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Trouble Identifying an Emotion

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by justmike, May 17, 2017.

  1. justmike

    justmike Peer Supporter


    I've been working with a TMS therapist for about a year now. She has been great. I went to four other therapists before I found her and she's the only one that has managed to help me really feel my emotions.

    There have been some instances where she has sensed that I'm feeling emotional and has asked me what it is that I'm feeling. In these instances, the particular emotion has been very strong and overwhelming. I feel like crying and it's difficult not to. Sometimes I do cry and then I feel like I've burdened her.

    In trying to identify the emotion, I can't just say what I'm feeling. But I tell her about other times that I've felt similar. One instance is when I was a child (about 8 or so) and I was struggling with math. My mother would always punish me for my low math grades. I got spankings for bad grades 2 or 3 times per week for a long time. One day my step-father sat down and helped me with my math. He just helped me. I felt overwhelmed by this for some reason and began crying. He asked me why and I said I didn't know. I really didn't. Another time I felt this way was right after my divorce. I went to see a doctor because I was worried about some symptoms I was having. He talked to me a little bit. He knew my family and I told him about the divorce. He expressed his sympathies and then he looked at me and said that I shouldn't worry and that everything was going to be okay. I felt overwhelmed and had to fight back tears. It was almost impossible. The feeling was very strong and it was similar to the one I had when my step-father helped me with my homework. But I can't give a name to the feeling. Why would someone cry when another person tries to reassure them or help them?

    Also, my therapist asks me why I hold back tears in our sessions. Why do I resist crying? That's a good question, I guess. I told her that I didn't want to spend the entire 60-minute session crying. I'm getting better at just letting the tears flow, but it's difficult.
  2. healingfromchronicpain

    healingfromchronicpain Well known member

    I'm not a therapist, but it sounds to me that maybe you weren't used to being attended to or cared for and when somebody does give you that attention you cry because of gratitude and maybe sone feelings of unworthiness and disbelief. And maybe it's overwhelming to you to think that somebody would treat you kindly. And it may make you sad that you didn't have this before or in your past at some point.

    I don't like to cry either, but I have learned to let it out in therapy (whether it's talk therapy, myofascial release bodywork, EMDR, or Somatic Experiencing, all of which I've done*). In my experience, this stuff--the tears and the underlying emotions--needs to be released. I had an EMDR session once where I went in with pain that had been badly spiked up for a full week and after an hour of a lot of crying, the pain was gone (at least the spiked up pain--I'm still working on the underlying pain that's still there). :). It I felt like I literally cried out the pain.

    But what really started the floodgates for me was bodywork. With talk therapy I was much better at controlling my emotions or steering things away from difficult subjects. But with bodywork or other approaches that go through the physical body, I didn't have the same defense mechanisms and the emotions just came pouring out.
    * If you're interested in more info on these other methods, I briefly describe my experience with each in my website that describes my healing journey: www.healingfromchronicpain.com
  3. justmike

    justmike Peer Supporter

    I browsed your website and it reminded me of the approach that I took in the past with respect to my pain - trigger point and myofascial release. I spent a lot of time and money looking for someone who could get rid of my pain using those techniques.

    My chief complaint is pelvic pain, which makes finding a bodywork practitioner much more difficult. Houston has a world class medical center with specialists of all kinds. Yet, there are only one or two PT's here that specialize in pelvic work that will also work on men.

    I went to a pelvic PT for a few months without much success. However, I had an experience there that validates what you are saying about emotions and bodywork. There was one day that the PT was working on me; a very tender area on my left side near the iliac crest. When she hit this very tender spot, I felt some physical pain, but there was something else. Feelings. I immediately felt overwhelmed and tears began to flow. The PT looked concerned and asked if I was okay. I said I was okay and I didn't know why I was crying.

    Unfortunately, I think the PT was put off by my emotional episode. She had been communicating with my psychotherapist (it was part of my treatment). After what happened the PT told my therapist that I should try medication; something I am not open to. After that, the PT was less enthusiastic about treating me and I eventually quit going.
  4. healingfromchronicpain

    healingfromchronicpain Well known member

    Yes, you really have to find the right bodyworker. JFB-MFR physical therapists are trained to deal with the emotional component of the pain and many of them are also trained in pelvic work. It's too bad your PT got scared by the emotions and suggested medication. That's the last thing my jfb-mfr therapists would ever say. I just know for me, the jfb-mfr therapists really helped me break through to deep emotions I had no idea I was harboring. It can get costly, though. But if you're interested, there are therapists listed on the jfb-mfr website (https://www.myofascialrelease.com (Welcome to Myofascial Release - John F. Barnes, PT)). But if you're making progress with talk therapy, that's good, too.

    I wish you the best of luck!

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