TMS and Emotions


I wrote this post during my divorce and in the midst of healing from chronic pain. Most people with chronic pain have suppressed emotions for years, or most of their lives. We learn as children that emotions are not safe. We would rather live in chronic pain than allow our emotions to come forth. This post is about allowing ourselves to feel. All of us is okay, even though that is not what we learned as children. We are trying to break the coping patterns we learned as children, and to learn new healthier ways to live our lives. We want to teach our brains that our emotions are safe. Suppressing them triggers our brains danger circuits. Allowing and releasing our emotions teaches our brain that big emotions are normal and not dangerous.


I’m digging myself out of chronic pain…and the darkness that got me here is finally being revealed. It’s being brought into the light. My life is getting brighter. I am rising from the swamp and beginning to walk down the path through the forest that the sun is shining down on.

Monsters cannot survive the light. They only live in the dark. They live under the bed and in the closet. When they are gently coaxed out into the light, we see that they can’t survive there. When we turn on the light and look under the bed, when we open the closet door, we set the monsters free. 

I recently went through a divorce. I was married for twenty-three years so it was a big adjustment. Sometimes the grief can get overwhelming. This morning I woke up and felt the loneliness, and a lot of other feelings that go along with it. My pattern is to start “doing” so I don’t have to feel. Normally I would get up and exercise, work, make lunch plans with a friend, and anything else to completely fill my schedule.

But this morning I decided to lay there and face it. I faced the loneliness, the loss …I faced the fear of the unknown. I went into it and brought it to light just like monsters under the bed. I named all these feelings plus some. I went into the sensations in my body and described them. I had a pit deep in my stomach, my solar plexus felt tight and closed, my
shoulders ached. I did somatic tracking on my head pain. I noticed that it was mostly in the bottom part of my jaw. Then it moved to the top. I just watched these sensations. I felt them. I was tending to myself and my feelings.

Most of my life I have run from my feelings. This is a common trait for those of us with TMS. I have kept busy. Very, very busy. That has been my pattern. That is how I avoided my feelings which led to chronic pain, or TMS. I was a store manager for Walgreens working eighty-hour weeks, continuously, when pain brought my career to a halt. It brought my whole, busy life to a halt. That was twenty-five years ago, and I am finally learning that
I can tend to myself. I don’t have to push through. I can stop. I can let myself feel. My feelings and sensations that I worked so hard to avoid are not scary monsters hiding under the bed. They are part of me as a whole and they deserve attention. All of me deserves attention. All of you deserves attention!

When we ignore the monsters, the monsters only get bigger and scarier. They follow us around. When we face them…our fears, our hurts, our weakness; all those parts of ourselves we want to deny, they get smaller. When we bring them to light, they lose their power. They aren’t scary anymore. They are just part of our whole human experience. We realize that all of us is okay.

So, this morning when I allowed myself to feel my whole experience, my nervous system settled down, my fear brain began to take a back seat, and my rational brain took over. I felt safe. My world became bright and open.  I gave my neuropathways one more
corrective experience. I got to know the monsters and realized that they just
wanted to be my friend.

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