I am trying to convince myself to call a dentist on Monday. I know that it is inevitable, that at some point I am going to have to be in a chair and voluntarily open my mouth. I have not actually done that in front of anyone for years now in any context.

Since I was little, I have tended to talk to the things that I am. I have conversations with them. I have given them all personalities. They speak to me and give me advice. It's not a hallucination thing, it's that I prefer to deal with other people instead of myself and I had a really good imagination, and I never grew out of it. It is easier for me, somehow, to resist a thought pattern if I think of it as external. I make moral decisions Socratically, with all my flaws and strong traits getting their say. And most of them are quite assertive.

But the one thing that has informed my life that is sullen and quiet and half-shadowed in the corner is the state of my mouth. It is such a painful subject that I simply have never allowed myself to think about it before now, when I am forced to confront the knowledge that in a few days, I will have to admit to this. To someone else. In real time. I am so ashamed of this that I do not actually know how I feel about it, because I have completely and flatly refused to examine it. And I am having trouble convincing myself to pick up the phone and volunteer to sit in a chair and watch people look at me. People who will then see me at Walmart and know what I look like. I think I would prefer to just have public sex with a stranger who's been selected through a public voting process, please. It seems like it'd be a less vulnerable feeling.

I will make the call, because my children need to see me doing hard things and because I have no other option, rationally speaking. But it got me thinking about the sorts of discussions we have to have with ourselves, and how I have one chat in particular a lot. It's the one where I have to convince myself to make a phone call when I know what I'll hear on the other end.

Someone was recently talking about how they didn't understand why I wouldn't just call the bank and explain and have the charges reversed when my paycheck deposited late once and made me bounce five checks. It's because I avoid judgment at all costs. It's the one thing I can't stand. People get a tone in their voice when you explain that you are in fact well-intentioned, it's just that your boss kept your three hours late because a rush happened and you missed business hours, but you really did mean to go pay that bill yesterday like you promised you would, and could they please stave off turning off your electricity for a few hours because your husband has the car at work but will be home at two and you can go pay it then? And yes, you know that this isn't the first time you've come up with something like this. Pretty please?

I don't like begging. I don't like explaining. I don't like hearing the tone. I don't like it when people assume that I am making some shit up when it really is something that just happens to people like me a lot. When you can't afford to pay ahead a month, despite your best intentions, sometimes the billing cycle and the pay cycle don't match up quite right and you can't quite make everything on time. And when you can't afford emergency care, sometimes the damage compounds until you wake up and realize that it's unsalvageable. And for approximately the billionth time this year, you have to decide that practicality wins over pride. Again. Because pride isn't something you get to have.

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So I am having this conversation with myself in which I am determined to make this call and sit in this chair. But I am nervous about the judgment.