t h e w o r l d o f i n v i s i b l e i l l n e s s

Falling Off My Shoes: High Heels & Disability

Small animals and children risk puncture wounds if they get in the way.

Men who get too close to what are called “f*** me pumps” risk injuries I won’t even describe.

And women run  the risk of back and foot  injury, despite repeated medical warnings.

Because of our insistence on being part of the sexy pack, we wear such outrageously high shoes that harming ourselves is knowingly chosen.  Most women, by age 40, have developed severe enough foot problems that the intervention of a doctor is needed.  Many know the risks and dangers.  Doctors tell them repeatedly about bunions and bone spurs, and the risk of being crippled for life.  Even after surgery we can’t wait to pet the dog that bit us.

A woman recently told me that it was “painful to wear flat shoes” as her feet were “used to high heels”.  Foot surgery was only 3 weeks behind her when she wore boots with 3 inch heels.  She wasn’t just petting that dog, she covered herself in Alpo and unchained him.

Nevertheless, there’s nothing as sexy as a woman in heels.  (Those NASCAR babes draped across the front end of a modified Ford Pinto ain’t wearin’ Easy Spirits).  Legs look longer, toner, shapelier.  Some outfits scream for the lift of a couple of inches.  You won’t catch me arguing about the health risks; when it comes to high heels, I, for one, miss wearing them.

I used to joke, back in the days when I wore m.s. invisibly, that as long as I was able to wear heels, all was right with my world.  Though my world looks different a couple of decades later, that’s still my story and I seem to be sticking to it.   Except for the podiatrist, I’m abetted by everyone around me.   The Empress has no clothes and but  nobody says a word.   In  my line of work, or any other I suppose, there’s an inherent, uncrossed line; I could look like an drunken Empress and my clients would never tell me the truth of  it.   Because I’m smart enough to know better, I don’t know that anyone would tell me what I don’t want to hear — that stumbling, falling, tripping, bobbing and weaving are not attractive, let alone healthy, behaviors.  Except for the podiatrist and I pay for the right to ignore him.

Sometimes, when I’ve been walking past a display of spy cameras in Sam’s Club, I catch my image.  Even worse is the image I see way up on the ceiling of a bank or grocery store.  Who is that woman?   Honestly, there hasn’t been a time when surprise wasn’t my reaction.  “This is how people really see me?” I’ll ask myself.  “I’m just having a bad hair day.”  The realization is unpleasantly embarrassing, but, like when my mom put pepper on my thumb to keep me from sucking it, the unpleasantness isn’t great enough.

You could win money betting on me to fall off my shoes.  And yet I buy them and wear them.  Not really high ones (okay, one pair is dicey), but high enough.  Smart as I am, I must think that dragging a high heeled foot is sexy.  Maybe that’s what the guy thought when I tripped on my office rug and landed, head first, in his lap.  Where  was the pepper then?

When chronic illness or disability mess with the image and expectations we have about and for ourselves, I figure a  bit of delusion is earned.   That I maintain a cave-girl mentality about high heels is probably just as biologically predetermined as cave-men’s reaction to them (surprising what the allure is really about).    As the inevitable happens, how I’ve always defined myself is continually threatened; the reality is sometimes unwanted.   In this case, biological-predetermination gets me off the guilt hook.  Turns out that asking David, my husband, if I look sexy in my new shoes isn’t about insecurity, it’s about desirability.

Glue me to a spot wearing something black and brief along with pumps that make a statement, and oowee, baby, I’m hot.

Kathe Skinner is a psychotherapist and couples coach living, well, with m.s.   She specializes in working with couples where invisible disability is present.  She’s always surprised that couples where invisibility is present  come to work on communication problems and rarely acknowlkedge the role disease plays.  Discover how you can be understood, heard, and respected

Categories: Effect of invisible (hidden) disability on relationship

3 replies

  1. So was the guy good-looking?

  2. Was he a good-looking guy? Just adding a little levity to the situation. 😉



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