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I looked down at my shoes and realized I was trying to rebuild my life . 

There they were, on my feet like they had been every day since the sun began shining this year. As , I opened the door to my doctors appointment and glanced down, I noticed these shoes that today took on a whole new meaning.

 They were vegan Birkenstocks. Practical shoes. The soles were worn excessively on one side of each. They sat unevenly in the front. The imprint of my feet stained the inside.  I had walked in these shoes through rain, mud, gravel for the last few summers and spring. They were one of four pairs of shoes I had left. The other three were 13.00 sneakers ,10 year old Tevas that had traveled with me every chance I had, and hiking shoes, the newest of the bunch. 

Once, I had cared about the shoes I wore , as much as the clothes I wore. I had closets of clothing and shoes. All matching in a very mismatched way, which was always part of me. I was not very into designer names but I was put together in a bohemian, Carrie, Sex and The City way. Or at least I tried to be. Heels were easy, even on boots. Work shoes should be comfy but fun. Going out shoes should be sexy but comfortable. Bright colors. Bows. Glitter (yes I had a pair of pink glitter 6 inch heels.) 

My shoes were a source of acceptance at first but later to make statements. This is who I am. I am fun, flirty, sometimes rebel. I can be modest or provocative depending on my mood and situation.

  My dad once jokingly referred to me as Imelda Marcos.

 Today, these very practical sturdy, no frill shoes that needed to be replaced reminded me that sometimes we subconsciously change parts of who we are to ease suffering, we are not even fully understanding of. We adapt . You may begin to take a different path home on a gut intuition.  Stay away from a particular person due to your feelings around them. Send a loved one a text that cheered them up in a moment of sadness. Buy a supplement randomly that ends up helping with a subtle symptom.  Reach for a bottle of cod liver oil (I’m a vegan) and drink it like it was soda.  I had this bottle as many of the supplements I had; to fix my own body, never knowing of what.   At my sickest, I  gulped it down like it was life, not knowing I was actually doing it. Awareness ended and the body took over. 

 I remember a friend once asking me “Maria what happened to all your beautiful shoes and dresses.”  I could not remember fully. 

These things aren’t important anymore.

I hate having too much stuff.

I can’t handle anything that is not comfortable.

I would rather spend my money traveling.

I cannot wear heels. 

There is no point in having more than one pair of shoes. 

I want to be more practical. 

I gave everything away. 

As long as my outfit is ok , who cares about shoes. 

 

 This practicality could be seen as aging.  Except it wasn’t as much an evolution as an urgent creation.  My Birkenstocks were the end result of a “creative destruction.”   They said many things, none of which were fun, flirty or sometimes rebel. 

They said loud and clear: (I am sure only to me. I have nothing against Birks 🙂

 Heels hurt, I fall, I can’t handle anything but flat. It takes too much energy to decide which shoes to wear in the morning. I do not have much clothes left, I gave them away with my shoes, it was all just too much to handle. I cannot go into stores and shop anymore. I have panic attacks due to the overstimulation. The lights and noise hurts me.  Buying online is too difficult to size shoes. I always get it wrong, it takes too much energy to return. I need shoes that match with every single outfit. I do not go out dancing anymore so I do not need fancy, I can’t handle having too much stuff, I am trying to minimize, throw things away, my brain hurts seeing too many things, I cannot make decisions, I am spending a lot of money on supplements doctors and running away to the sun to ease suffering and I don’t know why,  I cannot waste it on shoes. I just want to sleep. I don’t have time. Everything takes me too much time. I am really tired. I am really depressed. Something is very wrong. 

 I am unable to care.

I just need something on my feet to get through the day. 

I am just trying to survive . 

 

In 2017, I was diagnosed with three chronic illnesses that for years before had led to this innate urgency to downsize.  After diagnosis and being the sickest ever,  I found myself  one backpack and one small box of material things left.

My Birkenstock are still here by the door of a home that is not mine. I have lost everything material that I once had.  I think these shoes have a few more months in them. 

  Until then, they are a reminder that life can begin again and that I slowly am creating one that may once again involve 6 inch , pink, glitter heels or maybe just a new pair of Birkenstocks.

Stefanie