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Journalling about FUTURE stressors?

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by sweetandsimple, Feb 13, 2019.

  1. sweetandsimple

    sweetandsimple New Member

    Hi Everyone

    Im one week into journalling (im doing the unlearn your pain programme over on Dr Schubiners site). No results yet (apart from maybe feeling a bit worse? I know this can happen though). Im still hopeful however and at the very least feel calmer and am trying my best to practice radical acceptance of my symptoms.

    I have a question regarding journalling about FUTURE stressors (if there's such a thing). I really think intense sadness and grief is at the heart of my TMS issues. I have posted before, but to quickly explain, my husband and I have been trying to have children for almost 10 years and have been doing IVF treatments for the last 3. We had some initial success (8 embryos frozen which is a very good outcome) but have had 4 transferred separately but none have stuck/resulted in pregnancy. The threat of not being able to have Children, after everything Ive put myself through feels absolutely soul crushing, but the issue is, that it hasn't actually happened yet. This is what I mean by a "Future Stressor".

    I have felt for many years (even pre IVF treatment) that I'm in a constant state of grief limbo. Its hard to grasp how devastating infertility can be, and how difficult the longing for a Child can be to carry when it is so beyond your power to make it happen. IVF has intensified this grief limbo. It was always my secret "playing card" that I hoped Id never have to play as it were, but after 6/7 years I felt that I had to try it because nothing else was working. Now that ive played it and the IVF and its not working, that grief feels closer than ever. My husband and I have agreed we wont do another cycle after our remaining embryos are used up, so the dream will well and truly be over.

    The issue I have is that I feel a sadness currently (current stressor) about my infertility in general and the struggle and pain of the last 10 years, but I also feel the threat of the wall of grief I feel like im hurtling towards. I feel stuck because we still have 3 embryos left (4 used, one did not survive thawing) so there is STILL a chance it MIGHT work. I have to maintain some hope for those 3 otherwise what's the point? But its such a struggle to keep that grief at bay. I hope that makes sense? I feel the weight of grief all the time but feel like I cant fully enter into it because right now I have to keep the faith that there's still a chance.

    So my question is, how do I journal about this? how do I feel a very real sense of grief over something that hasn't quite happened yet? Or hopefully may not even happen? It feels like to truly "feel" it would be to accept defeat. Any advice or thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
  2. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    sweet&simple, welcome to the forum. This is a tough set of questions you are dealing with. I will offer some thoughts, but I have to be honest: while I certainly understand grief and loss, I have no experience with the yearning for biological children that most humans have. So if at any time you feel that I am not reaching you, please, feel perfectly free to ignore what I have to say! I won't be offended - and maybe it will prompt someone else to come forward.

    My first thought is that you're trying to create a question that is much simpler than what is really going on. In addition, the way that you're framing your question is evoking a picture of yet another TMSer trying to do this work perfectly - when there is no such thing. Believe me - it takes one to know one. I don't think there is a single serious user of this forum who doesn't know that perfectionism is an issue for them.

    There is no one way to journal. There are many techniques offered, some of which work better than others, for different people. I've always preferred the free-writing technique of quickly creating a list of things as they come into my thoughts, without hesitation, and especially ignoring any inner voice which tries to tell me that I shouldn't write something down - no matter how embarrassing or shameful or scary it might be.

    If you've already got a topic from the Dr. Schu's program, you will still get more from true free-writing, rather than thinking about what you "should" write. Free-writing demands that you be willing to scrawl whatever comes into your thoughts, without judgement, without editing, and definitely without listening to that negative voice in your head that is trying to control what you do or don't put down.

    This form of writing is messy - and it can be scary - and it can sometimes be really hard to ignore the inner voice. But it's the most honest form of writing, and in the end, it's much more useful and powerful.

    My second thought is about a form of therapy called Existential Psychotherapy. This therapy is based on the belief that we humans have just four core issues, which lie at the heart of how we handle our emotions. To me, it ties in really nicely with Dr. Sarno's theory of repressed emotions - our brains are very likely to hide (repress) these core issues from us, because dealing with them is so scary. We used to have a practitioner of EP on the forum, Dr. Zafirides, but he seems to have dropped out of public view (and took down his web site) which is too bad, because he was a great contributor. He is still practicing in the Columbus area.

    Anyway, the four core issues are: Isolation (aka Abandonment), Freedom, Meaning, and Mortality.

    I'm more familiar with grief and loss as they relate to the death of people I have loved. In the case of two losses that I suffered close to each other in 2012, I realized that Abandonment and Mortality were the two issues that were hitting me hardest. My brain was doing its best two repress two very negative (and selfish!) emotions: the feeling that I had been abandoned (selfish because both individuals left behind heartbroken spouses), and the deep primitive fear of my own death (esp considering both individuals were younger than me). Being able to acknowledge, face, and accept these emotions, and bring them into the light instead of letting my brain keep repressing them, is what allowed me to understand my grief, rather than continue to flounder in it, not knowing which way to turn.

    So, okay - when it comes to the inability to bear children, what might the core issues be? I'm thinking it's three of them: Isolation, Mortality, and Meaning.

    I could go into possible details, but I don't think that's necessary. I will just ask: what would it be like if you free-journaled about these three issues as they relate to your current emotions?

    Because here's the interesting thing about this: all three of these issues ARE future issues for you. That does not mean they aren't legitimate. They are your emotions. And rather than judge them, it's time to see them, acknowledge them, and accept them as perfectly normal.

    The final thought: accepting yourself and loving yourself are vital to this process.

    Baseball65 and suky like this.
  3. sweetandsimple

    sweetandsimple New Member

    Thanks for taking the time to reply to my post- it means alot. I am definitely a perfectionist and I guess im just really aware of how much this issue is effecting me and therefore wanting to make sure I go about tackling it in the right way. It just feels very overwhelming and I feel unsure of where to start. Im sure lots of people on here have emotional mountains in amongst their molehills that make them feel the same though right?

    Re the three issues of mortality, Isolation and meaning. I agree with two of those. I don't feel like mortality is an issue for me but the other two definitely are. The "meaning" eludes to so much- fulfilment for both me and husband, future generations, what it means to have a family, to be called a mother etc etc. Thats a huge one. Then Isolation is massive- A big fear ive worked on with my therapist is an acute fear my husband would leave me if I didn't have kids. He's never said anything of the sort but its been a huge fear of mine (far less now thanks to therapy) - I think that stems from my father walking out on my mum and his three children when I was little. I also fear the loneliness of not having a family, not enjoying those life milestones you have with children...being old without family etc. There is also a lot of current isolation that comes from infertility - most people just don't get it, and it can feel like your peers are leaving you well and truly behind. It can get very lonely.

    So yes - I will journal from those view points as you suggested. Like you said my feelings are legitimate, even if they are over the future, they are legitimate and true to the here now right? and therefore deserve to be expressed/felt/heard. Its just really scary...

    Ive had a break from journalling the last few days because im laid up with the flu! The last thing I need is to cry when Im so unwell, but when im back fighting fit I will get to it. Thanks again.
    JanAtheCPA likes this.
  4. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Ugh, the flu :grumpy:

    The reason I brought up mortality is because so many people feel that having children becomes their means to immortality. And that's a very deep, very primal need.

    Isolation may also have to do with not being alone in old age, counting on your children to take care of you. This is not something people are necessarily willing to admit to themselves, but as someone who did not have biological children, this certainly comes up for me as I contemplate my mortality.

    Get better soon,


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