Shine a Damn Light

Time has no meaning in this godforsaken cell.

How long have I been sitting here?



The windowless walls feel like they’re closing in around me. A single neon light above gives the room an eerie glow and makes every shadow a distorted monstrosity. There I sit, alone, nervously awaiting whoever comes through a lone door in the corner.

Next to me, a small table full of sharp and twisted instruments that will surely be used to inflict excruciating amounts of pain.

I tell myself to not look at them, and yet I can’t look away.

As I silently curse my predicament, I can’t help but think, “please get this over with.” After all, waiting is the worst part.

Actually, it’s the second worst. The worst, of course, is knowing that I have nobody to blame for this predicament but myself. Afterall, it was my choices that led me here.

The door opens and a woman enters. She quietly puts on a pair of rubber gloves and gives me a look that turns my blood cold. I am convinced her overly pleasant smile is hiding an absolutely masochistic psychosis.

“Hello Stephen. Shall we begin?” she says in an accent that I can’t quite place.

The metal chair activates, and slowly begins to recline into the floor.  

I stare up at the ceiling, slowly close my eyes, and quietly begin to panic.

For the first time in 3 years, I am at the dentist.

Why I hate the Dentist

You’re probably now saying, “Damnit, Steve! I thought you were actually in trouble. You’re just going to the dentist! You are a terrible person and I hope somebody kicks you in the shin today.”

Sorry about that. I promise this has a point and you will learn a valuable life lesson today.

If you couldn’t tell, I hate the dentist. In fact, I would say have an actual phobia of going to one. And last week, for the first time in 3 years, I got my teeth cleaned.

I’m not afraid of the dentist because of the sterility of the building, or because the dentist himself is scary, or the fact that it’s always uncomfortable for me.

It’s more deeply rooted in shame back to my childhood, believe it or not.

When I was younger I used to drink a lot of sugary soda. Sunkist and Sprite were my favorites. Oh and Starburst candy! I also have soft teeth. So it wasn’t surprising that I would eventually get a cavity – I remember it like it was yesterday, because I thought it was the end of the world. I saw it as a major character defect, and if I remember correctly, my mom had to console me that it didn’t make me a broken person. Despite this deep shame I felt about my teeth being imperfect, I didn’t want to accept it.

… And that led to more problems.

Every time I would go to the dentist, it felt like I was playing Russian Roulette. Sometimes I would get a good check-up. Sometimes I would get drilled.

And every time I got drilled, the shame came rushing back. And so going to the dentist became an actual fear of mine.

Every 6 months, I could feel the hairs on my neck instinctively stand up when I found out it was time for my routine cleaning. The car ride to the dentist with my mom felt like William Wallace’s ride to the chopping block: “I don’t know what you’re going to do to me, but please just get it over with.”

It was never the time in the chair that ruined me, it was the anxiety leading up to the moment the dental hygienist would get started.

WORRYING that I would get yelled at, KNOWING that I probably had a cavity, and WAITING for them to decide my teeth’s fate. Sometimes they would drill. Sometimes they would lecture me on flossing. Sometimes I would get a clean bill of health.

Regardless of the outcome, I was a little ball of stress walking in. Every single time.

Now that I’m older, my dental hygiene has significantly improved. I’ve been using an electric toothbrush for years. I don’t drink soda, I don’t eat candy, and I generally take care of my mouth. I even bought those little floss pick things and manage to floss every once in awhile!

And we all know how hard flossing is. Mitch Hedberg said it best:

“People who smoke cigarettes, they say “You don’t know how hard it is to quit smoking.” Yes I do. It’s as hard as it is to start flossing.”

Anyways, my last cavity was in like 2008, and regular visits to the dentist were fine until 2013.

However, since I’ve moved so damn much since starting Nerd Fitness, my insurance has changed a bazillion times, and I have this irrational fear of the dentist, I’ve conveniently been “too busy” to go to the dentist for the past few years.

I used every excuse in the book for years as to why I couldn’t be bothered to get my teeth cleaned. It wasn’t my fault. I just had other things that had to happen first. For YEARS.

Can you see what’s REALLY happening here?

Obviously I know dental hygiene is really important. I have an insurance plan that covers a free teeth cleaning every six months, which means not going is a dumb thing to do. The sooner I go to the dentist, the sooner I can learn if there are any issues, and the sooner I can get rid of any hidden build-up before it becomes a problem.

