Wednesday, February 1, 2012

WISDOM Wednesday: Root Canals, Friendship & Personal Growth

This story was written by Malati Marlene Shinazy 

I want to thank Sheri Robinson, Editor Babe, for her help crafting this story.

The need for a root canal sometimes just sneaks up on us.  One day I’m unconsciously consuming a thousand chocolate chip cookies, and then suddenly I feel an unrelenting pain in one of my molars. 

That afternoon, I’m in my dentist’s chair, getting a root canal.  The process hurts so much I grow in character just having endured it.

Could I have done anything to prevent this?  Say, eaten fewer cookies?  No… in this case the root canal was due to a low-grade infection that sat for years, undetected.   

Oddly, like low grade infections, my unconscious behaviors with friends can sit latent for years and become toxic, and on rare occasion erupt, causing an abrupt and painful end to a friendship.

Usually my friendships are a source of shared enjoyment and comfortable acceptance.  The flaws in each of us are overlooked because, in balance, the contentment of the friendship outweighs them.    Then something unexpected happens.

Ten years ago, one of my closest friendships ended quite badly – horribly, with a lot of finger pointing and accusatory shouting.  It was quite ugly.  Like a two year old, I privately ranted, calling her all those labels that would hurt her if I ever said them face-to-face.  “She is egotistical and self-centered; a horrible and stupid human being.  I never want to talk to her again, ever-ever!”

Unlike like a two year old, however, instead of addressing her directly, I typed the words next to her name in my cell phone.  Should she ever dare call, my caller ID would warn:  “Josie / STUPID & selfish”

Years passed with no communication.  Then one day, a text from Josie arrived.  Having long forgotten the poorly ended friendship, I replied.  After multiple rounds of texting… she suddenly stopped.  After a few weeks, I texted her:

Me: “What happened to you?”

Josie:  “What happened?  What do you think happened?  I’m going to keep talking to you while you continue to call me names?”

As if picking up from our past, I retorted, “Are we going to start this finger-pointing thing again?”

Then I remembered… the old notations after her name still remained in my phone!   

I immediately felt embarrassed and ashamed.  Like the undetected infection in my mouth, the deep-seated, immature meanness in me had caused Josie emotional pain.  I immediately began an excision process, a sort of deep cleaning to rid myself of this tendency and to be conscious of it going forward.   And – right now – to update my phone.

When I called Josie to offer a truly heartfelt apology and explanation of why I was “calling her names” in our previous texts, we talked at length about how we each behaved a decade ago.  I shared with her the unscheduled but necessary mental-emotional “root canal process” I needed before calling to apologize.  I sensed we both had grown and perhaps would rebuild our friendship. 

After I hung up I had to laugh ….  

It was mother’s insistence that I go to the dentist twice a year.  And, sometimes, I still needed the dreaded root canal…  But, as I mentioned before, I grew in character just having endured it. Now, with a lovely new crown set in place I could continue my life, spontaneously glinting a healthy smile.

 As I’ve come to discover, the same can be true with my friendships.

   photo by Malati Marlene Shinazy 


  1. Malati Marlene ShinazyFebruary 1, 2012 at 12:36 AM

    BOBB welcomes the dialogue of diverse experiences and insights. Look forward to your Comments. -- ms

  2. Or, you could have just typed her NAME in your phone book and left it at that, thereby skipping over the second generation of "name calling" and she'd be none the wiser. Actually, this is exactly why I beg you NOT to text me. Well, that and the 35 cents per message charges on my bill.

    1. Malati Marlene ShinazyFebruary 1, 2012 at 10:02 PM

      Oh noooo! I have crazy descriptors after happy friend's names too.

      Even you, who housed, fed and comforted me for nearly two weeks while my mom was in the hospital.

      I just changed yours to "Dearest Friend & Savior." LOL

      Actually, I did just spend an hour removing all qualifiers on my phone. Tomorrow, I tackle my email address book. -- ms

  3. Replies
    1. Malati Marlene ShinazyFebruary 2, 2012 at 9:15 PM

      Thank you.

      Since you called me Honey, may I assume you fit into one of the admissible demographic sectors I mentioned in my earlier post, "When Are We Old Enough To Call Someone Honey?" (smile).

      If you haven't yet read the post, here's the link:

      -- ms

  4. Sorry for all the pain endured! Haven't had one yet, but know who to call for some mentoring if necessary. Maybe a water pik could be helpful to preventing a potential slow growing inflammation. Congratulations to you for your final reward "the crown"!

    1. Malati Marlene ShinazyFebruary 2, 2012 at 9:16 PM

      A water pik! Great idea.

      I just flossed all similar notes out of my phone. Jim Strong's Comment above alerted me to how insidious my habit is. I even added crazy notes to contacts of people I like.

      "Lord, what fools these mortals be!" -- Puck, MSND, W.S.