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'Tis the Season for Pain?

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by Andy Bayliss, Dec 27, 2014.

  1. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi All,
    I hope holidays are going well.
    Some might be interested in my experience, which is a long post below....
    I just posted this on my blog.

    I don’t give Christmas presents any more. I don’t have to find a gift that someone is “sure to like.” That’s a relief! I live in the same town as my mother, so for a holiday I just walk over and eat, like we do any time. I don’t have to travel. I’m not thrown into a crowded house with the frictions and stress of old relationships…trying to make them right.

    Despite the self-care I have given myself around the holidays, during this holiday season, I can feel my stress, and physical pain arises. What can I do?

    Shopping, long distance travel, presenting ourselves to family, extravagant meal preparation —-all this creates pressure on our deeper selves. While our “adult” self feels all these activities are normal and even needed, our child-self still has all the needs and feelings it did during the holidays of our youth. Pain (and other symptoms) can arise or intensify as these conflicts play out below the surface.

    Using Dr. John Sarno’s approach, we can gently inquire into what kind of pressures our holiday experience is creating in our unconscious or semi-conscious selves, and discover how the younger parts of us might be feeling. Dr. Sarno’s genius break-through is that pain is a distraction. Pain represses awareness of feelings that threaten our familiar sense of self. Our younger parts feel things we don’t want to be aware of.

    This Christmas I am with my mother, and I am the remaining family member. My brother Will, who died about 30 years ago was born on Christmas day. We lost my other brother Don two years ago. One stocking hangs where there used to be three. I am saddened when I see the single stocking.

    I see my mother in pain on Christmas Eve. I don’t know what to do. I can’t fully be there for her pain. I have not lost a son. Besides, honestly I don’t want to feel that much pain. So I am with my grieving mother as best I can be. I fear she will never find an antidote to her pain. I really don’t know how to help her.

    I am out for a walk later the same evening, and I feel a twinge of the familiar foot pain. What is this about? I ask myself.

    How does the oldest and only remaining son see his role? I ask. The answers come quickly.

    I should relieve a suffering mother. I should be strong, so that she hurts less. I should be cheerful, but not too cheerful so I don’t demonstrate non-attunement. I should feel her pain and therefore lessen it. I should forget my own pain and take care of hers. I should take away her pain.

    These are pressures I have put on myself: a mix of adult compassion and child-like delusion.

    This inquiry quickly reveals that I have semi-consciously taken on an impossible task. Worse yet, I didn’t even see that the task is impossible. I am mindlessly putting extreme pressure on myself to do the impossible. All this, trying to be a loving son.

    Wow! Now, I ask: How does a young Andy feel to be burdened with making his mother feel good about something that will never feel good? Rageful. Hopeless. Why is a young Andy worrying about taking care of someone else? He wants to be seen and loved for himself! Needy. Ashamed about Neediness. My young Andy also lost his dear brother Noel, all those years ago. Sadness. Hurt. Helpless.

    Rage, shame, neediness, sadness, hurt, helplessness. These feelings are painful, and they threaten who I see myself as: adult, rational, together, in control, a good son. These feelings are real (but overwhelming) for my inner child, but for my adult self-image they feel extremely threatening. So my mind-body follows an age-old human template of repression by distraction. My foot hurts!

    Seeing this, compassion for myself starts to emerge.

    Aware of these inner tensions, and how threatening the feelings are, I connect this to my foot pain while walking along. My awareness of these hidden feelings means the repression is no longer necessary. The tension in my foot relaxes almost immediately.

    I am using a simple Sarno technique to inquire into where my pain might actually be coming from, rather than assuming there is a physical source for the pain. Walking along, I notice his process is allowing me to see myself more fully. I feel connected to myself, which is satisfying. I feel warm and more complete. I am physically inhabiting more of me.

    Although my holiday example may seem extreme compared to your experience, the inner pressures to perform, conform, and the “need” to repress feelings are universal, powerful forces that can become extreme during Holidays. Being a loving and generous parent, a “successful spouse,” a patient brother… All of our familiar roles pressurize us, and this tension can create pain if it is not seen accurately.

    The whole of this adult life—what we do on a daily basis—is pretty overwhelming to a child.

    If you are in pain this holiday season, spend a few minutes to think of the sensitivity and needs of a young child, perhaps at Christmas. Is he getting what he really wants? How might he feel down deep with the pressures of travel, of always being loving, of being ever-generous? Does she feel like she isn’t really being seen? Does she feel like she has to fix a world that is not in her control?

    This practice of inquiry when pain arises, is Dr. John Sarno’s gift. The real miracle is that none of the stress we feel has to go away in order to find relief. We simply have to connect our inner life with the symptoms, and the pain-distraction strategy no longer works.

    With Gratitude,

    westb, birdsetfree, 3rdCoast and 10 others like this.
  2. Peggy

    Peggy Well known member

    I like that, well said.
  3. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Andy, I would take down your stocking at Christmas. It just reminds you of your losses.
    That is living in the past. Live in the present and enjoy every second of it.
    Your mother may need extra love and understanding. You may need those things yourself, too.

    God bless you this holiday and in the new year.
    Sofa and plum like this.
  4. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Peggy and Walt,
    Thanks for your replies. Yes Walt, it was painful to see that single stocking hanging there, and it was nice to see a "blank" mantle when I returned later.
    In Peace,
    Sofa likes this.
  5. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi TMS Community,

    I am bumping this into the recent threads in case it might help someone this holiday season.

