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Smile like a baby

I was lying on the acupuncture table with the needles in waiting for a massive release. Like many people, I grind my teeth at night. It had gotten so bad last year that it drove me to the dentist with a recessed gum line. My aches and pains, my tension, my inflammation, and the grinding are always on my right side. They say that's the masculine side, associated with father wounds. That tracks. 


So, while I waited for the needles to do their thing, and felt my jaw twitching in response, I tried to guess what kind of emotion I've been carrying in my jaw. I was sure it was going to be anger. I almost looked forward to feeling mad. 

Then the acupuncturist popped in to check on me. I smiled at him out of politeness. It was kind of a half smile, a lifting of the right corner of my mouth. 


As soon as he was gone, I felt a surge of pain in my cheek. I felt the muscles tense around the needle in my jaw. I realized: my body did not like that smile, and that smile was fake. Then it became clear. 

Fake or real?

I fake smile every day. Countless times. At almost everyone I see. 

I wouldn't know what to do with my face otherwise. How else to show people that I'm friendly? At its core, it's a protective habit, to tend and befriend, a survival tactic. If shit hits the fan, I’ll need people to like me. I don't want anyone to think I'm a bitch. 


And then I thought about babies. Babies never fake smile or fake laugh. They only do it when they are genuinely delighted. Most people don't look at babies and think, Ugh that baby's such a bitch. So that's my intention: Smile and laugh like a baby. 

Because I don't need every single person to like me. And perhaps no one will like me any less if I drop the act. In fact, I suspect the quality of my relationships will improve.


So, to my sweet, little jaw: Thank you. You can let go now. 



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