Logically, I know all of these things. And yet it had been 3 years since my last dental visit.

Why? Because I was afraid.

In my head, I told myself: “If you don’t go to the dentist, then you can’t be told you have a cavity. If you can’t be told you have a cavity, then you don’t have one. Aka you have perfect dental health. There’s no ambiguity or anxiety. Problem solved!”

You might read that sentence and say, “Steve, you are being ridiculous. If you have a cavity, waiting LONGER to deal with it is only making the problem worse. You are a grown man who owns a fitness company. This is absurd.”

To those, people I say, “DON’T YOU THINK I ALREADY KNOW THAT!?” I’m not saying my thought process is rational or even intelligent here. In fact, I know it’s really really really dumb. I know how important it can be to take care of myself. I go to the gym 4 days per week. I get plenty of sleep! I eat pretty damn well! I really take care of myself.

And yet, my brain convinced me for 3 years to avoid the dentist and thus avoid judgment/pain/acknowledgment that my teeth aren’t perfect.

That is absurd, and yet… here we are.

Last week, my anxiety, shame, and guilt all came flooding back the second I walked down that dental office hallway, past cell after cell, until I reached mine. I felt like a character in the most recent Hostel or Saw movie.

Now, you might have read all of the above and can actually relate: “Ha! I’ve totally done the same thing! Can’t get in trouble if I don’t go right?! Can’t get a cavity if nobody tells me I have one! It’s science.”

Whichever camp you happen to fall in, I have a lesson for you.  

You might not relate to this irrational fear of the dentist, but I bet there’s a darkness your life that you’re avoiding too.

In your relationships, your job, or even looking in the mirror…

What’s hiding in the darkness?

Somebody left a comment on a recent article I wrote about shame, guilt, hero-worship, and offending people: “This isn’t anything that offended me, it just casts a light where I don’t want to look. I’m tired of doing this to myself. I’m done with fooling myself. My belly hitting the desk in front of me has pissed me off for the last time.”

We all do it!

As long as we pretend like whatever is hiding in the darkness doesn’t exist, then we don’t have to confront it or deal with it. If we don’t address, acknowledge, or measure it, then we can pretend that this particular thing, obscured by darkness, isn’t real. And thus, we can go on naively innocent assuming all is well.

Even if the last time we looked in the darkness was years ago. Kind of like Schroedinger’s cat… my teeth were both perfect and imperfect at the same time – that as long as I didn’t look in the box, both existed and thus I could continue judgment and acknowledgment-free.

And I get it, the darkness is scary!

The Darkness is also an awesome band from the mid 2000s, but that’s neither here nor there.

I’m reminded of the amazing dog cartoon you’ve definitely seen – he’s sitting there as a fire engulfs his surroundings. Despite this madness, he’s quietly drinking his coffee saying “this is fine.”

Some might say this is a dog resigned to his fate, like the captain of the Titanic going down with his ship. Might as well enjoy a cup of coffee, saying “this is fine” while the world burns.

Instead, I look at it from a different angle. Mostly because then all of this makes sense, and I can live out my dream of sharing this comic in a NF article and help you live a better life.

What if this dog is refusing to accept the fact that HIS HOUSE IS BURNING DOWN, and instead chooses to tell his brain, “This is fine. All is well. No need to panic.” Of course, had he panicked sooner, he could have just… left the building.   

I am this dog on fire when it comes to my teeth. Everything is fine! Don’t pay attention to your mouth. Just ignore it. If you don’t go to the dentist, you can assume your teeth are as perfect as the last time you had them cleaned. Even if that was years ago and one of your teeth sometimes hurts.

We need to confront the darkness, and we need to do it now. We can’t ignore the obscured parts of our lives we want to avoid and tell ourselves, “This is fine.”

