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

Discussion in 'Structured Educational Program' started by Chimpmama, Jul 17, 2017.

  1. Chimpmama

    Chimpmama Peer Supporter

    I am feeling very vulnerable surrendering to the diagnosis of TMS. I've decided to post all my writing from the SEP in this forum. Some of it may be beyond what the question to ponder is. It may or may not make sense to anyone else. For me, the posting of it, not hiding it, is the point.

    When was the last time you exercised or did another physical activity? What was this activity? How did it make you feel physically and emotionally? If it has been a while since you last exercised, why?

    I last played tennis 9 days ago. I felt strong physically and happy emotionally. Some sadness and disappointment about being in the lower rank of the 55 team. Certainly some pressure to perform when I play with “the big girls.” Mostly love the opportunity to move, be out in the sunshine, laugh and connect with a great group of women. And there is some performance anxiety.

    I last hiked in Italy a year ago. Began having bilateral butt pain, a few days before I left, on a training hike, about 8 miles. The pain became a pretty big issue in Italy. Actually started while on the choir trip, sometimes almost immediately on walking, sometimes after a mile or so. Intense pain. I loved hiking in the mountains. I love being in the mountains, as I have for so many years. And the pain stole much of the joy. When I tried to walk at home, the butt pain was the same: intense, sharp, after a mile or so, with that distance decreasing.

    I chose to not address the pain because I could still play tennis so I pretended it was okay not to be able to hike at home. That became less and less true until a month ago I got an MRI and had a cortisone injection in my spine for the herniated disc that was diagnosed. 10 days after the injection, I had excruciating pain in my left butt and groin and thigh when I first got out of bed. I had read Sarno’s book the night of the cortisone injection and was beginning to use the work each day. Then all of a sudden this huge escalation of pain. I was quite terrified. Talked with a couple of friends who’ve had great success with Sarno’s work and was able to drop in to trusting the process. Neither tennis not hiking is an option because of the intense pain. I trust they will be again.

    So here I am, telling my brain I’m willing to feel whatever feelings show up. Asking Spirit to help ease my fear around it all. The model resonates with me big time, after a couple of years of resisting it around other kinds of pain.
  2. Chimpmama

    Chimpmama Peer Supporter

    Day 4. What was the most disheartening thing a doctor has told you about your symptoms? In what ways have you kept that in your mind?

    I have only had one doctor visit about my bilateral butt pain when I walked. Had an MRI done, which showed moderately herniated disc and 2 bulging discs. He recommended a spinal cortisone injection. My chiropractor looked at the MRI and said it looked like a well used back. I have a fairly extensive history of orthopedic injuries and surgeries, of going to a doc and asking him/her to fix the problem. Looking outside to have someone fix the problem. I did the injection. Couldn’t sleep that night and read the whole Sarno book. It resonated with me in a big way. I began reading the daily reminders the next day.

    6 days later when I got up and took my first step, I had excruciating pain in my left butt, hip, lower back, upper thigh. That has continued in varying degrees of intensity, from very close to pain free to excruciating. This is totally different from the bilateral pain which manifested only when walking more than 1/2 mile and with much less intensity.

    I have read that often symptoms increase when beginning this healing process. I am focusing a good deal of time on reading, journaling, doing suggested processes that I’ve found on the Wiki page, including doing this SEP.

    I haven’t heard a disheartening thing from a doc about this pain. Whatever disheartenment I feel is based on fear and the intensity of the pain and how much my life has narrowed since it started.

    My brain wants to question the TMS diagnosis because my pattern is different. I haven’t had years of chronic pain. And I have had years of injuries in different body parts and looking outward to ‘fix’ them. I have several personality traits of TMS folks, and believe it is the right diagnosis. I’ll keep doing the work.
  3. Chimpmama

    Chimpmama Peer Supporter

    Day 5
    Think of some activities you really enjoy doing. If you could do one of these activities without feeling stressed out, without having anxiety, and without worrying about your family, kids, job, etc. how would that feel? Why do you not do this activity more often? What steps could you take to do this activity stress free and without worrying about other things? Do this activity this week.

    Movies, tennis, hiking, dance, sing. I don’t feel stressed doing any of these. Tennis gives me the most joy these days, and that can’t happen at the moment. Same with hiking, although it’s true that I had been challenged to get out and hike even before my hips began to hurt last June. I haven’t danced much in the last few years, except for workshops. That hasn’t been about pain. About avoidance, I believe. I can drop in and feel when I dance, and I have been avoiding that to a large degree. I will go to the movies tomorrow and show up at dance on Saturday and see what happens.

