Heels

An audio version of this post is available here.

Somehow the shoes – not the clothes – were what did for me. Two crammed bin liners in, and I abruptly threw the second one down and walked out of the room. (It needs doing. It needs doing.) All the dresses I’d had made for me by my tailor in the 90s and noughties, those went some time ago. I didn’t feel much more than a fleeting sadness for them. I’m older now. I wear different clothes. I couldn’t get into them anyway. That is the order of things as one gets older.

But the shoes, those are different. I could get into all of them. But I couldn’t walk in any of them, not five steps. And what would I wear them to? I don’t leave the house.

Dozens of spike heels. These ones I bought for a bash at the Savoy. These, I got in Church’s at Chancery Lane, their neat black ankle strap always looked so elegant. These ones went perfectly with those brown trousers I had. These were my fuck me heels. They worked. Running shoes. That I ran in, in the cool black evenings, gloves on, headphones on. Here are summer wedges, gingham, high, I made him take them off me with his teeth. These came to New York. These to Frankfurt, there’s still blood in them. These boots went to Rome and Istanbul. These Mary Janes went to Venice. Paris, Paris, and Paris: these ones. Brussels: the first Eurostar out, always, in the blue grey London dawn, in a rattling black cab over the pink waking Thames, and nobody has breathed the air yet. It is all mine. Those went to Dallas. These went to Chicago. I bought these in Vermont while skiing (skiing!), these in New York, these in … where the hell did I buy these? Spain? Portugal?

Grey patent. Red patent. Red glitter. Red velvet. Red suede. Raspberry patent. Dark blue velvet, kitten heels, I climbed a mountain in Thailand in you. Incongruously. Emerald printed cotton. Yellow silk. Purple silk. Silver.

Here are the black strappy wedge boots I was wearing that night, about a week before I got signed off work. It was autumn. I’d been falling over a lot for a year, but this one was memorable. I went over for no reason whatsoever in that little lane that leads down to Catford Bridge, and I came down on that massive wooden sleeper thing. Hand, knee. And there was a woman there and I couldn’t get up and it was the first time I’d experienced that, the complete marionetting of my body, the cutting of all strings. The lack of connection between intent and action. I couldn’t move while she asked, down a tunnel, through a blanket, in a foreign language I slowly realised was English “Are you alright?” It was only seconds and when my body switched back on again I exploded upright – “Fuck!”
“Are you alright?”
“Yes,” as I stamped off. But I wasn’t. And suddenly there wasn’t any wiggle room to pretend I was, any more, in these boots, these pretty boots.

And here’s what happened next, going into the bin liners: the Uggs that I lived in solidly from January ’09 for a year or two. The only things I could stand up in. The only things that didn’t make me bleed when I walked. After I bought them I never wore any of my lovely shoes again. Not once.

It’s like going through the possessions of someone who has died. There is no bright side to it. Just loss. I am troubled by her ghost.

I am troubled by my ghost.

I remember being alive, and it is difficult to reconcile then and now, difficult to reconcile me and this. I struggle with it. I work hard not to.

So I take a break and write this.  It needs doing. The clearing, I mean. You can’t live with the dead tucked under your bed and in the bottom of your wardrobe. You can’t live with it and expect to be ok. It needs doing.

And writing about it needs doing too. I can jam all that stuff into black bags and junk it, but I also need to sit down with that grief and look it in the eye. Not indulge it or invite it to come and live with me. But admit that it’s there. I feel sad for the things that happened to her, that girl. She was odd, but good. Odd, but loyal. Odd, and all fire. Unstoppable, until she stopped, unbreakable until she broke.  Now she is gone, and nothing rushes in to fill the space she left. Nothing. Rushes. In.

I don’t know what the future holds. But there is a future. So it must hold something. It won’t be spike heels, running shoes, ski boots.

Something else.

