So, in Dr. Seuss' children's book, The Cat in the Hat Comes Back, two kids are dealing with a cat that has left a pink stain in the bathtub. The Cat enlists Little Cat A & B to clean away the stain, but they only move it to other places in the house, like onto the mother's white dress, on the wall, on the parents' bed. Smaller cats pop out of the big cat's hat; it's cats all the way down the alphabet, all of them trying to get rid of the pink stain and finally getting it outside into the snow, but just spreading it more and more--until at last Little Cat Z shows up and releases a VOOM! which clears away the pink stain. In this story, I'm especially interested in Little Cats T, M, and S, which while not prominent in the story appear (for me) everywhere between the lines. Before I heard about Mind-Body Syndrome, I used this story to describe my life with pain. I'd get it out of one place and it would show up somewhere else. I could never get everything to be, just, neutral. Could never find my VOOM! Sometimes, after a lot of effort, I might enjoy a tentative reprieve--and that always put me in mind of the Mr. Incredible interview at the opening of that first movie in which Mr. Incredible says, exasperated, You know, I wish everything would just stay saved! As I've aged, the spaces between neutral times have grown smaller and smaller until finally, last August, it became a more or less steady grind of miserable low-grade back, hip, and butt pain (and some other stuff). I came across TMS in January. As I've mentioned in other posts, I'd never heard of it before. Since then I've been on a very steep learning curve. Here, I just wanted to share a little bit in order to put another voice in the community, to offer some encouragement, and to put out there that I appreciate how so many of you feel as I read your stories about the long struggle to Figure It Out. My heart swells with I So Get It! I just want to give you all a hug with much compassion that flows up from a place of deeply shared experience. As I've been reading Steve Ozanich's book (and Sarno earlier) that compassion goes even deeper because I see how people with this condition are so similar in so many ways. What a sweet train wreck of humanity we are. I'm getting some strong support from one experienced person on this site--won't put them on blast--but the shared insights have helped me see just how my un-conscious feelings ARE the source of my back pain. As a newcomer to this, I have found the challenge lies in moving from the conscious, the known problems (critical parents, self-hatred, perfectionism, ruthless no-holds-barred self-disregard, and being nice). I've learned that my self-image is too small to accommodate the magnificent contradictions of my inner nature. So I've been asking questions of everything I've taken for granted. Not just noticing that some put-down from my father made me angry, but asking why did it make me angry--and not settling for pat answers. Or I might ask why did something small like a co-worker coming unannounced into my new work space irritate me? "Irritation," I'm seeing (in my case) is a euphemism for rage. These questions scratch away familiar surfaces and have opened into some pretty deep and profitable caverns of soul. And this coming from someone who has done decades of inner work. The TMS angle serves a practical purpose: it's a process to get rid of the pain. Yet I am seeing that it is so much more than that; it is, in fact, some of most profound "inner" work I've ever done. I want to share that I've had a little, tentative success recently. I want to share what that's like, how it feels. As I brought to consciousness some of my big inner conflicts--for example, as a writer, I see at heart that I don't give a fuck about publishing, yet feel that I should--I saw that I've been figuratively killing myself for years trying to serve an artistic image I've never fit and never will. I got a whole other thing going and that is where my power is. When I really, really saw that and felt it -- what a relief. What joy! And, yes, the pain dialed way down; I enjoyed a couple of days of being a civilian again. But deeper than that, I experienced a change in perspective regarding TMS. Once I made an authentic connection with the repressed emotion I really SAW that it is a brain thing, a mind thing. More than ever, all of the massage tools, the relentless stretching, the search for physical solutions--all of that, more than ever, now seem effete. Pure folly. When you're entering into this (it seems to me) and beginning to glimpse how your mind is working with your pain, it's much like looking at one of those pictures made up of colored dots, the ones that if you look just right, squint just right, you see a few dolphins turning in the water. And then they disappear, and you have to go back to squinting, tipping your head this way and that, trying to find them but not in the usual way of seeing. Other people looking with you can give advice--which helps--but you've got to do the tricky work of looking yourself. And then, one day: dolphins! I'm hardly done. I've got my work cut out for me all over this body. For me, it's spiritual work, and, for a solitary sort, nice to do it in a community. I expect doubts and more pain, knowing how this stuff goes. As part of the process I intend to put that out there because putting it out there says to me that I'm not perfect, haven't got it figured out, and really need help. I need to force myself to type those things because it's uncomfortable. The door to the unconscious is uncomfortable. To close, along with this community, what has been helpful for me is Sarno's book on Healing Back Pain (of course). And right now, especially, it's Ozanich's The Great Pain Deception. For me, it's a magician's book, a freaky, game-changing read, because I see myself said on nearly every page. Lots of wows and check marks in the margins. Like this zinger; "..our bodies will hold us responsible for what we can't remember." (p205) Robert Bly talks about "eating the honey of words." On the subject of pain, there's honey in the TMS literature recommended on this site. Best wishes to all.