No Regrets

I lived in Germany with my mother’s parents from October 2017 to March 2018. I decided to do a semester at the local university and simultaneously spend some time with grandparents that I only got to see once a year- and that was if I was lucky.

My grandfather passed away about a week and a half ago. He was 84. He was also in the largest police choir in east Hesse for several decades… I want to say about 50 years… he LOVED music and singing!

In December, he asked me if I wanted to attend the Christmas concert they always put on with the children’s choir each year. My grandmother warned me that the children’s choir wasn’t particularly good and that I didn’t have to go if I didn’t want to.

It didn’t take me long to agree to go because I knew I’d probably never get the chance to see him perform again and I didn’t even know the next time I’d be able to go to Germany. I haven’t been back since I left in March 2018, so looking back, I am SO incredibly happy that I was able to see him perform.

The children’s choir was very boring, yes, but the police choir was awesome. There was also a soloist who sang Hallelujah and it even brought some of the kids to tears- so cute.

The last picture I have of me and my grandpa is one with my grandma as well. We were at a family member’s birthday party and it was a very social and very exciting event- I had a blast. And my grandpa looked so happy!

Even though we live on opposite sides of the Atlantic ocean, I still have an amazing relationship with my grandparents. We text and video-chat and it was really important to me to study over there/live over there at one point in my life. I’m really really glad I was able to make that happen.

My Holiday Thus Far

The Holiday Season began, for me, the moment October kissed us goodbye. My girlfriend and I were given a 3 foot Christmas Tree by my grandparents and we set that sucker up immediately. That same day, my Meemaw also invited Chelsea to Thanksgiving. I’ve never had a partner at Thanksgiving, so this was an exciting first.

So, Thanksgiving comes around. My entire immediate family was actually not in town. My mother and stepdad were in Florida. My dad and stepmom were hosting their own Thanksgiving elsewhere (we did end up visiting them later). My sister was also in Florida and got to spend some time with mom.

Ever since my therapist told me to go into the holiday season with a more open mind, I wasn’t as nervous as I might have been otherwise about introducing my girlfriend to the family. This half of my family is quite conservative and religious; however, we actually had a wonderful time. The only person who I felt gave us a little bit of a hard time was my aunt, but I don’t think it was meant maliciously.

As Thanksgiving came to an end and the Christmas music crept through our radios, I started baking and planning and, as of yesterday, making eggnog. In fact, I’ve decided to conduct an experiment and make many types of eggnog in order to find the one that reigns over them all. There will be a few non-alcoholic versions due to the fact that my girlfriend doesn’t like to consume what she thinks tastes like medicine. I mean, she’s not wrong- many medicines contain alcohol.

Anyway, Chelsea leaves for California next week and I will begin dog-sitting, spending time with mom, and then dog-sitting some more. My work has demanded that no one work the week of Christmas, so I had to come up with another form of income. School has also come to an end and I am actually really looking forward to next semester even though this one just about killed me. I have one final exam tomorrow (on a Saturday!!??) at 4:15pm. I’m not thrilled about it, but I’m sure it’ll be fine.

Happy holidays, everyone!

So I Have Braces: Documenting My Experience With Georgia School of Orthodontics and Having Braces the Second Time Around [as an Adult]

Timeline of events:

  • 2009- Megan had full braces, top and bottom
  • 2010- Megan accidentally throws away her retainer with her lunch at school and her mother refuses to buy her another one
  • 2014-2018 Megan’s teeth begin to visibly shift, especially the top front two
  • 2019- Megan decides to get braces again because it has now become a minor insecurity and it can only go more downhill from here

Why Georgia School of Orthodontics?

So, I actually went to my dentist at the time, Dental One, to see their Orthodontist, but I didn’t like the doctor himself or the words that came out of his mouth. Dental One, in general, has given me some grief.

My mother forwarded me GSO’s info shortly thereafter and I made an appointment to get a free consultation. It was easy, straightforward, and $1000-$2000 less than what Dental One quoted me. Unfortunately, similarly to what Dental One said, GSO claimed that I would most likely need to get some teeth extracted to make room for the newly straightened ones.

I have insurance; however, there’s a certain amount available for Orthodontic treatment and younger Megan already used all of that up, so adult Megan would be paying for this out of pocket. Sad face.

The cost breakdown, for me, is down below. Please note that this can be different for everyone because of the type of braces (traditional, ceramic, invisiline), lack of insurance or not, how many teeth you’re getting pulled, if any, and will you require any other surgeries or procedures?

  • Braces: ceramic on the top and traditional on the bottom: $3,336
    • I made a downpayment of about $550 before starting treatment
    • I am choosing to make monthly payments of $99/month for about 2 years to cover the remaining balance
  • 4 extractions (not covered by overall cost from GSO): $442
    • I have dental insurance and while it won’t help with orthodontic treatment (the braces), it does still cover part of these extractions because I have a referral from the orthodontist and it’s not the orthodontist doing it (I hope that makes sense)
    • The cost of getting simple extractions done (with insurance!!) is SIGNIFICANTLY cheaper if you have it done by a dentist instead of an oral surgeon (averaging about $12-$20/tooth)
    • I wanted to have an oral surgeon do it because it’s a little more invasive than your regular cavity or teeth cleaning

Does my mouth hurt? Yes. The first week is probably the worst and you should stick to a liquid diet.