Are you guilty of any of the following rationalizations?:

  1. If I don’t step on the scale, then I don’t need to address the fact that I have slowly put on 5 pounds a year for the past decade.
  2. If I don’t look at my bank statement, then I don’t need to address how little money I have, and I don’t need to start saving. YOLOOOOO TIME TO BUY ANOTHER GADGET.
  3. If I don’t go to the doctor and get an annual physical, then I don’t have to get yelled at and have him tell me i’m overweight and at risk for Type-2 diabetes.
  4. If I don’t check my credit score, then I don’t need to address the fact that I have “the credit score of a homeless ghost” (shout out to New Girl) and address the fact that I have a spending and credit problem.
  5. If I don’t tell my kid that I found his drug stash, then I can go on naively assuming he’s still the little angel I raised him to be.
  6. If I don’t have this uncomfortable conversation with my partner, then I don’t need to address the fact that I’m in a loveless relationship or that I’m no longer attracted to them.
  7. If I don’t go see a therapist then I don’t have to confront the fact that my mom was a shitty parent and I’m doing the same thing to my daughter.
  8. If I don’t open my mail or answer my phone, then I can’t talk to the bill collector and avoid the fact that I’m three house payments behind. Lalalalala, can’t hear you.
  9. If I don’t take the red pill and see how deep this rabbit hole goes, then I don’t have to address the fact that I’m in a prison for my mind and I can go back to my blissfully ignorant life in The Matrix.

We have dark corners we purposefully avoid, and we don’t want to know what’s in them. Shining a bright, powerful spotlight on the thing we don’t want to acknowledge can be horribly PAINFUL.  

In my mind, it’s also the grown-up thing to do. As we all try to do a bit more adulting (even me, at age 32), we need to confront the darkness. After all, we know the truth.

That through avoidance and refusal to peer into that darkness, and the longer we wait to confront what’s hiding in there, the WORSE it gets. That every day we wait to confront the problem is making our eventual confrontation harder and harder on ourselves A simple cavity becomes surgery. Slightly overweight becomes obese. Obese becomes life threatening. Poor becomes broke.  And the whole time we’re sitting there going “this is fine”.

So help yourself, and go get a big damn flashlight.

Shine a light and own it.

There is a BIG challenge that comes with shining a light on something you’ve purposefully kept hiding in the darkness.

Whatever it is, it might be significantly WORSE than you ever thought possible:

  • That the scale is much higher than expected. Like 75 pounds heavier. FML.
  • That I actually have less than no money. I can’t believe I bought that crap last week.
  • That I have 6 cavities and need to get a tooth pulled. Shit.
  • That talking to a therapist absolutely destroys me and digs up all kind of mental issues and years of pain and abuse I’ve been avoiding.
  • That I can’t afford this house I’m underwater on and need to move back home with my parents.
  • That this business was a stupid idea, and I need to declare bankruptcy.
  • That I am somehow a dog, and sitting in a building that’s actually on fire.
  • That I’ve actually been living in The Matrix this whole time.
  • That we have a painful conversation with a spouse who we learn has been cheating on us.

If you’re not prepared for it, if you aren’t ready to handle an answer that MIGHT be worse than you expected… learning the truth might hurt. Badly.

If we’re not careful, this truth can cause us to sink further into shame or depression. We might feel ashamed of how badly we’ve botched things. Or guilty that we let things get so bad. Or stupid and worthless for not asking for help years earlier instead of suffering in silence.

Which is what we’re all really afraid of and why we avoid shining the light.

We assume the “not knowing” is safer and less painful than the truth. As long as we don’t know, it can never be worse than we think it could be.  

Unfortunately, the “not knowing” is also what keeps us prisoner, keeps us from addressing the problem head on, and always leads to more heartache (or toothache, heyo!) for ourselves. And we can’t start solving the problem until we learn what it is and how big it is.

Which means you need to walk into the darkness with NON-JUDGMENTAL acceptance (a tall order), use 20 seconds of courage, and shine a big damn spotlight on what’s lurking there.

This is the hard part, but also the most important.

Feelings of shame and self-blame are going to rush in. The challenge is not identifying with that stuff. When I felt stupid and embarrassed for not going into the dentist for so long, it was hard not getting caught up in those feelings. But once they pass, the clouds part and you realize: hey, I’m here and owning up to this. I can’t fix yesterday, so I feel pride for finally stepping up and addressing this issue. I’m alive, “this too shall pass”.

So accept responsibility for your actions and say: “Okay, holy crap that is worse than I expected. I am GLAD I caught it now rather than waiting even longer. What can I start doing today to fix this situation?”

In other words, shine a damn light and own it:

DO NOT be mad at yourself for letting it get this bad.  

