Thursday, November 15, 2012
2 years ago, my bi-yearly dental appointment was timely as my entire mouth was hurting. I was positive something had infiltrated my teeth, certain I was fraught with cavities or some horrific gum disease despite the fact I am meticulous when it comes to dental care. The hygienist told me my worries were in vain; and it sounded as if I were grinding my teeth at night, suggesting perhaps I was experiencing stress.
That seemed impossible, as I was a rock. I was touted for my steadfast positive attitude and ability to persevere despite the years of continued abuse by my ex husband. True, there were underlying post traumatic stresses, but in general, I was a survivor. Expressing anxiety with nocturnal grinding seemed impossible. However, I had recently learned my oldest son was going to be an unwed father. It was shocking because my son would relate how his father publicly called him, “my gay son”. Unlike his father, my son focused on school, sports and band, uninterested in mirroring his father who still needed an abundance of sexual conquests to enhance his reputation. My close relationship with my son had been severed by his father’s pattern of spiteful retribution at each happy milestone in my life, after my son escorted me down the aisle at my 2007 wedding.
So, in theory I was going to be a grandmother, but realistically, I was not going to enjoy the relationship that went along with that privilege. Indeed, that was the root of my symptoms. I had therapy to deal with the trauma of my former abusive marriage. I was in the process of the final editing of my book, “…Until You Die”: The Narcissist’s Promise, which proved to be a cathartic documentation of the road to survival. I was a high functioning woman, wife and mother. So why did I have to endure pain that was expressed in my sleep? It didn’t seem fair.
So, for several days, I was experiencing intense pain in my mouth. Certain that this time, it was definitely medical, I was examined and tested and learned it was TMJ or TMD: TEMPOROMANDIBULAR DISORDERS occur as a result of problems with the jaw, jaw joint and surrounding facial muscles caused by grinding or clenching your teeth during sleep.
I am not one who likes to be viewed as vulnerable. I don’t like to show pain, sadness or discomfort. I keep my emotions hidden. Perhaps my desire to be strong and viewed as such is manifested by uncontrolled physical ailment. It was almost eerie that my stress was being felt through my teeth, as my ex had an abnormal fear of the dentist. During our marriage, he expressed his disappointment when he learned I did not need root canal by commenting, “Too bad. You should know what that pain is like.”
So, with a combination of pain killers, relaxers, warm compresses, a mouth guard and a lot of wine, I am starting to feel much better. I will use the remainder of my wine in my cooking. I will end the medications shortly as well. I will probably use my mouth guard as a precaution. My stress will always be present, lying dormant until something serves as its trigger; a memory of my children, their picture or perhaps an upcoming holiday.
Although I know I can only wait until my children can face the truth and return to me on their own, they are always in my thoughts. The unfairness and cruelty of the situation is excruciating when brought to the surface of consciousness, especially since I’ve learned I can be blindsided by that pain. But now I am equipped recognize the pain, face it and conquer it. This is just another symptomatic battle…and I am still winning for I am still a survivor.