There I am, doing what I do best (ok, one of the things that I do best, anyway), flirting away with my kids’ ridiculously cute, and ridiculously young dentist, and keeping the technician laughing. We are having a grand ole time because, well, we aren’t the one getting our teeth drilled and having cavities filled. My son was a trooper, he didn’t complain once, and I swear, he enjoys the banter and the giggling as much as we do. I’m checking Facebook, answering emails, texting with friends, and helping distract and occupy the space in the room to help with my own anxiety of the sound of the whirring from the drill. Then it happened. I didn’t see it coming, and was absolutely powerless over it. That familiar burn at the backs of my eyes, the heaviness on my heart, the widening of my eyebrows as I realize I am about to shed tears in the dentists office. It felt like minutes, but I am sure it was only seconds, that I sort of recovered, by checking the possibility of rain out the window, pressing a fingernail into another finger, burying my face in my phone, and now the spinning in my head to understand what had just happened. Sadness washed over me like a wave toppling an unsuspecting toddler frolicking on the shore. I was having a good time, and then boom, I’m reduced to a helpless mess, almost. I am really skilled at keeping my shit together when necessary. It’s a gift and a curse, because then I have to really figure out a way to release all those well-guarded emotions, and ask my therapist, the release doesn’t happen nearly enough. One of the benefits of this gift, is that I can go right into my head and analyze what’s going on inside me and then philosophize with it and turn it into something meaningful. Like this:
It makes sense that a dentist’s office could make me sad, since my dentist passed away last year. His loss had a tremendous effect on me and I wrote about it a few days after he died. But I had been doing ok, and going to a new dentist, where everything was/is shiny and happy and different! This new office is open 7 days a week and long hours at that, and they give you coffee mugs and sugar free gum and smiles and it’s great! And it’s not great, because it’s not my old dentist, where the smell of freshly baked cookies always hung in there ( a trick to see how well the kids could brush the chocolate out of pesky molars), and the fickle puppy would come out of the office to see if she deemed you worthy of her presence. I miss those things, and missing them makes me sad, and sadness makes my heart hurt and my tears fall. I have another gift though, and this is truly a gift, it’s the ability to look at a moment, a situation, an experience, and find gratitude for having had the moment. I am sad because someone good, someone special, someone kind and funny, is no longer around to impart those feelings, but I am sad because I was able to have all those great feelings with that person, and that’s where the meaning lies. If it was someone who didn’t make me feel good and special and kind, I might have a moment of empathy, sympathy, but not this sadness that only comes from having been able to feel really happy in the first place. So the thing about sadness….welcome it, because it means you had happiness first, and you will once again. It also helps if your kids have a cute dentist.
My dentist was the first to suggest having Totems in his office to help anxious patients, and I promise all the Totems were in hand at the dentist on this last visit. If you, or someone you know, has dental anxiety, get them a Totem! It’s as simple as holding your Totem, taking deep breaths and repeating our helpful rhyme, the dentist can become tolerable and manageable. Just click on any of the Totems on the side of the page and get one today!