The dentist is like that movie Groundhog’s Day, only more shaming.
“How often are you flossing, dear?”
“Er, um, ha ha, you know, like almost every day….. Well….maybe more like a couple times a week…month…well, occasionally. I mean, I’ll start.”
Caught in my lie. I’m not flossing.
Is it really so easy to floss daily that my dental hygienist should just assume I’m doing it? Are other people doing this every day (I can’t ask my friends lest they find out the shameful secret that this habit has never really caught on for me)? When did everyone start? Isn’t everyone too tired to add one more thing onto their bedtime routine (no way in hell I can stay up 20 seconds longer)? Don’t they find it awkward to reach both their hands into their mouth (do I have a small mouth?)? Isn’t it hard to do something with such delayed gratification? Is everyone a better person than me?
Flossing has always seemed like one of those things I will do when I’m “finally” an adult. Along with make my bed every day, never drink too much, be calm and composed at all times, and have plenty of money in my savings account.
Yet, the truth is I still have more mornings than I want where I wake up anxious and dehydrated from one-too-many cocktails the night before. There are full weeks…or two…that go by without my toilet getting cleaned (sorry, mom). There are days when I get really overwhelmed or sad about seemingly nothing and cry.
And I find these things to be problems. Things I want to get rid of.
Yet, these things in and of themselves are not necessarily the problem. The problem is my judgment and self-criticism of my behaviors and myself.
This all relates to a bigger struggle that I, and lots of people, have about tying my value as a person to what I do instead of who I am. (Sometimes, it seems like my dental hygienist does too – I’m a kind person, I swear! My plaque means nothing! – [also, my dental hygienist really is a lovely person, and I would highly recommend her]). This is a dangerous trap – to have some mostly-arbitrary external goal to judge myself by. It’s a dangerous trap to judge myself at all, really. So if I have friends over with clothes all over my floor, if I can’t do a handstand, if my ass never gets smaller (and it probably won’t no matter how much kale I eat), if I have a zit on my face or cry sometimes, or say no to a friend, or spend money on expensive bubble bath I “shouldn’t,” then I’m never good enough?
So this is why I’m practicing self-acceptance. I can love myself with an unmade bed or when I am embarrassed after making a really un-funny joke or when I snap at a loved one in a moment of frustration. I’m on a journey. I’m practicing. I want to shush that ever-present “not good enough” part of my brain and start teaching that little voice that dang it – I am good enough! And that’s not because of anything I have done or will do. It is because I am me.
And in the mean-time, I got those cute little floss-pick things.
But they are kind of pokey on the end, and I don’t appreciate that, so maybe it’s just not meant to be.