Walking into the dental office that morning was more difficult than running a marathon. My palms were wet with sweat, my legs felt heavy as lead, and my breathing was quick and strained. As I reached for the door, I braced myself for the smell of anesthesia and the sound of drills grinding teeth. The thought sent a wave of nausea over me. The next steps were blurred as I entered the waiting room and approached the registration desk. I was greeted by warm, smiling faces who immediately escorted me to the chair of impending doom. They knew I was “one of those patients.”
I was slightly dazed as the assistant secured the dental bib around my neck and asked if I wanted headphones. We agreed the noise would help drown out the sound of the drill.
As the chair reclined, my body tightened as if life-sustaining oxygen was being squeezed out of my lungs by a boa constrictor. Regardless of the nitrous oxide being pumped through my body through a small masked funnel across my face, my anxiety level was at an all-time high. Inhaling deeply, I attempted to relax my mind and my muscles to endure a routine dental procedure.
Without warning, my sobbing began. When the assistant left me to gather my thoughts, I scolded myself and questioned why I was reacting like a child. As the nitrous drunkenness took hold, memories flooded my brain. I was under the lights of an ER strapped to a table.
I was six years old and my mom and dad had scheduled a night out, leaving us with a high school-aged neighbor girl. My parents had given us specific instructions to stay in the house and obey the sitter, but the weather was warm and I was aching to be outside. I lied to the sitter and convinced her to let me go for a bike ride.
My bike was sweet. It sported a yellow banana seat, chopper-style handlebars and glittered string confetti hanging from the handles. My dad added reflective lights to the spokes and mounted a fancy orange flag on the end of a white stick to the back of my seat. When I peddled fast, the flag would whip in the wind and make a whistling sound. I pretended to be Evil Knievel soaring across Grand Canyon when I jumped curbs. I felt daring and free.
The alley behind our house had a storm water run-off drain that was covered by a metal grate with bars about two inches apart. I had cycled past it a dozen times before, but that day I decided to ride over the top of it going top speed.
Unfortunately, the tires on my bike were smaller than the distance between the bars on the grate and when my front tire hit the grate, it slide between the bars and locked up. The intertia continued to propel me forward and threw me onto the concrete. With my hands on the bars, I landed directly on my face. Then I blacked out.
When I regained consciousness, I was in a frightening room with bright lights, muffled voices, white coats, and the realization that I couldn’t move my arms. They had been strapped down to a table so the doctors and nurses could do their work. My mom stood nearby watching them stitch me up. Beyond the physical wounds, my heart hurt the worst. I told myself I was a terrible, horrible, awful kid for having ruined my parent’s night out. I thought the accident was God’s way of punishing me for lying to the sitter.
I didn’t realize it then, but that moment shifted my entire existence. I had appointments with doctors and weekly appointments with the dentist. Not only was each visit a reminder of my offense, but the accident also changed the shape of my mouth and jaw. My smile was never the same. I once resembled my sisters, but was never again confused as a twin or triplet when we went out. I felt like an outsider in my own family.
In the dental chair that day, I realized why I was subconsciously – and consciously — terrified by the dental chair. It wasn’t the smells or the sounds, while still unpleasant, it was the reminder of the negative messages I told myself as a six year old.
After my appointment, I stopped at a state park and gave those messages back to the universe. Odd as it sounds, I forgave the little girl for being human and adventurous and thanked her for being courageous in a frightening place. The little girl with the broken mouth and face was finally at peace. I put her to rest inside my heart.
Driving home that day, I questioned how many other negative messages I had inadvertently carried into adulthood and decided to recycle them, too. I chose to re-shape my belief system and dwell from a place of power.
When we operate from a place of awareness and pay attention to the messages of our soul, it gives us an opportunity to dwell in possibility and live in a Powerful Perspective.
To learn more about the Powerful Perspectives coaching process, or schedule an introductory coaching appointment, kindly email Samantha@powerfulperspectives.net