink in. My intuition agrees with everything that you say about my inner conflict about going back to my work as a counsellor. I do feel like my body, mind and soul is still integrating all I have learned and am still learning.

    I have a great pressure to earn income, lest be homeless and destitute. (That is definitely CPTSD talking). One of my childhood nightmares was the continued financial chaos and utter loss of home and community again and again. I have not figured out how to handle my survival and my healing at the same time. I have been using my savings for this time off and am running out. The wolves are at my heels so to say.

    My pride gets in my way I will admit. I am known in the community as a counsellor and while I feel up to some lighter more menial work, I am 45 years old and have this role and image in the community. I find myself hiding in shame. Of course, I know this is another symptom of trauma and so I digress. Well in reality, I have shame for being a counsellor and realizing I have unhealed trauma. I have shame for the trauma that is unresolved. How does one become a counsellor and not see this? I am stuck in my role, in how I long to be seen as good enough. It is all so embarrassing to me. I am stuck in this loop.

    Alas, it feels better to even just type it out. I am in a small community in rural Canada. Out in the sticks as they say. I am isolated, I have isolated myself in my community, all the counsellors are my old co-workers and I know their practice and beliefs. There is a great shame in it all for me. For not being at work, for all that I have learned that I am suffering from (TMS and CPTSD) and to know my community does not understand or see these as valid, especially for someone like me who appeared to have it all together. Logically, I know what I need. And yet, to step out in my community is to be bombarded with questions about why I have been away.

    I feel a logical pressure telling myself, "you have this figured out, so get on with it already". But as you said the power of time and space for all of it to germinate. Just to admit that I am in a loop is relieving in itself.

    I like any of us, have many choices. The fact that I feel stuck is yet another symptom of trauma from the past. I have a loving husband who has supported me through this journey and who is a treasure to talk to and brainstorm with. I will continue to let your words breathe through me. Surrender. That's it I think...

    Thank you from the depths of my heart.
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2018
    Lynn S, Lainey and plum like this.
  4. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle


    I have a similar story. I worked as a licensed Child and Family Therapist for about 30 years before I discovered TMS. I had fibromyalgia for 20 years and migraines since childhood. It wasn't until I discovered Howard Schubiner's Unlearn Your Pain and the concept of TMS that I realized how much my work as a child therapist had triggered my chronic pain. And while I knew I had a very dysfunctional childhood, it wasn't until discovering the ACE study and determining my score of 6 that I realized I likely had PTSD from childhood trauma. Like you, I thought "how could I have not known this?". Of course, the answer was that I repressing all that emotional pain, which resulted in TMS.

    About a year or so before discovering the concept of TMS I had an interesting experience. I was presenting a case to my mental health colleagues, and while discussing it, my voice started to quiver with emotion, yet I had no awareness of feeling anything in particular regarding this child's case beside the usual professional feelings of concern and caring. It was as if my true feelings were trying to break through into my conscious awareness. It was a little embarrassing at the time, as the mental health people in the room definitely noticed it. Can't hide much from them.

    I am retired now. I retired a couple of years earlier than planned because I found I just couldn't do the work anymore, even though I have recovered from my TMS. But the PTSD is not completely resolved, and so I felt it was better for my own well being to not subject myself to the triggers that working with children with mental health issues inevitably contain for me. I am fortunate that I was able to retire. I know that isn't an option for you at your age and stage of life. So, unfortunately, I don't have any advice to give you on this topic, but I wanted to let you know that I understand exactly what you are saying.

    Sometimes we can know something intellectually but the information is not able to get through our defenses to truly impact our lives. We are all mysterious and complex creatures, which is why there isn't an exact formula for healing our wounds. We have to open our hearts and minds, set our intention clearly, and stay committed and persistent. Healing and recovery is then inevitable. I wish you the best on your healing journey.
  5. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    When I was young my family were rocked to the core by a devastating financial crisis. It endured for quite a time before all options were exhausted, our beautiful family home was finally repossessed (after several last minute stays), and in a very traumatic and rushed house move (we were technically homeless) we all ended up in a small house, cramped together between the stuff, our pets and the tsunami of emotions. My first round of TMS began within a week and lasted 7 years.

