My Life Without High Heels

September 3, 2009

I’m determined to keep my blog positive…no whining, no regrets, no false hopes, no pie in the sky…just positive, hopeful, reality.  The fact is though, sometimes the reality hits you in ways that are unexpected and sometimes it is those seemingly little things that bother you more than the more important things do…it’s because of what the little things represent.  So sometimes the conversation will be about those things.

On Style Network, there is a TV show called “Ruby.”  If you’ve never seen it, it’s about a woman who was very heavy, addicted to food, and how she is working very hard to lose weight and save her own life. No surgery, just healthy diet and exercise.  She is doing very well and is very determined to do it.  She is inspiring and endearing and I can often really relate to her struggle to find ways to handle the challenges that work for her. 

In a recent episode, Ruby was struggling with the idea of getting rid of the dresses she wore hundreds of pounds ago, scared to really believe she’ll never be 700 lbs again though she has now lost more than half of that.  I think more significantly, she was afraid to say good-bye to the old Ruby.

That hit me like a ton of bricks. 

I have 2 closets full of shoes; beautiful, stylish, dramatic, mostly high heeled shoes, boots and sandals.  I just can’t part with these beautiful shoes, even though I will never be able to wear or walk in them again. You would think that I would have accepted this by now since the last time I was able to wear high heels was in Oct, 2005.   (hey, I could wear them in a formal portrait, sitting there not moving!) (any excuse)   I have gotten rid of most of the dresses that I can’t wear without pretty shoes, but I just can’t get rid of the shoes.    

I don’t want to let go of the shoes because I don’t want believe that I will never be able to wear them again or that the old Jan is gone.  For Ruby, the change was something good and intentional and she quickly accepted it and moved on…for me, it’s different, unintentional and not good. 

It’s not the high heels themselves that are so important, it’s what they represent, it’s the life I don’t have anymore, the life I feel too young to have lost already, it’s the dressing up and being attractive, going out and having fun, meeting new people.  Am I shallow worrying about something so dumb?  Maybe.   But in my mother’s family, for generations the women have been very fashion conscious.  We’ve loved stylish clothes, accessories, hats, purses, gloves, and shoes.  So now, walking around in tennis shoes or those ugly oxfords, I’m not only odd woman out in the world I live in, but amongst the family women, too…not that any of them would ever say that to me, that’s just how I feel.  

Ruby made me think about  it out in the open, and face the shoes still piled in the closets, she made me face how I really feel about it, but I think I also realize that I really have accepted it and maybe I can get rid of the shoes…at least most of them.  After all, I deal with the 1000 necessary adaptations to this life every day, including what to wear to every occasion with ugly shoes.  Ruby’s friends asked her if she thought it was helpful to her progress if she was constantly reminded of her 700lb self by the big dresses still being in her closet.  In the end, it seemed for her a better encouragement to get rid of the dresses so that she only thinks about a future being thinner rather than holding onto that old Ruby and her unhealthy ways.  A friend made a comforter out of the dresses for her so they became a positive memento.

What about for me, is it unhealthy to have those shoes lying around reminding me of what I’ll never be again?  What is it that the presence of those shoes does for me?  I think at this point it’s nostalgia, souvenirs of the times when I wore them, places I went, things I did.  I don’t want to forget those times, don’t want to forget that me because I want to still be her even if I can’t wear the shoes. 

So maybe I can get rid of most of them and just keep the special ones that have special memories attached…after all, it’s tradition in my family to keep special pairs of shoes as mementos…my prom shoes, my daughter’s first pointe shoes, my mom’s wedding shoes…it’s not such a bad thing.




  1. Have you considered photographing them? Creating one, singular work using one photo of each and every shoe?
    I think it could make a great installation piece.

    • I think that is a lovely idea, Bill. And I think it would be a fun and therapeutic project for you my dear.

  2. Bill, that is such a good idea! and photos will take up so much less room and be so much more pleasant to enjoy than the shoes themselves…and what a tribute that would make…Thanks!

  3. Congratulations on beginning what promises to be, if the first postings are any indication, a wonderfully informative, thought provoking, and entertaining conversation. Stay well and write often!

