I fulfilled a life long dream one week ago today…and in that same moment I embarked on a nightmare I didn’t quite anticipate…
Ever since I’ve been old enough to look in a mirror and form an attachment to the image I see there, I’ve hated my teeth.
They aren’t awful. They aren’t even bad. But I’ve hated them.
Maybe it’s because it’s in my nature to have everything perfect in my life, maybe it’s because I am sick of biting the inside of my cheeks or perhaps I’m just vain…(or maybe it’s because my teeth actually are that bad and I’ve managed to convince myself otherwise…but my subconscious knows the real truth, and secretly booked the appointment)…..who knows?
But whatever they are….or aren’t….
I did it!
At nearly 37 years of age…and with my 16 year old son there to share the experience and sympathise…
I got braces!
I knew it would be painful (people tell you that)
I knew it would be expensive (they tell you that too)
I thought they would look ok (because son and I had googled lots of pictures beforehand!)
And I also “knew”…..deep down….that it would be worth it….eventually
But what I didn’t know was just how badly it would effect me.
At first I thought I was really cool for actually getting it done. Like I’d joined a club!
Then I tried to eat. There is something about the sensation that you are literally eating your own teeth, in public, that very quickly removes all feelings of being “cool”
Then I decided to just suck it up. I went to work the very next day, with lipstick and a very painful “lip closed” smile on, and proceeded to tell my clients, through pink gloss smeared, metal capped, “spring stretched” (yet still noticeably crooked) teeth, self consciously covered by closed lips, just how happy I was to be finally “fixing” my awful teeth.
God I felt like crap…
My son (who’s dealing with it much better than I am…perhaps because he’s surrounded by “metal mouths” at school – or maybe because he simply didn’t inherit the vanity gene – said quite pragmatically to me, while examining his new train tracks in the mirror…”you know what, Mum? Braces look much better on straight teeth”
Then I got drunk on the Friday night and, while clumsily attempting to apply soggy beeswax to the protruding metal prongs in all 4 corners of my mouth, and while feeling the pain, inconvenience and frustration (all while simultaneously feeling massively sorry for myself) I looked at myself in the mirror….
and emotionally raw
the wine and the realization hit me…
This is it. For at least 12 months (I’m clinging to the orthodontists diagnosis…it sounds far better than the info they give you to bring home – 18-24 months?? Ummmmm…no thanks!)
THIS IS IT
Like it or not…I will have a mouth filled with wire. I will surrender to the pain, the pressure, the sharp edges scraping my soft cheeks.
And I will accept the ugly new smile, that (ironically) makes me think my old teeth weren’t actually that bad.
I will brush 3 times a day, floss, pick out chunks of food constantly and cut my lips just to smile.
I will feel self conscious. I will cover my mouth when I laugh. I will accept a peck on the cheek (or awkward closed mouth kisses) when I just so desperately want to KISS!!!!
I cried. (I’m not ashamed to admit it)
I really, REALLY, REALLY cried! Sobbed and shook and felt the most sorry for myself since I can remember!
And then I fell asleep….and woke up to a hangover and crooked teeth covered in wire.
* * * *
At some point the discomfort eased and eating became some kind of normal.
I can talk to people now and not mention it until they say “hey, have you had braces put on?”
I can smile and I can laugh…and I can ignore the scraping of metal with the help of my new friend “beeswax” or, time not allowing, great big doses of “toughen up, Princess”
I think I’ve actually made friends with my braces, as we’ve learned to co-exist, and I know they will eventually leave me in a happier place.
I can honestly say I’ve surrendered some of my vanity too.
I realise that the face you’re given to present to the world is merely that…
If you can be honest with yourself and your struggles in life, and just keep smiling (somehow!) people will see the real you.
And they will still love you
And at the end of the day that’s what really matters.
* * * *
Oh, the irony….