Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Another Step in the Right Direction

Okay, I have not admitted this to many people, because I am embarrassed about it. But here goes, I have massive dental anxiety. Borderline panic attacks even THINKING about a visit. I think it is probably because I have always felt ashamed about my teeth, and I feel guilty, and at fault for having poor teeth. My teeth are, I guess, just genetically weaker and more susceptible to cavities, decay, etc. Because I didn't take the best care of my teeth that I could, my teeth have had further issues because of it. But growing up, when my mom would take me for a cleaning, every time (without fail it seems) I would have at least one cavity, or would need a retainer, or something that would no doubt cause me pain. So over time I equated all dental visits with loads of pain. Pain that I couldn't escape. Pain that I had to suffer through and deal with. And somewhere along the way, I guess I learned that I deserved the pain, and that it was somehow punishment for being "bad." (I really am messed up, huh?) Anyways, so when I grew up, I quit going to the dentist. I lived in fear that a dentist would discover my "badness" and I would be "punished," and everybody would know what a "bad" person I was. So the only time I went to the dentist, was when I had a problem. I lived with an impacted, abcessed wisdom tooth for WEEKS before I called a dentist, because I was so afraid of the pain (because that made total sense at the time) that the DENTIST would inflict. And naturally, since I was only going when I had a problem (read, every other year or so), every time I went, something painful had to be done. So I was proving (wrongly) that dentists hurt you every time. Now, I realize this may sound silly, it may sound stupid. And to those of you who think that, please turn and thank God that you have never suffered from dental anxiety. You don't know how fortunate you are to have missed out on this.
Now, I refused to give this anxiety to my kids. I have not taken them to the dentist as often as I should, but I also only speak about the dentist positively. We talk about all the tools a dentist uses, what they are for, and I emphasize how the dentist wants to help our teeth and our mouth. The whole time I was freaking out in my mind even thinking about it. At any rate, last week we were told that my hubby's company was cutting our dental insurance. So, I frantically raced to get the kids appointments before the end of the month. J-Dogg had an appt last week. He needs massive work done, under a general anesthetic, to the tune of $7,000 upfront. Yeah, so we aren't sure when we will be able to do that. I mean, we are like most people, we don't have $7,000 laying around, shoot, we don't have it period, that's over 2 months of salary for us! But, we are working on it, and praying, and hoping that something comes through. We don't know what, but I have to believe that because we are doing what we are supposed to, that we will be blessed somehow. Today, the other three kids had cleanings scheduled. L did great, she has been to a dentist before, and had fillings before. Unfortunately, she needed three fillings, two had worn/broken/fallen out and needed to be replaced, and she had a small cavity in the back. Because all three were rather shallow, she didn't require novacaine, and was wonderful. B needed two fillings, also shallow, and did beautifully. And Baby R? His teeth are perfect. At the last moment, I noticed that the office did walk-ins, so before the kids appointments, I asked if they could squeeze me in. This was unheard of for me, but in a way it was actually easier, because I had no time to mull it over and think about it beforehand. After the kids were finished, I had my hubby take them all back out to the play area. I knew I was going to be anxious and whatnot, and I wanted to be able to concentrate on just myself. Plus, I didn't want to frighten the kids, should I be in pain again. And it was painful. I should have known. My mouth has been sore for months. I have had bleeding gums, sensitive teeth, pain when biting, etc. So I KNEW there would be pain involved. Surprisingly, there were no cavities. The dentist said my teeth looked healthy. However, my gums were in horrible condition. He wanted to do a deep cleaning, also known as a scaling and root planing. That did not sound pleasant. I was told I would need novacaine. Now I KNEW it would be painful. I hate shots, I hate needles. I mean, I have given birth four times and never received an epidural or anything else, because of my fear of needles. Come to think of it, I would rather give birth again, than visit a dentist. The anxiety and fear are that strong. Plus, after you give birth, you get a baby. After you visit the dentist? You get a sticker, and a new toothbrush. Hmm, easy choice here to see which has the better reward ;) Anyways, I accepted the deep cleaning, knowing full well the pain it would involve, not only today, but for a couple weeks afterwards. I practiced some visualization techniques, and the dentist did a topical anesthetic first (praise him for that!) so I guess it wasn't TOO terrible. I received 12 or 16 injections, waited for my lips to fall off, and then began the procedure. It was uncomfortable, and at times it was painful.  But you know, overall, I am glad I got it done. I would like to keep my teeth for awhile, so I guess it is a fair enough trade, right? And I feel so blessed to have had such a wonderfully caring and gentle dentist and dental assistant. I have had dentists before who were very rough, and straight down to business. I really feel like this man and his assistant were concerned not only about my oral health, but the rest of me too. What a difference that made!

