i’ve been getting headaches ever since i can remember. i’ve tried nearly every headache medication, i get botox for migraines, and my life should basically be sponsored by excedrin at this point. i’ve always joked that i’d pay any amount of money to get them to go away, but i didn’t really think i meant it. then, last october, i saw a dentist who just seemed to know everything about my history of pain just by looking at the way my body was aligned, the way my teeth fit together when i clamped my jaw shut, and he told me that by getting on an invisalign program specifically designed for me — to fix my bite, stop me from grinding my teeth, and fix my midline — my headaches would stop, or at least greatly decrease. at first it felt like a sales pitch, and in some ways, it was, but he also just knew what the fuck he was talking about.
he sent me to an orthodontist who specializes in tmj for a consultation, and when they confirmed that they could stop my pain to the tune of a few thousand dollars, i didn’t even think twice. i just…handed over my credit card. and on the train home, i knew i had to get a divorce.
those things might seem disconnected, but in making that decision without even talking to my then-husband (we didn’t share our money, so i would never have asked for permission, but i think most folks at least talk over the decision to spend thousands of dollars with a spouse) i realized a few things.
one of those things was that i wasn’t really planning for a future anymore, or at least not a long-term future, because the repression i’d been feeling about my sexuality as a queer person had started looming so large that i couldn’t see beyond the next month or so. yes, my depression has roots beyond the fact that until late last year, i’ve never been fully out, but the two were tangled in such a way that walking through life felt like i had 15 pound weights on my ankles all the time. the only thing i cared about, at that point, was making my day-to-day life more bearable, and if spending the majority of my savings on some plastic shit to put in my mouth would do it, then that’s what i was going to do.
i also realized that while i had previously been earmarking much of that money for a specific kind of future — one with my husband, and some hypothetical kids — i was finally ready to admit that wasn’t what i saw anymore, and ready to choose something more selfish, instead. choosing to spend that money on something that might (and, nine months in, i can say definitely has) relieve pain i’ve dealt with my whole life was the first step in acknowledging i needed to make other, perhaps larger, pain-relieving choices.
about a week later, in couples therapy, i asked for an open marriage. soon after that, i realized what i really needed was for my marriage to end. though i know this came as a shock to my ex-husband, and felt like a sudden, selfish move, i also did it for him — i did and do care about him, and don’t want him to be with someone who can’t love him the way he deserves to be loved. he knows this, now, and we’re friends again (remarkably, it only took this long, and for that i’m grateful).
my last invisalign appointment is next week (at least, before the “refinement” stage, where the difference between trays is much smaller, and then once everything is all set, i’ll start only wearing them at night) and i’ve come a long way since october. i have fewer headaches, i’m much happier, i’m in love, and yeah, my teeth look okay, too.