Addiction, Anxiety/Worry, awareness, Control, Faith/Spirituality, Recovery

Extraction!

I don’t usually write at 4:30 in the afternoon, but today I am a little off because I got a tooth extracted this morning. I went in at 7:00 am and left at 9:45. I have mentioned before that I am a big baby when it comes to dental work. My heart rate rises and even during the shots I am clawing the arms of the chair and my whole body is tense. It didn’t help that a kid was getting his tooth pulled in the room next to me. He was crying and wailing, which was pretty much what I was afraid might happen when they started yanking on my tooth! I wished I would have brought my headphones because the breaking and grinding was sort of making me go insane. I actually asked them to turn up the Mumford and Sons radios station that was playing. At least I could sing along in my head! The dentist was patient and luckily, strong. The roots to my tooth were so wound around the bone that the dentist had to pull on it with all her might for an hour to get it out. When the last piece finally released I thought she might do a post-touchdown dance!

All that was pretty un-fun. But here is the worst part; they don’t put my fake tooth in for 4-6 months! There is nothing there, an no, you can’t see it! I feel so “hillbilly-ish” I can hardly stand it. Apparently it has to heal or something dumb like that, then they can screw a fake tooth into the piece they just drilled in to my jaw (anyone feeling light-headed just talking about this?).

My point in all this isn’t to get sympathy (though I totally earned it!). I had to let my brain go somewhere different while I was waiting for all that to be done, so naturally I thought about how that pleasant situation could relate somehow to life. For starters, I remember a friend sharing that she had some trauma as a young woman that damaged her heart, her body and her tooth. She has been wrestling with the effects of this event for almost 20 years. Awhile ago, she finally had the damaged tooth extracted and shared with me how she used it as an opportunity to make it a symbolic extraction of not only the tooth, but all the pain, nightmares, fears, insecurities and anger that she had been battling for years. I decided to give it a shot.

I pictured God as the dentist, trying his hardest to extract the rotten, unnecessary or no longer needed defects of character out of me. I know without a doubt that even though I know it needs to happen, there is something in me that holds on to those things for dear life. I am like those roots, twisted and tight and clinging with all my might to the very things that can set me free. Relieve me of pain. Help me move on in health and lightness.

And about these defects of character…recovery rooms define them as “assets that have lost proportion.” When we get out of touch with God, listen to wrong voices, are self absorbed and egocentric, or are effected by the disease of addiction in whatever form it presents itself, we often let the very things that once served us well, morph into behaviors or thought patterns that are dangerous to ourselves and our relationships with others. Our job however, and thank God for this, is not to figure out which ones need to go and how to make them go. Our job is simply to turn them over to God and let him decide the where, when, what and how of it. This may sound lazy to some of you, but if you think you are in control of what gets removed and the rate at which it goes, you might be deceiving yourself a bit.

Giving it to God lets a great weight fall from your shoulders.

One last thing; just like the area where my tooth is missing (sigh) has to heal for several months in order for a new tooth to be installed, so do you. You have to give time time. After the old ways, the useless and sometimes harmful ways are extracted, a period of healing and preparing and regenerating needs to happen before the new can be installed in you. Enjoy that time. Rest. Recover. Be patient. Be present. Be grateful. But be ready, because he is about to do something new and beautiful in you when you are ready for it.

I promise it will be worth the wait.

Growth, Patience/waiting, Recovery, Uncategorized

“I’m not fat, I’m fluffy!”

Well, maybe a better word would be “puffy”. Please refer to my previous blog entitled, “Fat-Suit” so that you can fully appreciate these follow-up thoughts. Before I was diagnosed with Leukemia, I was unfortunately mis-diagnosed with Rheumatoid arthritis. The main marker in determining this was my RA factor, which basically tells you how “puffy” or inflamed my joints are. The normal range is between 0 and 14. Mine was 842. Very NOT normal. Since I am now recovering from Leukemia, we suspect that the inflammation was due to cancer, not RA. I had my RA factor checked last week and they told me it was 142. Still not normal, but  I’d say 700 is a good drop. I called my oncologist to see if he thought this number was still high due to residual effects of Chemo. The answer: absolutely.  It turns out that my “fat-suit” isn’t actually fat after all. It’s chemicals and drugs and my bodies’ reaction to Leukemia. What wonderful news! I told the nurse that I was just getting ready to do some hard-core dieting so I could fit in my winter clothes. She told me not to worry about it because it was just going to take some time. I can’t control the rate at which I “deflate”. When I begged for a projected end to this foreign body, she said, “it’s hard to say. It’s different for every person.”

Here’s my take away: one: I, we, all have a certain amount of “inflammation” due to toxins and chemicals (sins and defects of character) that cover our “real” selves and two: we all shed this layer of foreign substance at our own pace. It’s different for every person, just like with chemo. We each have our own unique process of sloughing off the poisons that prevent us from being who God designed us to be at our core. This will take a life time for most of us. A lifetime of inflammation and deflation as we navigate, humble ourselves, surrender our will and take it back again-over and over and over. Oh-but friends…We have a patient, understanding and forgiving God, who does not give up on us or put a timeframe on our recovery. He does not wish that any of us should perish. Our soul disease is like my Leukemia: cured. But there are still remnants of it that take time and prayer to rid ourselves of. He will do it in His time. We just have to be willing to show up for the treatment and take care of ourselves in ways that promote healing. He alone can reduce the swelling in our “fluffy” and inflamed souls.