    We live our lives as best we can, and there is stress, expectation, and grief. Even so, I hope readers are having a good time with loved ones! We live short precious lives...

    I saw my mom's single stocking with my name on it up this year, and my first feeling changed from last year's experience. Instead of feeling like I needed to take away her pain, or me to take away my own sadness, I felt a lot of appreciation for her love for me, and that we are still in each other's lives. We are fortunate. I'm glad as a mother that she still has me. And as a son, I still have her. I was just tender about the whole thing, and loved her.

    Andy B.
    readytoheal, Time2be, plum and 2 others like this.
  6. FredAmir

    FredAmir Well known member

    "We are fortunate. I'm glad as a mother that she still has me. And as a son, I still have her. I was just tender about the whole thing, and loved her."

    Gratitude and a positive perspective are the keys to being happy and healthy no matter what happens or has happened.

    Great analysis of your thoughts and feelings.

    Thanks for sharing.
  7. mike2014

    mike2014 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Fred,

    I really like this point:

    Gratitude and a positive perspective are the keys to being happy and healthy no matter what happens or has happened.

    But, how many of us can really say we embrace this? It's something that takes alot of will and practice. Unfortunately, as human beings we sometimes assume the worse of ourselves and others.
  8. FredAmir

    FredAmir Well known member

    You are correct Mike. it can require a lot of will and practice, however, it doesn't have to be hard to achieve.

    That's why I focus on strategies that make it fun and easy to develop good mental and emotional habits of gratitude and happiness. Of course, initially it requires daily practice but later it becomes part of one's character to be happy, grateful, optimistic, and positive no matter what is happening.

    That's what I taught last month in ," Turn Stress into Energy and Excitement in 3 Easy Steps!" Hope to do one soon again.
  9. billiewells

    billiewells Peer Supporter

    so insightful and so useful, thanks Andy
  10. inymyfruitcup

    inymyfruitcup New Member

    Reading this just brought tears to my eyes.
    I think I need to take a time out to have some time for myself.

    This holiday season I really let myself get swept away with my felt sense of responsibility and guilt.

    Thank you for posting this. It is much appreciated.
    Laughalot likes this.
  11. Laughalot

    Laughalot Peer Supporter

    Thank you for this personal reflection Andy!
  12. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    I am bumping this post to catch the hearts and minds of our community. I have been reading many accounts of seasonal stress here at the Forum lately. This is my contribution to the discussion, as true today as it was in 2014 when I wrote it. The extra inner pressures, brought on by family and events, and our TMS responses can create a deep learning time.
    Best to All,
    Birdman, Lily Rose, Peggy and 2 others like this.
  13. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    Thanks for this Andy. I'm sure it will strike a chord with many here, it certainly has for me. I sit here with happy tears and my morning coffee.

    Yesterday, while I was driving, I tuned the radio to Classic FM. They were broadcasting carols and songs. The song that stilled me beautifully was Ave Maria. The power of that song touches me every single time. The world became transformed; it was gentler, softer and loving...the gift of a higher perspective was mine to cherish.

    It is good to place some space and distance between our pain, our emotions and our lives. I shall remember the little Plum who would drag her cuddly lion into the living room on Christmas morning, all happy and silly with the magic of the day. (I still have the lion. We share some great memories. She is real...one for 'The Velveteen Rabbit' lovers out there).

    Blessings to all my dear friends,

    Plum xxx
  14. Time2be

    Time2be Well known member

    Thanks Andy B for re-posting your precise analysis of your experience. I really admire your ability not only to get close to your inner feelings but also to turn it around and see the positive. It helps me a lot, right now, being at my parents place and dealing with all these emotions.
    Merry Christmas! Blessings to all of you!
    plum and FredAmir like this.
  15. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi All,
    I am bumping this thread for this busy, heart-felt season. I am out to a solstice celebration tonight, with my mother. Bless all!
    TG957, BinLA and plum like this.
  16. stuh666

    stuh666 Newcomer

    Thanks for the bump Andy, as new to the forum this has some really helpful comments for me.

    Having always been fit & healthy 2019 has been a real wake up call for me and with two young children and having suffered with various health issues since March I foolishly made a target of being better for Christmas.

    I new know my symptoms are TMS and it’s no surprise that with the pressure I’ve put on myself to “be better” I am now worse then ever with knee, hip, back and neck pain.

    Now I’ve recognised the error I’m working on mindfulness, Sarno books and open to any other advice on how I can move forward.

    Thanks in advance.
    plum likes this.
  17. birdsetfree

    birdsetfree Well known member

    And this is the roadmap to the gifts of TMS. Thank you Andy for this deeply comforting and universally applicable explanation of the freeing way to look at TMS Syndrome. Once we get this, our hearts start to fill up and the gratitude pain free pathway is strengthened.

    Merry Xmas everyone, I send love and peace
    plum likes this.
  18. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi birdsetfree! Merry Xmas to you too!
    birdsetfree likes this.
  19. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    I hope Christmas has been kind for everyone. And if it hasn’t, then take heart because you can turn it all around with patience and a tender commitment to healing.

    I’ve enjoyed my best Christmas in years, with my family and there was much love and laughter. Healing from TMS gifts you with so much more than relief from pain (physical and emotional), it gives you back to yourself and what could be sweeter than another chance to turn your life around.

    With love to all my dear friends here, and a blessing to each soul who is here at the very beginning of their healing.

    Anything is possible.
    Remember that.
    Keep the faith ❤️
  20. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi plum,

    Thank you for your greeting and great wishes for all of us here. I always appreciate your tender communing!

    plum and BinLA like this.

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