DO NOT let yourself get depressed about how much further you just realized you have to go to climb out of the hole you suddenly find yourself in.

As Rafiki taught Simba in The Lion King: “The past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it or learn from it.”


INSTEAD, BE PROUD OF YOURSELF for finally stepping up and addressing it.

As the saying goes, you are under no obligation to continue being who you were 5 minutes ago. The OLD you was the one avoiding addressing these challenges. The OLD you was naive and stupid and young (I don’t care if the OLD you was 5 minutes ago).

The NEW you is older and wiser and stepping up to take ownership and action.

You still might be scared poopless, but at least you’re doing something about it. Great work.    

Stand tall, aim that big-ass spotlight into the dark corner, and F***ING OWN what you find there.

When you say, “Alright, what’s in here? I got this.” it can change your mentality from shame and avoidance to acceptance and action.

Your next step will be to take this new baseline and improve from there. Don’t compare yourself to the past you thought you were before the spotlight (e.g. I thought my teeth were perfect and healthy, but with the spotlight I discovered new problems).

Instead, set a new baseline based on what the light revealed and grow from there:

“I can’t believe I put on 150 pounds” becomes “Okay, I am 350 pounds today. Next stop is 349.”

“I can’t believe I am $35,000 in credit card debt since I got out of college” becomes “Okay, I am starting at $35,000. I can start paying this down immediately. ”

“I used to be [skinny/debt-free/mentally-healthy] and now I am [negative shame-based identity]” becomes “This is where I am today. What can I do right now?”

Thank you for putting up with my dental horror story, now it’s your turn. Please leave a comment and answer the following questions:

Where is the shadow in your life that you previously didn’t want to shine a spotlight on?

Can you use 20 seconds of courage and then write a nonjudgmental sentence about what you’ve revealed?

What’s one action step you’re taking today to start improvement?

For the record, I ended up having to go back to the dentist two more times after this most recent visit (only one cavity though!), and I’ve already scheduled the next appointment in my calendar for 6 months from now.

-Steve, smiling

(kind of…my mouth is pretty numb at the moment)


Photo: regonold: jail

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  • Kristine

    Whoa! Zing! My batteries must have died! My PTSD is acting up, and all I want to do is play solitaire and eat sugar. The dentist thing is over now for a couple weeks, big filling, used ear buds and Pandora real loud, eyes closed, piece of cake…the next one chose pulling over root canal (cost), and couldn’t get Pandora to work! But lived through it. Have to do paper work and that is my fear, opens other (bad) Pandora ‘ s box of worms. 20 seconds here I come, thx so much for your timing.

  • Nicole

    “Set a new baseline based on what the light revealed and grow from there.” Steve, this whole message is life-changingly powerful. I am so grateful for your way with words, and that you’ve experienced this truth and can communicate it so clearly.

    My story was worse than I thought possible, and it was my 15-year marriage. I didn’t want to shine a spotlight on an addiction my partner was probably not managing. I just hoped he was taking responsibility and didn’t bring it up since I couldn’t fix it.

    When the light switch was flipped, I found out the addiction was as bad or worse as it had ever been, and that on top of it, our shared finances were being ravaged without my knowledge (and had been for a few years).

    Non-judgemental verdict: There is no trust left here, so this level of relationship (marriage partners) is no longer appropriate for us. What other configurations are available to our family of four that will allow our kids to be supported emotionally and financially from here on?

    I asked him to move out, initiated mediation to dial in financial requirements along the way to divorce proceedings, started counseling, got a new job, and continued to co-parent with civility and respect (no dissing, verbal explosions, or talking-down in front of the kiddos).

    Almost 18 months later, I’m now getting back on the scale, drinking water instead of wine, and eating veggies instead of late-night carbs.

    You’ve inspired me to get my annual check-up and to make dates with myself to balance my checkbook. Thanks for laying it all out there. I really needed this encouragement tonight.

  • Leonie :)

    I sort of have the same dental probem, except more the guilt without the fear. Oooops. I have been to the dentist before and she told me to take care of my teeth. My parents had spent a lot of money just for me to get my teeth fixed, so I didn’t want them to have to do that again. But…ooops. Now they are hurting again, and I don’t think that that’s a good thing… I know I should get it checked, but I don’t want to tell my parents 🙁

    Yeah…I guess I can use 20 seconds of courage…non-jugemental sentence:
    “Hey Leonie, you haven’t taken care of your teeth properly, but that’s okay!! You can get it fixed, do it better next time, and BAAAM!! Problem solved. There.”