About chiller

Rachel Coldbreath spent 20 years working internationally as a technical specialist on large data collections for law firms, before becoming disabled. She blogs on a variety of topics from the news and politics to gardening and how very annoying it is, being disabled. Habits include drilling holes about 1mm away from where they ought to be, and embarking with great enthusiasm on tasks for which she is neither physically nor intellectually equipped.
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148 Responses to Heels

  1. Fles says:

    I think that we live many lifetimes within our lives, that there are many acts within our plays. It sounds like you had a great first act and are enjoying a reflective second – it is what you make of it and you strike me as being determined to exploit every avenue that is open to you. I find you inspirational in your fortitude and I wish you every good fortune in the future. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Betje says:

    you write beautifully. I enjoy reading what you write, thanks for that.

  3. PrincessofVP says:

    “You can’t live with the dead tucked under your bed and in the bottom of your wardrobe.”
    Such an evocative sentence that encapsulates the situation perfectly.

    Well done for tackling it. I hope it has proved cathartic.

    • chiller says:

      Thank you. I have turfed out the dead. I think we all tend to keep that stuff around. It’s human nature to a degree. But it’s good to step back and ask whether a habit is of benefit every now and then.

  4. trod9901 says:

    That article is really good

  5. bluerosegirl08 says:

    Wow, I too have mourned that girl I was or thought I would be and so many people do not understand that sometimes it’s just something you have to do. I also listened to the audio version and your voice is lovely.

  6. oosorio456 says:

    It’s not amazing generate an imagination that could break barriers through the writing project.

  7. camdawg129 says:

    that was really good

  8. Mine says:

  9. İ liked yoo
    .keep writting plz :)😇

  10. teena says:

    Wow .. So well put .. So true to oneself ..

  11. Beautiful discription of mourning of our other times and selfs, including youth.

  12. anisha81 says:

    Nice article to enjoy..

  13. l\ike the audi o version thanks

  14. changeiswork says:

    I like the way you wrote this piece. Nice job! ^^ I’m new here.. So my blogs are not as long as yours.. (a)

  15. segmation says:

    When did you first start to use audio? What a great ideal? http://www.segmation.com/blog

    • chiller says:

      I started using it quite a while ago as I am often too tired to read and would like someone to read things to me. So I figured if I’d like that, maybe some other people would, too. Also it makes it a bit more accessible for visually impaired people.

  16. mundosa1 says:

    Thank you for sharing your experiences through your writing. Sharing is what brings us (human beings) together. I’d like to share with you. I hope you enjoy it as much I as enjoyed “Heels” – all the best to you!

    http://coiffedbyrenee.blogspot.com/2014/12/stay-here.html

  17. abhijai97 says:

    Beautiful 😀😀😀

  18. Noor Elhayat says:

    It’s the same here! I always remember cities I traveled to through the heels I wore in each one. It goes in my culture that when you buy new shoes from a city use it in that city then go back home and use them, then you are for sure going to go back to that city! Tried that trick, it always works!

  19. Love your way to write and enjoy your article, really!

  20. Pura Ilusión by Adelina says:

    Very nice and inspiring post! Very good writing

  21. Pura Ilusión by Adelina says:

    Ideally enjoyed it

  22. Beth says:

    Something beautiful will rush in, I am sure. This is beautiful, thanks!

  23. Nice I too blog on shoes

  24. ebonyogalili says:

    Love your writing style . Thanks for sharing .

  25. Pingback: Heels | EBONY ONYEJEKWE GALILI

  26. danixkamau says:

    Great piece…
    “In a foreign language i slowly learnt was English…” I can personally relate to that moment 😂

  27. uju says:

    This is beautiful writing. And I’m sorry for whatever happened to you in that alley.

  28. April says:

    ‘I am troubled by my ghost.’

    Yes. Such a heart wrenching thing to happen to one, even though it happens to us all.

    Great post; thank you so much for it.

  29. mick25117 says:

    Inspirationally wrote! Well done

  30. gloveofaka says:

    Reblogged this on ofakaupdates and commented:
    ofakaupdates.wordpress.com

  31. You have such a beautiful voice, and I have yet to hear the audio version. I think that we go through these painful transitions and seemingly empty phases of existence to learn to see ourselves as complete, always. Thank you for writing, I hope your words lead you to your answer.

