Dentists Make Me Emotional

December 15, 2020

I was about fifteen years old and sitting in my dentist’s chair. Dentists have always made me anxious. As someone with a history of needing oral surgeries, I’m always on edge when I’m in that chair. Even the idea that my dentist may tell me I have a cavity brings me such anxiety I get shaky and my stomach turns sour. After years of root canals, having braces and retainers, and teeth growing into my sinuses removed, any time a dentist pauses during a cleaning I seize up. I wonder what it is they’re seeing and mostly whether or not whatever it is they’re seeing will require Novocain. One of my worst nightmares. 

I squirmed as the doctor looked and looked. Then he called my dad in. He told me that I might need braces again, likely another root canal, and potentially some gum surgery. 

It was all I could take not to sprint out of the office as fast as I could. A full-on panic attack took over my body and I started sobbing. My dad stood by my side and stroked my hair, “It’s okay baby, we’ll figure it out or maybe there’s another solution.” Nothing worked. I just kept crying and crying. 

My dentist averted his eyes while I had my breakdown. Slowly, as I was able to regain my composure, still sniffling just a touch, he opened his mouth and said, “you know, it makes me really uncomfortable when women cry.” 

Well, that was that, my dad all but pulled me out of the chair and all but slapped the dentist in the face. Thankfully, I never had to sit in that chair again. It was time for a new dentist. 

Sometimes our emotions make other people uncomfortable. They would rather we not have emotional breakdowns or any emotions at all in front of them that aren’t pleasant because it makes them feel awkward. We become conditioned to stuff our emotions down. That they aren’t for other people to see or experience, at least not the less favorable ones. We are told to save our emotions for later. We develop unhealthy patterns unless there’s someone that tells us to do otherwise. 

Thankfully I grew up in a family of criers. We all do it. My dad, my daddy, my auntie, and everyone I was around was very comfortable with their emotions and expressing them all in various forms. So, this doctor didn’t shame me out of my tears because I had examples of what it was like to emote in public and I knew it wasn’t something to be embarrassed about. I was just having a human experience.

Emotions aren’t something to be shamed out of people regardless of your gender identification. My tears are my superpower. They help me process and move forward. Feeling my emotions allows me to be more clear-headed because when I stuff emotions down or don’t talk about how I’m feeling things get ugly. I get passive-aggressive and mean. I scare people with my intensity. (Seriously ask any friend with whom I’ve avoided confrontation and they will hands-down tell you I scared them.) 

Emotions are natural and experiencing them is normal. 

I saw this article floating around on social media a few weeks ago about Harry Styles and how he loves to play with his clothes and his wardrobe, and then I saw a commentator respond saying Harry is weak and that we need more manly men. I became immediately beyond aggravated when I saw this. Men who express their emotions and feel the freedom to wear whatever they please are manly men to me. Emotions are not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength because feeling is not always easy. Allowing yourself to feel instead of numbing the feelings is hard work. So people who can cry or talk about their feelings are my heroes. A person who has the strength to confront their emotions head-on are warriors to be held in the highest regard because it’s scary and vulnerable, and it makes people uncomfortable. 

This is what I’ll leave you with. It is not my job to make you feel comfortable with my emotions. It is my job to make sure I set the best example for my friends, family, and future children about having a healthy relationship with one’s emotions and trying and failing and then trying again. When I cry, if you need to walk away, do so. It’s okay. I am strong enough to handle my tears on my own. So feel freely, my friends. Your emotions are not your hindrance, but your superpower. Work through them and not around them and surround yourself with people who support you in that work. 

I love you, I hope you have a magical day. OXOX, CAMDW

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