Sticking up for myself has never been my strong suit. For so many years I was simply fighting to survive. With no will to live you can imagine how effort towards anything felt like a waste. I gave my life away to whoever wanted control. Took whatever pills were prescribed to me and went along with treatment plans I didn’t care for. I didn’t understand the power I could have over my life so I let people treat me the way they treated me.
With my upcoming surgery to fix my chronic jaw and neck pain, I am limited on the choices I have. There is a long list of things that need to happen for me to be able to live a pain-free life and most of those things are in my surgeon’s hands. However, I recently discovered there was a decision I could make to save myself a lot of pain, a lot of money and a lot more time.
A lot of times doctors will solve the problem they know how to solve, even if it’s not exactly the problem their patient has. Braces are used before, during and after jaw surgery to assist a maxillofacial surgeon. Unfortunately, the orthodontist I started working with had bigger plans for me than I understood or needed. I believe he wanted to help me in the way that he believed would, but he did not give me the full picture to make an informed decision. He did not give me a chance to stick up for myself.
When my mother and I went to meet my surgeon in Dallas, in person for the first time, my mom pushed for more information on the orthodontist’s process. If the extra procedures were really necessary and what the consequences might be. Without this information, I never would have known there was something to stand up for. I had already worn braces for almost 2 months and was days away from the appointment to start the questionable procedure. Luckily, I knew it was time to stand up for myself. I saw how much of a difference my mom already made just by asking more questions. I needed to control the only part of this process I could. Take matters into my hands and not give away decisions about my body.
I gathered the facts I needed. Assessed the skepticism I felt. Was it appropriate to be untrusting of this doctor? Could I believe in him to take care of me the way I wanted? I explained to him it isn’t personal, we see different solutions, but considering we hadn’t started any actual work yet, I would like my braces removed and I will go elsewhere.
The swarm of butterflies inside my stomach weren’t comfortable. Having to start over with a new orthodontist feels stressful. But knowing I took control of the one piece I had control over felt empowering. A reminder to myself that the choices about my body are mine to make. That through temporary mental discomfort I will have sustainable success. I am a good communicator and I won’t allow anyone, no matter what position they might hold, to take advantage. Sticking up for myself might feel like more work now, but in the end it saved me months of work, distress and my perfect bite. I feel proud of myself for taking this bold step and ready to do it again if necessary.
Anxiety has a way of speeding everything up. Making things too fast paced, too hard to keep up with. Racing thoughts, fast beating heart, fidgeting and an overall sense of restlesness. When I have a lot going on, when I feel anxiety creeping in, I prioritize taking my time. Deep breaths, staying in the moment and allowing myself a break from thinking. Because time is constant and my mind is in charge of how it feels.
A couple weeks ago I wrote about the uncertain times surrounding me. Living out of hotels as my landlords renovated my apartment, appointments and traveling to prepare for my upcoming surgery, amongst other chaotic situations out of my control. As I sat on the plane home from my doctor's appointment in Dallas, finally returning to my apartment, long awaited Bronco, and nearby summer plans, I was reminded that even the good times can feel overwhelming. Right then, all I had to do was sit back and let that plane take me to Los Angeles. I let myself relax.
Coming home to my belongings scattered over the dusty construction site that was supposed to be my “ready to move back in” apartment was something I could not have prepared for even if I had worried about it. My TV replaced without my consent, valuables lost and broken, landlords who show zero respect. Just another situation I have to tend to. But I can do that. I can clean the mess they left. I can replace my TV. I can communicate with the homeowners. This is life. It’s not always pretty, clean, or made easy for me, but I am grateful I felt positive and relaxed during those moments where I could. Leaving it fresh on my mind that relaxation isn’t too far to reach.
While returning home to my apartment felt like a nightmare, picking up my Bronco exceeded my dreams! Not only is this car everything I wanted and more, it fits in my garage space! (Another worry I wasted my time on.) Just as I took my flight to relax and let go, I took a moment to sit in my car after pulling back into my apartment. I sat back, finished my song, and enjoyed this win. The mess I was about to walk back to didn't need to take away from this glory. My mindset to embrace the positive and work through the negative is what motivates me the most. There is no losing when wellness is my goal.
At any point in time there are an infinite amount of worries I could have, things I could try to plan ahead for. But if ever I feel overwhelmed, the answer is always to take a moment. I’m prepared. I have the tools I need to overcome any situation. I am most powerful when I sit with that trust. Comforted by the simple fact that I can rely on myself. I got this and taking a moment to relax can only benefit me. I appreciate the good to come, the good that’s been had and feel confident about the battles ahead. Everything will work out no matter what because I have the strength to create solutions to any problem. I am the storyteller of how I handle all the good and the bad.