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Case Studies - Page 5

I asked her to use the chakra technique we'd already used, focusing on the breathing and the imagery of the ocean and her life vest to see whether any of these aids could help. After a pause, she said, "I think I need to swim. I need to move." Moments later, she added, "Okay, I'm doing the crawl. I feel a little bit better, but my pelvic pain is still high."

We then had a discussion about how emotional distress can affect physical pain, and how trauma is linked to all physical pain problems. "Pain usually begins because of the trauma of an accident, injury, or illness like endometriosis and the surgeries used to treat it," I explained. "Then, after awhile, if the pain doesn't stop or gets worse during recovery from surgery, the pain in and of itself becomes traumatizing. And if you've had trauma that predates the onset of your pelvic pain, like the emotional pain of growing up in an alcoholic family, that can make you more vulnerable to pain later in life.

"What you also may need to know," I told her, "is that physical and emotional pain are identical in terms of how they work in the body. I think your body is showing us today how your heart pain about your daughter, and your own experience as a daughter and mother, are affecting your pelvic pain."

As we worked together, Amy began to understand the connection between her sadness and grief about the trauma in her family and the feelings of helplessness linked to her pelvic pain. For a few months, we struggled with the roller-coaster of her pain. Her hard-won improvement was thrown off by two minor injuries incurred when she increased her exercise program too rapidly as she began feeling better and by other stresses in her daily life. As Amy commented, "The stress seems to go right into my pelvic area. Until I stop and rest and use one of the tools I've learned here, the pain persists. When I decide to stop to rest, my body feels more permission to rest also."

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