    One thing I could do now to take action:
    Tell my dad who is sitting 10 meters away from me that I need to go to the dentist. That wouldn’t fix my teeth, BUT it would break my wall of fear and get me an appointment in. So…ahhhhh!! *rolls up her sleeves and takes a deep breath*

    Hehe, did it ^^ I actually told him the whole story, that my teeth had hurt again for a while, but that I didn’t say anything because I felt guilty, but that now I wanted to tell him. Now, guess what? Our insurance is covering 100% of the dental cost. They don’t even have to pay ANYTHING!! I’m not mad at my self actually…I’m so happy now! And I feel relieved!! Haha, I could dance now 😀

    Thanks Steve, for that article!! I liked it ^^ It gave me the little nuge that I needed to do it, and I did, and now I’m happy. Thanks 🙂

    — Leonie 🙂

  • Radu

    I can’t believe you’re being so negative Steve!
    What happened? There’s no need to thrash the dentist and make.the rest of us anxious. Dental health is the single most important thing you can do for yourself. Once you understand how important it is, and after you learn your lessons, flossing and regular checks and hygiene appointments become second nature.
    I don’t use freezing any more when I go, drilling included. The pain is a teacher. A great one!.

    And I look at it positively.

  • Lilac

    This speaks to me. I’m up at 2:30am dealing with the fact that I’ve gained so much weight since I last looked at a scale, and your words speak to me. Thank you for words to describe the darkness and the light I’m learning to shine on it. Best of luck with the dentist!

  • Beth

    I hate the dentist, too. I think I haven’t been in 8 years. Currently I work 10+ hours a day during the week, but will make an appointment as soon as we start getting 3 day weekends (will happen when one of my workmates is back from an injury).

  • David

    I wonder if there is a whole world of unexplored psychological investigation into the damage caused by kids being dragged off to the dentist? I can still clearly remember the name of the dentist I saw as a kid more than 30 years ago!!! BUT I couldn’t say with clarity who the dentist was I went to see yesterday after spending 3-months with a shattered tooth!! Oh the pain of my own stupidity….

    Great article Steve

  • SegaGenitals

    Same scenario for me. I had a terrible phobia of driving, which I finally overcame at 24. I would even have nightmares where I was driving and the vehicle would not respond to controls.

  • Wren_D

    That is awesome! Enjoy your pain-free smile, friend. 🙂

  • Wren_D

    You’re right, Steve, you’re doggone right! I wrestled with my dental fear for 15 YEARS. I finally had to go last year when I couldn’t take the pain anymore and had a root canal, more fillings than I can count and 2 molars removed. It all went very well, my regular dentist was very nice and didn’t lecture at all when I explained my fears to her. Admittedly, I fell back into into the clutches of my fear last October when I broke a premolar in half biting into a forgotten bone in a piece of (supposedly) boneless chicken. My regular dentist was away and I had the tooth pulled by a substitute dentist who had trouble getting me numb and then didn’t believe me when I said it hurt and told me it was all in my head. I need to go back to the dentist for general care because I don’t want more problems but I’m so worried that something like that will happen again. I have to do this, though, and I have to just make sure I don’t get that one dentist again!

  • Rebe_J

    This is a great article–and timely– though I don’t have any fear of the dentist. I’d rather get my teeth cleaned than get my hair cut. How’s that for irrational?

    Anyway, my dental hygienist is a former Olympic weightlifter. An injury prevented her from competing, but she tells great stories of her training and participating in the Olympic Games. Before she starts, I ask a few questions and the time passes quickly as she shares some fun anecdotes about her teammates and other Olympians. She has VERY STRONG hands, so I sometimes have to ask her to ease up.

    Like many others, I have some dark places that need a bright light. This article got my attention. It reminds me of one of Coach Dan John’s best quotes: “Where am I? Here. What time is it? Now.”


