This Thursday, I have to have two wisdom teeth extracted. I’m not too concerned with pain or discomfort. The thing that I find the scariest is the sedation and anaesthesia. I’m going to be given nitrus oxide. I could opt instead for just freezing, but advice from everyone is to have the anaesthesia and it makes sense, even to me.
For most people, it seems, the idea of being knocked out is fantastic. I’ve heard all kinds of stories about how great the feeling is, but for me, the thought is more of a nightmare. And one that I thought I was long over, but the whole wisdom tooth/anaesthesia thing has brought the nightmare back.
Like all bad nightmares, mine goes back to childhood. As a kid I had to make sure that I stayed very alert. This is where things get quite personal, so if you’re still reading and don’t want to know, you might like to click x at this point.
As a child I had to protect myself from my father. When we were in the car alone and I was wearing shorts, he would reach his hand down and touch between my thighs. My reaction was immediately to flinch and say no, don’t touch me. I had no idea why, but I didn’t’ like it. After a bad dream once he came in to comfort me. Soon his hand was beneath my pajama top on my back. I had to stop crying and move away, call for my mother. This sort of thing went on all the time. If I wasn’t alert, I would be touched in places I didn’t want to be touched. I always slept with my door closed. Sometimes I would wake up to find my door open and my father standing in the threshold. Sometimes he would drink and come to my door crying, begging. I had to say no and I had to be firm. I had to be alert. The summer I was 13 and had gotten caught for shoplifting, I was grounded. My mother was working every day, but my father was home. After the shoplifting incident, he took me in his arms and gave me a French kiss. I wrestled away from him. I told my mother and for a few weeks, we moved away. Then we moved back.
Growing up there were two of me: the little girl who had to be protected and the smart, stay alert protector. The protector always took care of the little girl, never lettiing her get into situations which would make her vulnerable.
I moved away from my parents as soon as I could. The first time I had a place with a door that locked and no one but me able to unlock it, I felt safer than I had ever been in my life. I had a sanctuary. I slept a lot.
I dealt with all of this years ago with therapy. I thought I had anyway. I used to always believe that nothing ever happened to me because I said no. The therapist explained to me that I was a survivor and that I had taken good care of myself. That’s something I’ve always done. I’ve protected the little girl.
This whole anaesthesia thing brought it all back to me. I wanted to protect that little girl, keep her from being vulnerable and in danger. I have never been able to be out of control. Other people take drugs and enjoy that feeling or drink until they can’t remember anything the next morning. I have never been able to do that. I don’t like airplanes, elevators and being in fast moving cars driven by other people. It’s all about protecting that little girl.
So with this wisdom tooth extraction looming, I’ve become more and more anxious, becoming very distant and scared. This morning I finally understood, with the help of my husband, who knows and understands me like no one else in this world, where all of my fear and anxiety was coming from. I was working so hard to protect the little girl from being hurt, so afraid for her.
For the past few weeks when I’ve told people about the upcoming wisdom tooth surgery and anaesthesia, it’s been pissing me off the way everybody is so eager for me to be knocked out and I’m sorry about that. It’s no one’s fault. For most people, this is a good thing. It should be. Who wants to experience the sounds and discomfort of an extraction with just freezing alone if one can avoid it? Hell, I don’t. But what I needed to understand is that I don’t need to protect that little girl. That everything will be fine and that although I will be under anaesthesia, I have not lost control. Not in a way that will make me vulnerable to something I don’t want.
So why am I blathering about this here? One reason is because I have felt very weird of late. I have not understood why the whole world seems to be ok with losing control. I have felt like an outsider again. I have felt that there is something odd about me again to not want to lose control, to not be into drugs or extreme alcohol use, to keep my feet firmly on the ground at all times.
Perhaps I’m thinking that maybe there are other people out there who know what I’m going through, who might take some kind of comfort in knowing they are not alone.
The good thing is that now that I understand I can face the surgery and the anaesthesia. I’m still squeamish about it, I have to say, but I know I’ll survive because surviving is what I do.
Learning to let go…that might be a bit harder. This is one step. I didn’t realize how deeply the fears were implanted. It will be good to have them extracted.
I might write again about this wisdom tooth thing, but soon back to the lit stuff, a lot less traumatic hopefully. Unless I read some really crappy or brilliant poems in the waiting room on Thursday that I’ll feel obligated to talk about.