Anecdote time, linked to the previous blog. I know a fair few people with truly terrible teeth. The reasons for their dental disturbances vary and include:
- drug use;
- getting their faces battered;
- malnutrition (both situational and intentional);
- extreme poverty;
- major life disruptions leading to self-care deficiencies;
- sheer giving up on themselves.
I can understand all of the above reasons – I might not support them, but I understand them. What I do not understand is people loving themselves and taking care of themselves in many other respects, yet allowing their own teeth to literally rot off in their mouths for the simple reason that they don’t brush. I know two guys like that. There are no discernible barriers between them and good oral health, yet they just don’t engage with it.
This baffled me for a long time. I understand people’s lives being so disrupted that they can’t manage to keep up with what under normal circumstances would be routine self-maintenance tasks. I understand people feeling so wrung out that they can’t find the strength or motivation to self-care. I understand people just not loving themselves enough to look after themselves. I couldn’t understand why those two guys just apparently decided to ignore that aspect of their life, particularly given how the costs were increasingly obvious. How many abscesses does anyone need before they’re scared straight?
The problem was entirely with me. I was neglecting to see how this wasn’t a stand-alone issue, disconnected with other “oddities” I saw in the guys’ behaviours and attitudes. It is part and parcel of the way they view themselves, the world, and other people. I couldn’t see their point of view because it was completely alien to mine. Because of this failure on my part, I was failing to see the internal coherence between the guys’ beliefs and their behaviours.
Both guys believe they are better than anyone else – not in a “high self-confidence” way, but in a Cluster B, away with the fairies kinda way. They think they are not only better than everyone else, but also above all the limitations of lowly humans, including the laws of physics and biology. So it makes perfect sense for them to plan 28 hours work in day, because they’re above that kind of human limit. It makes sense for them to spend more than they’re earning, because they’re simply taking what they’re superior status demand. It makes sense for them to use the people around them as tools for survival or just entertainment, because they are lesser beings put there for that purpose. And it makes perfect sense for them not to bother with teeth brushing, because that’s a concern for lower life forms. They cannot comprehend that they may be subjected to the same limitations all other humans bow under, because they don’t think of themselves as “just another person.” They literally believe they are god-like, and no evidence to the contrary will ever be able to shake that belief.
I couldn’t understand how self-love could lead to lack of self-care, because to me those words mean something completely different, because my mental landscape is completely different from theirs. In truthfulness, I still only partly get it. I understand it conceptually, but I can’t really feel it. I’m kinda glad of that, because I want to keep my cuckoo inside the clock. When dealing with those particular people, though, I have to keep reminding myself that we don’t live in a shared reality.