A few weeks ago I noticed that I had worn my Blundstone heels down at a steep angle on the outside back edges. I fretted about this. I love those boots. I asked a shoe repair place about them and the off-hand answer was, “Oh, you’ve got a little more time with them.” But I didn’t ask the next question: what will it look like when I need to do something about them? So, feeling like I was doing the right thing, I decided to have them reheeled anyway, because I didn’t really believe the “more time” thing (all of a sudden I was a shoe sole expert), and I also thought I was doing something along the lines of maintenance and “a stitch in time”.
Instead what I found was that I was thrust into a far too familiar piece of my own mind mayhem.
I fretted my way through the two days until I got my boots back. Then I discovered that the new heels were super sharp across the middle of my foot in a way that I couldn’t live with. So I fretted through the night, imagining taking an exacto knife to the offending too-high pieces, and was back at the shoe repair place at 9 AM. The man said, “Oh, Blundstones have a roll,” as in, a lower, rounded place along the front of the heel so your foot rolls. So I calmly asked him to grind it down, thinking, “Well, then, why didn’t you just make the roll?” I tried them on and asked him to adjust it twice more. To me, this was like having a tooth repaired at the dentist: when they’ve changed something, everything is wrong and a micro-millimeter makes an enormous difference. The shoe repairman clearly thought I was a bit bonkers to be so picky. I tried explaining it to him using the dental filling metaphor, but we just weren’t on the same page.
Then I went away with my boots. I walked on them a lot that first day of having them back. By the end of the next day, I was miserable and my feet hurt. It was hard to tell how much they hurt because of the boots though, because Todd was away so I was walking at least twice as much as I usually did. I alternated between thinking my boots would eventually be ok and feeling like I had fucked them up completely. The heels were hard and sharp and struck the ground instead of squishing into it.
I lay awake for a few nights in a row imagining all the ways that I could maybe make them better. Or wondering if I should make a small stink in the shoe repair place, demanding that they re-do it so the whole heel was lower. Or if I should scrap them altogether and get a new pair. My mom said maybe they’d last ten years now and instead of feeling happy at possibly having my loved boots that long, there was despair at having a colossal mistake hanging around.
And every morning when I woke up after those nights of fretting, I looked at my boots and felt the possibility of loving them again as they were now and so I did nothing but continue to walk on them.
The new made-in-Italy heels have mushed down somewhat. I admit I did some strange walking that involved whamming the heels pretty hard into the pavement and stopping to grind my heels for a few minutes every now and then.
I love my boots again.
This ordeal of crazy making was a microcosm of my process around so many decisions, large and small, that I have made in my life.
I think I did some things differently in the saga of the boot heels than I have done in other instances.
Like, I didn’t immediately rush in and DO anything to repair the thing that I perceived was wrong. I waited. I waited through the storm of my conflicting feelings and thoughts knowing that if I was going to ask the repair people to do something that another week wouldn’t matter. Because you know, if I had done something, that would have been wrong too and I would have been even more muddled and self-punishing.
I’m realizing now that my life-long inability to make clear, clean decisions that make me happy, or at the very least don’t thrust me into a tailspin of conflict, had and has more to do with my pattern of locking down my feelings and not knowing them than it has to do with my being indecisive or too picky or too “sensitive” or bad at decisions or many other ways I have judged myself, or have been told that I am.
Because, really, how can you make a clear choice if you don’t know what you want in the first place? And how can you know what you want if you have such an intense set of rules around feelings that you don’t get to feel them until way later, or possibly never?
You see, again, we come back to the watery, feeling sacral centre. This is chakra number two, and the dynamic here is often either/or, tidal and changeable like the moon. When we don’t have the capacity to fully feel feelings, we get hits of desire that drive us in certain directions, sure that, this time, buying that new sweater or the perfect thingamabob, or finding a different, really-perfect-this-time partner will make it all better. You know that it won’t. But some part of you doesn’t know that. Your belly just drives you to reach out for the “make me feel better” thing.
I have had this conversation with many people when they come to see me, and I have talked about it here in terms of desire and longing and addiction. But the deeper I go in this work, and the deeper that I get to see people, the more primal this feels: you can’t choose if you can’t feel. You actually can’t even begin to sort out what the array of choices is.
It still takes a lot for me to clarify the options that I am choosing among, and I have had an intense tendency to lump things together in complicated ways. If I chose to move to France, say, then that meant that I had to stay in a relationship with this person and making that career move was out of the question. Really these are not linked by anything outside of my mind.
In here as well is the understated possibility for treating myself poorly: if I hate the boot heels that I chose to ask for, then I feel lousy about myself because I have fucked up, again.
I would prefer to give my choices much considered attention before I alter the flow of my life, even if it’s something as inane as boot heels. Which means feeling feelings, my friends, and thinking and going slow. It means asking questions and not knowing the answers straightaway. These are skills that I am still honing.
It also means being gentle with myself if I do make a choice that turns out to be not so perfect. It’s ok to make a choice and then be sad that it didn’t work out how I wanted it too. It’s also ok to be sad that there is even a choice to make… Like that the heels of these particular boots are not going to last forever…