A letter to my Dentist:
Dear Dr. Dentist,
If you're reading this, it's not boding well for today's appointment. How can I explain succinctly, without embarrassing myself any more than I already am?
Altho I look like a grown-up, going to the dentist tends to send me spiraling back down to normally healed childhood sexual abuse issues. The dentist has been the one and only issue I cannot seem to heal.
I swear that I am usually a grown-up, capable of speaking coherently and behaving properly. However, being at the dentist triggers certain memories that I am not fully cognizant of - but my body remembers. Having my mouth held open (forced?) and unable to close it, and bodies hovering over me... hopefully I don't need to be more graphic in explaining what sex act was forced on me as a 2 year old.
Because I was so young, it is 'normal' to not fully remember, and have the body take over. A two-year old is unable to process sexual abuse and pain, both cognitively and verbally. That is why I cannot seem to talk right now. I don't know how to explain this without making me seem like a nutball or horribly dysfunctional person. The easiest way to think of it is that you're dealing with the behavior of a two year old on the outside, and with the adult on the inside who is aware of what is happening, and is struggling to get the grown-up back in charge of the body. Sometimes I can, most of the time I can't. Some think it is the same as having mulitple personalities... I don't know. It may very well be on the more healed end of it, since I am aware of the 2 year-old. I guess fully healed would mean that I could control her!
In the past, when I've tried to explain, I've overheard the male dentist talking to the male assistant, feeling sorry for my husband cause "the poor guy doesn't get blow-jobs". Not only did he assume I'm always like this, but he shamed me and I had to walk (run away) out. Another dentist, female, scolded me, telling me to "just get over it, so she could get this (pulling a tooth) over with". What does a 2 year old do when verbally spanked? Cries harder, so it just made it worse. It's taken ALOT of work in counseling, and I am healed in every area - except for the dentist chair. I do much, much better with people who understand and don't treat me like a freak.
When the triggers take over, I start choking and gagging, and I cannot speak. I do understand what is going on, and can communicate by nodding or shaking my head. One time I brought a friend with me to help communicate, but it's so embarrassing - I don't want anyone who knows me to see this.
Sometimes I can stop choking and gagging, and deal with it. It is an act of supreme physical and mental effort, and exhausting. Being given choices is key in healing, and it helps if I know I can stop and take a breath. If you and your assistant can step back and stop hovering for a minute, so I can "maintain". The thing that is put inside the mouth to keep it open?... is impossible for me to do. The happy gas doesn't help. Being drunk doesn't help. Being drugged doesn't help.
Because I woke up in the middle of the nite choking and gagging, despite forgetting that I had an appointment today (until I woke up this morning), I know that it's not looking good. It used to be so bad that after each appointment, I'd completely block out the experience, make another appointment months/years later, completely forgetting that there was a problem. I'd go, be FINE, sit in the chair, chat pleasantly with everyone... until I had to lay back and hands were in my mouth. Flashbacks.
There have been a couple of times when I was "fine", by disassociating completely. I wasn't 'there' so to speak, which was great for me, but not for the dentist, because I simply didn't respond to questions or decision-making. I used to be able to disassociate at will, ironically - the more healed - the more I lost that "ability". I AM able to do what needs to be done. It just takes understanding.
So, Dr. Dentist, that is my story. Oh yes. I also have Multiple Sclerosis. Is that a problem?