It Doesn't Work

The last month (or two or three) have been really difficult for me, which is why I have not written. But believe me, I have been mulling over my thoughts heavily, and feel I should at least get them out, even if they are not perfectly organized.

I realized that being thin/healthy/skinny/less fat will NOT make my happier. I had lost all of this weight, 63 pounds man! And my life didn't change. The things that upset and stressed me didn't go away. The excuses/reasons/stressors that "made" me want to eat, didn't magically disappear, and I was not suddenly able to handle everything coming at me. I mistakenly thought that if I lost the weight I would be happier, when I got healthier, I would be happier. THIS IS NOT TRUE. If anything, my life today is much more stressful than it was, say, 6 months ago. I never found something to replace the binge eating. I never replaced the eating with something else I enjoy. THIS WAS NOT A GOOD IDEA. And so, even though I am thinner now than I was thin, I am not happier. The same things that stressed me out then, stress me out now. The same things that I used to binge about, are STILL around now. And I have not learned how to deal with those issues outside of self-medicating with food. I don't know how to self-medicate myself to not feel the fear, the stress, and the panic that I do. I don't know how to escape the anxiety, the anger, and the rest of it. I feel like I am ruining my life, like I am self-destructive. I lash out at my husband, at my kids, and sometimes my friends. Maybe I am trying to prove to others that how I feel about myself is how I am. I feel I am a horrible person, that I am seriously messed up. What kind of a person sabotages their own happiness? I know how messed up I am, and I know others when they see it, will leave me. They will all abandon me when they see what a mess I really am, when they get to know the "real me," everybody will disappear. And when they don't, I think I start to self-destruct and treat people bad. As soon as I let anybody into my inner circle, I start turning into a whiny, grumpy, unhappy person. And I think on an unconscious level, I do it on purpose. I don't want to be an unhappy person. I don't want to complain all the time. I tell my husband it's his fault. If we lived somewhere else. If he made more money. If our church family was more open and inviting. If he really loved me. If we had more money. If we had better insurance. If we had . . .  If HE did this . . . And I realized that all of these thoughts put the power onto someone else. And the more I think about it I realize that while life might indeed be easier if somethings were different, the fact of the matter is that it's not. Life is what it is. And I can't just refuse to be happy just because things aren't going the way I want it. Since when is life fair? Haven't I lived life long enough to realize that life isn't fair? And maybe life isn't about waiting for things to get better, and hoping/praying/wishing/believing that they will be better someday. Maybe life is about learning to be happy in the moment. When everything else is just plain crap, when it all (to quote my mom and sister) just "vacuums," maybe we are supposed to find joy, even then, even in the midst of sorrow and trial. It doesn't mean you give up completely. It doesn't mean you quit believing that God loves you (although I struggle with that daily, I believe He loves my kids, my husband and everybody else, but me, I am working on that, daddy issues, etc) , or to believe that He wants your life to vacuum and be difficult. It means that life can be downright hard, nasty and challenging, but it is what it is. It is MY choice to be happy, or to not. I am in control over what I feel. And even though it may be (and it is) REALLY HARD to find joy in the midst of the trial, I still believe that that is a choice anyone can make. And it is not my husband's fault that I am not happy.

That may have been confusing to get through, so if you missed it, the entire point of ^that^ up there, is that life is hard. It just is. I think everybody struggles and has had or will have hard times. But we can still choose to be happy anyway. We can choose to be happy in spite of the trials.

