Monday, March 15, 2010

Projecting On That Internal Screen.

I had an excellent lesson today - my first root canal, which I had been hoping wouldn't turn out to be necessary, since it was first suggested to me that I might need one, back when the tooth was newly crowned, and immediately began to cause me "discomfort." (That's medical-speak for agony. I learned this sweet little euphemism when in hospital after an accident; the nurses or doctors would say cheerfully, "This might cause you some discomfort," just before they did something sufficiently painful to momentarily turn my eyeballs inside out.)

Mention of the possibility that I might need a root canal, seemed to stimulate various listeners to great heights of macabre description, of the terror and excruciating pain of a root canal.

I had to work my program assiduously, not to retreat into a state of high anxiety. Today, I had it done, and almost dozed off several times during the procedure. I started out almost paralysed with fear, but I knew how to calm myself, and promptly began reciting the Serenity Prayer. Before I knew it, I felt quite relaxed.  At one point, I jumped into full consciousness when the assisstant dropped something on the floor - I realised I'd been half-asleep.

So much for the terror and pain of a root canal. I felt rather ridiculously pleased about having resisted the temptation to work myself into a lather beforehand, worrying about what it might be like.

Letting go of it, turning it over each and every time it crept into my mind, in the weeks I was waiting for my appointment, kept me on an even keel, and permitted me to enjoy my life, even as the day approached. I went to bed last night, and fell off to sleep quite easily, no tossing, turning, worrying, fretting, or pacing of the floor.

I let it go, believed that I'd be just fine, and I was. I have come a long way in my program. Our childhood dentist was an alcoholic, and the pain of visits to that individual, instilled in me, an apparently ineradicable fear of dentistry.

I've learned in Al-Anon that I may have a fear, but I do not have to allow that fear to rule my life. I can work my program, change my attitude, be grateful for whatever blessings I may find, and I'll have an outcome far better than I might once have imagined.

On another note, my spouse has gone out to a meeting they don't ordinarily attend, to give moral support and encouragement to someone receiving their first-ever 30 day chip. The light in their face as they spoke about how wonderful Twelve Step is, making that 30 days possible, brought a lump to my throat.

I love this program.


  1. Root canals...ugh. I have had two and am due to go back for another. On the other hand, I am grateful I still have my teeth! Learning to deal with fear head on instead of running, hiding, or denying was a big step for me. Life is so much better when fear is put in it's proper God's Hands.


  2. Isn't it great how our program can get us through most anything. You know, my dentist as a kid was the first alcoholic I ever knew. Small world!

  3. I've never had a root canal but don't particularly like going to the dentist. The hygienist loves to chatter away and I would prefer to meditate and breathe. Besides how can I possibly talk with a mouth full of fingers,instruments, etc.