My brother got married on Friday. But this is not about him. It’s about me. It’s always about me. I spent the past week preoccupied with all things wedding; family coming to town, hotel reservations, which dress to wear, and most importantly which shoes to wear. It was a beach wedding. Not a warm Hawaii beach wedding, a cold Northern California beach wedding at 11:00 in the morning. All signs pointed to wind and maybe even rain. The bride would be barefoot. Barefoot was not an option for me. I don’t like my feet and I don’t like to be cold. Shoes were a problem though. What kind of shoes can you wear on the beach? Or more to the point, what kind of cute shoes can you wear on the beach? Tennis shoes and flip flops were out of the question for me (not cute). And I couldn’t wear the fabulous shoes that go with the polka dot dress I would be wearing, at least not until later at the reception. In the end I settled on cowboy boots. It was an interesting look, but I think I pulled it off.
Even when I am feeling bad I want to look good, or at least not as bad as I feel. I shower every day, blow dry my hair and put my face on. For me putting an outfit together is kind of like creating a collage or sewing a quilt. I love experimenting with color, pattern and texture. I especially enjoy putting unexpected things together. But shoes can make or break an outfit. You can be wearing the cutest outfit ever, but throw a pair of clogs on and the whole look is ruined. Unfortunately for me clogs are the only shoes that I can wear for long periods of time that don’t make me hurt all over. It’s not like you would ever see me wearing a five inch stiletto or some ridiculously pointy-toed thing, but there have been many times when I have chosen to be in pain rather than wear ugly shoes.
Like most things in my life it’s a balancing act. Looking good makes me feel better, but if I’m always hiding how I feel it can back fire. It can start to look like denial, or perfectionism. There is a fine line with chronic illness. It can become your identity easily. On the other hand if you try to ignore it, as I have done before, you can over do it and end up in worse shape. I have a constant push-pull when it comes to taking care of myself.
I recently came across this bit of writing that came from a guided mediation about a doorway. Somehow I went from the doorway right to the shoes. I guess I can make almost anything about shoes. Anyway, it kind of sums up this balancing act of mine.
I am standing in a doorway. There are beams of light behind me. In front of me is a field of flowers. My legs are wide apart, my arms are out at my sides so that I am taking up most of the door way. I am wearing exactly what I am wearing today except that in my vision I am wearing Dansko clogs. This is significant only because these are the only shoes that I can comfortably wear and I need to be strong and safe and comfortable in the doorway. The vision stops here because I am immediately more interested in shoes than anything else. I think about all the shoes I would wear if I could. These shoes that I am dreaming of would not be clogs. I think about the price I would pay, physically for wearing these shoes. I think about the price I pay for all my small indulgences. One day I wear shoes that are not clogs because a girl cannot live in clogs alone. At least not this girl. Then sometime later, I have extra pain everywhere. And I know it is from the shoes. And then, another time, I take a break from this diet I have been on for six months. It is too strict I decide. I need to loosen up I tell myself. And I do. I decide to go on a happiness diet. It seems like a good idea at the time. I will only eat things that make me happy. But this is tricky because there is happy in the moment and unhappiness later in my body. And everything falls apart. And I realize the rigid diet was helping and the rigid shoes were helping. And it’s hard to live this way. Especially since I am already too rigid and too hard on myself and I don’t want to be this way. I am a walking contradiction. One foot in a sensible shoe, one foot in a stiletto. And it feels precarious. I don’t know which direction to go. I am afraid when I step out I will make a wrong move. It will be small, wrong moves usually are. But eventually it will catch up with me like bad posture and bad judgment and chocolate brownies and being too hard on myself and forgetting where my shoulders are and sticking my neck out too far and trusting a man or trusting the universe. And before I know it I’ve lost my way again and my legs are shaking and I feel smaller and the clouds roll in and the flowers have died.
p.s. the wedding was wonderful, the bride was beautiful and my brother was beaming.