On a recent quest to my favorite discount store to replace my dingy bath towels, I found myself in the linen department debating between Egyptian and Turkish cotton when I heard a voice calling to me from across the aisle. I realized it was coming from the women’s shoe section so I led myself to the Size 9-10 rack to investigate. Suddenly, I saw the most beautiful pair of fun, spontaneous, cheerful heels I’d ever laid eyes on: pumps with a chenille fabric boasting a brilliant pattern of blue, scarlet, and golden leaves that simply begged to be worn as celebration of the Autumn months ahead.
I tried them on and knew instantly we were destined to be together. While the close-rounded toe was like none other I owned, I loved that it somehow created the appearance my size 9.5 clompers were sleek and petite. As I test-strode them up and down the aisle, I realized these were the tallest heeled shoes I’d ever worn, but convinced myself the stocky three inch square didn’t require the precarious balance stilettos do. I could do this! Catching a glimpse of myself in the endcap mirror, I felt graceful, stylish– and did I mention I now stood a good three inches taller?! Without haste, I elbowed my way to the checkout line, threw down my money with glee and carried my new found friends to the car in shoe-finder triumph.
Dressing for work the next day, I was thrilled the outfit I’d chosen perfectly showcased my new heels which I had dubbed my “Fallinas.” My husband remarked how smokin’ hot they were and how cute I looked in them (yeah, he’s a smart guy). Pleased, I headed out the door to rescue cats from trees, save people from burning buildings, and whatever other amazing things I was pretty sure I’d be able to do in these rockstar fabulous shoes. By lunchtime, my Fallinas had garnered three more compliments and my social media post photo of them had received tons of thumbs ups and comments from admiring (and envious) friends. No doubt, these were wonderful, beautiful, life-altering shoes just as Cinderella and Forest Gump had promised us shoes could be. I was more than proud.
But as grand as life was in my new shoes, by quitting time that day I realized my Fallinas and I were in desperate need of a conversation. It turns out the rounded toe that made my feet look sleek and petite was actually contrived by the same demon magic used by the ancient Chinese foot binders. My squished toes wailed in misery. Also, apparently it doesn’t matter if you gain three inches on squares or tiny nail-thin pointed heels because my new soaring height left my balance wonky and my lower back barking in pain. And though I wanted to believe it was unrelated, as I drove home, my left hip felt displaced and tender. Darn you, Fallinas!
Sadly, it wasn’t the last time my Fallinas would do this to me. Time and again I tried to ignore the signs and power through in compliment-receiving high-fashion while my body screamed in torture every time I donned the shoes. I attempted to trick Fallinas, wearing them only when I had a short day in the office. It didn’t matter; my back wracked with agony. I added new inserts, but my toes still throbbed by lunchtime. Nonetheless, I insisted on showing off my Fallinas and like a fool, wore them regularly until the final day when I was left with sciatic pain requiring three nights of Epsom salt baths and a trip to my chiropractor for relief. That was IT. As much as I loved how I looked in these shoes and how fun it was to collect compliments for their beauty, I just could not longer bear how they made me feel. What was the point of looking cute and having “fun” if I spent the next week popping pain relievers? Though it was a tearful day, I know I made the right decision when I put them in a bag, drove to Goodwill and said farewell to my Fallinas.
I wish I could tell you that ill-fitting shoes were the only things in my life about which I’m in denial. Alas, no. I’ve come to realize my Fallinas are similar to a few other not so great habits I have. Like the shoes, these habits cause me discomfort and pain, but for some reason I convince myself that it’s “okay” or “not as bad as I think”. But just as I deep-down knew that buying a pair of 3 inch heels was a perilous move, instinctively I know these are habits that are not serving me and may lead to risky results. For example, in the area of my health, I resisted my health coach’s guidance to keep a food journal for nearly a year, telling myself I didn’t really have to keep track of my food intake because I’m “pretty healthy.” Plus, it’s a whole lot more fun on Friday night to eat what and how I want than to stop and record my meal or tell myself NO because I’ve reached my limit. Yet I knew I wasn’t where I wanted to be fitness-wise. And ya know what? It wasn’t until I dropped the habit of not tracking or fudging the details in the tracker that I was able to move closer to my goals. I had to say goodbye to the habit of kidding myself.
Similarly, I have a friend with whom I need to have a difficult conversation. After a tense interaction a few months ago and not seeing each other regularly, I have some work to do in repairing our relationship. But an awkward conversation does not sound fun, does it? It doesn’t sound easy. But scrolling through social media is easy and fun (well, at least it was fun before the election) and so is playing Scrabble against myself for a half hour before bed. Instead of doing the difficult work of reaching out, I choose to procrastinate as relief. But at the end of the day, I still haven’t made that call and I rest uneasy because our conflict remains unresolved and not where I want it to be. I realize I’m going to have to part ways with my habit of avoiding if I truly want this situation to be different.
But changing habits is difficult. And time consuming. It requires thoughtfulness and intention and determination on your (my) part. But what it requires first is for us to admit that despite their adorably fun print and compliment-producing cuteness, these habits are not worth the pain they cause every time we strap them on. They wreak havoc in our lives and don’t get us nearer to what we say we want in life. So, it’s time to kick them off and put ‘em in the bag. Drive to the nearest donation spot and wave goodbye. It requires us to first, be honest. What are you struggling with? It might be as seemingly minor as snacking from the pantry after dinner or it could be as big as an addiction. We all have something we initially viewed as fun or carefree, but over time have come to realize is preventing us from attaining the peaceful head space we long for. Until we acknowledge the pain these habits cause us, we won’t be inspired to be different. So that’s what I’m working on these days– alleviating the pain points. Definitely not fun, but I know I’ll be better for it in the end and won’t need to buy nearly so much Epsom salt.