It's been pretty intense around here with my daughter getting married this coming Saturday. And yup…my TMS can testify to the tension it's been causing. I've been walking through Dr. Schubiner's 28 Day program; I've made it a priority even during these hectic days. One of the exercises he has you do is visual your pain and then visualize attacking it. And here's where I usually get stuck. I think in all my right-brain processing, my creative side has been silenced. As I played around with this, I tried to describe my pain. Choking and at times, sharp pain came to mind. Some of my most severe symptoms affect my neck causing headaches. Anyway. I came up with a picture. And it's thanks to that adorable little furball you see in my Avatar. Daisy is my 4-month-old puppy and we just finished her first puppy kindergarten class. Even before this class, I read a few books on puppy training and watched Cesar Milan videos The experts agree- if you want to have a happy, well-trained pooch, you must train with great love and patience. Leash corrections are not meant to be punitive. Ah! A leash! I can picture a leash with a collar around my neck. A training collar. But this collar is a cruel one. It's full of metal barbs and sharp pieces of glass. And the training approach is more like the abuse dealt to wild animals forced to perform in circuses. At the other end of the leash is my mother-in-law. She's been tugging on my leash a lot lately. Her capacity to say stupid and mean things is endless. And I just stand by silently. I've been well trained. I've been surpressing a lot of rage towards her. My imagination continued. I rip the leash out of her hands and throw it on the ground. I tell her to take a hike. (Actually, it was pretty nasty what I had to say but I won't repeat it here. ) But the pressure and pain are still in my neck. That damn collar is still hurting me. I looked around to see who was pulling on it and I realized….with shock…it was I. I was holding the leash. My self-critical thoughts. My addiction to self-improvement books. Years of religion telling me what a sinner I was. Media always bombarding me with messages of insufficiently. Self-loathing. This was a huge revelation to me and I will practice remembering this picture especially when someone or a circumstance is tugging at my leash. But even more so, I am trying to be more kind and loving toward myself. I can inflict the most painful tugs. As I train my little pup, I am learning HOW to love myself. To learn that correction is merely a reminder that something isn't working right…it's not a value judgement of myself. And to be kind to myself and use positive words towards myself. Especially when I do things right…such as working on healing from TMS. I've just started unpacking this box and I'm eager to see how this new avenue toward pain-free living unfolds. Thanks so much to this community for being such a safe and loving place to land. Sending love and hugs to you all!