What Dental Health Taught Me About Mental Health

I am a flosser. Although flossing is one thing in life that I actually manage not to obsess about, I do genuinely enjoy the feeling of freshly flossed teeth—particularly after eating something especially chewy or stringy!

This was the case after I ate supper last night.salad-small I took the evening off from my previously planned activities simply to be kind to myself. And though it took me a while to get up the energy or motivation to make myself a proper meal, I ended up putting together a delicious salad full of wonderfully healthy veggies and topped off with a nice helping of bacon! Well, nothing gets stuck in between my teeth quite like meat does. So as you can imagine, I went straight for the floss afterwards.

Not to gross you out or anything, but sometimes I am mind blown by the size of food chunks that can get lodged in my teeth! It seriously makes me think that maybe I should be more obsessive about flossing! I mean really, if I forget for a few days and all of that junk is just left in there to rot?! Blech!

At this point, if you’re not already too revolted, you might be starting to wonder if I’m actually going to manage to turn chunks of old food rotting in between my teeth into some kind of meaningful analogy about life. Well, the answer is yes, I am! So read on, if you dare!

Legitimately, as I stood there flossing the bacon out of my chompers last night, I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of toxic junk I have hiding in between the cracks and crevices of my life. If there’s one thing I know these days, it’s that I can’t always see what’s going on right in front of me. I am frequently plagued by issues of fear, pride, or insecurity that I don’t even realize are affecting my actions and emotions.

But what happens if these toxins are just left there to fester, hidden away in the tiny little nooks and crannies that I can’t see (or choose not to look at)? They will rot. They will poison me from the inside out. And I will regret the fact that I chose not to floss!

My problem is that I find dealing with my weaknesses and shortcomings to be such a fearsome undertaking. I was talking about procrastination yesterday (read that post here), and this is DEFINITELY another area where I procrastinate! I can have this sense that there is something hidden beneath the surface that I really need to deal with, but I am too scared to face it. I know it will hurt. I know it will be uncomfortable. I know it might mean the loss of a coping mechanism, something that I have come to rely on as a source of self-protection. It will leave me vulnerable, and that scares me!

But the thing is that flossing always hurts the first time you do it. If you are not a regular flosser, and you finally get around to it after a few weeks or months (or years) of not, your gums are going to burn, and throb, and probably even bleed. It won’t be comfortable and you will feel like you never want to do it again. But if you keep it up regularly, it will get less painful. Over time, the more you floss, the less pain you will experience. It will get easier and more rewarding each time.

I am wondering if this might also be the case with flossing the junk out of my life. I don’t want to do it. I don’t want to expose those chunks of toxic waste hidden within my soul. But I also realize that if I don’t deal with them, the cavities they will leave are going to hurt way more than the act of digging them out. So maybe this needs to become a more common practice for me. And maybe, over time, it will get a little bit easier.

I have always been a fan of dental floss. Today, I think I am also becoming a fan of mental floss.

What about you? Do you fear dealing with the toxins in your life? How do you navigate the painful aftermath of exposing the junk and sifting it out?

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