Here is a joke for you all:
Q: What is the definition of self-torture?
A: A woman who has a shoe addiction, yet has also been tested and diagnosed as sensitive to chemicals!
~ aka ~ Michellina Van Loder
I’m not really that type of woman… What ‘type’? I hear you ask. Well—the type of woman who finds the gratification of buying and wearing shoes, intensely emotionally satisfying. Don’t get me wrong, I still find them satisfying on many levels. I just can’t buy them anymore, and I have nowhere to wear them. And, as you’re about to see, I now, have to wrap some of them in foil, and put these babies away until the day comes that they no-longer effect my breathing. So, yeh, I’m no longer that type of woman. Besides, can someone please tell me: what’s the point of buying shoes like these?
The UrbanSoul pair, I don’t have to wrap. They are made from quality leather that just happened to outgass quickly. The leather is soft, and doesn’t have that thick, waxy conditioner through it. (You know the one: it’s a bit new-expensive-shoe type stinky, and it never goes away.)
I bought these at the end of 2009, when I recovered. My daughter, her grandmother figure, and I, hit Westfield shopping centre at Highpoint. It was a great day for us all. We were like a normal three generation trio of women out for a spot of holiday shopping during the Christmas sale period. After living almost six years in isolation, avoiding chemicals, I was high on finally being able to shop, especially with my teenage daughter. (It’s only now, I can look back and see how much of a bonding experience it actually was/is/could be.) Like I said, we were just normal women out shopping. No weird stares at the woman wearing her mask, because she wasn’t wearing it! The only funny look I got was from my boyfriend’s mum, when she saw how much I paid for the shoes. I paid just under half price, they were on sale at $220. Like Mia Freedmon, I can justify my spending on the fact that I actually saved $260!!! I don’t suppose the fact that I bought two pairs helped the situation either. (Spending this much on shoes is not normal behaviour for me. But you know that saying: one good quality purchase can last for years? That’s what these babies were supposed to do.) In hindsight, I don’t regret it though. The shoes, and being able to wear them was symbolic of my freedom. The look in my boyfriends mother’s eyes made me feel bristling, young and crazy… For a day. I suppose that is the point of buying shoes like these! That, and the modulation of my emotions: shoes = happiness? These shoes did make me happy…
Yeh, I know. It was just a couple of pairs of shoes…
Now, the emerald green shoes are a ‘cheap’ pair from Payless shoes (an el’ cheapo shoe shop, here in Melbourne, Australia) and they cost $29 on sale. I bought them to go with a rather expensive emerald green silk dress that I wore when my boyfriend was invited to his first cousin’s wedding. Macedonian weddings are big affairs. The type of events where a new dress is a sub-standard requirement. Well the amazing dress needed an amazing pair of shoes to wear to this wedding, which just happened to be held at Flemington Racetrack, along with a few hundred people. And you know what? There was so much perfume there, yet it didn’t effect me. I had my mask in my handbag, yet didn’t need it. It was an amazing fun long afternoon and evening. (The last six weddings or so, I haven’t been able to attend. Even with my mask, with that much fragrance, I know I’ll get sick.)
Fast forward exactly three years, and I notice this: The ends on the heels are made from cheap rubbery plastic. You know that synthetic-petrochemical-K-mart type of rubber? All this time, I didn’t notice it until these last few months. And enough is enough. I can’t stand going into my closet anymore; I feel like I could choke on the air—especially in this hot weather we’ve been having.
The eagle has landed.
I’ve been sorting my shoes, and like many things to go away around here (Like me. I need to go away. I’m looking for a rental by the sea. Still!); these shoes need to go away for while too.
Along with these:
The witchy looking shoes (Don’t they just look like something out of Anne Rice’s Novel, The Witching Hour?), these have that stinky leather conditioner on them, and it stings my nostrils, so they must be going away on a holiday too.
So while I embrace this shoe storing, it befuddles me as to why I would want to wear any of these shoes that give me headaches and cause symptoms. So I won’t. Because I don’t want that. Yes, but why keep them? I hear you scream. A: perhaps I’ll get better and be able to wear them again at a later stage? Besides, on an epiphany level, maybe this is a step in the right direction, out of the Labyrinth of chemical sensitivities…
here’s to making changes that benefit our health!
Update (6 Jan 13)
These shoes are kind of special to me. Kathryn down in comments said that perhaps wrapping them and storing them is paying homage to the life I once had. That had me in tears. I think the tears are, maybe, for the realisation that I’m not meant to have that life. You see, when I was first diagnosed in 2004, I threw out everything I owned. I had too. The perfume was too strong; the symptoms where too full on; and there was nowhere to store all those clothes and shoes I couldn’t wear. (Not anywhere where they would not have effected me.) So I gave them away to a charity, which needed a truck to take it all away. And I started again. I bought mostly natural material clothing, and not a lot of it. So when I recovered in 2009, I guess I went a little bit overboard with the new me, and the new shoes, and all the places I was going to wear them. So, going by that bit of information, perhaps I’m not meant for a life wearing those types of shoes? Perhaps, this is some type of journey where I’ll find out who I really am? Those shoes were a part of my identity. An identity, which is no more…
Kathryn, over at allergictomylifemybattle, had to go through a similar, if not worse, experience of throwing out all her clothes (several times) and starting again. It’s raw and it’s sad peeling of the layers of our identities in the name of detoxification, and healing, but Kathryn’s life, her journey (and soon to be released book) are all testament to the healthy living that can wait for us on the other side of this.
(My daughter turns eighteen in a week, and I’m in the final process of organising a fragrance free birthday party (which I’ll blog about later—cause it’ll be amazing if it is actually FF) where I’ll get to wear a pair of my shoes: the UrbanSoul leather ones up top—the ones I saved so much money on buying?!)