Fear Relegated to the Backseat
Hello My Beauties,
So, something really fabulous happened to me last week in the dentist’s chair – I was healed.
Some back story is necessary. I was one of those kids who was always at the dentist. Every molar I had, had a filling. My teeth were large and so in third grade, I had oral surgery and I had 8 teeth removed, 4 baby teeth and 4 permanent. Thank Mom, the Bionic Woman, and smushed up aspirin with honey and lemon getting me through that one. I had braces, like fooorrreeevvvvverrrr, with a lovely neck gear I wore in fourth and fifth grade. I had 6 wisdom teeth ~ yes, I was waaayyy wiser beyond my years. And, I have always and in ALL ways loathed shots. And let me tell you, the shots from the dentist were the worst, EVVVVVVERRRRR!
Fast forward to my being an adult and not taking great care of myself ~ meaning, I stopped going to the dentist. 1. I had no insurance for a while. 2. I didn’t like my dentist. 3. I was afraid of what they’d find. And…. You get my meaning. Fear was driving and I was relegated to the back seat, shivering in dread.
When I finally did get really good about taking care of myself, ALL of my Self, I went to a new dentist. And it was okay. Not fun, but okay. When they told me I had to have my gums planed because there was this black gunk growing beneath my gums and a regular cleaning wouldn’t get rid of it, I said yes. Scared to death, but I did it anyway.
That was over ten years ago. Now, I get my teeth cleaned every three ~ four months. I’m lucky that way, my body likes to create plaque. And that means I get to see my smart, capable, beautiful, kind, funny hygienist 3 ~ 4 times every year. We’ve become FRIENDS. I KNOW she is not trying to hurt me. Neither is my dentist for that matter, he is a delightful man too. We are now allies. BIG SHIFT!!!
But… this realization was easy to accept logically, even spiritually. Emotionally was a WHOLE other matter. I still walked into the dentist office shaking with anxiety and sweaty with fear. I would have to pee, like every ten seconds. I would forget to breathe. And you know, when you forget to breathe, everything hurts worse.
It was time to do some SERIOUS soul work. Every time I went to the dentist I would take my inner child by the hand to our favorite beach in my mind. Her safe haven. There she’d play in the warm, salty bay, dig in the hot sand, laugh on the jungle gym while hanging upside down…. She was taken care of, so that grownup Shannon ~ meaning me ~ could handle sitting in the dentist chair and allowing them to do their thing to help me, keep me healthy.
I repeated this process days before I went to the dentist, before I walked into the dentist’s office, even while sitting in the dentist’s chair. My inner child self was taken care of. Her job was to PLAY and NOT be in the chair with me with her trauma. That was over. I was in charge now. AND, you know what?
Little by little, it worked. I’ve had a crown and fillings refilled with the white stuff instead of the old silver stuff…. Going to the dentist has become doable. The shaking in my bones has stopped, the weeks of thinking and anticipating and dreading going to the dentist has stopped.
It helps that the ladies in the office ROCK! That they are kind and smart and funny, and have helped me get past this thing called fear. They knew how I was feeling. They didn’t make fun of my fear. They witnessed it and still loved me and cared for me and made me smile. And for that I am eternally grateful!
Fear is not a fun place to be. Fear takes over my body, I shake, I sweat, I tremor from the inside out, I want to cry. The adrenaline rush of endorphins is enough to stop a Mack Truck, and yet…. Last week, I was laughing with my hygienist while I was once again having my gums planed. It was the third visit in two weeks. Two, were one hour cleanings. The last was scheduled for two full hours. Ugh!
AND… I made it through all of the shots. I heard her when she told me I was doing a good job, felt her love as she scraped and dug and poked. I WAS OKAY! Actually, I was better than okay.
It was a miracle.
A Course in Miracles defines miracle as a shift in perception, or a change in the way we feel and think. I started with my shift in perception ~ my dentist and hygienist were there to help me, not hurt me. And now, after much practice, and acting on my new belief consistently, I could not only endure, but weirdly, have a great time having my teeth and gums cleaned Wonder Woman style.
Elizabeth Gilbert in her book, Big Magic, writes about how she and fear have become friends of sorts. That fear is allowed to sit in the back seat, but not allowed to make any decisions, let alone drive. As far as the dentist is concerned? I’ve taken over the wheel and fear has taken its seat in the back.
So, My Beauties, here’s to relegating fear to the backseat and taking control of the wheel once more.
Glennon Doyle says, “We can do hard things.” And we can. We just have to believe, and then leap. We already have wings. So let’s practice flying!