  • applesauce
  • pudding
  • soup
  • smoothies
  • yogurt
  • oatmeal

How do I relieve the pain?

  • over the counter pain killers can be effective
  • ice pack to the affected area
  • warm salt water rinse
  • Dental wax (you normally get this for free from your Ortho)
  • Orthodots
  • Gishy Goo
  • Bumpers

But What is a “Date”?

My girlfriend’s sister brought up an interesting question the other day: Why don’t Chelsea and I go out on dates? I suppose that’s what it seems like- that we don’t “date”. I would say the opposite, though.

After thinking about it and talking with Chelsea about it, I’ve concluded that we do date. We may not go out, but we make time for each other.

Both of our love languages are Quality Time, so it doesn’t require us leaving the house or spending money to have that fulfilled.

I do enjoy going out occasionally, but I don’t need to go out in order to feel like we’re being “productive” as a couple in the world of dating.

Here are some favorite ways that I like to spend time with my partner:

  • Watching movies and TV shows together
  • Cooking/baking together
  • Eating my cereal on the toilet while she brushes her teeth
  • Walking together to the mailbox [almost] every evening
  • Carpooling to the grocery store, events, my parent’s house, friend’s houses, etc.
  • Eating meals together

It doesn’t take much for me to feel happy in my relationship. Neither of us care for elaborate plans and as long as we’re together, anything can feel like quality time.

What’s your love language and how do you make sure your needs are met? How do you make sure your partner’s needs are met?

Story-time: I hate the dentist.

This blog post is to unite all those who wander the earth who also despise going to the dentist’s office over all other doctor’s appointments.

I went to the dentist in on May 8, 2019. I was told that I didn’t have any cavities, so I went on my merry way.

I visited the orthodontist on August 23, 2019 and decided that I would go on with orthodontic treatment. They gave me a form to fill out by my regular dentist to clear me for said treatment.

There was so much back and forth between my old dentist, my new dentist, and my orthodontist and long story short, I did not get that paper signed. I postponed my ortho appointment.

I cut ties with my old dentist because they were very unprofessional and I started seeing a new one.

Seeing as I have to get the wire from the braces removed before getting a regular cleaning, I figured that it’d be best to do the cleaning a few weeks early so I could start the ortho treatment and not have to get the wire removed the next week already.

So I visited my new dentist on November 22, 2019. They were lovely people, but they told me that I had 7 cavities. I have NEVER had that many in my life combined.

My dentist asked me if I floss and when did I last go to the dentist? I said I was there literally 6 months prior and was told that they were fine. He said they lied or they just don’t know what they’re doing.

I had the left side of my mouth worked on last week (during my Thanksgiving Break *sad face*) and I got the right side of my mouth done today.

In the middle of filling the cavities, my dentist informed me that I had ANOTHER cavity!!!???

So, my message to everyone is to just brush your teeth as you’re supposed to and don’t forget to floss. ALL of my cavities were between my teeth because flossing bores me and I’d really rather not, but that has changed now.

Floss!!

Turkey Day is Rapidly Approaching

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. This means that most of us will be returning home to see family that we only see specifically during this time of the year. For me, this year is different because I am bringing someone with me.

I actually introduced my girlfriend, Chelsea, to various family members over the past 2 months and it all went surprisingly well.

In my last session, I spoke with my therapist about the holiday season and my own expectations regarding family and my obviously gay relationship. He told me to have minimal to no expectations and to be open-minded. At first, I reacted with, “WhAt?! You want ME to be open-minded??”

Buuuuut, then I realized that he was right. I was already anticipating the homophobic comments, questions, and uncomfortable stares months before actually being around family. I was making assumptions. I was judging. If I were to enter their homes with this attitude, it was going to be obvious and rub off on them.

In order for this to be natural and comfortable, I needed to let go of anything I thought before. I needed to act natural and comfortable myself. There is nothing weird or abnormal about my relationship and the more normal I act, the more normal it will be to family.

I’ve worked so hard to be 100% myself. I feel like I’ve only fully achieved that in 2019. I am ready to just have fun and enjoy this holiday season.

Happy holidays, everyone!

Putting My Dreams On Hold?

I was talking with a friend yesterday about the feeling of being caught between travel dreams and a good job (or meeting someone and settling down).

Long story short, my friend Blaire had plans to go on a month long trip to Europe with her sister this summer. Afterwards, she planned on joining another lengthy volunteer program or homesteading or just jumping in her car and driving across the US.

But she met someone in the first program she was in in 2018 and they now live together in Indiana. They both work and they’re both highly considering attending college after having not been in school for almost 2 years.

However, Blaire still has major travel dreams and doesn’t want to tuck everything under the rug just because she fell in love.

