This morning, as I settled into the dentist chair, my lower right quadrant thumping with the pain of a level six infected root pocket, the hygienist asked if I wanted to watch TV during the injection as a distraction.
No thanks, I answered, bracing myself for the temporary discomfort of needle hitting flesh. Somehow subconsciously I knew that distraction was the reason I was sitting in that chair in the first place. Always running after everyone else's needs and forgetting my own, adequate flossing and brushing took second fiddle to reminding kids about filling their share boxes, picking up additional bars of soap for Rex and running last minute errands for family and friends.
Lest you think that immediately, post dental visit, I was off to Fed Ex my application for martyrdom, I was fully aware that, despite some anesthesia induced brain fuzz, I had no one to blame but myself. You see, one of the first words I learned as a child I forgot when I became a wife and mother: No.
It isn't so much that I need to stop declining my friends' and family's needs as much as I need to say no to inner-thought processes that somehow decide I don't matter as much as other people. Their items got checked off the list, but I often forget to add my own name. I'll use the water pic tomorrow, I'd sleepily tell myself before drifting off into dreamland.
The same things started happening with my sex life. We can do it tomorrow, I'd tell Rex before turning over in the bed. Some nights, after drinking a glass of Merlot, getting lost in the paper or doing my own writing, I wouldn't even make it off the couch.
Stretched out in that dentist chair, blaring light over head and mouth open like a trapped fish, I realized that if like my teeth I didn't get to the root of my personal issues, I'd only be masking the pain with my own form of anesthesia: Shopping, coffee, food, sugar, alcohol, Diet Coke and, my biggest addiction of all, insanely running from task to task never slowing down long enough to face my inner demons.
It's time to buck up and face those nasty suckers. It might take my whole life, and it won't always be pleasant, but living authentically is worth the risk.
Like my goals for my inner self and dental hygiene, I aim to dig deep in my sex life also. It's time to get naked, expose the nerve and ultimately heal.
Did I want to write a $240.00 to Doctor Ford yesterday? Not exactly. But it beats thousands of dollars on therapy. Who knew so much good could come from a toothache?
Posted by Andrea Frazer
* For More Tips & Tricks You Can Count On: Subscribe to Good Housekeeping & Save!
* Boost Your Brainpower, Fast!
* Take a Break with Mahjongg
* Is It Safe to Microwave Plastic?
* Meet Jon & Kate Plus 8!
Reprinted with Permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.