Update- Please scroll back a post for details;)

Yesterday- I was fitted for my temporary “flipper” teeth that will protect and cover the dental implants until the bone heals and is strong enough to handle the permanent prosthesis’.

Before:                          After:

To me? This is huge. I feel more confident, and free to smile again. The pics are of opposite sides- but both sides were done;)  I am gap free and free to smile.

I accomplished something pretty spectacular. I DID IT. I faced my fear.  In a big way. I am on the road to having a permanent and genuine smile back. There is more to be done, and more fear to face… but- I’m on my way, and I like the direction I’m moving in.

There is pain. It hasn’t been a fun week here. The fear prior to the surgery was rough to control. I did all the things I know to do: I told myself the truth: I can do this. I want to do this. I prayed. I kept busy and occupied my mind so it had less time to obsess on the fear. I was honest about how I was feeling both here- on the blog- and in real life. And it is worth it.

And I did it. I am doing it. This process isn’t over- and I have a 6 month check up. cleaning in December to look forward to- But now I’m trying to process that as another chance to over come the fear.

As I’ve been going through this process, I’ve realized that fear has been a bigger issue for me than I ever thought it was.

Fear has stolen more than my smile.

My fear of failure- has kept me from the calling I know I have and long to answer. It’s stolen my confidence, and worse yet- my confidence in God.. that He who began a good work in me, will be faithful to complete it. That he gives me the desires of my heart.. not that he gives me everything I want.. but that he PUTS those desires there….for me to enjoy as part of my faith journey. I know that I am called to write and speak… this isn’t a puffed up thing.. it’s just a deep knowing thing…that I’ve let become hidden much like my smile- by fear. 

What if I made it up?  What if I’m like one f those crazy people on AI who THINK they can really SING…. but can’t?

But now Im wondering.. what if I CAN?  What if I do? WHAT IF I TRY?

Maybe it;s just as simple (and hard) as going to the dentist was. Maybe I need to tell myself the truth. Maybe I need to take the next step. And the next. And the next.

Maybe…. I’ll get back more than my smile.

I’ve also learned that my fear of failure and falling- (along with a side of: I know better than you- running is the only thing that works for me to lose weight- so I’ll run myself to bits thank you very much. Which-BTW- I accomplished and am much less happy about. Needing a titanium tibia because you refuse to ride a bike- is: stupid. justsayin.) has kept me from trying things the doctor’s have recommended to get healthy and fit. Like: riding a bike. The truth is I didn’t want to do it because: 1) I would look ridiculous. (Fat girl on a bike is a sight. Its just a fact.) and 2) I was afraid I would either a) crash or b) not be able to do it.

What if I ride the bike and love it?  (That thought never crossed my mind.)

Honestly?  I already started riding the bike. and I have to admit- I was wrong. I DO love it. It’s actually: fun. (Running hurts- riding- not so much. I SMILE when I ride!)  And while I refuse to weigh myself— things are getting looser- and Noah announced that my butt is less BOINKY… so I think its helping;) I was wrong about the bike. Monday- to burn off some stress before the surgery- I rode 21 miles!

What if I decided to face my other fears?

What if I can do these things too?

What if I start telling myself the truth about them, too?

What if one of the gifts I can give my children is to see their mom- overcome fear?

What if I ask for prayer?

What If I continue to write, and take that as far as I can go with that-  too?

I think it’s worth a shot.

Dear Lord- I am tired of fear. I am tired of letting it control e and my life. I quit. Instead of letting fear control me.. I am taking charge of fear. I am- going to keep riding the bike and see how far I can go. I am going to finish the dental work that has brought a smile to my face… and I am GOING to finish the book proposal and take the next steps to pursue publishing…because it’s what you’ve called me to do..  if I can deal with the dental fear- I can sure handle the rejection fear….(Although when it goes to committee I may need to be sedated…. justsayin)  I love you lord- and thank you for the grace that leads me constantly closer to you- through my fear and into joy amen. 

I don’t know what fear you are facing or avoiding right now. But I know this: you don’t have to do it alone. And you CAN do it if you choose too. Just take the next step. today. Don’t let fear steal from you what God longs to give. If you are afraid… talk about it here.. for pete’s sake I put my gap toothed smile up for the world to see and judge….you gotta know that I understand and will be praying that you can face your fear too! ;)

 

 

 

 

Photogenic is not a term anyone has ever used to describe me- but over the past few years I’ve become obnoxious about it. I no longer smile for pics. (Unless you really beg, or threaten to take my cupcakes.) Instead of smiling- I make faces. tongue out, eyes crossed, the goofier the better.

It’s not just because I’m a goof. (Admittedly, I am. We know this.) It’s actually, because I’m a freak. A dental-phobe freak.

