1. Alan has completed the new Pain Recovery Program. To read or share it, use this updated link: https://www.tmswiki.org/forum/painrecovery/
    Dismiss Notice

Family Members With TMS, Triggering My TMS

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by donavanf, Mar 16, 2016.

  1. donavanf

    donavanf Well known member

    I have TMS. I've had a really great week. After listening to all of Alan Gordon's audio clips, I realized that I need to increase my soothe to rage ratio and that I have spent a lifetime scaring myself. I have chronic shoulder pain, some neck pain and the muscles between my shoulder blades get very tense. This week, instead of doubting the diagnosis, and scaring myself, or bullying myself, I decided to be very kind and soothe myself. Every time I got pain, I soothed myself and spoke to the child within me who felt very angry and afraid. Within a few days, my shoulder pain went from a 7 to a 3. Until yesterday. When I spoke to my sister. She has TEXTBOOK TMS. She, like me, suffers from a host of maladies, from IBS to panic attacks. Despite me counseling her about TMS, for over a year, she still blames it all on the physical. And I am her "safe person" when she gets into a anxiety attack or doesn't feel well. This may sound funny, but she leaves me 2 minute long voicemails about the state of her bowels, her anxiety, her headaches, her (fill in the blank with a somatized symptom). You name it. I get the call. And even just hearing her voice on my iPhone VM sends me reeling. Yesterday she called me with clearcut IBS and asked me if I would go see the doctor with her this week. And not just any doctor, her "Chiropractor" who is a total nut job, and charges her a zillion dollars for treatments involving crystals, chakra clearings, and all sorts of other New Age fluffy mumbo-jumbo. It' s a LONG story, but he is a trigger for me as well, as I was his patient for years till I found a psychotherapist who helped me way more than his "adjustments" ever did. Here is the deal. My sister triggers my TMS. I obviously cannot cut her out of my life, as I love her, but how do I say "NO, I do NOT want to go with you to...*fill in the blank*. I know, just say "NO". But I find it very hard. She is loving and very generous, but also very manipulative. She knows, for instance that I am having financial difficulties and offers to "pay me to come see her and take care of her". But when I need financial help (I asked her for a loan last week to help me pay my phone bill) she says she "can't afford it". There is a lot of cross manipulation going on. What I want to set with her is BOUNDARIES. Is it just irony that after speaking to her yesterday about her stomach ache, I awoke today with terrible IBS? And my shoulder was talking to me like a bullhorn? No. I think not. So what do you do when you have a family member who has TMS, triggers your TMS and you feel afraid of them and manipulated by them? Dr. Schechter (my TMS doc) told me I may have to "limit contact" with her. I feel like I am THIS CLOSE to CURING my own TMS, and I feel like my sister is impeding my progress. Does anyone else find that TMS runs in families and does anyone have any advice on how to deal with my very sweet, but DRAMA QUEEN sister? I love her but my TMS goes off like a smoke alarm when I'm within 100 paces of her. EVEN on the phone! I want to tell her, "I love you sis, but you're a pain in the neck!". Literally and figuratively! And I am "shouldering" a lot of responsibility as it is, trying to get my own business of the ground, which I am enjoying immensely. I cannot "shoulder" her problems as well. I can't break contact with her, but I want to have a heart to heart talk with her about us having a more adult relationship. Whenever I try, she goes into angry victim mode and says I am being "selfish". Projection, anyone?

    PS- My current TMS hit its ultimate "peak" upon returning from a cross country trip to NYC with her where I literally had to "babysit" her 24/7, and was her "safe" person for the ENTIRE 2 week trip. I was strong FOR her the entire trip, (even physically strong, carrying all her bags) and I came back riddled with back and neck pain and it took me two years to find Sarno's work and start the healing. I feel in some ways, like I am STILL ON THAT TRIP. I feel horribly guilty for not helping my sister, but I cannot seem to say no to her. Any advice is appreciated. Even reading the words, "I am still on that trip" shows me a big clue on why she is triggering me. Wow. She's bullying me, and and my "goodist" falls right into her trap, every time, time after time.
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2016
    honey badger likes this.
  2. sjcy

    sjcy New Member

    I admire your self-insight! That's a horribly difficult position to be in.

    What has worked for me in the past, as far as building and maintaining my boundaries (something that I had to do as a social worker): I remind myself, "This is me right here. That person over there is in pain, but it's not my pain. If I deal with my own pain, then I can help them better with theirs." It works with family, too (my elderly mother is pretty demanding and dependent and has a lot of TMS issues).

