1. Alan has completed the new Pain Recovery Program. To read or share it, use this link: http://go.tmswiki.org/newprogram
    Dismiss Notice

Journaling question

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by sybilla, Sep 1, 2014.

  1. sybilla

    sybilla Peer Supporter

    I have halvheartedly been trying to commit to TMS for about 2 years without much success. After my symptoms moved around a lot the worst one I have (TMJ) finally seems to stay in my facial muscles. I have none of the other ones at the moment. It has never been worse and I realise that I have to believe 100% that it is TMS which I have been doing for a few months.
    When I journal I recall 5-6 episodes from my childhood wich have been terrible for me and which - according to my gut - have laid the foundation for my feeling unworthy, a bad person, anxious, insecure and having depression. The feelings even seem to get worse as I get older (probably because I HAVE to deal with the repressed ones now). When I imagine myself as a child I usually start crying and I really feel sorry for her as she was unable to express how the treatment she got made her feel. My question is: How long do I have to do that? I am expressing my emotions but I guess this could go on and on as it is an open wound. I will never be able to change what happened and what it did to me. If my mother could say she was sorry to that child it would probably make a difference. But I know this will never happen. My grown up part has also forgiven my mother. However my inner child cannot and will not. It wants justice (otherwise there is anger). Maybe the answer is to soothe my inner child and I have tried that too but I have still a very negative pattern and cannot distract from where it all comes from.. Is journaling an ever ongoing process and is realising once and for all where it comes from not enough?
    angelic333 likes this.
  2. angelic333

    angelic333 Peer Supporter

    I am struggling with the same issue! Re parenting the inner child does not work for me. It's not the way it was. I don't find it validating. Curious to see the feedback from others on the site.
  3. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle


    You ask some very good questions. If you put "journaling" into the search box at the right corner of this page, you will see that there are many threads where the issue of journaling has been discussed. There is much debate and little agreement on this topic. Some people feel that it should be a daily exercise to keep one tuned into thinking psychological--I believe Nicole Sachs said this recently during the call-in discussion about her book. Some people never journaled and still healed. And others do it sporadically on an as needed basis. I fall into the last category. I did it at first as part of Schubiner's Unlearn Your Pain structured program, and I feel I benefited from it. But it only lasted a month. After that, I would journal when I had pain and wasn't sure what was causing it, and sometimes it would help me discover it, and that could help me figure out how to address it.

    But I never experienced a direct link between pain relief and "realizing where it all comes from". I think that is rare. What journaling helped me uncover were patterns of behavior and thinking that started in childhood and then persisted long beyond when they were still useful. This then helped me see what I needed to change in order to heal. I think for me, there was some early benefit in just getting all the ugly stuff down on paper because it showed my brain that I wasn't afraid to look at it, and therefore, there was no need to repress the emotions associated with those events. But my opinion is that once you've done it, there is no value in re-examining it endlessly. What I think is important is finding patterns and connections between pain and behavior/thinking habits. When journaling has led to those "ah-ha" moments it's been wonderful. But sometimes I get there without having to write it all down. I'll just be vacuuming or doing some other mindless task, and I just suddenly "get it"--some new realization about myself.

    You didn't say if you are journaling as part of a structured program. I think that can be helpful to give it focus. I like Steve Connena's method in Use Your Mind to Heal Your Body. He emphasizes that the problem is not the emotion, but the inner conflict about feeling the emotion--it's how you feel about feeling a particular emotion, e.g. I feel guilty about feeling anger toward my father. I should feel forgiveness and love, etc.

    So no clear answers to your questions here. I think everyone just has to find out what works best for them. Healing is a journey of self-discovery.
  4. Walt Oleksy

    Walt Oleksy Beloved Grand Eagle

    I found that journaling into my boyhood helped a lot in my TMS back pain healing.
    But the hardest part was believing 100 percent that my pain was TMS and not structural.
    It takes a lot of effort and patience to believe that, but it eventually comes.
  5. blake

    blake Well known member

    Hi Sybillia,

    I totally relate to what you are saying about the inner child wanting justice. It would only seem right, wouldn't it? Let's face it, some parents are completely useless. I know that sounds harsh, but it's a fact! I know mine were.

    That being said, have you heard of Nicole sach's book The meaning of truth? She talks about two levels of journaling: our tapes about what happened and then what it means to us at a deeper level. And it's connecting with that deep level that is helping me get unstuck emotionally and become pain free.

    For example, I was neglected as a baby and child because my mother is mentally ill. My regular thinking about this was that it isn't fair, why didn't she get help, how come she expects so much of me today, etc. As I dug deeper with the journaling, I was able to connect with that wounded child and I had a eureka moment when I realized that I too was neglecting her in the very same way. The pain I was feeling was about not having a connection with myself. Once I realized this, my anger about the past started to seem much less important to me compared to the task at hand: taking care of this little child in me. This has become the meaning of my life. I think Nicole talks about this process as being very meaningful and now I understand what she means (I think I do). It was unfortunate that I had two really messed up parents, who did me a world of harm, but I have a job to do now, which is to nurture this child who has been neglected, put down, criticized and made to feel unworthy for far too long.