    So I really empathise with the fear, and the choas and the loss of home. All of these things have revisited me in recent years due to my husband's illness and our subsequent financial ruin.

    Despite all evidence to the contrary I have always told myself that I was ok with those distressing years. They were behind me. How sweet denial can be...
    It was only while engaging with Alan Gordon's program last Summer that I truly realised how rootless, afraid and ashamed I felt. The single biggest thing I took from that healing program was the deep understanding of how terrified my old brain was and how I have lived my life never daring to touch base. I was bohemian for a reason.

    Recently I have begun crafting a solid healing plan to address this wound of 3 decades standing. My focus is on recovering and nurturing a sense of safety, a profound connection to the earth and to home, and to feeling very rooted and grounded.

    My yin yoga teacher is currently creating a healing series based around each chakra and last week I followed the practice for the root chakra which is concerned with safety, belonging and abundance. I wept pretty much the whole way through and the next day I noticed how grounded I felt. The practice combines postures and affirmations. (The affirmation "I am safe" is my most beloved.)

    Here is the link, should you be interested:
    (I read yesterday that the neural circuitry for fear and that for curiosity are next to each other. Food for thought).

    I'm at a stage in my healing where Shame is making a recurrent appearance. At first I tried to shrug it off because it does feel wretched, little wonder the defences work so well there.

    I think you'd be surprised at how many counsellors have unresolved issues. @Lainey once wrote about how common that is and I derive great comfort from that. Was it Anais Nin who said we seek the teeth that made the wound.

    Go gently here. None of us are perfect and surely any form of therapy is a world of life-long learning. I am reminded that experiencial death remains unknown to bereavement counsellors yet still they most assuredly guide us through the surrounding fields. It is enough to be human, compassionate and vulnerable. Leave omnipotence to the gods.

    Relief is such a powerful beautiful feeling.

    Love the socks off him. Love him to hell and back. Let him love you the same. Having a great companion makes the world of difference. Together you'll come through anything life throws at you.

    Sending you much love and a huge earth-mother hug,

    Plum x
  6. Time2be

    Time2be Well known member

    Dear Hummingbird,
    thank you for sharing your considerations and also your despair with us. This is what I feel, at least - there is a sort of despair in you post. You feel trapped because you need the job, but you experience also that being a counsellor brings either old emotions back or causes new wounds. And you don't feel that you can bring to your job your own experiences and the strong beliefs that are related to your knowledge about TMS etc.
    The economic situation would also trigger panic for me. So, don't be ashamed. I think it is pretty natural to be seriously considered about how to make a living. But I think you might have ended in a black-and-white construction about your situation. Maybe counselling can still be your profession, but you can 'smuggle' other approaches into the usual ways of doing it. You do not necessarily need to convince your colleagues, just try to use a little of your knowledge and see how this goes. My point is: baby steps, see and wait. This might also help the emotional reactions you have. Counselling is very hard business, you have to be emotionally emphatic and detached at the same time.
    And then: there might be other jobs in counselling that suits you better, you could always look for at better fit ....
    I am not sure, if I understood your situation correctly and I know that my comment is very practically oriented. I just think you should not leave the profession like that, give it some time and use different strategies!
    I wish you all the best
  7. Hummingbird

    Hummingbird Peer Supporter


    How healing for me to read about your experience with TMS, your career and the discovery of repressed childhood trauma. I thank my lucky stars for the discovery of TMS as it was the wall between myself and the truth that I could not face. No matter how difficult it is to face, it is such a relief of the toxic shame I struggled with combined with the relief from debilitating physical pain. It is all so healing. Your response made me feel that so important humanness, that others have experienced this too, it is not just me... I am so grateful you wrote to me. The line you wrote about the repressing, how that resulted in TMS. None of us choose to repress. We are surviving the only way the body knows how. Thank you, I had not "met" anyone who had been through anything similar. Such a relief.
  8. Hummingbird

    Hummingbird Peer Supporter

    Dear Plum,

    I am just trying to get the hang of this quote and response thing. So much of your response speaks to me deep into my bones. Your husband's illness, how that affected the finances and your advice to love the socks off my husband... Fills my eyes up with tears. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. I am returning that hug with my whole heart to you.

