I had an...interesting...weekend. A back tooth broke on Friday night and it turned out my dentist’s office was closed until Monday. Coward that I am, that gave me 2 days to worry (all right, let’s be honest, panic...) about what it would mean when I did go in. Add to that some difficult personal issues to deal with and...well...let’s just say it wasn’t the best of weekends.
Monday morning I called my dentist’s office bright and early. They told me to come right in and sure enough they told me I would need a crown—my first. I did what any self-respecting coward would—I told the dentist that previous dentists had had trouble numbing my teeth and that I was just warning him that I was a terrible coward when it came to dental work. He didn’t laugh. He didn’t pooh, pooh my concerns. He quite seriously assured me that he would make sure the tooth was numb, would stop at any moment if I was in pain, and that it would be okay.
He was as good as his word. Mind you, I’m not thrilled at how much dental work costs. I’m not thrilled I needed the dental work at all. Of course it helped that I did deep, calming breathing as I waited and soothing images while he worked but....still. I am profoundly grateful he listened and was so respectful of my concerns. And that’s why I’m sharing this story.
Lots of people are cowards when it comes to dental work. For survivors of abuse, there’s something more at work, though I’ve never been able to properly explain—even to myself—what that is. I do know that I’ve had times in my life when it was impossible to get myself to go to the dentist at all.
I tell this story because I think it’s important. I think we’re often afraid to tell people we’re scared. It feels like it makes us too vulnerable. And I’m not suggesting telling everyone we meet what our vulnerabilities might be! What I am suggesting is that we are not always powerless. We can tell doctors and dentists if we feel scared. If they are not respectful about how hard the experience is for us, we can look for other doctors and dentists.
In my life, I have been impressed with how often people have reacted with kindness and understanding when I have shared a vulnerability. I hope it gives hope and encouragement to others to know this because we all have to deal with doctors and dentists—at least sometimes.
Sending blessings and safe and gentle (((((((hugs))))))),