About eight years ago something tragic happened to me… Yes I’m being dramatic. But I swear, it was terrible.
My brother, two step brothers and I were all jumping on the trampoline. We were playing some game called alligator. I don’t quite remember the exact rules of the game, but the basics of it are: one person crawls around trying to knock someone else over, while the others are jumping around trying to avoid said person.
In this story, I happened to be the one crawling around trying to tag one of the boys. I eventually grabbed someone’s foot as he was attempting to jump over me. I pulled him towards me as hard as I could, causing him to lose balance in the air. I was laying on my back when he came down. The heel of his opposite foot came crashing down right onto my mouth.
What I remember next was screaming in terror and jumping off of the trampoline covering my mouth with my hand. I ran inside yelling for help, scaring the shit out of my mom. I lowered my hand when she ran over, giving the blood resting in my mouth an opportunity to escape. I could immediately tell that my front tooth was loose. Too loose. We rinsed my mouth out and got the bleeding to calm down. My tooth was practically hanging out of my mouth.
We made a dentist appointment for about a week later. A few days after the original incident my tooth was slowly becoming a darker shade. Every day that passed, it continued to get a tiny bit darker. The dentist eventually told me that my tooth was now dead—hence the reason it was turning brown.
Over the next couple years I had gotten a few root canals and braces. The tooth was still that terrible shade of brown, but at least my teeth were now straight. I learned to live with it pretty quickly. People would ask, and I had a funny story to tell.
** Side note ** About two years after my tooth got killed, Keaton was playing baseball and missed catching a ball thrown his way. It hit him in the mouth, on the exact same tooth that I had gotten hit. As you could imagine, his tooth died also. From there on out people would ask us if it was some kind of hereditary thing that both of us had a darker tooth. ** End side note **
Almost two months ago now I was at my brothers school waiting for him to finish cross-country practice. Every Friday the school sells pizza to the kids when the final bell rings. I was inside to use the bathroom and someone asked me if I wanted a piece of pizza. Obviously, I said yes. So I started to eat the pizza. Up until I got to the crust, all was going well.
As this entire thing was playing out, I was in the middle of a ping-pong game with my friend. I was laughing and eating and eventually took the first bite out of the crust. I didn’t feel any sort of pain—I didn’t feel anything really. But I froze instantly. I just knew that something was off. I slowly moved my tongue around my mouth to feel that my front tooth was no longer there.
Once again, I found myself screaming, covering my mouth, and running away. When I got to the bathroom I spit the pizza out along with my tooth. I held it in my hand, unable to believe that this had just happened to me. My friend found her way to the bathroom behind me, trying to figure out what was wrong. I told her what had happened and she didn’t believe me until I opened my hand and showed her my tooth. She left the bathroom to go find my brother.
After building up enough strength I smiled at myself in the mirror. I lost it. I was laughing hysterically to the point of tears. There was no way that my tooth was gone. One of my other friends walked into the bathroom also wondering what was wrong. After I told her, she was practically begging for me to smile at her.
My thought process in those moments was pretty crazy. But I basically decided that there was no point in making myself miserable. My tooth had fallen out and there wasn’t anything I could do about it in the moment. So I smiled. She laughed. That was it. No big deal…
As the minutes passed I got ahold of my mom, who thought I was pranking her. She did, however, eventually believe me and called my dad so they could get in contact with the dentist.
We found out that I couldn’t get in to see him until Sunday night. That meant I had to go the rest of Friday, all day Saturday, and practically all day Sunday with no front tooth. Oh, and Saturday my brother had his regional cross-country meet.
There wasn’t anything I could do but suck it up. I did my best to turn it into a big joke. I would randomly smile at people, getting them to laugh. But for the most part, I refused to open my mouth. I didn’t want anyone to see what had happened without my permission. The entire day people were trying to make me laugh. At times I forgot about my tooth and would smile like normal. Seeing the reaction on their faces instantly reminded me why I needed to keep my mouth shut.
I spent that entire weekend trying not to smile. After it was over and my tooth was pretty much back intact I remember laying in my bed thinking about how hard it was for me to hold back a smile for three days. I had never realized before how much time I actually did spend smiling. It was an insane eye-opener for me. It reminded me that regardless of my mental illness, I still somehow always found a way to smile. And it took a weekend of me not being able to open my mouth to realize that.
Looking back, the important thing I took from this story was that every situation is what you make of it. I could have easily pouted the entire weekend, refusing to leave the house because my tooth fell out. I could have allowed myself to feel hopeless. I probably could have let it lead me back into a bad depression. (Don’t get me wrong… I didn’t handle the situation perfectly. Yes, it upset me. But I didn’t allow it to keep me down.)
If this would have happened to me when I was sixteen, I would have 100% let it destroy me. I would have been too weak to handle it back then.
Everything you experience comes with a lesson. And every bad situation has some good hidden within it. Don’t ever just allow yourself to accept the bad—sometimes you need to go digging for the good. No matter how hard it is, always keep digging for the good. It will make things so much easier in the long run.