    The yoga reference and the rootedness, how I relate to that (and I will try the practice!) I also practice yoga and it has been a place of healing and respite for me. The root chakra sessions have left me in a muddle of emotion again and again. It makes sense when the trauma is in the roots of our childhood, family and home as well as surviving and security.

    AS for sweet denial, Isn't that the truth! So much of my life has been sweet denial and minimization. Darn TMS for taking this away lol and yet also such gratitude.

    Writing these posts and reading these responses have soothed the tired and weary part inside of myself. It is a resounding, "I am not alone, I am not crazy, I am human, other people experience this too..." It soothes me and touches me very deeply.

    I feel my words are not enough to thank you for writing to me. I think I will print the whole conversation to re-read when the times get tough. Much love to you and your hubby Plum. Thank you again.
    healingfromchronicpain and plum like this.
  9. Lainey

    Lainey Well known member

  10. Hummingbird

    Hummingbird Peer Supporter

    Dear Pernille,

    You were right to sense the despair. Alas, if I am honest I feel like there are two parts of me. There is the wounded part that flares up and is quite hopeless. This part of me does see things in black and white construction. This is all true. There is also a part of me that is so healthy and strong. She is healing, healing, healing and getting her life back. She feels so strong she applies for a job that she thinks is just perfect! Then, words are said at the interview that trigger and I am back in the nightmare again. This is the healing path of CPTSD. It is so healing to be able to be aware that these lows are the wounds and not really me. Also, the hope lies in that they heal, for I know that they do as I have been healing. It takes time, and more time. Forwards and backwards. Thanks for writing me, so many truth bombs you dropped. I am now sure I am not ready to go back to the work of trauma counselling. It is just to close to the wounds right now. I will keep my eyes open for the options between black and white. I have a few ideas. Thank you again Pernille, I feel like you saw me, felt me and boy that feels so good right now.
    healingfromchronicpain and plum like this.
  11. Lainey

    Lainey Well known member

    Dear Hummingbird,

    (Think I posted this incorrectly, so here it is again!)

    Have read your posts and the loving responses from Plum, Ellen and Time2be. All of them offering you the knowledge, and hopefully some comfort in that you are not in this alone, that there are others who understand.

    I too am a counselor, now retired, still holding a license to practice. Although I worked in more of an urban setting, there is still caution to take when exposing new ideas and practices. I understand your reticence about doing this. The agency I worked with served children and their families. Many abuse issues, many issues that almost seemed surreal in their horrific circumstances. I eventually became the 'boss' and brought with that title my own ideas about the nature of what counseling should encompass. Interestingly, most of the staff (there were 8 counselors and a couple of outside support staffers) were inclined to want to try something different. Only one was more negatively inclined to incorporate what she saw as woo-woo practices, but the majority pushed her along as well. We eventually trained in many modalities that offered a jump start to a different way of thinking. This was helpful for all, the families/children and the therapists.

    I am wondering if your understanding of your co-workers beliefs is totally accurate? I now spend much time in a very rural part of the east coast US. Mostly farms and large expanses of National Forests. I have befriended a number of the full-time residents. A couple of the women I have met are counselors, living on farms, working with children and families in the local small town about 20 miles away. Both were delighted to hear specific details of different therapeutic modalities, how they worked, etc. ( I've also shared some info on TMS with them.) Although neither was in a position to change the therapeutic direction of the agencies they felt strongly that the baseline training in their college programs was not enough. One even went on to create a small, women's retreat on her property. (drumming, dancing, singing, etc)

    You sound very isolated and this is a worry. Is it accurate to say that not one of your co-workers would understand? Is it your shame about your past, your pain, your belief in TMS, etc., that is keeping you from talking to them? They may not be as "together" as you imagine. One or more may welcome the openness. This could begin to open doors that you never expected were there. If you do go back to the agency how can you continue to hide who you really are? It's OK to be you. You do have it together, your belief in TMS, and your understanding of how it works does not make you any less 'together'. You should look toward embracing the TMS life, others will come along.