Also, if we are (or rather, were) friends on Facebook, you may have noticed that I deleted a LOT of people, possibly even you. I went from over 250 friends (I think it was in the 280's) down to less than 100. This was not a personal attack on any person. I spend too much time on Facebook. I used Facebook as a means of trying to feel important. I was trying to fill a void in my life. I don't feel like I have many friends, and I often feel like the few I do have, are too busy to have much time for me. And I think that that's true.. They are too busy. They actually have lives to live outside of our friendship, and while on the one hand that's kinda painful to realize, on the other, DUH! They have LIVES!!! And yes, I think I am jealous that they have things to do, that they actually have places to go and OTHER people to see. And I realized that if that upsets me and makes me feel somehow unimportant and inferior, then that is my problem, not theirs. And so, I purged my list of friends to people I actually talk to on a regular basis. I even deleted some family members, some because I don't even know them, and some because although we are family, we aren't really "friends," so to speak. And I also deleted most (if not all) people who were underage for Facebook, and for the adult things I post from time to time. I also deleted people who have posted offensive material or comments on my wall about things I post on my wall. This does not mean I deleted everybody who was liberal, democrat, non-mormon, etc. In fact, I considered deleting a couple people who are conservative, republican Mormons ;) Nevertheless, I wish all of my old friends well in their lives. I just think it is best to have fewer friends that I really care about, and not a huge list of people I barely interact with. Make sense? And here goes another spiel. I realized that I am desperate for human interaction. Even people who treat me poorly. Even people who are supposed to visit and teach me, but refuse to come for one reason or another. Even people who flat out don't like me. I realized that I am so desperate for human interaction that I beg, literally, these people to talk to me. I invite them to my home repeatedly. I am not going to do it anymore. If somebody doesn't like me that is THEIR choice. They have chosen to do so, and there probably isn't anything I can do to change their mind, and in fact, attempting to do so, probably just cements their feelings about me. So I am not going to do it anymore. If we are friends, then we are friends, and I have to trust that those who are my friends will call and contact me.  I don't have to call, pester and annoy. And I am not going to anymore. People who aren't my friends? Well, I am not going to waste time on them anymore. It's just not worth it to beg people who don't like me, to talk to me. What is the point of that? I used to tell my husband that I wanted to move so badly, to another town, a bigger town, anywhere. Because then, when we moved it would be like starting over, I could be a different person. I could be happier. I could be cheerful. I could be outgoing. And then I realized, why do I have to wait to move to do that? Why can't I start now? So I am going to try that. No, I am going to do that. I am going to be more cheerful. I am going to try to be happier on the outside. This does not mean that life is going to be magically better for me, or that things are going to be suddenly easier. It means that I am accepting that life stinks, especially mine at the moment, and while that really "vacuums" and I hate it, I can't do a thing about it. It is what it is. Resenting life for being what it is, is somewhat ridiculous, don't you think? It doesn't change things, it doesn't fix it, it doesn't make me a happier person, so it's rather stupid. As the great John Wayne said, "Life is hard. It's harder if you're stupid."  Well, I'm not going to be stupid anymore. Does this mean I am going to bottle it all up inside and never let anybody know the pain, fear and panic I feel? NO! That would not be a good idea either, as I may, in fact, spontaneously combust under the pressure. But I will be more selective about who I relay things too. I will no longer be posting depressing things on Facebook. I will no longer seek advice from people whose opinions do not matter to me. I will carefully select from my close inner circle, my hubby, my mom, and my penguin-bestie (she knows who she is). I am going to strive to be a happier, more laid back mom. I am going to strive to be a better housekeeper and a better wife.

One last thing (I think), I have realized too that several of the choices I have made in the last couple weeks have been made because I felt forced. And because I felt like, I didn't have anything better to do. For example, I agreed to babysit a sweet little boy. He will be two years old in March. Yes, because I needed to add another small child to the mix! I have had two one year old, one three year old, and a five year old for the last week. Even though this little boy is indeed a very sweet, quiet angel, it is still another child in my house everyday. And it is just more than I could do. So I will be telling his mom she will need to make other arrangements. And, while I feel like I am breaking a commitment, and that I am letting her down (and that's true, I am) I cannot in good faith continue to overwhelm myself when my own family needs me so desperately. And that includes other things too. I will be saying "no" to things that take away from strengthening my family. If it is detrimental to my family's health (and my own), I will not be doing it.

I am sorry that that was long. There are a LOT of issues going on at the moment. This post only touches on a few of them. I have a lot of things to work through, and I am striving to do so. Therefore, there will probably be LOTS more posts on these subjects, so stay tuned. You will notice that I did not say much about weight loss in here, so here are the brief facts. I am not working out, I have been binge eating, and I have gained 10 pounds. I am not happy with that, but I have not taken steps to fix that. I feel kinda' like I need to work a bit on my mental and emotional health first, and in so doing, I will be taking care of my physical health.