A Little Bit Me First


I have a confession to make:  I don’t like going to the dentist.


I know, I know, no one likes going to the dentist.  But I really don’t like it.  I avoid it at all costs.  I think about it often.  I know that the more I put it off, the worse it will be.  Thinking about how bad it might be causes my heart to race.  So I take a few deep breaths and think about sunsets on the ocean, because that keeps the intrusive thoughts away.


And then I continue to put my head in the sand and avoid the dentist.


But you can only avoid the dentist for so long.  You have to take care of yourself.  You have to show your children that taking care of your body is important.  You have to prioritize you sometimes.


So, the other day, I went to the dentist.


I was convinced that she would tell me that I needed 20 root canals and 5 caps.  Minimum.  That’s how long it had been.  I was prepared to shout, “Sedate me, please!”


But, I had to do it.  So I put on my brave face and entered the office with as much calm as I could possibly muster.


And you know what?  It wasn’t so bad.


I sat back on a very comfortable recliner and watched the news.  Sure, there were x-rays, there was poking, and my lips were stretched farther than I ever thought possible.  But it was actually (dare I say it?) kind of relaxing.


I stopped worrying about my prognosis the minute I entered the office.  For better or for worse, I was there.  All I could do was wait and see.


And for the first time in a long time, I prioritized my own health.  There’s something soul soothing about that, even if prioritizing me means sharp objects in my mouth.


And?  The prognosis was good.  No root canals.  No caps.  No big deal.


I walked out of there with a fresh clean smile and some pep in my step.  Who knew that a dental visit would provide such a boost to my self-esteem?  Not me, that’s for sure.


But the more I thought about it, the more that it made perfect sense…


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About Katie

Katie Hurley is a Child, Adolescent, and Family Psychotherapist and Parenting Expert in Los Angeles, CA. She works in private practice in the South Bay area of Los Angeles, writes for PBS Parents, Washington Post Parents, and the Huffington Post. She is the author of "The Happy Kid Handbook: How to Raise Joyful Children in a Stressful World" (Tarcher/Penguin, 2015) and "No More Mean Girls: The Secret to Raising Strong, Confident, and Compassionate Girls" (Penguin Random House, 2018)