I have a dentist appointment on Friday. I’ve had a very up and down relationship with my dentist office.
The first time I went there was a few years ago. The dentist looked in my mouth and shook her head. “There are a lot of problems here.”
She had no idea. At that time, I had hit the wall. I was leaving a slimy smear sliding down the wall in a blubbering mess with no strength to push away.
I couldn’t do anything right. I frantically needed a win. I was losing at so much of everything. In my desperation I thought a dentist appointment would give me an easy affirmation. There is no way to fail at going to the dentist, right? Easy win.
I hadn’t been in a while. In my mind, this was a victory and I deserved to be given a fatted calf and welcomed into the arms of dental care of the like a long-lost beloved.
It began with the hygienist. “You need to brush your teeth.”
WHAT?! I do brush my teeth!
“There is a lot of decay here. You also need to floss. It looks like you got a bad draw from the genetic lottery. It happens. You are going to have a tough time.”
There were a lot of follow-ups. I longed to prove their estimation of me false.
“I have been flossing,” I told the hygienist with pride on my next visit. She shook her head and looked grave.
What could I do to make them happy?! How could I make this right?
I was diligent. I needed to do something right, couldn’t they see what I was doing? I had started new habits, I was showing up and was working so hard. Wasn’t it enough?
Fillings and cleanings, I searched the faces of these professional experts for a sign of approval.
The dentist herself was colder, not as warmly concerned as the hygienist. “You have a lot of cavities here. We will have to get this taken care of. Make sure to check with the receptionist for your next appointment.”
They crowned my teeth but not my heart.
In a last effort to win the prize of affirmation, I had all four wisdom teeth pulled. The oral surgeon and his handsome and so sympathetic son (also a doctor!) were caring and congratulatory. A week of painkillers and I had perfect teeth.
My mouth was a clean battleground of victory!
At last I attended my next appointment, knowing that this time I would win the approval I so richly deserved. I had earned it.
The hygienist poked into my mouth. “Does that hurt?”
“Your gums are too sensitive. Are you using the right toothpaste? This is a problem.”
My gums are too sensitive? TOO SENSITIVE?!
My mouth is jammed open, but my MIND is full of choice words. My gums and teeth are as they are. Too bad you are disappointed in my existence.
I have done every every thing you told me to do, and you wouldn’t even believe me when I told you I developed new habits.
Is my mouth wrong? Did I come too late to the party? Mine are the gums that have always been sensitive, even since I was a kid. That’s why I didn’t develop the flossing habit. Because it hurt! and now that I have been so brave and overcome THE PAIN and I DO floss, you still disapprove.
I’ll never get the gold star.
What a horrible choice, to place my happiness in the approval of a dentist chair. Guilt and Novocain are the tools of their trade.
I know better now. I never would have been so desperate in the first place to get their approval if I’d been listening to myself.
I’d been putting it off, when I went the first time. However, one flaw does not mean they hold the wheel for the rest of time. I should not place myself at their mercy.
Guilt is a high priced hobby. .
I’m here now, as I am. And I win. Every day, every morning, I can give myself a gold star. That wall is far away and I’m not hitting it. You can’t make me.