I’m sure I’ll be needing dentures long before the average woman my age.
More often than not lately, I find myself unconsciously clenching my teeth. A few times I’ve actually awoken in the morning with my jaw so stiff and sore you’d think I’d spent the night gnawing on the four posters of my queen-sized bed with my canines. Alas, no blood or splinters so it’s just me lock-jawed, unconsciously grinding down my teeth a millimeter at a time. (My dentist will love me.)
I started noticing it in my yoga classes. I’d find myself clenching my teeth unconsciously…in yoga, the epitome of peace and relaxation. And I’m the teacher! At first, I thought, I’m sure everyone must be feeling similar stress from their busy day and I’d gently remind my students to relax their jaws, leaving a little space between their upper and lower teeth. We’d breath some more. Do a few more deep stretching poses. And then I’d find myself unlocking my jaw again.
What the hey?
I also noticed that my scale seemed to be…well, slipping. Every time I stepped on it, the numbers kept going down. Now I might celebrate that as a victory since the figures on the scale for me have always tended to lean in the direction of the four or five homemade chocolate chip cookies I had before bed or the half-pizza I unwittingly devoured while watching the latest episode of Castle. So why the reverse? Had I unknowingly stumbled upon some new diet craze from which I could rake in a few mil? I might even celebrate it, too, as a great excuse to blitz the mall and get some new smaller size clothes only my wallet is waning as thin as my waist. Now that’s depressing: Finally having the body to squeeze into a size 8 and no money to show it off.
Sleep has also eluded me. I used to drop off to z-land like a dog with a full belly (sans the Chocolate Chip Cookies). I mean I know I’m a night owl but this was getting ridiculous especially since Freedom High School where my son is a freshman has this crazy notion that children should actually start school while it is still dark. This means moms like me have to get up even before the wild rooster in our backyard starts crowing to feed my 6-foot-1-inch growing baby boy and get him on the bus with his shorts on the right way by 6:30am. It doesn’t work very well when you’re lying in bed staring at the ceiling until 3am for four or five nights in a row.
So what’s up? Stress, pain, anxiety. Can you relate? I’m sure there are a few of you out there who’d love to react the same way I do to stress but your body becomes as limp as overcooked spaghetti, all you do is sleep, your clothes actually shrink, and your scale is systematically being drawn toward 200 like the dial of a compass toward north.
What do you do when life knocks you over the head or your best friend stabs you in the back? What do you do when your greatest fear is realized or it stands back just out of reach taunting you? What do you do when the controls of your life are suddenly ripped from your hands and you find yourself careening for a wall…and hitting it? What do you do? You do the only thing you can do—you do God. You do the Psalms. You do long walks. You cry. You rage. You shred things. You pour out your heart to a friend. Or better, to many friends.
You clench your jaw then remind yourself to relax it because God is in control. You stick your earbuds in your ears, put on yoga music, breathe deeply, and remind yourself that God is in control. You cook homemade chicken noodle soup or snickerdoodles or Tuscan Chicken Flat Bread Pizza, eat, and remind yourself that God is in control.
And be grateful that at least somebody in this universe knows what in the world is going on and that Somebody knows what they are doing.
He gave us homemade chocolate chip cookies, didn’t he?