I’ve been having the worst knots on my neck and shoulder muscles lately.

Okay, so that isn’t really anything new. Truth be told, I’ve always been tense in shoulders and neck; that’s where my stressors manifest itself in a physical form.

I compare it much as to how all the unhealthy foods I eat physically manifest onto my butt. After all, a moment on the lips …

See, the thing is … no matter if Hubby does manage to find the knot on my back and attempts to massage it away (he’s good to me like that), the knot always manages to find its way back within a day or two. It’s not until we manage to go to a licensed massage therapist (or hey, you physical therapists are great for this, too!), who can get all the muscle knots out in a short 1-hr session, that all the tension is released from my neck and shoulders for a longer period of time.

As a Registered Nurse, I logically know that it’s because the pain I feel on one knot is likely related to another knot elsewhere on my neck or shoulders. And in order to get rid of one knot, I need to find the original source of the pain.

In the medical world, the type of pain I feel in this situation is called referred pain. It’s much like a person who is having a heart attack can have jaw/neck/left arm pain rather than actually feeling pain in the chest, where the source of the pain originates from.  In order to “fix” the pain in the arm or neck or jaw, the physician needs to treat the problems going on with the person’s heart.

As I sat in front of my laptop today, mentally complaining about a particularly painful knot in my shoulder, I thought about referred pain can relate not only to physical pain but emotional pain, as well. In my case, I thought about the emotional pain that I’ve endured throughout my Infertility journey; of which ultimately ended in our decision to live child-free.

Contrary to popular belief, Hubby and I did not just give up on our quest to have children. In a way, the option to live child-free after infertility was much like one of those knots on my back. It was an area that needed to be (and, at time still needs to be) massaged over and over again.

Next to that Child-Free Knot was the Adoption Knot … Again, another knot that kept returning despite all efforts to release that muscle tension. In a way, the Adoption Knot was the one that frequently resurfaced time and time again; especially when well-meaning friends and family would elicit their advice on how Hubby & I should “just adopt” to “cure” us from infertility. Yes … that knot was a particularly stubborn knot.

On top of the Adoption Knot (because you know how knots can have knots as well?) was the Medical Treatment Knot.” This particular knot … although not the “sharpest” pain (at least not in my situation**) … was the most chronic knot. It was the knot that had lasted with me for well over 8 years, until Hubby & I consciously decided to untie that knot. Or at least massage the h*ll out of it until the Adoption Knot bubbled to the surface.

Underneath all those knots was the original knot; the reason why I kept having “knots” to begin with. You see, those knots were just “symptoms” of the underlying problem; the reason for all that referred emotional pain. Deep inside of me, I knew I had to treat all the sadness and anger that came with my diagnosis of Infertility.

I knew I had to get to the root of the problem. But when you’re in the throes of pain, the last thing you want to think of is fixing the “cause” of the pain. You just want the pain to go away – whether it’s by jumping right into the next medical treatment … or even blindly heading into the adoption process before you’re emotionally ready to do so. OR you ask for pain medication to help treat the immediate problem and leave it at that – perhaps thinking that the immediate hurt is gone so you don’t have to deal with the real issues that are actually causing the pain.

I’m here to tell you that “fixing” the immediate problem without delving deeper into the root cause of your emotional pain does NOT work … at least in the long run.

This is why it took Hubby & I years to decide to live child-free.

I won’t go into detail about how I got rid of those knots … well, at least the most intense pain that’s associated with the knots. I think you’ve all heard my story before (and if not, click here). However, know this:

It’s up to you to decide how you’ll deal with that referred pain – those knots, if you may … BUT in order to completely deal with the pain, you will have to address the underlying reason for that pain. Otherwise those d*mn knots will resurface whether you like it or not.


Oh, and one more thing. Those knots won’t ever completely go away. There are those days when some “surface knots” can appear; for example: birthdays, anniversaries, other pregnancies, etc. But just so you know … the pain won’t be nearly as sharp as they were before.

You’ll just need to get one H*LL of a massage therapist to get rid of them on an ongoing basis.

As if I need another reason to go for a full-body massage …


** I know many IF friends who went through multiple and varied medical treatments, whose “knot” may have been the sharpest pain they’ve ever felt.