    As far as talking with your sister, don't fall into the trap of trying to get her to agree with you--that just gives her more control over you. The "heart-to-heart talk" is overrated in situations like this. Just do what you're able and willing to do for her, when you can, and if invited to go on a guilt trip, decline politely. Don't worry about whether she understands or not. If you act the part of someone in an adult relationship, you might be able to lead her down a better path by setting a good example, without wearing yourself out trying to convince her that she needs to change. Then she might learn to process and deal with her own emotions instead of dumping them on you.
    Ellen and donavanf like this.
  3. Maribel

    Maribel New Member

    You say - I am so sorry I am back to back in appointments - I would love to but I can't

    even if your appointment is sitting in the bath tub reading a book! :)
    donavanf likes this.
  4. Maribel

    Maribel New Member

    She will stop manipulating you the day you decide to stop allowing her to do it!!

    (I have some experience in this area - I have an emotionally abusive older sister -she unloaded anger by the truck loads during my whole youth - thanks to her I lived for a long time with a low self esteem until now that I realized that we weren't born this way it was given to us by somebody.)
  5. Maribel

    Maribel New Member

    "don't fall into the trap of trying to get her to agree with you--that just gives her more control over you. The "heart-to-heart talk"'
    This is so true, I need to learn to do this with my husband!
    I am okay when he tries to trap me - I just walk away but i get all entangled when he has a go at my son....
  6. honey badger

    honey badger Peer Supporter

    Donavanf, I know you posted this over a year ago, but it is a very helpful and insightful post for me. First off, I have to tell you that you made me laugh when describing the chiropractor "fluffy mumbo-jumbo." Your honesty and charisma really comes through in several parts of your post.

    My family is also a source if TMS for me. I find that they trigger my anger, which was unbeknownst to me for years, and I would just try harder and harder to make things work. But this was my role growing up. I was the responsible one, the perfect one, the one that my parents could rely on when they needed one of their kids to step up to the plate. When I visit them, or even when I receive emails from them (we live far from each other), I feel very unsettled, which for me usually means repressed rage that I have trouble identifying. My brother has grown up to become my father in many respects (although ironically, he hates my father -- a lot of self-hatred there), and it has become more and more difficult for me to interact with him. I have a new pain between my shoulder blades, and its onset seems to correlate with a recent incident when he was being really controlling.

    I have recently discovered personal boundaries and the importance of setting them. I would not have tried setting boundaries (saying what is okay or not okay in the way others treat us) because I am (was) a people pleaser and, as I've learned on this forum from Alan G., this usually means I try to avoid anxiety and conflict (which makes perfect sense to me). I have a lot of anxiety when confronting my brother, who I love very much, similar to you and your sis. But recently, given my pain, I tried setting a boundary with him, and he came back with such force and disdain for my needs and what I was asking, that it left me pretty shaken up. I have taken away from it that he is not a safe person for me, at least not now, and I'm going to concentrate on what I need, just like you were saying in your post -- which by the way, you outline really well (taking care of the frightened, angry inner child). So I'm going to do that and give myself some space, which means limited contact with him (unless a family emergency arises). Luckily, we live very far apart so that makes it easier.

    But coming back to you, having read your post twice, I have to tell you that it seems to me that you are in touch with what you need and how your relationship with your sister is affecting you. It is all there. You're excellent at pin pointing it. I think you're looking to give yourself permission to pull away from her, if only temporarily, so you can heal. This doesn't mean that you don't love her. But it means that you do not love her at your own expense. Loving her shouldn't come at the expense of neglecting your own needs and wants. In fact, I truly believe that when we postpone taking care of our own needs, we put a hold on our healing. And with our TMS, that is not an option. I know this because I've postponed my needs for years, not wanting to upset or confront someone. I just didn't want to get angry because I thought that it meant I didn't love my family. But that's not true. Both things can exist at the same time: I love them and I'm extremely angry at them. Both can exist, and honoring both these truths/feelings is what I try to do for myself.

    When your sister's needs become enmeshed as your needs (which they do when she wants you to listen to her every physical ailment, and keeps you focused on her), it's a sign that you need to set a personal boundary. When you feel guilty if you put your needs first, it's time to set a personal boundary. When you say no to a request yet she insists and insists that you do it, disregarding that you are saying no, it's yet another sign that you need to set a personal boundary. If you google personal boundaries, there are tons of great websites that outline signs to help you recognize when you need a boundary, and ways to set boundaries in a way that respects you and the relationship that you care about.

    I would love to hear an update the next time you check this forum. Take care and all the best.

Share This Page