  • emarlow

    Oh my gosh, this is beautiful! I’ve been shining lights in many dark places over the past years and it is so validating to see this put into words – especially ones brimming with such empathy. I used to avoid how out of shape I was because I’ve always been naturally strong. And as long as I can lift a couch by myself, my organs aren’t crowded with internal sludge, right?
    It was shining this light that kicked me into gear and made me realize how much of a negative impact my office job has on my health. (I live in a very small, rural place. I have, without exaggeration, the only job in my COUNTY that offers a living wage. So although it is not really my choice in careers, I am fighting an actual battle for my life as a side effect of being able to -barely- pay my bills.)
    But I still have a lot of friends I worry for who aren’t facing their shadows. I really appreciate this support and this metaphor to take with me to help them. Thank you, Steve!

  • cmmlis

    Me too! Those nightmares were the worst.

  • HaveAGoHero

    I’ve been scared and putting off deciding if I want to stay at university or not. I have spent 2.5 years not enjoying it and struggling through. It has recently had a real negative effect on my mental health in that I got diagnosed with depression. I’m now at the point where I have to decide to carry on and struggle through, or to make the tough decision to leave and pursue my dream to become a pilot.

    Statement: This decision needs making now, I can’t keep idling as staying still is the same as going backwards in life. I will sit down today and write my goals and decide what is best for my future.

  • Neftali Ramos

    ::Sigh:: Here goes …

    I want to do something with my life where I can help others. Specifically, I would very much like to get into Law Enforcement.

    I’m 31 years old and don’t even have a Driver’s License. Any hopes that I have of pursuing such a line of work are currently next to impossible. I’d been petrified of being behind the wheel, and the older I got, the more embarrassed I felt, the more I felt like a failure that would always be terrified of something that most Americans do as a responsibility.

    I finally got my Permit and invested in a couple of courses with a professional, as well as gone driving with my husband directing me.

    On Valentine’s Day, I’m finally going to take my test. I’m still terrified of being told that I’m too much of a screw up to be a cop, but I realize that if I don’t even try, I will already be accepting defeat and failure.

  • Meghan Evans

    “One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious” -Carl Jung

  • Linda L Bush

    Wow did you step inside my brain?

  • Røxy

    There’s a chance we could make it now
    We’ll be rocking ’til the sun goes down
    I believe in a thing called looooove

  • George Titsworth


  • Garry Rodgers

    How very timely. I did just this about a month ago. I’m a pretty intelligent guy. I have a tertiary education, and often got good grades. I’m very proud of my brain. So…it’s broken. And I hate having to admit that. You see, for years I’ve been addicted to food and porn. Every time I feel bad, I know just how to feel good. But in the process, I lost my wife’s respect and trust. Which makes me feel bad, of course, and so the cycles goes round. Down, down, down. I hit rock bottom a month ago. See the guilt and shame makes me angry with myself, and then the mrs and I had a fight and the old sins got trotted out and the anger rose up and…so did my hand. If you think I’m a monster, I won’t argue. I’m certainly not proud of it.

    Ended up having an anxiety attack over it. which lead to seeing a doctor. Who diagnosed me with depression. My brain is broken, and I hate it. I hate taking my pill every morning – every morning I am reminded of my brokenness.

    On the plus side, the pantry and the porn have fallen away. The real medication means I no longer have the desire to self-medicate. And while the marriage is weak and frankly in tatters after my horrid behaviour, my very gracious wife and I are spiralling up instead of down.

    Slowly but surely we are rebuilding. I am grateful for the pills for making my brain work properly and balance out the emotions, but I hate the weakness that the brokenness implies. It’s better than the ay things were.

  • Stella

    Thank you for this wake up call – I didn’t like to admit my blood pressure is a bit higher than it should be – I don’t drink, smoke, am not overweight and pretty fit – but – I’ve been a lifelong sugar and caffeine addict – thought I was getting away with it. I need to own up and change something. Thank you for the timely reminder. Stella Donnelly


    Thank you! I am sorry for all the fear and mistrust you get directed at you. I had horrible dental experiences as a child – truly traumatizing. But I have since found a fabulous dentist and am now rocking a much improved smile. Now if only the pain would recede from switching my silver fillings out. Seven months later one tooth STILL has insane sensitivity. Yikes!

