Teeth, Trauma and Turning A Corner

When I was young I was very shy and quiet and overall I just had an incredible lack of confidence. Then I grew up a bit and a became a taller, older boy who was very shy and quiet, lacking in confidence. We all grow at different rates, learning different things at different times but it was definitely frustrating struggle in my mind trying to understand how some people were so sure of themselves, particularly when doing things they’d never done before! Basically I was scared and confused, a state I often still find myself in, but one I can manage a lot better now and utilise as a means of learning and growing. One thing I learnt a lot from (and still learn from now) is when my top two front teeth got knocked out when I was ten. This was both scary and confusing, a time when I felt totally helpless. I look in it now as an integral event in my development, not that any event isn’t integral, but this one had glaringly obvious contradictions that could be unpicked whilst my life unfolded. The paradox was that something that caused me a lot of psychological and physical damage somehow lead to immense growth in my confidence and a matured outlook on life. I’m basically describing “growing up” although somehow that term isn’t tumultuous enough! Life is a rollercoaster with unpredictable twists and turns that are enough to make you laugh uncontrollably or be very sick. Unfortunately it is the latter which relates most closely to my mishap as it was followed by the development of persistent coughing, gagging (on thin air?!) and lots of vomiting. After thorough investigation in areas I’d rather not have a medical professional, it was concluded that these things were psychological. At the time I didn’t what this meant other than the doctors were giving up on me. This added to my seemingly endless list of seemingly impossible problems that I had to live with, at the time I was condemned to the suffering but now I live with it in a much more empowered way which could only be built on time and experience.

Oh I forgot to say what actually happened to my teeth! They got put back in, both died, one rotted out and the other became part of the bone in my head (my skull?). Being at university with one tooth missing was not cool to say the least and I avoided a lot of socialising partly due to how it made me feel. I then got a dental bridge and that made a massive difference to my confidence. I felt like a normal person for the first time! Disappointingly I think it’s because some people didn’t look at me as a normal person before, partly because I looked different and also because looking different made me act different. My bridge broke and I was happy for almost a year until I could afford a replacement. This period of time is fascinating to me as my confidence shot up and I was a lot less worried. It’s true what they say, “you stop worrying about your teeth falling out once your teeth fall out”. After a while I felt more secure than I ever did before. It was like when Dr Evil steals Austin Powers’ “mojo” and he felt useless without it, but then Felicity Shagwell tells Austin he had it all along. Who I wanted to be was there the whole time! Realising this was helped along by having amazing people in my life who accepted and supported me. My friends understood with no problem but I always worried romantically as I’ve never thought anyone could find me the least bit attractive, especially when looking like the inverse of Bugs Bunny. Yet when I began to relax and enjoy what I did have it all became easier and I was able to enjoy myself in ways I didn’t realise were possible!

Relaxing also helped with my anxious coughing and gagging, which I theories emanated from the traumatic experience of my teeth being pegged back into my gums whilst taking a mould with that weird dental putty. There was too much of it so it went down my throat and no one was helping me whilst I was choking. I didn’t choke or cough before this incident so it’s the only thing I can think of if it’s not physical? Since I’ve learnt to relax and feel my body a bit better it seems to have largely calmed down. I started to read about trauma to understand it more generally but it ended up helping me to make sense of what has been playing out in my own body and I feel better for it. I don’t quite know what the point of this story is although I’m a firm believer that not everything needs to have a point. If I was to hazard a guess I’d say it’s about self-acceptance, dentistry and not avoiding what scares you. I thought I needed to stop suffering before I could get on with my life, but it was actually getting on with my life that helped to end the suffering.



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Reflective Reading

Reflecting on the books I have read, what they have offered me and opening up discussion