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today...a shift...a smile {self-portrait challenge}

liz lamoreux


Sitting in the dentist office waiting room today, I started writing a blog post in my journal that was full of some of the thoughts swirling around my head lately. Thoughts about how one balances the good and the shit and how hard it is to rest in the midst of all that life throws one's way in any given moment, day, week, year. Since early November I have been to the dentist more times that I can keep track up. The days prior to a dentist appointment are filled with tummy problems and nervousness and dread. At my second appointment, the one where you sit there after your cleaning and the dentist and the assistant talk about your teeth in a language you do not know as though you are not there and write down all the problems you…your teeth…have…at that appointment, I burst into tears. So overwhelmed by all of it. Full of such shame and sadness and a little anger. And, as I explained why I was crying: not because of fear of the dental appointments to come or the tools or the drilling…no, I said, I am crying because I feel such shame that my teeth are like this.

(And in that moment, in my head I was saying…I feel such shame because I smile so big and can't help it but I know that when I smile people can see the discoloration on my teeth. I feel such shame because of all the reasons that are no ones fault yet kind of everyone's fault that brought me to this moment in this chair with these tears. I feel such shame because there is no way we can pay for all of this. I feel such shame because I never told anyone how it felt that day I got my braces off and there was all that damage. I feel such shame because I am 31 and crying at the dentist's office. I feel such shame…)

There was so much I did not say. But, as I tried to breathe to avoid the threatening ugly cry, this new dentist said something...well...something pretty magical, "I think the self-abuse about this should stop today. You are here now. And, we are going to fix it."

So I brought Jeero the uglydoll to the next appointment and sat there for over three hours. And, the next appointment, which was an emergency appointment, I didn't bring Jeero, but I did have my playlist that soothed me while I experienced the joy that is an unexpected root canal. And, I went to the next appointment, and then to the one where the million-dollar crown was put on a tooth, and then to the next appointment where I listened to Steve Martin read his new book and sat for another three hours, and then to today's appointment…


Even though my head aches from the drilling and my gums are sore from the shots and my sinuses seem to have been a bit affected by all the numbness and all that is a dental appointment, I walked out of the dentist office with a smile on my face. I walked out into the raining sleet that is washing away the snow and felt light.

Today was the day he worked on my front teeth. My front four teeth look so good. They look good for the first time since…well…a long, long time. I feel such joy about it that the tears that fall as I type this are from joy, not shame. It is a good day…

And that one tooth…the one that was so damaged from my braces…the tooth that felt like a mark of shame. It is shining.

It is a good day.

And, yes, I do plan to write about some of the deeper stuff swirling around at some point. But, today, I just want to celebrate letting go of the shame.

Today, I just want to smile.

(see what else people are celebrating over at self-portrait challenge)