  4. Living now in New England where I tend to alternate between one pair of ugly-comfy shoes (Birkenstocks) and another (Doc Martens or hiking boots), it’s easy for me to forget my high-heeled southern roots… but this post brings that all back. I’m remembering my first pairs of heels; the tall blue grosgrain heels I had to learn to walk all over in; the satin heels dyed to match the dress I wore to a BBG formal in high school…

    I can understand why it’s hard to let all of that go. The shoes represent both memories of the life you had, and hopes for the life you thought you would have. But I can imagine that if you find yourself able to let some of the shoes go, you might find a kind of psychological weight lifting. I like the suggestion of photographing them — that’s a wonderful way to hold on to them, and you could make notes about the significant ones and what they represent.

    Wishing you health and strength as you walk the path before you — in whatever shoes you currently call your own.

    • I hope that is the case, that I experience a weight lifting when I finally get rid of the shoes…at the moment, ridding the closet of even one pair of shoes sends fears coursing through my mind that someday I will be able to wear them and will want to…both highly unlikely, yet my psyche wants to hold onto those remote possibilities. I, too, really like the idea of making an exhibit of the photos of the shoes…THE SHOES…it might be easier to get rid of them one pair at a time as I photograph them, too, making it a more gradual, gentle transition.

      Thank you for you comment, Rachel.. 🙂 Wishing you the same health and strength on your path to and into motherhood, the most amazing path you’ll ever walk.

  5. Mom,

    This blog is very inspiring to me. It is not just a medical blog but a blog sharing your everyday feelings and background.
    I will keep reading. 🙂

    • Thank you, Estee…you got the exact point I was aiming for…a blog where I, and those who join me here, share life, and conversation and support with others facing similar challenges.

      I’m glad you plan to read regularly, I hope you contribute regularly, too.

  6. Your post of 3 Sep. is so eloquently written it portends a successful blog and, in my mind, further justifies a cookbook project!

    Regarding you cherished footware, I like Bill’s idea. When you have completed the series and made peace with the disposition of your pumps do what I have done with some of my favorite suits, now that my girth has shall we say matured: find someone who will enjoy them and give them away.

    • Thank you for your kind words…i ventured to give away a pair of high heeled sandals a while back and weathered that pretty well…they went to a good home, and have made at least one memory for their new owner…but you know, i haven’t forgotten them and maybe that’s the lesson…that the memories are enough and i probably don’t really need to keep all 150 pairs in order to hold on to the old me. i guess it till just take time…and maybe a really good photo project.

  7. Good day all and hope are are doing well, nice site Jan. Hello all my name is Frank I am a former sole parent of two boys raised from infants till I remarried in 99 and inherited three more boys. I Have progressive Ms and yes you will see me post MSbs its not a degree, well in a way it is a degree but its not a legal one. its more of a degree one earns after dealing with the turmoils of MS. I still have many comments to read and sometimes that is the hardest part of my day, for I am slowly losing sight, joy joy…. I do like the idea of the cookbook ideas I have a number of simple easy recipes that help make a fine dinner and allow you not to be slaving over a hot stove. I love to cook and can longer baby site the dinner as I once did and have worked on some easy to do dinners and feeding 5 boys for the last ten years, I am pretty sure I have not had any complaints, other than oh gosh please dont let mom cook our dinner dad lol J/K sort of. again hello and I hope all ahve a most wonderful weekend…..Peace

    • Thanks for sharing with WWBS, Frank…and thank you for the recipe offers, but i don’t have problems slaving over the stove, in fact that’s what i love to do the most…i can stand still and create by the hour. I am actually already working on a cookbook that is really a memoir of the role food and cooking has played in my family for generations, that’s what the cookbook comment was about. 🙂

      Hope you’ll visit me here again, have a great weekend.

  8. It’s funny…I can picture Mom in high heels…but not you, Jan. Of course, the high heels I see Mom in are late 50’s/ early 60’s stiletto heels!

    As for your own shoes, my idea really is to photograph them and create a public exhibition of them. You had mentioned recently that you didn’t think you’d be doing a lot more photographic work because of the physical challenges involved. This project would be so suitable because it would be so personal and still easily accomplished. And I think it would be meaningful for others to see.

    As for the shoes…I say keep ’em. They represent good memories…and none of us (at least those of us around our age) are what we once were. And I cringe at the thought of all the things that I’ve let go of over the years.