    I was able to forgive my dad because he died and could no longer hurt me. I was able to forgive my mom because I saw life through her eyes and understand that she suffered as much as I did. However,I do not give anything away to her anymore and have stopped feeling guilty and obligated to her. That feels extremely empowering.

    I wish you all the best. I know how tough the road can be.
    Ellen and Anne Walker like this.
  6. Walt Oleksy

    Walt Oleksy Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi, Blake. Your post was wonderful. You did a lot of deep personal thinking and was able to forgive your father
    and understand your mother better. The same happened to me when I journaled about my boyhood... family
    financial problems, divorce. Our parents had their own TMS problems and symptoms. They did what they could,
    and we do what we can. One of the hardest things is to give ourselves unconditional love. It really helps to calm and free us.
  7. blake

    blake Well known member

    Walt, I too think that forgiveness is really important.

    It doesn't look like what I thought it would though. I thought that after journaling, I would feel all warm and fuzzy about forgiving people who hurt me. In fact, what happened is that it helped me see how unrealistic my expectations of these people really are. I agree with what you say, Ellen, about the journaling helping us understand our patterns. After writing countless unsent letters, I realized that I had been pleading with my family members to give me empathy and compassion my entire life and that this is futile. Asking them for understanding is like asking my cat to do my income tax. It just won't work! And you can't really get mad at the cat, now can you?!

    Now I see that I need to take care of me and seek out like-minded people with whom I can exchange thoughts, ideas and support. My days of barking up the wrong tree are over!
    Anaya and Tennis Tom like this.
  8. AndrewMillerMFT

    AndrewMillerMFT Well known member

    Hi Sybillia,

    You ask such great questions! Often TMS sufferers will ask a variation of the same question, "Now that I know what is contributing to this, what now, shouldn't the pain (or feelings) go away - or how long do I have to work on this?" The answer is different for everyone.

    Ellen makes a very good point about the Connena book, often it's not just about re-discovering our painful past and patterns but understanding how we relate to them. From her post, it sounds like the important thing for him was discovering how he related to feelings about his father and that was helpful to his recovery. He discovered his relationship to his past, his feelings about the past, etc... (Of note, I haven't personally read the book, I'm just going off Ellen's post... but it's now on my list!)

    Let's use your "open wound" metaphor for a second. Let's say you do have an open wound. How do you care for it? Do you bandage it? Do you let it breath? Do you put ointment on it? Do you have an expert look at it? Do you pick at it? Do you de-bride it? (Is there a difference between picking and de-briding?)

    Focusing on how the wound happened is important but equally or more important is how you handle the wound now and how the wound affects you today, in this moment.

    Does the pain from childhood show up in your life these days, does it contribute to patterns or feelings in your life now? And how do you want to deal with these patterns going forward?

    Best of luck to you,

    blake and Forest like this.
  9. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    A great discussion of journaling on the following recording with Nicole Sachs, LCSW and author of the Meaning of Truth.

    Click here to download the mp3 audio
    blake likes this.
  10. Tennis Tom

    Tennis Tom Beloved Grand Eagle

    Good insights Blake! Very funny analogy about your cat doing your income taxes--actually our pets may exhibit more empathy for our emotional issues then our family members do.

    We can't take care of other's needs if we don't take care of our own as well. As TMS goodists, we feel obligated to save and be liked by everyone on the planet. That is an impossible goal that will only cause frustration. Taking the time to be good to a few who will understand and be good back to us is more realistic and rewarding.
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2014
    blake likes this.
  11. Walt Oleksy

    Walt Oleksy Beloved Grand Eagle

    Thanks for the Nicole Sachs video, Ellen. It's great.
    I love her defense of Dr. Sarno and also her story about our neighbors' emotional garbage
    and preferring to keep her own. Lots of wisdom there. We think we're the only ones on the block
    hurting or with headaches or whatever, but we're all in a very large boat.
  12. Anaya

    Anaya New Member


    I'm sorry you find yourself struggling.

    "I have halvheartedly been trying to commit to TMS for about 2 years without much success... I realise that I have to believe 100% that it is TMS which I have been doing for a few months."