  32. rudebw0y says:

    I wish I could have seen you in them!!💕💕💕 Thank you so much for sharing! 😊 it’s a beautiful story

  33. thusothusie says:

    Loved reading this

  34. aratrika23 says:

    “Odd, but loyal. Odd, but all fire.”
    Two lines that could describe so many women these days. So many women who have the same gap in them that is left unable to be filled.
    I hope and pray that you have been mended.
    Good luck.
    Take care

  35. fazal4u says:

    It is such a lovely post and imaginative. I can completely relate to it.

  36. digitsed says:

    I can absolutely relate to this! I got rid of 99% of my heels when I got assaulted and permanently damaged my hands. The terror of falling over and injuring them further stopped me. Thing is every now and then I find heels and buy them. Luckily my husband is understanding and knows I still cling to ‘one day’, even though he knows that day will never come. He also knows I need to get there on my own. I feel so less feminine without height (less confidence with a 5ft 4″ frame). I found your post helpful, thank you x

    • chiller says:

      Ugh, I’m so sorry to hear this happened to you. Perhaps you can reclaim your heels a bit by wearing them in the house, where it’s safer? I’m glad you still buy them. If you love them, it’s a good thing. X

  37. hullinger16 says:

    That was Beautiful!!

  38. yawa95 says:

    I loved reading this!

  39. Vapopya says:

    Inspirational. Incredibly nuanced.
    Keep writing.
    Thank you.

  40. PT says:

    Beautiful, yes. (I am a professional writer.) Speakin of odd: It seems to me odd to say that I do appreciate women’s shoes. And Girls In Their Summer Dresses, which a smart man should probably read once a year. 😉

  41. heresmeg says:

    I love your use of imagery, which many other commenters have also mentioned. I also love that I wasn’t 100% sure it was autobiographical until I read your replies to some of the comments. Not putting an “intro” in that states flat out that it is a real experience somehow made it feel more real. That might not make sense.🙂 At any rate, I truly enjoyed how it is written and how you drew me in. It’s also a subject matter than can be extremely sensitive and highly emotional. You have created an interesting balance between stating things as facts and giving us a peek into the window of what that loss and change is like for you. Again…I might not be explaining that right. The long and the short of it? Very well written!! Thank-you!

  42. ogbanje says:

    Death? I don’t know. But this makes me sadder than I already am even in its beauty.

  43. Great writing!
    It is so true that shoes all have a story. I have many from my youth that I can no longer walk in (actually I could never walk in them I just bought them because they looked pretty. Hmmmm, I should probably get rid of those.

  44. I love this. I was an entirely different person once. It’s hard to relate to myself sometimes whilst thinking of those times. Maybe that’s why I went so minimal. Maybe it was to many reminders of how I was mixed with evidence of how much I’ve changed. Change is indeed a grieving process.

  45. Really nice.. how long have you been writing?

  46. Truly amazing, great writing. Typically when someone compliments a pair of shoes you say “OH! I got these…” or “they were only…”. I guess the miles walked in shoes are truly known only by the beholder.

  47. cherrybasket says:

    Beautifully written, so many time machine amongst our most loved possessions.

  48. wordlywoman2 says:

    I hear you sister, I also loved my killer heels and platform soles. Why not just collect them like Emelda Marcos. Fill a glass cabinet with them even as one would figurines or the like. Why not, after all they are works of somebodies art aren’t they? (not sure about Mrs Marcos’ spelling, sorry).

  49. My God, I love your voice. Bravo. More of this, please.

  50. Beautifully written! Life has its own plans and sometimes we have to alter ours to be in sync with them. Your post is inspirational as well as emotional. It makes me thank for all the gifts of God I can still enjoy. I hope you share with us your new found joys as well.

  51. I loved this. We are many people within one life; our shows reflect that. The shoes you have a just reminders of pervious versions of yourself. Beautiful.

  52. The Epiphany Conflate says:

    I got lost reading this…great post! thank you🙂

  53. whattahuh says:

    so relateable

  54. Eva says:

    This is beautiful… reminds me of the shoes I buy not only because I love them but just so nobody else gets to look good in them😉 (sorry)

  55. indeed….we talk about two faced people but forget to think about how our lives are filled with these relatable facts that we serve as a comment on others…

  56. Noor Elhayat says:

    Ah shoes! I love’m💜

  57. Very interesting topic

  58. Karl Drobnic says:

    Why does one keep old shoes around? I’ve been throwing them away as soon as they wear out for a lifetime.