  • st0ney

    Stacy, I’m glad to hear that you have found a good dentist that you trust. Sorry to hear about that tooth that is bothering you still. Have you called the office to let them know? Many times teeth with silver fillings will have fractures underneath them that are hard to see which would require a restoration on the tooth that covers the chewing surface. Other times the bite may be off and need adjusting. Whatever the reason, I hope this resolves soon.

  • st0ney

    Dentist here. You can do it. Muster up the courage to make that phone call and let the office take it from there. That is what they do. We see people all the time that haven’t been in for longer than you. Also if you do have any anxieties please bring them up on the initial phone call or during the exam. We have many ways to doing things and most often we can work around most things.


    I am scheduled to go in for my next set of Invisalign trays next week and will tackle the unpleasantness then… Thanks for your response!

  • Brunehild

    Oh same here, I just got it three weeks ago, a few months before I turn 30. I finally took ownership of it, decided that while there was no reason to be ashamed I wanted to get it and I had to take responsibility for it and face my fears. Good luck you’ll get it, the hardest part is showing up!


    Great writeup – shine the light, let it be exposed and lose it’s power over you.

  • roguepolymath

    Had you beat Steve. I went 10 years without of dentist appointment. Thankfully I had no problems. Now, my kids and I go together every six months.

  • sun city lincoln hills homes f

    Let your light shine. Do not let others dim your light and steal it from you.

  • Joshua Tibbetts

    I like this a lot. A book that I’d recommend you read is Tim Collins’ Great By Choice because it addresses a lot of the same themes and ideas that you do in your writing but might help you to hone the ideas and words down a little bit. Keep it up!

  • run_brown_wolf

    It’s possible I should talk with a therapist about my fears surrounding dating. My first boyfriend was physically and emotionally abusive to me and when I tried to tell people about it I tended to get, “Nobody is perfect” and “Relationships take work”. It has affected my dating life ever since. I keep justifying not talking to anyone because of how expensive it is, but I’m also embarrassed that at 33 I feel emotionally stunted and I’m afraid of dating people.

  • whistlebird

    Oooh boy. Timely article indeed – I’m among the legions of dentist-putter-offers, but I have already had two out of three cavity filling sessions this month! Win!

    I think what I’m trying not to look at right now is my eating – I’ve been eating, not POORLY, but enough and poorly enough that I’m carrying an extra ten pounds or so. over the last two weeks I’ve been keeping a food diary, and it’s crazy to see where I’m eating too much, eating crap, drinking beer and eating chocolate and eating pasta right before bed. It was incredibly uncomfortable the first week, but now I have a bunch of great data to work with!

  • Sophie Anderson

    So many… so many.
    Going to the dentist, taking care of my blood sugar, going to the gym, losing weight, eating healthy, saving/not spending money, eating right. The list goes on and on, looking at it is just too overwhelming.

  • Marlina-Michael Richards

    I had really rotten and crooked teeth as a kid, had several baby teeth pulled because they couldn’t be saved and several stainless steel crowns, then years of ortho WITH HEADGEAR! Hey guess what? I’ve been a dental hygienist for 22 years now! It breaks my heart to read these horror stories and how some dental people are rude or try to scold patients into doing better at home! The dentist that I work for has a soothing voice, is so kind, and is super patient, never hurts anyone… REALLY! He’s worked on both of my children (they still don’t know that they’ve ever had an injection!) We try to make the experience as pleasant as possible, massage/heated chairs and cable TV in every operatory. I have the greatest job in the world, like visiting with friends all day long. Dental anxiety is completely normal for most people! I hope that you all find a dentist & staff that care about your comfort! If you can find a private practice dentist, it’s much better than the “assembly line” dental groups (all new patients need a deep cleaning — NOT TRUE!). Homecare truly is the key. I tell everyone to go to Brandsmart, buy a cordless water-pik (about $43) and take it in the shower with you!

  • Bodynsoil

    My fear was the dentist for years. Like you, whenever I went they found something wrong. Around the age of ten I had a filling before the novacaine set in and the dentist didn’t believe me. That experience ruined me for years, I was terrified.
    I’m living in a new area now, after fifteen years I finally went back to a dentist and happy to report their techniques have changed a lot. I’m not terrified anymore but I still don’t like going.

  • Evan Toder

    I have not been to the dentist in 12 years. I just REALLY well twice a day. I think dentists invent more stuff than they really find. People forget it is a business.

