As I sat with my best friend talking about my realisation of past traumas that I’m still holding onto, she shared something with me. She told me that a family member of hers, who is also someone that I’m connected with, said that they would love to see me smile. It touched me deeply because I didn’t notice that others were aware that I didn’t smile in pictures. I sat with that thought playing over and over in my head, and started to wonder if others had noticed that I don’t smile in pictures. It pushed me to talk about why I don’t smile, and to also look back through all of my pictures to see if I ever did smile. I did.
Smiling is one of my favourite things to do, believe it or not, but I had forced myself to keep my lips tight for many years due to an insecurity. My teeth. I’ve had very small gapped teeth for my whole life (since I first had teeth), and I’ve always wanted to fix them. Yet, I used to smile publicly, even with gapped/small teeth because I had accepted that they were mine, and one day they would change. That was until someone that I loved said something horrible about them, and their words stuck with me forever.
Crocodile teeth. That’s what they called me. Someone that I thought accepted me completely, flaws and all, told a former friend of mine that I had crocodile teeth, and laughed about them. That was the first and only time I’ve heard anybody say anything bad about my teeth, and it stuck with me. You see, I’ve been teased for having big eyes, and for being skinny etc, but those things never bothered me because I had no insecurities about those things. Nobody ever mentioned my teeth, it was a personal thing, until I was called crocodile teeth.
What made the comment worse is the fact that I had braces before it was said, but due to issues with an awful orthodontist and the fact that they were broken, I had to take them off myself, whilst sitting next to the loved one who later went on to call me crocodile teeth. That person knew that my teeth were my insecurity, and stated that I was beautiful anyway, but behind my back they made jokes. Jokes that expressed their true feelings, because the truth is: my teeth do look a bit like crocodile teeth. And the fact that it felt true was the reason why it hurt so much. Did everyone think the same thing? I wondered and wondered until I closed my mouth, and kept it shut.
I cut down on smiling and over time managed to stop sharing pictures with my teeth on display. I also avoided making videos (although I really want to) out of fear that someone would notice my horrible teeth. But that is something that I should never have feared, because I am not defined by others opinions of me. Their opinions should never matter. But unfortunately, they did.
It’s been years since that comment was made, yet I still don’t smile in pictures. Well, not publicly anyway, because I’ve found plenty of pictures smiling that I never shared anywhere. I don’t know how to smile properly anymore, so even when I try it appears forced. I lost my smile over one nasty comment from someone that never truly cared for me, and for that I’m sorry. I’m sorry to myself for ever letting another person bring me down to the point that I hid my expression of happiness from the world. I’m sorry to those that wanted to see me smile but never saw it.
Now, here I am again, with braces. I’m finally getting my teeth fixed, 10 years after my first attempt, and without the person that dissed my teeth in my life. I’m ready for the change. This means that I’m on the journey to no longer being the girl with the crocodile teeth. Which although that comment caused me a great deal of pain, a part of me will miss being crocodile teeth. A part of me will miss the girl that wiped her tears every time that nasty comment crossed her mind and kept it pushing. A part of me will miss the girl that practiced smiling in the mirror, even when she wasn’t comfortable to smile in public, in preparation for the day she felt comfortable to smile again. A part of me will miss the teeth that were so offensive to someone that they chose to bring me down because of them.
As I say goodbye to my gapped teeth, and allow my braces to give me the smile that I want, I’ve decided to share the smile that I didn’t want. The smile that haunted me, but it was mine. It was my smile for over two decades of my life, and is the smile in childhood pictures that hold great memories. It is the smile that I may pass on to my children one day, and I can’t pass on insecurities to them, so I have to love it, even if I’m leaving it behind. It may be time to change my teeth, but it doesn’t change who I am. I needed to realise that, in order to accept that the time is here. The time to get the smile that I deserve. Not because I don’t want to be crocodile teeth anymore, but because I will always be crocodile teeth regardless of whether my teeth are perfect or not, so I may as well have the smile that I want.
So, here is my old smile. The smile that I’ve been so afraid to share with the world, in fear of judgment that I have no control over. Hello teeth, and goodbye teeth! Until one day soon, when I’m able to show you my new smile once treatment is over.
Love and light, Liss x