What’s the End Result?

Tomorrow I get to do something that, according to statistics, is one of the things adult survivors of sexual abuse dread the most. I have to have some dental work done.

I was terrified going to the initial appointment for an exam, I’m terrified of going back to have this work done, and I’m terrified of the number of appointments I will have to have to fully complete the work. Luckily, we found a dentist here in Corvallis who specializes in sedation dentistry, so I will actually be sedated long before I step foot in the office tomorrow, but even with that added bonus, just the thought of being in a dentist chair makes me feel queasy.

The only thing that is getting me through this, and the thing I’m counting on to get me through this whole process is the knowledge that the end result will be worth it. I’m looking forward to getting these things fixed and moving forward.

I think healing from abuse is a similar reality. Some of the steps toward healing can be scary, and many of them won’t be all that pleasant. Facing what happened, and facing the self-destructive behaviors we’ve developed over the years to help deal with it can be pretty terrifying. Healing isn’t always pretty. Sometimes, it can be a lot like taking a drill in the mouth, but we do it because the end result is worth it.

A life beyond “surviving” is out there, and it’s possible, but you have to show up to each appointment to get there. Keep your eyes on the end goal and keep moving forward!

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23 Responses

  1. sherylburpeedluginsherylski

    Thanks for this post, Mike. I didn’t know about the correlation between a fear of dental work and sexual abuse history. Do you know any more about that connection? I am a survivor (though I prefer the term thriver) too but don’t have this fear, so I’m curious where it comes from or how it is related. I know we statistically have more fears and phobias in general, but why this one specifically? In any case, I wish you peace and comfort through this process. I recommend breath work for calming anxieties. Happy to share more about that if you are interested. Best of luck, and thanks again for the post.

  2. Caroline Abbott

    Interesting! I never knew there was a correlation! I just read a really interesting book for victims of abuse and their children. It’s called When Dad hurts Mom, Helping your Children Heal the Wounds of Witnessing Abuse, by Lundy Bancroft. I realize many of your readers are past this stage, but others may benefit. Really helpful info.

  3. Tami

    My therapist’s opinion on this was that much of it is about positioning. In the dental chair, you are completely exposed and vulnerable, with someone standing right over your head. Yeah, that’s pretty scary and triggering. Should I ever get to the point that I can trust a dentist enough, I should tell him or her that I’m a CSA survivor.

    Another difficult medical experience was having my thyroid biopsied. Ugh. My therapist offered to call the doctor and explain my absolute terror but I declined. I just wasn’t ready to divulge that information to other people, even doctors.

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