Tuesday, March 13, 2012

If the shoe hurts, why do you wear it again?

It is the oddest thing to admit that I have a closet full of shoes, most of which hurt my feet. There it is; I said it out load. Just don’t tell my husband that he was right.

Each day as I scan the rows of shoes, which line the endless shelves of my closet, I contemplate which matching shoes will hurt my feet the least. That’s right, I have shoes in my closet that gave me blisters the last time I wore them. I still have shoes that plainly don’t fit my feet. Some are too big or too small, too wide or too narrow, and others have heals that are too high or too unstable for my age and/or body size. Yet, I hold on to them. Why do I assume that they will fit better or hurt less the next time I wear them? Why do I try to hide the fact that I make poor choices when it comes to buying shoes?

How did I get such a mixed bag of sizes, shapes and colors? Well, some of them were bought on sale, so I could not return them. Some were bought at fancy boutiques and I was just too embarrassed to return them. Some shoes, with the tags still attached, were bought too long ago. I waited too long to try them on and the store return period expired. Nonetheless, there is a common theme; I invested good money in each of these shoes. I have literally spent thousands of dollars on my treasure trove of shoes. So, why would I discard them? What would I have to lose if I gave them away?

With time our memory fades. We forget how badly those shoes treated our feet the last time we wore them. Not having worn them for six months or more, we rediscover them in our closet to be a perfect match with our newest outfit. We feel elated, as if we got a “freebie” when we discover that we already have shoes to match. Ah, the perfect ensemble, at the perfect price, without having to spend any more money for our debut. Even now, it gives me goose-bumps just thinking about it. We try the shoes on in the closet and they feel fine. At last, it is a new day and a new opportunity to show off our finest footwear.

Why does it seem that the shoes fits fine for the first hour or just long enough for us to leave out the front door? Then, just when we are fully engaged in our activity, the pain begins. We try to ignore it at first, talking ourselves through the discomfort, “It’s doesn’t hurt that bad. I can take it.” Before we know it, the aching becomes unbearable. Yet, we still limp along trying to complete our dinner date, business appointment or social event. At some point, our agony becomes evident to others. That’s about the time that we give up the hoax! We take those shoes off and carry them in our hand or put them in our purse. The strangest thing about this ritual, every woman understands her sister’s pain and will empathize with her. Rarely, will we break rank and chastise her for buying ill-fitting shoes. What kind of message are we sending? Is it socially acceptable to make poor shoe choices? Why do we try to normalize this dysfunctional behavior?

This dysfunctional behavior is not limited to just footwear. We often make the same poor decisions with our dates/suitors/spouses. I am not pointing fingers because I resemble this remark. If I reflect back on my past relationships, I have to ask myself, “How did I get such a mixed bag of sizes, shapes and colors?” Why did I hold on to relationships that hurt my mind, body and soul? Why didn’t I discard them easily? Was it because I had invested countess feelings, time and money into the relationships? Was it because I was trying to hide the fact that I make poor choices when it came to selecting partners? Why did I continue to date those who treated me badly the last time I was with them? Why did I try to ignore the pain at first, talking myself through the discomfort, “It’s doesn’t hurt that bad. I can take it.” But, more importantly, why didn’t my sisters break rank and challenge me about my ill-matched partners? What kind of message was their silence sending? Is it socially acceptable to make poor choices? Why did I try to normalize this dysfunctional behavior?

Have you ever reflected on your current, past or future relationship? Have you asked yourself the same questions? Should you ask yourself these questions? Will you be able to handle the answers that you find? Why? Why not? Isn’t it time that we start being honest with ourselves about shoes, first? And, then honest about our relationships?

Friday, March 9, 2012

How do you decide which old shoes to toss?

Conversation Starter
Shopper: How many shoes are too many? How do you decide which old shoes to toss?
Dater: How many dating mementos are too many? How do you decide which keepsakes to toss?

I am planning to move to a new home in the next month. As I think about the number of boxes that I will need, I take stock of my stuff. This is when it dawns on me that perhaps I have too many shoes. I have 12 vertical shelves of shoes and a large pile on the floor of the closet, at any given time. I keep saying that I am going to throw some away, give some to friends or charity. But every shoe has a story, like memories of a night out on the town. The fancy ones tell stories of family vacations or celebrations. The two rows of athletic shoes reflect my intent to start exercising, any day now, but rarely leave the shelf. My summer flip-flops and high-heel sandals remind me that sunny days lie just ahead of winter. My boots beg me for a snow day or an old-fashion rodeo. I am from Texas after all, so I have quite a few boots! The truth is… I have a lot of shoes. So, how many shoes are too many? How do you decide which shoes to toss?

Each year I listen to the organizers on the radio or TV which encourage us to throw away anything that hasn’t been wore in the previous year. That’s seems drastic to me. I know that as soon as I part with my barely worn heals, loafers or tennis shoes, I will need them gain. So, I hold on to everything, too long. Instead, I buy another one of those fancy shoe organizers or add custom shelves to another closet in the house. My husband just laughs at me with his ten or so pairs of shoes. He wears them all routinely until they are completely worn out and then he buys three to four new pairs. It amazes me how easily he can toss those ill-fitting shoes or well-worn shoes in the trash. Why can’t I do that?

The same can be said about out past relationships. How long should we hold on to trinkets, pictures or gifts from our past relationships? How long should we hold on to the good memories and the bad memories? Just like my shoes, each of those things or events tells a story or conjures up past emotions. Is it prudent to have so many reminders to prompt past memories? Is it healthy to have so many things to distract you from your current/new relationship? Where do you put your new memories, if your mind or heart is still in the past? How long is long enough to hold on to past relics? My younger sister once said, “Partners are like bras, you wear them for support. When they stop supporting you, you buy a new one.” I don’t know if she is right or wrong. What do you think? How do you decide which mementos or memories to toss?