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The Story Behind the 100+ Pairs of Shoes

February 17, 2010

You know, I look at my boxes of shoes in our room that are stacked behind the door in a corner and all across my clothes bins; in the closet, and under my bed, and I found myself for the first time in a long time reflecting back to what lead me down this path of accumulating a large number of shoes — over 100 pairs. 

When I was married, we always didn’t have a lot of money.  And when would come into the house it went on keeping a roof over our heads, keeping the bills paid, or moving from one location to another just to keep from being put out on the streets. 

When I had gotten back into the workforce, after working mostly temp jobs, there started to be an even flow of cash coming in, and with a baby to now have to also take care of, things had to be done a little differently.  There came a time when sacrificing myself and my own needs became a way of life.  I really couldn’t afford to buy a new pair of shoes, thus forcing myself to believe I couldn’t afford nothing more than what other people threw away.  That became a natural mental thinking for me.

I remember buying a pair of from an old run down thrift store in Los Angeles.  They were blue with cut outs in the toe areas and had a peep toe.  The heal was worn so after a few time wearing them I used a heavy glue to keep the caps on the heel – that didn’t last long.  When the straps around the sides of the toe area would break, I would use a heavy duty stapler and packing tape to hold the straps in place and continued to wear them until stapling and gluing no longer worked.  Eventually I had to toss them.  Over a period of time it had gotten to be that the majority of my clothes came from thrift stores.  Furtniture, bed linen, things that you should [really] buy new. 

The hardest thing for me as time went on was to face up to the fact that I had let myself go completely, going from being someone who shopped in Beverly Hills whenever I wanted; shopping at Imagnin, Express, Neiman Marcus, buying Ralph Lauren, Louis Vuitton, and Yves St. Laurant on a regular basis.  French cut underwear and designer nylons were my favorite.  That was a time when  I could go to department stores without giving it a second though; I could buy snake skin shoes, buy 100% leather black stilettos, wear designer clothes and makeup on a daily basis, and buy jewelry without blinking twice.  I was living a lifestyle that was more than suitable and comfortable for me.  I had arrived in my own level of independence.  I had a job.  My own place.  A car.  I was good.

I think for me it was making a wrong choice to get married when I did that ultimately took me away from a lifestyle I had grown accustom to.  And it’s hard living with someone who refused to let me get back to that kind of living only to keep all of it focused on himself, and would accuse me of competing with him if I wanted to do one thing for myself that would better me in any way.

The marriage eventually ended.  We eventually went our separate ways and discontinued all communication.  The problem was I was still in the mindset that I couldn’t afford anything more than thrift store wear.  Don’t get me wrong, I like thrift shopping because you can find quality items.  I just didn’t want it to be a complete part of my life especially if I’m working every day, paying the bills, and keeping a roof over my head; taking care of my daughter and tending to her needs.  I had to learn with the help of friends and my mom that I was worth more than that and deserved more than that.

I had to get back to a comfortable place in my life and fortunately for me James was there to really help me realize my place with him and within myself.  He lets me be myself.   And when I got to that comfortable place in my life I made a promise that I would never go back to solely shopping in thrift stores.  I go every once in a while (once every so many months), but not on a regular basis like before.  By no means am I above thrift shopping, it’s just not my way of life.

Eventually I did find my way back to a life that was comfortable for me.  I’d gotten to some normal sense of living and when Ross opened a store down the street from where I work, the little light in my head clicked on…and plus I had grown tired of my mother talking about me badly – to the affect that I lost complete sight of myself.

I’d had a conversation with a friend of mine that January 2005, and she and I was talking about something along the lines of “Getting Back to Self,” which made us realize just how we as women tend to sacrifice our own happiness to satisfy others, and realize that even our sacrifices are nowhere near enough to make others happy when we are not happy ourselves.  So…I started off buying one pair of shoes then it lead to one to two pairs of shoes a month if not more, I was soon elevated to a place in my mind where I felt I good inside, and went from shoes to clothes.  Before long I had gotten rid of more than half of the thrift store clothes I’d bought and had replaced them with all new clothes.  To me it was rewarding myself for all my hard work and efforts…I had final proven to myself that I could do better, be better, and be happy with myself, that I could build myself up to be that person I had so long desired to be before I chose to get married, which I know now was a choice that I never should have made.  At least not with him.

Understand, I don’t blame anyone for the turn my life took, it’s the putting the pieces back together and rebuilding a life that I can feel good about living for a change.  The shoes are just a reminder of a life I never want to return to.  When you can’t afford a new pair of shoes, clothes, under garments, soap and toothpaste, that’s when you have hit rock bottom.  I’ve been there and never want to see that life again.  I have promised that my daughter and I would never go without the essentials in life.

Today I’m more of a frugal shopper.  Being a mother has taught me quite a few things, and bargain shopping is one of them.  I frequent boutiques in the neighborhoods, look for the deals at local swapmeets, and go to Ross where their designer fashions are always marked 50% – 70% below retail.  There is truth in looking and dressing like a celebrity and without spending a fortune.

Updated February 23, 2010

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