Additionally, she also fears finding an amazing job that won’t let her hit pause to travel every now and again. She hates feeling tied down and is concerned that a “normal” job will do that. In a sense, the relationship has tied her down as well, but she confessed that she is 100% okay with that at this point- she and her partner fit really well together and she loves coming home to her.

I told Blaire that my current job might be more of a long-term situation than I initially thought; however, I wasn’t concerned about not being able to travel because there are opportunities to travel through my company. They’re also just super flexible about all of their employees’ schedules and encourage travel and “you-time”.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have any concerns about not being able to travel as extensively as I’d planned prior to getting into my current relationship. There were moments of concern, yes, but after falling utterly and completely in love with Chelsea, I no longer wanted to travel with anyone but her.

One day, I hope we can take an extended trip (6 months-1 year), but, for now, I’m okay with mini trips scattered throughout the year. In fact, we’re taking our first trip together to North Georgia in about 3 weeks!

Are any of you experiencing worry about putting dreams on hold because of a really good job or because of a relationship? Share them with me!

An Update on an Experiment I’ve Been Doing With Myself:

I stopped taking birth control about 2 months ago because I wanted to see if my body and mind would react differently to stressors and triggers of my anxiety.

I wish I could say that I’ve noticed a significant difference, but I haven’t. The only difference I’ve noticed are the mad cramps and back pain that accompany my period.

Funny enough, sometimes the cramps are so bad that my mind can think about nothing else- panic attacks included- so maybe that’s a plus, but overall, I don’t think it’s worth it to stop taking birth control.

I can only speak for myself; my cramps are quite bad and I often call out of work because of them, so I started taking birth control and my problems were solved. Of course, it took about 3 different types of birth control and a LOT of bleeding to find the one that works best with my body, but it was also well worth it.

So, here I am on my second period since stopping birth control and I think my time off of birth control is coming to an end. For me, I don’t think birth control has a significant hand in my anxiety.

Vocalizing an Unfamiliar Fear

My girlfriend vocalized a fear she had last night that I’ve been pondering myself for weeks now: The simple fear of losing your partner. I suppose it doesn’t really matter in what sense- loss is loss.

I’ve confessed to this blog, as well as to my girlfriend, that I’ve never feared losing a partner. I don’t believe it’s because I didn’t have feelings for them, but I do think it’s because I didn’t let my feelings get as deep as they undeniably are now.

When previous partners talked about not knowing what they’d do if we broke up or if something tragic happened to me, I really didn’t relate. Sure, I’d be sad and mourn them/the relationship; however, I had absolutely no doubt that I’d be back doing my same old thing in no time.

I’ve always had a way of treating unfortunate events in a very logical manner and that allows me to move on very quickly. I’m not so sure that I could deal with the loss of Chelsea so logically.

Lukas Graham has a lovely song out: Love Someone. I heard it for the first time months ago- before meeting Chelsea. It’s a beautiful tune, but there were lyrics that I heard that I absolutely couldn’t relate to. I will even go as far as to say that I thought they were stupid.

“If you love someone

And you’re not afraid to lose ’em

You probably never loved someone like I do”

Fast forward many feelings later, I, for the first time in my life, am scared to lose someone in the way that this song refers.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: this just feels different. It feels complete. It feels right. It feels like home. She feels like home.

A First Attempt

Today will mark the first day that I will exercise after having started exercise/exposure therapy. The plan is to stretch and use the treadmill for a total of 30 minutes all-together.

When I started exposure therapy a few months ago, my therapist began by having me only step on the treadmill. The purpose of this was to get used to just being on it and physically touching it. Previously, the mere thought of exercise sent me into a breathing panic because I anticipated the inevitable suffocation sensation before the real exercise even started. The brain is very powerful.

Sessions following only involved walking at a slight incline at a pretty slow pace- slower than my normal walking speed. Throughout my session, my therapist asked me to name 3 things I was thankful/grateful for. He asked me what my intention was. He asked me to verbally express mindfulness. When the session came to an end, he asked me to step in front of the mirror and talk to myself. He asked me how I felt, what I felt, and what did I have to say to the person starring back at me.

In the more recent sessions, we have picked up speed. My therapist still asks me to name the things that I am grateful for; however, he has also added in the following tasks:

  • ABCs
  • ABCs backwards
  • Count to 100
  • Count backwards from 100

The purpose of these tasks is distraction. The goal is to have my brain so focused on letters and numbers that it has no time to think or panic about the increased heart-rate. For the most part, this does work.

The last session I had, I went the fastest I had gone yet. There was also less distraction and more of me controlling what I was saying/doing/thinking. My therapist actually played marching band music in order to cause a disturbance, but hearing marching band music has never been a trigger, so I enjoyed it. We ended the session with 30 jumping jacks.

At the end of that last session, my therapist gave me permission to venture out on my own and give exercising on my own time a go. I’ve decided to make today my first day.

My intentions for today are to just do it and have no expectations. I forgive myself in advance if I have difficulty getting out of my head. I forgive myself in advance if I have a panic attack. I give myself a high-five for making it this far and not giving up.