I posted the above picture to my DailyBooth site today. I needed to vent about my current feet situation and it seemed like the best place to do that. One year ago this week, I somehow damaged a nerve in the top of my left foot and have been battling numbness and tingling for months. It actually got better with the anti-inflammatory patches I wore, but I managed to aggravate it at Rock by the Sea a couple of weeks ago. I’ve been wearing the patches ever since. I’m sure it will get un-inflamed soon, but I’m wearing the sessy patches until it does. On my right foot you will notice the even sessier moleskin I have covering my bunion. Yep, you read that right. I am 43 years old and I have a bunion. Forty-three year olds are not supposed to have bunions. Grandmothers, now those are the kind of people who get bunions.
I could sit here and play dumb and pretend I don’t know how this could have happened to me, but I know exactly why I have a bunion. And it all started in elementary school.
As a fifth grader with size 9 feet, I was relentlessly ridiculed. The “OMG those are some big feet” and “Bigfoot” jokes were never ending. Of course, I had feet bigger than everyone I knew, except my mother, who had the same size 9 foot as I did. But, she was an adult and adults are supposed to have big feet. I was just a kid, a kid with very big feet.
My family tried to console me by saying that my large feet simply meant that I had a better foundation than everyone else. Umm, no, that really didn’t work for me, even though I did throw it back at the name-callers and bullies. Of course, this just made them laugh and make fun of me even more. But, God bless my family for trying.
As I advanced through high school, life became a bit easier in that more girls’ feet grew to nearly my size. However, none of my close friends wore anything larger than a size 7. I could share clothes but was never able to comfortably share shoes with any of my girlfriends.
Now, if you are paying attention you might have picked up on that last statement. Let me say it again for you. “I could share clothes but was never able to comfortably share shoes with any of my girlfriends.” It was in high school that I first began the practice of razing my ‘foundation’. I would often wear shoes that were one or more sizes too small for me in an effort to make my feet look like all the other girls. I desperately wanted small, thin, dainty feet and God had cursed me with these lumpy, oversized flappers upon which to stand. All those years of ridicule had made an impact on my self-image. I thought I looked like a clown and nothing was going to change my opinion of myself.
My habit of wearing too small shoes continued through my 20’s and 30’s, but at least I had lessened the amount of abuse by only wearing shoes a half or one size too small. I continued to deny the fact that my foundation had grown and I was easily a size 10. I continued to shop for size 9, or maybe 9.5 if the shoe I wanted wasn’t available in a 9.
Today if I walk into a shoe store, my first instinct is to start with a 9. I know better, so why can’t I let go of those childhood humiliations? Why do I continue to deny the solid foundation I was blessed with?
I think back and realize that it wasn’t only my physical foundation that I began to ignore in my youth, but my spiritual foundation also began to deteriorate about the same time. I started denying my foot size about the same time that I started denying God’s presence in my life. I stopped taking care of my faith foundation and it began to crumble, crack and shift. This degradation would continue throughout my teens, 20’s and 30’s, just like with my feet. I always assumed my foundation was strong and would support me, even if I never provided any maintenance, care or upkeep. I certainly never thought there would be irreparable damage that would require professional help.
I know that the damage to my feet cannot be reversed so I’ve made changes in my life to stop the progression of years of mistreatment. When I enter a shoe store, I am now more likely to start with a size 10, and then go down in size only if I need to. I’m also making strides (pun intended) to repair the years of spiritual abuse my soul has suffered because I thought I needed to be something other than what God intended for me to be. I spent decades tearing down the fundamental support that held me upright. Starting now, I intend to spend years and years strengthening both my physical and spiritual foundation so that I can be everything I know God intends for me to be.