Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Vulnerability At The Dentist Office

Last week, I had a big dose of vulnerability that wasn't easy to handle.  Whenever events like this happen, I'm always reminded of Brene Brown's talks on vulnerability.  It never seems like it is easy to be in this place and the emotions run high from moments like this.

In one of the last episodes of the Glee Project, their subject was vulnerability.  You could see some of the pain in each person as they experienced moments of vulnerability.  It wasn't easy for them and I'm sure took a lot out of them emotionally.

My latest experience was at the dentist office.  If you have read my blog post for some time you will see that I've endured some pretty rough moments at the dentist office and to read past blog posts on the dentist, click here.  Last week I had to go into the dentist because my denture that I wear, broke in two pieces.  It was not an option as the only way I could wear it, was to get it fixed and without it, everyone would be able to notice it was missing.

It is always a challenge to make an appointment and walk in the door.  The past trauma I have been through that is connected to this denture is almost unbearable.  The emotions of shame and sadness come to the forefront and are stronger than a bulldozer pushing a mountain.  On top of this, financial constraints made this a nightmare because I knew just how expensive of a situation I was facing.

Upon arriving, I once again tried to inform the staff that because of my past experiences in life, my anxiety level is very high.  I really did not feel listened to or fully respected which made the visit all the harder.  The first thing that the dentist office staff started talking about was how old and worn down this denture was, which of course connected with my shame.  Next came the part of what it would cost and it about made my anxiety bubble over to the extreme.

The dentist of course decided he needed to do a superficial exam but since I was not prepared for that, my anxiety level rose higher and I felt my body stiffen up with fear.  I was crying throughout all of this and the next thing I know, the dentist had left to go to another patient, leaving me behind with his assistant.  I remember someone saying, "Don't cry", and I was thinking - oh great, now they see me as a big baby that can't make it in the dentist office and control myself.

I don't quite recall everything but I think I got a little angry and it wasn't directed at the staff as it was more at the mess I was in.  The staff however took it a little personal and I wanted to so badly say, please - it isn't your issue.  The issue is something I have to fight though, but I felt too vulnerable and wimpy to say that.

They wanted to do xrays and some other work, but I knew that I was not far from fainting sitting in the chair.  So my response to them was that no way were they going to do any of this work on me today.  I was more than happy to come back, but it wasn't going to happen today.  I knew my body could take no more.  I felt as exposed as I could be.

It seems that there are far too many people who just don't understand some of these basic things in life and so they make a vulnerable person, more exposed.  I struggle to find the right words to communicate these things to them so they understand.  At the same time, I feel like they are either so far removed from basic humanity that they have very little desire to understand.  I'm more than just someone sitting in the chair.  I'm a person that is dealing with enormous trauma I have experienced in my life.

Leaving the dentist office, I felt like they look at me now as some big baby that I'm not sure they really want to see come back into the office.  Maybe these people don't see me that way, but being vulnerable, it make it difficult to sort out.  After all vulnerability doesn't always leave you clear headed.  I know I had cried my eyes out and I hate doing that around people.  Our society doesn't seem to understand emotional people.

I'm questioning what my next step  is in all of this because I have more work that needs to get done, but I'm almost paralyzed with fear.  I like the dentist to some degree and his staff, but I'm wondering if they have the sensitivity I need.  It isn't easy shopping around for dentists because you have to end up experiencing their work before you really see the real dentist.

I am trying to give myself some time and evaluate my options to see what is best for me.  I'm concerned that the fear is going to paralyze me from action and I do not want that to happen.  If I thought I could walk back in the dentist office and get them to understand my limitations, it would not be a perplexing question of vulnerability.  However, at this point, I am not certain someone would truly listen.  For now, I'm giving myself time and space in here to find the next move.  I'm also trying to not be too hard on myself for being so vulerable and struggling to deal with vulnerability.

 Blog Post And Images (c) 6/24/12 Don Shetterly - use and reprint by permission only http://www.donshetterly.com You are welcomed to share the link to this blog post, but ask for for permission before reprinting this article. Thanks!


  1. Really a great and informative post about dental practice. This will really help dental surgeons.

  2. Really informative and great post about dental practice. Thanks for sharing this.

  3. This is really a great and informative post about dental practice. This will really help dental surgeons.






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