    • It is funny because the almost the entire decade of my 40’s, when i was at my thinnest, healthiest and most stylish, was spent on high heeled shoes. You must have been busy elsewhere to have missed it! I do think the Shoe Series is a great idea…whether I keep the shoes or not remains to be seen. I’m beginning to think that the photos will be enough and I wouldn’t mind have floor space in my closets…we’ll see how I feel when push comes to shove.

  9. “You must have been busy elsewhere to have missed it!”

    Maybe some day I’ll tell you the entire story of what was going on during that time.

  10. Greetings Jan,

    This particular blog post touches my heart and vanity. I, also, am a shoe-aholic ;)…have not worn high heels since 2004 and I so miss them. Like you, most of my 40’s when I was at my healthiest and physically fittest (a body of a 25 year old as I worked out strenuously and lifted weights) were spent on high heels. The higher the better, although, I did stay at 4 inches as I’m already 5’9″. My favourite heels were and still are a pair of boots that are tan and brown with a 4 inch heel. Coupled with a black mini skirt, I felt so, sexy and glamorous. I could cross any room in three strides, very long legs.

    I have kept all my shoes and will continue to do so. As a matter of fact, two months ago, I purchased a pair of red Pradas with 3 1/2″ heel from Ebay. They are like new and I’m so very proud of them. Now, most would ask, why did you buy them? Well, it’s simple really. I believe. I believe that I will walk one day. They will find a cure and right now, being on the LDN, I feel like I’m in a holding pattern over an airport, just waiting to land. When I do, the first pair of shoes I will where are those Pradas and a pair of skinny jeans with a plain white T….

    Keep those shoes and keep the faith…never say never…I intend to dance in the streets of Paris wearing those red Pradas…this is not being childishly optimistic, it’s called faith. And that, I have plenty of.

    Since starting on the LDN, 5 month ago, the improvements have been amazing. Speach back to normal, no brain fog, fatigue level is almost non existant, bladder and bowels in working order. If I have to wait for a cure to get me out of my chair, then so be it…I can be patient enough to wait, as long as I am on the LDN and my m.s. does not progress any further. I give it two to three years and we will all be symptom free…Miracles do happen, just do NOT lose faith.

    See you in Paris, wearing heels

    peace and light

    • Jayne,
      Your faith is truly refreshing, I love to hear from people that they won’t give up and believe the cure is coming. And boy, are we a pair…I was working out and doing weights and wearing heels and short skirts in my 40s, too…those years were the best in my life, healthy, strong, able to do whatever I wanted to do, even though MS was lurking in total remission in the background. I am so glad I had the opportunity to live that decade before this one. And hey, if I can dream about at least wearing my high heels while sitting in portraits on my children’s wedding days, why can’t you wear your heels in your chair? If you do it, I want to see a picture!

      Even though you are in a chair now, I wonder if you are doing physical therapy to maintain muscle strength since you’re not walking now. When the cure for the MS comes, you will need enough muscle to make those long legs walk in those Prada heels! I am still walking, though with a limp and a stick, and often I run out of steam and have to rest before resuming the limping. I have found that physical therapy helps tremendously my ability to walk and maintain balance. Not only that, but it gets those endorphins going and feels so good! I highly recommend it if you are not already doing it.

      I have been on LDN for 3 weeks now and I am starting to see improvements already. I think I am past the early adjustment period that gave me a lot of stiffness and spasmy stuff in the mornings, and some pain I don’t normally experience. Now I find that I am slower to develop the muscle fatigue with normal activities and my mind is somehow quicker and it’s funny, because my gyno always said the brain fog was menopausal and that’s why my hormone therapy is so important…LDN therapy is important, too! I do find that the LDN is still bothering my sleep though, since starting it 3 weeks ago I have developed pretty bad insomnia that I have never had before in my whole life. But I can live with that for the other benefits and promise of future benefits.

      Thank you for your encouragement, I don’t intend to ever lose my resolve to stay upright til the cure comes. We have a party to plan in Paris, we gotta be ready!

      Stay tuned here on my blog, I will have a new one posted today or tomorrow, and usually new ones are posted every few days.

      So good to talk with you, I hope to hear from you again soon,

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