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  12. Time2be

    Time2be Well known member

    Thank Hummingbird for your prompt answer! And that you are able to see that there is also strength and the willing to heal, that is so good to hear! That is already so much! You are on your way, and yes, there will be disappointments, it's what human beings experience .... For me the knowledge that I had the strength to survive severe pain, still had a life and never lost hope became a kind of grounding feeling that helps me in some situations where I am too willing to give in to self pity.
    Trauma takes time to heal. I had very traumatic situations with my ex-husband and my childhood is a very mixed bundle of good and bad experiences (at least there are also the good ones!). But the feeling of abandonment and that I have to be on alert is often with me. But now I see calmer at it. It doesn't make me panic any more. Keep us informed how you are doing!
  13. iwire

    iwire Peer Supporter

    Thank you for the link Plum.... it was perfect for me today....and through my reaction to the affirmations I have been given some direction for my journaling and meditations.
    plum likes this.
  14. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    I'm so pleased the link served you. Kassandra has been a godsend for me. (Such wisdom and kindness in one so very young is a thing to celebrate in itself.) The session provoked much for me to reflect upon too.

    Plum x
    iwire likes this.
  15. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    Forgive me for responding to another's reply but this really spoke to me. It called to mind the story of the wolf of joy and the wolf of fear.

    Sometimes I get emotionally hijacked by my old TMS self and I am in the grip of the wolf of fear, feeding it...feeding it...and then the madness passes, the skies clear and the wolf of love is nuzzling me with her soft muzzle and I am at peace.

    http://www.tmswiki.org/forum/threads/day-20-embracing-joy.16661/#post-87637 (New Program - Day 20: Embracing Joy)
  16. Lynn S

    Lynn S Peer Supporter

    I found exactly what I need once again. Thanks to everyone's contributions.
    Hummingbird and plum like this.
  17. healingfromchronicpain

    healingfromchronicpain Well known member

    I haven’t finished reading the whole post, or ones that followed yet, but when I got to this sentence I had to reply. I just want to say I know how you feel. I ended up leaving my career, not as a counselor but it was a huge thing for me. I continued to work for 4 years in great pain before I had to face that I couldn’t continue. I’m fortunate that I am married and have a husband who is working and we are doing okay. But I couldn’t even see that clearly beforehand. I was so caught up in the money, thinking we couldn’t afford for me not to work, and in my identity as an employed environmental scientist, that I had a hard time shifting my life. But again I’m lucky that as far as the money (we’re ok), and turns out I’m still me, even if not doing the job I trained for many years to do. I still think something new will come from all this for me. Still not sure what yet, but something.

    So I guess I can say, try to do what you feel is right for you. It’s hard, especially when you see so many stumbling blocks and barriers. There are many of us here, myself included, who understand and experience TMS and PTSD. My profile description has a link to my personal website where I address the link between pain and trauma, among other things like my story, treatments I’ve tried to reduce my pain and suffering, and helpful books I’ve read.

    If nothing else maybe it’ll help you feel less alone when thinking about TMS and cptsd. Hopefully in time all counselors will be well-versed in these areas. Don’t be hard on yourself for not knowing before what you know now. Maybe your gift to this world will be opening up others’ eyes. But in due time. It’s hard to push a snowball uphill. Be easy on yourself and know many of us feel the same way.
    plum likes this.
  18. Hummingbird

    Hummingbird Peer Supporter

    Dear friends,

    I do not know how to thank you all for your kind words, your understanding and your gentle encouragement. In my journal today I wrote a very healing entry I thought I could share with you all. It may be a bit long, but it feels like the right place to share. I feel quite a shift since I first posted. I think this thread has helped me heal. Much love to you all.

    While I didn’t understand it for a long time, I understand now that TMS has been a shield of armour for me. TMS, along with denial and minimization all helped me carry on and do what I needed to do, despite the unfelt and unresolved emotional pain that was buried within me. I had a myriad of ways to cope, to disassociate from the pain of growing up as a child with very unhealthy and emotionally incapable parents.