    Day 6

    Write down some of your fears. Why are you afraid of these things?
    I’m afraid I won’t ever have comfortable abstinence that allows the body that God wants me to have to show up. It somehow means I’m not good enough at my recovery. That simply isn’t true, and it’s there inside me. I fear that the eat and the way I abstain will get in the way of having a joyful, peaceful life. Am I afraid my pain won’t go away? No, I’m not afraid of that. I know it will.
  4. Chimpmama

    Chimpmama Peer Supporter

    I walked a mile this afternoon!!! I couldn't walk the 100 yards to my mailbox a week ago. Not pain free, and certainly manageable. I was gentle with myself in pacing and stopping a few times to watch the surfers. The intense sciatic pain on my left side has decreased enormously, and I'm sort of back to the bilateral hip pain on walking that was the reason I got the cortisone injection that was the catalyst, in some way, for the acute sciatica. I am enormously encouraged and will keep on doing the TMS work.
    Bodhigirl likes this.
  5. Bodhigirl

    Bodhigirl Well known member

    Hurrah! I was so afraid of activity when I hurt! Sarno even said sudden shooting pain should be respected. That said, I do all sorts of things now, flying in the face of TMS symptoms to show them they do not have magical powers.
    Best wishes in your walks!!!
  6. Chimpmama

    Chimpmama Peer Supporter

    flying in the face of TMS symptoms to show them they do not have magical powers.
    Best wishes in your walks!!!

    Thanks, Bodhigirl! Well said. We are the ones with the magical powers!
  7. Bodhigirl

    Bodhigirl Well known member

    We are!
  8. Chimpmama

    Chimpmama Peer Supporter

    Hit tennis balls on a ball machine for a half hour yesterday to see what would happen with the twisting movement. It was great! No pain at all while hitting. Some soreness this morning and last night, and it's only TMS. The Knowing that there is nothing wrong with my body continues to be the grounding for the freedom I feel. Walking in gratitude.
    Gigi likes this.
  9. Chimpmama

    Chimpmama Peer Supporter

    Day 8

    Find one person or personality trait, and write a letter to it.

    Dear High Expectations, Push and Collapse, 13 Year Old,

    You are all a part of the high expectations piece of me. To my sweet inner 13 year old. It doesn’t work to do it this way, your old way, anymore. I know you think it’s been your job to push me to keep going. I know your fear is that without you pushing, I’d weigh 400 pounds and never get off the couch. It isn’t true, and it’s not your job. I’m almost 70 now, and it hurts me to push, to try to do more just because I feel great, to ‘should on myself.’ It kept us alive for a good long time, and it doesn’t work anymore. I have a fear of feeling great because it has meant in the past that i had to do more. That is a lie! It’s time to feel great and play!

    I love you and want you to play more. I want to play more. Beach, movies, play, jumping in mud puddles! Play time. I have the ability and the wisdom to choose how I live in a way that honors my spirit, my energy, my joy, and my responsibilities. You have been great at the responsibility part and not so great at the play part in recent years. Once again, it’s not your job to push our life forward, to achieve more, do more, be more. That isn’t our path. My goal is to be Margo. That’s all. Be in the world in a way that honors me, warts and all, shadow sides and all, fabulous parts and all, inner kids and all. Listen to my heart’s true desires and follow them.

    Pushing, Expectations, the Need To Do More don’t really accomplish what is intended. They now just create pain, inside and out. It’s time to let it all go and live from my heart rather than from the shoulds.
  10. Chimpmama

    Chimpmama Peer Supporter

    My pain had disappeared completely, and I backed off doing this work consistently. Surprise! Or not, the pain is back. Not nearly as intensely and it's there. At a level I can continue to walk and play tennis, although walking is moderately uncomfortable. And I'm able to focus on what's inside. The Knowing that there is nothing wrong with my body is so deeply freeing for me. My main pattern has been one of one injury after another rather than chronic pain, and being able to breathe into that there is nothing wrong with my body, that nothing needs fixing, that the work is to go inside and see what feelings are hiding there is a giant gift. I'm grateful for the return of the pain because it has me back doing the work. I won't stop this time when the pain leaves!
  11. srton

    srton Well known member

    OmG yes...I, too, backed off the consistent work and my pain is back as well.
    This pain is keeping me honest.
    Life is so full of feeling and it's shocking how hard it is for me to be ok with it all. But with the TMS -- I refuse to go back and suffer the consequences of avoidance. I have to keep accepting and facing reality - even if that reality is that life isn't picture perfect and that maybe I'm a bit depressed.
    Better to be feeling sad than to be crippled with pain!!!!!!!
    Fight on, sister !!!!!
  12. Chimpmama

    Chimpmama Peer Supporter

    You too, sister!
  13. Chimpmama

    Chimpmama Peer Supporter

    Day 9 Writing
    When I was 4 years old, I was caught playing doctor with Bobby Hite. I have no memory of this. Barb (my sister)has told me that Mum yelled and yelled and something about taking off in the car, and I fell out. I don’t know what’s real about all that. I’ve done lots of work on this, and I haven’t really let myself feel the shame of it or what that little 4 year old must have felt and thought. Well, perhaps it’s the source of the Wrong, Bad, Dirty mantra that has played out for me for so long. Anything sexual or sensual or erotic or even womanly, big breasts, juiciness of any kind. That’s been the fight for me. I think I have made it a fight. Don’t feel the shame. What’s wrong with me? What did I do wrong? I didn’t do anything wrong but Mum is mad so I must have. What did I do. Not okay to show my body, share my body, explore my body. Body is wrong, bad, dirty. My body is wrong. How I’m a woman is wrong. I am wrong!!!!! Bad girl! Bad girl! Bad girl! Don’t ever show your body to a boy again! Don’t ever let a boy touch you in those places. Don’t ever do that again! I’m scared. i don’t understand. We were just playing. It must be me who is just wrong somehow. How I am in the world is wrong. I have to hide who and how I am. Whatever feels really like me, has to stay hidden cuz somehow it’s wrong. Wrong, bad, dirty.

