Women and shoes. Can there be a book for women that doesn’t talk about shoes? We like them; we own more pairs than the average man. There are lots of reasons why women buy and love shoes. Even when you have bad hair or a bloated waistline you can try on shoes. You don’t have to look at your face or hair or wrinkles or changing body when you try on shoes. And there’s a practical piece: new shoes can quickly update an outfit. The silhouette of your shoes can take you from shabby to chic quickly.
But what do shoes have to do with recovery? Does anyone talk about the kind of shoes we need to “trudge the road of happy destiny?”
In my book, Out of the Woods I talk about shoes.
Shoe story number one: Red High Heels: At 45 I began to think practical flats and low heels but I also longed for and lusted after some high-heeled, pointy toed shoes that would still mark me as a women with libido. So I bought red suede pointy-toed, high-heeled mules. These are shoes that say, “I still like being a woman.” Later I gave them away. Now I’m looking at red shoes again.
Shoe story number two: Papagallo flats. This is a lesson that I learned from my husband’s therapist, Dr. Bob. While we know that nothing can fill a hole in us that exists in the past, and that no lover today can replace the love that our father didn’t give us, many of us still chase those fixes throughout our adult lives.
We learn in recovery how to begin healing some of those old wounds and we stop trying to recreate now what we really needed then. But the therapist, Dr. Bob, said to my husband one day, “Sometimes you can save time and money by just going out and buying the thing you longed for so long ago”. He said, “If as an adult you can afford it and the longing is there, then go ahead and buy the 71 Camaro or the basketball hoop for the yard.”
When I heard this I knew what I needed to buy. I remembered the longing of my 9th grade year: that summer I sat in algebra class next to a girl wearing navy blue soft leather flats with lime green piping on the edges and a tiny bow on the vamp. They were Papagallo flats. I longed with all my heart for shoes like that. They were the symbol for all that hurt: the social class wounds and family dysfunction and not being able to ask for what I wanted. Girls from nicer neighborhoods and better schools wore shoes like that.
How many years did I shop for shoes and how many other pairs of shoes did I buy to fill that ache for navy and green Papagallos? Why not just go buy them? Yes, I could do (and I did) all the therapy and the inventories. But one day I saw those shoes in a department store and I bought the expensive, glove leather, navy flats and I thought, “Now, at age 50, I rule the 9th grade in my heart”.
Sometimes if the shoe fits you should just go buy it.