    In my adult life I truly believed I understood my past and had healed and moved beyond it. TMS helped me do this and to also do the kind of work I chose to do: Counselling families in crisis and kids who were experiencing trauma. The TMS had to really crank itself up in painful distraction to help me cope with my work. I did not understand how painful it was for me to witness the abuse of children in their dysfunctional families. My TMS and tools of disassociation protected me from feeling the reality of my work. TMS enabled me to soldier on.

    The physical pain got too much for me to function and finally I miraculously learned about TMS. I discovered the reality of what TMS was doing for me. TMS was blocking and shielding me from feeling and experiencing emotional pain. The hoax was up. I did not want to endure such physical pain any longer and so I decided it was time for me to look at what was hiding behind the TMS.

    I never grasped that this would get very difficult and make me more vulnerable than I have ever felt before. Over time, as I healed, I began to re-experience some of the unresolved trauma in my life, it was finding its way to the surface so that it could finally be felt, processed and healed.

    Without the TMS, with facing all this emotion head on, it is like being in the world without my armour. I am now an unprotected version of what I used to be. I am not as strong as I used to be. I cannot bear to not watch violence on TV in the same way I used to be able to, I cannot read other people’s horror stories with indifference, I cannot listen to gossip without wincing and I cannot ignore how all of this makes me feel. I feel quite naked in this emotionality, in this raw vulnerability.

    I know that I am healing because the physical pain of TMS gets less and less, I can do sports and activities that I never imagined I could do again. Yet ironically, I am weaker now in many ways, because I am living without my old armour. I feel everything when I used to feel very little. Or I simply ignored what I may be feeling as I judged my own sensitivity harshly. I demanded I be stong, always.

    I believe this is a time of transition for me to learn a new way to be as a human. It is a way I have never known before. As a child, I had to armour up to survive.

    Recently, I attempted to go back to my work as a trauma counsellor. It was this process of heading back to work that taught me that I no longer have my armour. The TMS, the myriad of ways I used to disassociate, they are gone now. I realized in my attempts to go back to my job that I need to redefine the kind of work I do. At this time in my life, in my phase of healing, I need something different.

    I don’t know what the experience of living without my armour will be like from here. What I do know, is that it is 100% okay to be vulnerable and be open like this. I am healing from a lifetime of hurt. I am a brave warrior to walk this path. If this means I need to take a gentle path for the first time in my life, that is okay! I need not feel ashamed.

    It is my time for love. It is my time for patience. It is my time for gentleness. I do not need to face the fire of other’s pain if it does not feel right for me right now. Since I no longer have the TMS to protect me anymore, I believe it is my responsibility to protect myself. To shield myself in compassion and understanding. To allow myself to be safe and loved. To be listened to. To be honoured.

    I decided I won’t be returning to the trauma work and I am not sure if and when I ever will. Today, I am making peace with that. There is a whole new world out there for me to explore without the old armour I used to carry. I see the sun shine in a whole new way. I feel the magic of nature. I rejoice in the sound of my husband’s voice and my heart swells at the sight of my grown children. I see beauty everywhere. Without the armour I can feel the beauty of this world. I may be raw and vulnerable, but I have never been more alive. My plan is to learn how to relish in that being alive.

    Living without TMS armour is not easy. I must look at life in an entirely new way. Most of all, I must honour where I am on this journey. I must take my hand gently, as the child I once was who never knew gentle understanding and acceptance. I must tread easily. It is here that I can take a gentler path that allows me to be human.
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2018
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  19. healingfromchronicpain

    healingfromchronicpain Well known member

    Yes, yes, yes, yes!!

    So many similar feelings and thoughts!! (I’m considering publishing my memoir sometime in the not too far future—if I can get past certain fears. I’ve taken the last 10 years to write it, and some of what you wrote is so similar to things I have written in my book!)

    We’re not alone!

    Congrats on getting to where you are and best of luck moving forward!
  20. Hummingbird

    Hummingbird Peer Supporter

    I will be watching for your memoir! Thanks for your support. It means so much!

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