    Breathe and close my eyes and let Margo now hold and rock that sweet 4 year old. Let her know she didn’t do anything wrong, let her know her body is wonderful and beautiful just like hse is wonderful and beautiful and brave and smart and absolutely perfect just the way she is. Rock her, feel her sobs as she turns her face into my chest. Her little voice: I didn’t do anything wrong. I answer: no, you didn’t. We rock and breathe together.
  14. srton

    srton Well known member

    Thank you for this reminder to hug/rock your inner child. I just did that myself and it's a good thing.
    I had a friend recently tell me that I'm hard on myself and I didn't really know that was very obvious to an outsider.
    Like you, I feel like the voice in my head that pushed me to acheive do more be better is the only thing that keeps me from (fill in the blank - you said from being 400lbs on the couch could work for me as well)
    I need to silence this voice and be ok with just being myself. Hug that child and say that I have value even if I'm needy and sad. I don't always need to be the most easy going, least trouble making person in the room.
    I can have a voice and have needs and still be loved.
  15. Chimpmama

    Chimpmama Peer Supporter

    Yes, yes, and yes!!!
  16. Chimpmama

    Chimpmama Peer Supporter

    Day 10. For today's journal activity you need to write an Unsent Letter to somebody or something that is causing you current stress.

    Dear Ginny and Gay,

    I am experiencing performance anxiety when I play with you because I think I’m not good enough. You’re so much better than me and I need to play great to deserve to play with you. That’s bullshit. I know it’s bullshit. It's my own anxiety and need to perform. Has nothing to do with you all. Well, actually, Gay you can express dissatisfaction more easily than Ginny, and then my anxiety level rises.

    I’m the one who has responsibility for this. I’m not really mad at you. I guess I’m mad at myself for feeling this way. Oo, there it is. I have judgement about the performance stuff as well as the stuff itself. Ah, there’s the gate way. First step is to let go of the judgment.

    Yup, I want to play great when I play with you two, with anyone better than me. Except maybe Karen who I feel totally comfortable with. And Jan Baines, probably. And I can feel that way with you two also. All I have to do is just be me on the court. Hit my shots, play my game, and it all works out great. Sigh, Breath, it’s a simple thing. Okay, I can giggle at myself. I’m playing the best tennis of my life, and I can revel in that. It’s way better than good enough!!!
  17. Chimpmama

    Chimpmama Peer Supporter

    Day 11

    Write about an item on the history list.

    When I was 13, my folks made the choice to take us to Europe the following summer which meant I could not return to summer camp which I loved. I felt mad and could not tell them that. I cried and they were disappointed with my disappointment. I think they wanted me to be excited, and I wasn’t. Neither my sister nor I were ever excited about going. I don’t remember the trip itself very clearly. I know there were fun times. My favorite part was coming home on the Queen Elizabeth. I felt so angry that they were pulling me out of this 8 week experience which I had lived for the past 6 summers and so wanted to return to. I felt confident at camp, important, capable. I hated not being able to go back. Hurt was, and is, much easier for me to feel than anger. I don’t think it was even okay for me to feel disappointed. I believe they thought they were doing a great thing for us. That wasn’t my experience, and it certainly wasn’t how I felt when they told me at Parents Weekend at camp the summer before. They just told me. Flat out. I think if I had been capable of it, I would have felt like I hated them for a while. It wouldn’t have lasted, and it would have been healthy for me to feel the anger. It just wasn’t done.
  18. Gigi

    Gigi Well known member

    I'm thrilled for your success! Congratulations!tiphata
  19. Chimpmama

    Chimpmama Peer Supporter

    Have been away from the active SEP work as my stepmom died, and I have spent the last 10 days dealing with her death and clearing out her very cluttered apartment. The TMS method was always with me, and I schlepped stuff around and packed and carried boxes and walked a good bit, and cried a good bit. The only symptom I had was the old butt pain on the days I did alot of walking back and forth. Not bad, and still there. I am home now and will walk my 2 miles later today, holding the vision of being pain free.
    It is astounding to me that I had no real flareups of back pain during this emotionally and physically stressful time. I'm actually aware as I write this of some bilateral nervy type pain. Just the stress leaking out. I'm glad to be back home and able to get back on the SEP program and regular walking. So much gratitude for this program.
  20. Gigi

    Gigi Well known member

    So sorry for your loss, Chimpmama. Grieving, just like other major stressors, often causes TMS flares. Congrats on your progress in the program, and on taking time to walk and do what you need to stay healthy during these days of grieving.
    Blessings to you.
    Bodhigirl likes this.

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