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  • bildungsroman

    I think you’re luckier than most people – or just have great teeth. I try to go at least once a year (twice if I’m being good), and every time I have 2-3 cavities. Last time I had a tooth on the verge of a root canal, but luckily my dentist is not out for cash (which might be an exception, but she’s pretty awesome) and she did everything she could to save the tooth. A few months later, it hurts occasionally but is still hanging in there, but I’m definitely keeping my appointment to see her again at the 6-month mark.

  • Liss Webb

    I haven’t been to the dentist in well over eight years, I have extremely soft enamel, I’m INCREDIBLY ashamed that I have a VISIBLE PAINFUL CAVITY in nearly every tooth. Acknowledging my weight isn’t nearly as painful as having to own up to the pain in my mouth and the judgement of needing to get it fixed… It was always another drain on the finances as a kid to be the one with a cavity… and I took a lot of anger from my father from it. so as soon as I got out from his house, I stopped going. The perpetual shame wasn’t worth it to me. But I’ve been told it could be causing my migraines. SO I should probably go sooner rather than later.

  • K.

    I cope with the dentist by pretending to be a spy under interrogation. One squeak out of me and my country is lost. So I keep very still and very quiet, and they think I’m a well behaved patient when in fact I am silently defying their nefarious efforts. Still gotta open my mouth, but they can’t make me talk.

  • Evan Toder

    I don’t go to the dentist for one reason only. They can not be trusted. Most people think people in authority can be trusted, ie cops, dentists, doctors, etc. They can’t. Every visit to the dentists provides them the opportunity to take your money. I personally experienced the corruption in 2002. Went to the dentist because a tooth was hurting. His analysis with his fancy machines is I need a root canal. My instincts or God told me to question this. I went to a local hospital, Uconn, where they have a dental section which is made up of trainees – people who have graduated and are now learning in the field. They looked at my teeth and told my the only problem was my bite mark was off causing undo pressure on the hurting tooth. They drilled away the excess tooth area that was causing the pressure and in a matter of minutes I was done. They solved the problem, no root canal, no fillings, nothing!

    As a second story about trusting authority and our government – on May 2011, a person I knew, who I thought was a little nuts, told me that in a few months something is going to happen in a major city in the USA that will result in the deaths of thousands of people. Low and behold, several months later 9/11.

    I urge everyone who reads this to look at so you can see the truth about our world and see what is coming.

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  • tentmaker

    After reading all the comments. I must be the only person to read this and know that I use the same excuses for not eating well and more importantly for not going to the doctor. If I don’t go to the doctor he can’t tell me to take a medication with a bunch of side effects.

  • Steve Kamb

    this is hilarious 🙂

  • Neojni Legifen

    The shadow for me is my lack of passion and pride in my work. Years ago I stopped believing that I could be excellent, and with that went both my motivation to improve and my interest in my work.

    My action item is to start doing small daily programming challenges to build up my proficiency and get myself excited about my career again.

  • Sarah Hargis

    Scary dark corners… my dentist lurks in one, debt in another, and my weight in the third. Almost dying in a dental chair as a child created the monster in corner #1. Binge spending as a coping mechanism during my dh’s year long deployment created monster #2, and binge/emotional eating created monster #3. After nearly losing my marriage over Monster #2, it has been slowly shrinking, although sometimes it seems like there’s always a level-up for the beastie right around the corner. #3 S going to be and uphill battle. Hey, I’m here though, so up I go.

  • Megan Behrmann

    I am over $23,000 in debt, and I’m not even finished with grad school yet. And while I know I’m overweight, I’m also scared I might have pre-diabetes, but I figure if I never go to the doctor to get my blood sugar tested then I never have to know.

  • Katie McDonald

    This is exactly what I needed today! I just finished a hard workout and yesterday hit a personal goal (run for more than 30 minutes without stopping, I did 40!!). However, after my workout today I sat down and cried because I’m tired of my muffin top. I’m tired of being the size, shape, and weight I am. I’m tired of letting the past (literally) keep weighing me down.

    However, my Dad is a dentist and my sister and brother are in dental school. The best job I had was in my Dad’s office. He always says that there biggest babies in his chair and the biggest people out there. The big bikers? They cry when he walks in the room LOL.