    • chiller says:

      You can have a shoe for decades without it being even slightly worn, if you have 100 pairs of shoes. Whereas I suspect you have two pairs and wear them ragged.

  59. I love this. You just your word so easily. It’s a fun inspiring read. Thank you

  60. Your writing style has me intellectually aroused, great job!

  61. terev18 says:

    😊👌

  62. Sara says:

    Love this!

  63. Suri says:

    This is awesome! Loved your writing style!😀

  64. Tennille H. says:

    Remarkable! This reminds me of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven”

  65. beautiful, thank you for this

  66. Oh my god this was so good!!

  67. Loved this blog! So personal with the audio too. Excellent job.

  68. This is so beautiful and honest. We’ve all had to say goodbye to our last selves in one form or another. Thank you for sharing. Lovely read!

  69. Loved the post..”Unstoppable, until she stopped, unbreakable until she broke”…great!

  70. ssunshine14 says:

    You gave a tough fight even to the things you cannot avoid,truly commendable!!

  71. elpnl020 says:

    quite haunting and cryptic…

  72. Beautiful read 👌

  73. No matter how big my butt gets, my shoe size stays the same.
    This is why women love shoes.

  74. sensitivesob says:

    beautiful, reminds me of Sara Bareilles “She used to be mine”

  75. KP says:

    I don’t have the words to express the power of your words and your story. Stirred my soul. I am so sorry for what you have lost. I am thankful for the incredibly gifted way you have written your story here. Lots of “things” I need to clear out myself.

  76. dictaxo says:

    This is nice

  77. MidnightBanshi says:

    This is a great read! A well-travelled person, and the shoes that took her there. Many stories – many shoes. Nicely done!

  78. I like the audio version idea !

  79. Pingback: Heels | mysteryofpast

  80. sephauguste says:

    I really love your writing it’s so captivating!

  81. Ohhh this is just stunning. You write beautifully!

  82. aarns says:

    This was a very captivating piece.

  83. crezana says:

    wow good ida

  84. This spoke to me. It was beautifully written and evoked some very real feelings within me. Thank you for making me feel less crazy for having these very same feelings of loss.

  85. gracieking88 says:

    Very well written!

  86. I enjoyed the recording. Then I downloaded the SoundCloud app so I could use it on my blog🙂

  87. The way you write is beautiful❤

  88. Reblogged this on joceldawesome and commented:
    “I am troubled by my ghost.I remember being alive, and it is difficult to reconcile then and now, difficult to reconcile me and this. I struggle with it. I work hard not to,” she said to herself as she grieves for her youth.

    • chiller says:

      Not grieving for youth (youth sucked), but for the life I had before disability.

      • Hello there!It means a lot to me that you take time to comment. I should have known that. Anyway, I really like your article and the rhetoric, and how you play with words. Your style, actually. I just had a quick browse in your site and was blown by your insights. This (heels) is one of my favorites. Wish you well.

  89. powerful article! You write honestly and beautifully🙂

  90. surxmoi says:

    This is so interesting! Love it

  91. Mom Sees All says:

    It holds gut solid determination mixed with pit bull persistence, a ray of hope, a dash of humor and a dollop of fear. Mix it all together, let it sit 5 minutes – because you need to have a pity party. Dip into it as needed for the strength and courage needed to craft a woman with a backbone of flexible steel and the heart of a lion. I loved your post, felt I’d found a kindred spirit. In the words of Winston Churchill, “Never, never, never give up”. Of course, he didn’t have all those exquisite pairs of foot finery, did he?

  92. Love the life you give to these shoes! The memories are alive.

  93. craftycrabbe says:

    This is incredibly powerful writing. I know for myself it’s hard to let go of the past and face the present, especially when the future is uncertain and who we used to be is gone. It’s hard, but incredibly brave.

  94. MaeveDunlea says:

    I agree with you

  95. Philosophical Epiphanies says:

    Incredible!
    I just started blogging last week, and it is a pleasure that I came across your blog.
    It definitely inspired me to publish my first article.
    Thank you🙂

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