No surprise here. I knew this day would come. That didn’t make it any less frustrating.
When the dentist told me the spots that would eventually become cavities had finally become them, I teared up. I could tell you it was because I was angry, since I cry when I’m mad, but this time, it was simply because I was sad. I had made it 29 years without having cavities, and believe it or not, getting cavities was not on my Things To Do Before I’m 30 list. (Fine, I don’t have such a list. But even if I did, it certainly wouldn’t be on there.)
As I sat there in the chair while the dentist cleaned my teeth, I pleaded with the universe to make her think the drops of moisture slowly dribbling out of my eyes and making their way down my cheeks were beads of sweat. (Hey, if we can’t even breathe properly in the oven full of garbage that has become NYC over the past heat wave-filled week, we should at least get to pass off our emotional overreactions as temperature-related.)
I also thought about how these cavities that will eventually cost me more than $200 and a summer Saturday afternoon to get them filled had always been inevitable. Trying to force the dentist to give me a way to stop them from happening didn’t stop them from happening. Dutifully going to the dentist for years didn’t stop them from happening. Not going to the dentist didn’t stop them from happening. They were going to happen, and I just had to accept that.
Except. That is possibly the most challenging thing for me to do. It’s why I have such a hard time letting go when I’m dumped without an easily explainable reason. It’s why I had such a difficult time being okay with the fact that I didn’t end up having the career I’d thought I would in college. I refuse to just let things be.
It’s all my brain’s fault. We rarely get answers that make sense in life, yet somehow our brains just keep on trying to create some semblance of logic. We’re constantly looking for patterns and furiously attempting to connect the dots. We’re not comfortable with things that confuse us.
So no wonder I was upset about these cavities that came out of nowhere and were determined to exist. But after I was able to halt the tears and settle in to the regular discomfort of a dentist appointment, I realized that my brain doesn’t have to be my worst enemy. The biggest victories for me recorded on this blog so far have been the small ones where I don’t send a text or don’t send an email or don’t chase after someone–they’re the times I’ve been able to just accept that we don’t always get reasons for things.
And it sucks; there’s no eloquent way to express that truth. Yet even while it sucks to accept that we do not have control over everything, it also makes us stronger to do so. Admitting we’re not able to fix or change or help every single aspect of life means we get to take a break sometimes. Sometimes, we have to sit back and understand that realizing when we cannot do something is almost as big of an accomplishment as actually doing something.
Key word: almost. I still wish there was a way I could have prevented these cavities from coming.