Oh, the hoops we jump through, the rituals we perform to avoid pain.
(My teeth phobic readers, please forgive this newsletter. I give you permission to skip to the end*)
Take this tooth of mine. It's been tugging at my skirt, like a two year old, for months now. Not hurting exactly but saying, "pardon me, excuse me, but things aren't quite where they should be" every morning when I floss my teeth. As a self-employed gal it takes some motivation to get me into the chair so I wasn't in too much of a hurry to make an appointment, even though Dr Skalska is as lovely as dentists come.
Last Thursday I woke up in the middle of the night. Lying in the dark, the ever present light from my neighbour's bathroom was enough to tease me with dawn's approach, but consciousness and a vague pain in the aforementioned tooth set things straight. It's amazing what 3am restlessness will do for worries and pain.
As I lay there, my tooth began to pulse and twitch and my brain went on High Alert mode glomming onto anything that could be worried about. My tooth, the cost of dentistry, my bank account, the time, my appointments the next day, my tooth, the cost of dentistry, what I said to so and so five years ago, etc... After awhile, it wasn't just my tooth that hurt, it was my whole head. I finally fell asleep again an hour before my alarm went off and dreamed of my tooth, the cost of dentistry, etc...
I made an appointment to see Dr Skalska the following Monday morning and a curious thing happened as soon as I did. My tooth stopped hurting. Hmm... Interesting...
It was a small chip, no big deal to fix, but as soon as she diagnosed it Dr. Skalska announced she would freeze it. I don't know about you, but I can't stand the plasticine, spaghetti on your face, numbness that comes with local anesthetic. I'd heard from some brave folks that this was an unnecessary step so I asked her if she could fix my tooth without it. She agreed and got to work.
It was quite amusing, because she kept on telling me how much it was going to hurt, how much she was hurting me, how much pain I must be in, but really, other than a few twinges and some vibration I didn't feel much. In fact, the discomfort of freezing was so much more irritating than this could ever be, because when it was over, it was over. No wondering if I was slobbering like a Bull Mastiff, no poking my face for hours, waiting for my smile to return to the right side of my face. The pain of lying awake at 3am, anticipating this visit was far more than the reality.
(*Teeth phobic folks can start reading again.)
This got me to thinking of all of the things that we do to avoid pain, to anticipate pain, to postpone pain, for ourselves and others, especially when it comes to our clutter.
- We throw our emotionally charged stuff in the basement.
- We gloss over things without really looking at them.
- We keep things 'just in case'
- We hold onto gifts we don't like to save the feelings of others.
- We say yes or maybe when what we really want to say is NO.
- We linger in "I don't know" because we don't want to know or we don't like the answer.
The only way to the other side is through. That's just the way it is. There is no getting around feeling your feelings. That's the frustrating truth of feelings.
You can't skirt, avoid, procrastinate, stuff, squelch, stomp, grind and depart forever. You can feel now or feel later, but at some point you have to feel.
I get exhausted just thinking about all the effort made to not feel. All the cigarettes smoked, all the beers drunk, all the cakes eaten, all the television watched... Most of the time the avoidance is SO much more work than just facing your feelings.
Feel your feelings. Descend to your basement. Open your closet. Look under the bed.
Yes, it might be painful, scary or uncomfortable, but it might not hurt nearly as much as you think. And you know what? Once you feel it, it's felt and you're free to move forward confident that you can smile with both cheeks.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on this, please comment below.