It was just a shoe.
But it made me cry.
No it wasn’t an ugly shoe, and it fits just fine.
It was what the shoe represented.
You see I had been struggling for several days with my feet hurting. It was a burning, tingling sensation that I couldn’t get away from. Sitting down and putting up my feet made them hurt not quite as much, but I was still pretty miserable.
I tried to blame the cold.
My new office is in the basement and the floor is a concrete slab with linoleum tile. I told myself that my feet were just cold. So I put a heater under my desk to keep my feet warm.
My pants legs got so hot I couldn’t touch them, but my feet still stung.
Then it must be the shoes. I realized last fall after moving from Arizona to Georgia that the only closed toed shoes I owned were sneakers and two pairs of boots. Living in the desert you acquire a lot of sandals.
Back in the summer I had bought a pair of short boots with fur to wear in the grass when it rained. I thought surely those would keep my feet warm and stop the hurting. They didn’t.
Even though I knew why my feet hurt I didn’t want to look at it.
My husband was very sympathetic and made suggestions on ways to keep my feet warm. He even tried to figure out how to put a heated rug under my desk.
And I kept avoiding the truth.
After about a week of being a super bitch, I suggested a trip to the shoe store to try and find something that would keep my feet warm. My husband agreed quickly enough to make it obvious I was making his life rough.
The shoe store was a success. I got two pair of shoes that fit comfortably and were on sale.
I told myself that this would fix the problem.
When we got home, I decided to change into a new pair of shoes. I was sitting on the edge of the bed with a shoe in my hand when it happened.
Emotions crashed over me like a wave. The real reason my feet hurt came flooding into my mind and wouldn’t let me avoid it this time.
The pain is being caused by neuropathy, a side effect from my chemotherapy treatments.
I sat there with my shoe and began to cry.
“It’s not fair!”, I wanted to shout. I’m done with cancer and just want to get on with my life.
But in that moment, with that silly shoe in my hand, I had to come face to face with my reality. I have gone through cancer treatment and there is some lingering damage.
In that moment I felt broken.
Not because this couldn’t be reversed, because it can, but because I realized I have not dealt with my emotions related to cancer. I’ve done a good job of avoiding and staying busy.
The frightened little girl inside of me was having none of that today. The fear needed to be acknowledged and I needed to forgive myself.
Yes, you read that right, forgive me.
I realized I’ve been carrying shame about having cancer. Like somehow I failed.
Even with all my training and experience I let it sneak in. And then I ignored it.
The crying released some of the pain, but I know, like an onion, there are more layers to be peeled away.
The emotional side of cancer is similar to the disease itself. Painful emotions can lay hidden within us until they grow so big that they cause damage. At some point you have to deal with it the best way you can.
Even if that means crying over a shoe.