For the past few years, I’ve had 2 missing teeth. Well, not quite missing… they are broken down to bits. Yes, I brush my teeth. A lot. The thing is- I have TMJ- and grind my teeth while I sleep. The grinding to bits has left me with a black hole of a gap on each side of my mouth. Especially if I smile. Attractive, huh?

Not. And I know- it. So, I don’t, show it.  At least not if I can help it. Especially for pictures. I smirk, half smile and mona-lisa on a bad day smile- but no real smiles. I’m embarrassed.

Why haven’t I gotten them fixed? (Yes, I can hear you from here.)  It’s not because I don’t have insurance. (I do.) While the cost is a factor-  it’s been more of an excuse. And no- It’s also not because I belong to some weird dental-denial cult.. (although sign me up if there is one…)

It’s because:

I HATE the dentist. No, not a normal- “I hate the dentist, too- who likes being poked and prodded and drilled and filled?” kind of way- but in an  “I’m having a panic attack and I feel like I’ll throw up” kind of way. If I even think about it. EVen if I don’t have an appointment. When I do have an appointment- the anxiety increases exponentially. Waiting for a few minutes before the appointment is akin to water boarding. That little reminder card you get in the mail about your 6 month check up?  It makes me hyperventilate. The sound of a dremel or drill? Makes me shake. Which- I may add is not fun, at the nail place. But, I’ve considered writing the appointments off as desensitization therapy. Except, I’m not desensitized. At all. #thatsafail.

I’m cracking jokes like teeth, here. But the truth is- I feel humiliated, not just by the gaps- but because fear has stolen my smile. And my peace. And my sense of self worth. I feel like an idiot. I have years of experience being a counselor- I know how to help people with phobias…. unless it’s me who is afraid. #counselorfail.

A vortex of fear and shame has sucked me in.

But, tomorrow?  I’m getting out.

Here’s the thing- I frequently have opportunities for public speaking. People like to take pictures. They prefer you not to stick out your tongue. They also take pics when you are least expecting it. Usually from weird angles, that show gaps.  And people don’t generally let you photoshop teeth into their pics before they leave an event. Also- in working to finish the book proposal, I’m realizing this dental dilemma has become a stumbling block. Writers- speak in public. Bad hair may be forgiven on occasion- but teeth are pretty much expected. Gaps kind of blow your credibility in addition to your smile.

On the rare occasion I’ve been honest about this fear-  the results haven’t been great. Mostly because of the whole  “Aren’t you a Christian- and if you trust God you shouldn’t be afraid of the dentist” thing. I’ve been: laughed at, told to: let  God handle this for me, Trust God more, Pray and ask God to heal me of my fear. And the ever popular: “Fear is the sin of lack of trust” condemnation comments. .. Yeah….thnx for heaping guilt on top of my already full emotional plate of humiliation and fear! I feel so much  better! Except, I don’t. Also?  I have asked God to grow new teeth…. but apparently that breaks the time space-continuum, so he voted no, to that. At least they didn’t grow in- so I’m guessing that’s the reason.

So, I had a choice: Go and get my teeth fixed, or continue to live in humiliation, fear and without a smile?

A few weeks ago I decided it was time. I asked my husband to make me an appointment, I went. Then, I had a follow up appointment- and I got an impression made… and TMI or not- I almost threw up. It sucked and I hated it- But, I went. And I will go again, tomorrow.

Tomorrow?  I will be having oral surgery.  I’m getting implants. (No, not the boob kind. duh, I have enough there.) The implants will replace my two missing teeth. It will involve bone grafts and some other work. I will be knocked out. (I”m bringing a hammer for backup anesthesia. Just in case.) I don’t want to do it.

But I do want to face the fear and conquer it. I want to smile again. I want to speak without feeling self conscious about my smile.

I’d love to say- God has taken my fear and I feel peace. He hasn’t. I am afraid.

But, I’m doing it anyway.

Maybe today- you are facing a fear. Or, like me, have been avoiding one. Maybe you’ve prayed and the teeth didn’t grow in. Maybe you’ve avoided making that appointment for a mammogram, or the dentist, or the ob/gyn because it makes you nauseous and sweaty and panicky. Maybe you have a phobic fear of flying, or needles, or dogs or heights. Maybe you’ve heard you wouldn’t be afraid if you trusted God more. Maybe you’ve chided yourself and reprimanded yourself for being a freak.

It doesn’t help.

There is only one way to get through fear- to go through it. Today as I get ready to face my fear- I’m praying for you….trust me, if I can do this- so can you!


Dear Lord- I’m afraid, I’m tired of avoiding the dentist and all that it entails. I’m tired of being embarrassed to smile, I want to show the joy I feel in my heart. (Well- when I’m not being afraid of the stupid dentist.)  I hate the dentist, Lord- but Im going to go anyway- please help me get through this- and help anyone else who’s facing a fear…. the only way through it- is through it….amen PS- Lord- thank you for all the fear filled men of courage in the bible… it helps to know I’m not alone!;) 

Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear” Mark Twain