Face-planting in May


I fell and broke a tooth a couple nights ago. A front tooth. Ok, not one of the two front and center ones, but one next to those. My right lateral incisor. Broke off the bottom half. I was walking while looking at my phone, like a dummy. It was dark, and I was exhausted and a little slow from a couple glasses of wine.

It happened so suddenly that I had no time to react or brace, and so my face was the first thing to hit the front of the parked car in my path. My hand hit the car next, too late to save me, but bloodied from the effort. I slowly stood up, stunned, but with enough sense left to assess the situation. I knew I was okay, but I also knew that something cracked when I made impact. Then I felt a piece of tooth on my tongue, and spit it out with force. I’d like to think I looked like a bad-ass boxer in the middle of a fight. But I doubt I did.

I feel sick as I write that. It was awful actually, but it could have been so much worse. The break didn’t expose any nerve, so there was no tooth pain. My hand and my neck are sore, but there’s no visible sign of injury. My lips are swollen, but it’s barely noticeable. They just look plump. Maybe even sexy. Except for the unsightly gap in my smile. But my dentist got me in quickly, and by noon I had a new tooth. It doesn’t look the same, and will take some getting used to, but I was so grateful for modern dentistry yesterday that I thanked the staff there about 6,000 times.

What kills me about the whole thing is that it’s May, and crazy shit like this seems to happen to me in this month. I’ve probably talked with you about it before – how my therapist said that there is some muscle memory/brain trickery that goes on when we approach the anniversary of a traumatic event. It’s not that we’re necessarily sad about it,  or reflecting much on the event, but our bodies and brains remember. Things get stirred up. We subconsciously brace for the worst. It’s called the “Anniversary Reaction”, and is fairly common I guess.

My dad died on May 31st fourteen years ago. He was 69, and it was supposed to be a routine surgery. And now every May or early June something in my life goes severely pear shaped. It was four years ago, in the first few days of June, that R & I parted ways after seven years together. In the last week of that May, we fought with a terrible intensity, and split in the first days of June. I don’t know why we didn’t break up in April instead, or July.

That was the year you and I met. Remember what a mess I was? Ah, memories.

And then last year, in late May, I learned he was getting married. I cried for 24 hours, much to the bewilderment everyone close to me, including myself. It’s as if the pain was reconstituted somehow when combined with all the other things May stirs up. A week later I got the worst food poisoning I’ve ever had – which put me out of work for a week, and in the ER one night.

I thought I was getting a pass this year. But May has been crazy from the start. There’s the move to the new place, which is positive, but exhausting. There’s been some tough, sad family stuff, also with positive outcomes, but trying nonetheless. I’m attempting to date via the app Tinder, which is probably the worst idea I’ve ever had. The one decent, sweet, real person I’ve met happens to be in a healthy open marriage. A lot of guys are just inappropriate, and want to send pictures of their dicks.

And now the tooth, which, in itself isn’t that big a deal. But it feels like a reminder of how little in life is within our control, and how fast that can happen.

I barely slept the night it happened. I kept thinking of all the things I did “wrong” that lead up to that moment: not enough sleep, no dinner, 2 glasses of wine, looking at my phone while walking. And those thoughts snowballed into a full blown attack about me not having my shit together. I mean, if I had my fucking shit together I would have eaten dinner, and put my phone in my purse while walking. I’d have all my teeth, meet a good guy,  be more financially stable. Prettier. Smarter. Ten pounds lighter.

You know, totally logical stuff.

Some nurturing last night helped. I took a walk to the water, did some weeding, ate a healthy dinner, and enjoyed a quiet night in with a welcome interruption by girlfriends bearing ice cream. The solid night of sleep I got made all those awful thoughts I was having go away.

And today I see things more clearly. Falling on my face? It doesn’t really matter how that came to be. It happened. Accidents happen. Life happens. As do breakups, and Dads dying before they ought to. We try so hard to control, prevent, or deny the inevitable.

So much of the struggle with pain is in our resistance to it. Then there’s more pain in the “second arrow”  (a Buddhist teaching) of blame we shoot at ourselves. It doesn’t help to control. And it doesn’t help to blame. The wound needs attention, nothing else. So if a face-plant in May was what I needed for a reminder of this, then so be it.

I’ll take time now to tend to the wound losing my father left. I’ll reflect today and tomorrow. No resisting. And I’ll remind myself that all the fucked up pear shaped things that happened in the Mays since have brought me friends like you.

See you soon. xo