    I have been interested in the mind-body connection for a while, and am making a good effort to focus. Something that helps me is this thought: "If this really is caused by my mind, what have I got to lose by really believing this and trying? I will at least have worked through some issues I should be working on anyway." It seems to help me stop worrying about whether this will help my pain or not. I figure there is nothing to lose, and that by trying, I will still gain some emotional health at the very least. I also tell myself that this will definitely at least help the severe physical pain I experience somewhat...because, think about it. When you are in a very good mood, focusing on something you are excited about, you don't feel the pain as much. Sometimes, you even forget about it for a moment. So how could this NOT be at least slightly beneficial? It takes the pressure off. So, I figure if I can become healthier emotionally, my mood in general will be more positive, and it should help me with the pain a bit at least.

    As far as the mother issues go, I'm with you. I have A LOT to work out with mine. I remind myself that she was a child once, too, and that her upbringing was difficult. I remind myself that she has felt this way about her mother, too. I remind myself that it isn't personal. She wasn't doing things to me as much as she was doing them because of her. Don't get me wrong - that does not prevent me from feeling anger toward her sometimes. Especially since I still cannot trust her. I have to remind myself that that's OK. Though I wanted desperately to - and still wish I could - trust her, I can't. I can, however, trust in myself.

    But, it helps to see her as not merely my mother, but as a person who was also once a child herself, who has struggled, too.

    "I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it." - Maya Angelou

    Best of luck in your journey.

  13. blake

    blake Well known member

    Hi Anaya,

    Thank you for sharing your insight and that empowering quote by Maya Angelou.

    I had a difficult day yesterday (physically and emotionally) due to a pending visit with my own mother today. Last night I promised myself that I would not let my tms ruin my day. Reading your post is helping me get my day off on the right foot. Much appreciated!

    Anaya likes this.
  14. Anaya

    Anaya New Member

    Hi Blake-

    Thanks for the kind words.

    You will do great today! :)

    And if it gets tough, just remember...the day will come to an end eventually lol ;)

    Take care.

    blake likes this.
  15. Walt Oleksy

    Walt Oleksy Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi, Anaya. How did the visit go with your mother? I hope it wasn't too stressful for either of you.
    You were good to remember that she had a difficult childhood, too.
    Understanding and compassion help lead to forgiveness. Forgiveness leads to being free of TMS pain.
  16. blake

    blake Well known member

    Hi guys,
    I'll be a bit off topic from the journaling question, but since we were talking about mother issues.

    My mom just left after a 3-day visit, probably the most calm I've ever been in my life being around her. This forgiveness business really works. I was able to stay grounded and remain patient with her (she has schizophrenia and her disease has some nerve-racking aspects about it). But more importantly, I was able to be kind and gentle with myself. I used to think I needed to be like mother Theresa and feel only compassion for her because of her disease. Turns out that when I acknowledge how I really feel (to myself, through th journal), I,m actually better able to be nice. I don't need to pretend to have feelings for her that I don't have as long as I treat her with respect, which I always have.

    But of course the journaling is not magic. I know what it likes to be stuck, too. There have been people who I've been journaling about for 3 months with very little progress. I have gone from super angry to angry. I guess that's progress. Who knows when the breakthrough will come. We just keep at it the best we can on any given day.

    All the best, guys!
    Seraphina likes this.
  17. sybilla

    sybilla Peer Supporter

    Thank you Ellen. Your reply was very helpful.
    I think I will go for "journaling occasionally". As I wrote earlier I have put down on paper some episodes from my childhood which stand strongest in my mind and I don't think I can journal about them more than I have done. The main thing is
    that I have realized that is where it "all" started and is still hurting. What is not working for me either is having bad pain and connecting it with a recent incident or stress. I will look into Steve Connena's methods.
    I agree with you that we probably all have to find our own method and to know which one is the best for os we need a lot of insight and patience.
    Ellen likes this.
  18. sybilla

    sybilla Peer Supporter

    I agree with you. Believing that the pain is 100 per cent structural is very hard. The doubts keep kreeping up all the time.
  19. sybilla

    sybilla Peer Supporter

    Thank you for your thoughts. Your childhood must have been hard. My parents did not mess up completely. In fact they probably were what you would call "decent people". Life was hard for them. It cannot be used as an excuse for not loving your children though but sometimes people just don't know how to treat children. If I look at my "episodes" from childhood I know exactly where my lacking self worth, shame and nervousness come from. If I forgave my mother ( dead) I would feel that I betrayed my inner child once more. I probably have misunderstood the meaning of forgiveness and I hope one day I will be able to and my wounds will heal. But at the moment I have to (like yourself) nurture the neglected child.
  20. sybilla

    sybilla Peer Supporter

    Thank you Anaya for your reply. I keep reminding myself of my mothers upbringing and hard life but I feel very much she was doing things TO ME (maybe without wanting to be cruel). When you struggle all your life (starting when I was a teenager)
    with anxiety, depression, low self worth etc. it is not easy to just forgive because you are daily reminded of why you have these issues. I also realize that there is no use to keep on blaming. I have to move on and being good to myself (my inner child) is the way forward for me at the moment.

Share This Page