Posted by: Marie | June 23, 2011

(561) Decay on multiple levels

Post #561
[Private journal entry written on Thursday, December 23, 2010]

It’s the day before Christmas eve . . .

I heard on the radio that one of the local dentist offices is offering free dental care tomorrow to anyone who might not otherwise get needed dental care. While I’m doing better financially, things are still a bit tight. I think I have a cavity in one of my molars – I feel a bit of pain sometimes when I bite down with that tooth.

If the cavity is big enough for me to feel it, it is probably a serious deal . . . as in serious enough to require a root canal. It’s been bothering me for almost two years, but I haven’t had enough money to get it checked out since x-rays alone would cost a couple of hundred dollars and even a small filling would cost a few hundred. I haven’t had enough cash to afford even the x-rays, much less a filling.

Instead of getting it checked out, I’ve been blindly hoping nothing is wrong beyond a little tooth sensitivity. I have learned during the last ten years of very lean times that a lot of problems can be handled by ignoring them – I’m hoping this is that kind of problem.

However, if I can get it checked out for free tomorrow at this dentist’s office, I’ll know what I’m up against. I might even be able to get it filled for free . . .

Photo by Martin Chen

I’ve been debating whether I should go or not . . . am I really destitute enough to need such charity? I mean . . . I’m sure there are people who will be there who are homeless and who haven’t had a decent meal in weeks. I’m not that bad off . . . is it fair for me to consume those charitable resources?

There is another side to this debate . . . why should I care about the health of my teeth – and my overall health – if I have no desire to be alive? (Which I don’t.)

A friend of mine has made available to me the contents of his own journal that documents his healing journey. Early in his journal, he wrote about his lack of desire to live. He wrote that he wished he could give his life force, and his able body to someone who really needs it and wants it – that he was angry that he was stuck living out his lifespan even though he doesn’t want to just because he has an iron will and a strong sense of responsibility.

His words resonate so strongly with me. I feel guilty for not appreciating what I have . . . a quick mind, a strong body (or, rather, a body capable of being strong if treated well), an outgoing personality . . . I feel guilty because I don’t want all that. I want to not be here. I want to not exist. I’m simply existing until the time arrives at which it is acceptable for me to make my grand exit.

One side effect of my not wanting to be alive is that I’m neglecting the care of my body. I’m binge eating, I don’t exercise, I don’t brush my teeth as often as I should, I only shower when I really stink . . .

I mean . . . why bother taking care of my body? I don’t want it anyway. I know that sounds overly dramatic, but it’s the reality of my current state.

Then, I remind myself that I need to keep my body healthy enough to survive the next 20 or so years until my mom will likely die. If I don’t take care of my body and it craps out in ten years from now (ten years short of my goal), then I won’t be around to take care of my mom when she will likely need me the most.

I need to feel energetic enough to generate enough money in the next 10-15 years to help cover her health care costs during her last years of life – her retirement fund isn’t sufficient to cover 20 more years of life. Someone has to have enough money tucked away to make sure she is living better than in poverty in her last years on this earth. I guess it will fall to me to come up with those funds . . . I don’t see my siblings being able to do it.

There is yet another side to this debate . . . there is a chance that this therapy stuff really will work and I might end up feeling better. There is a chance I might actually want to stick around for as long as my body will allow me to stick around. Right now, it is hard to imagine feeling that good. But, I guess it is possible.

In that case, I would imagine I would want a very healthy body. Right now, I’m so heavy now that I’m often out of breath – just getting out of bed is a big effort. To get up the stairs, I’m breathless. So, it makes it very difficult to do anything.

By not taking care of myself now, I’m doing damage to my body – maybe permanent damage. I might be cheating myself out of a healthy body that I might want at a later time.

So . . what happens if I take care of my body now but I never get to the point that I want to stick around longer than my mom does? Will my body refuse to wear out when I want it to wear out? It would suck to be stuck with a healthy body that refuses to die when I want it to die . . .

Well, I guess I’d have to just take my own life . . . I guess I’ve been hoping I could time it so the wearing out of my body would occur shortly after the death of my mom. I would prefer to “just die” – to have my body do it for me so I don’t have to take responsibility for suiciding. I guess actively choosing to kill my own healthy body seems too sacrilegious to consider.

Maybe I’m not as serious as I think I am about this “wanting to die” thing.

So, here’s my conclusion: The conversation with myself about going to the dentist’s office has become about choosing to live – and I need to choose to live, at least for now. That is what makes the most sense.

One of the first steps I could take in that direction would be to go to the dentist tomorrow so I can have teeth that will be around for a while.

I guess that’s what I’ll do.


  1. This breaks my heart Marie. I believe you will feel better in time. Hope you got that tooth seen to. take care

    • Hey, Ellen –

      It is tough to watch someone else struggle under the weight of pain, isn’t it . . . ?? Thank you for your supportive words.

      – Marie

  2. I do think that the therapy stuff is showing every sign of working. This is from the outside, I know that it looks very different from the inside.

    The therapy means healing old stuff, which means stirring up old stuff. Which does not feel nice. But it is a step forward in the story (awful mixed metaphor, sorry).

    So I hope you will be around for years yet because I enjoy your company – even if it is only virtual. And I think the signs are that the therapy will go well and that you will end up wanting to be around. Yes, I’m not god and I don’t know the future; but that is my bet.

    • Wow, Evan, those are some encouraging and kind words to read! Thank you for sharing that you can see my progress . . .

      I enjoy your company, also . . . I enjoy how you can identify the plain truth!

      – Marie

  3. we have lost too many survivors to suicide. i don’t want you to be one of them, even if it’s a passive form of suicide, which is just as desperate, in my opinion. i have faith that through the hard work of therapy the desire to die will leave you, even though it has been your companion for many years. take care, c.

    • Hey, Catherine –

      Thank you for the encouraging words . . . I’ll keep plugging along!

      – Marie

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