The Story of Lucy Two Shoes and Why She Needs to Grow-Up

How’ve ya beeeeeeen! My goodness, it feels like I haven’t checked in with you for an age. In fact.. Hold up. Let me just check when the last time I wrote a full in-the-moment blog post was………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… AH! Got it. May 8th. When I’d just been told I may need further surgery.

That was a dark day, indeed. Full of disappointment. Distraction. And bottomless cups of coffee, which I felt were somewhat justifiable. I was beginning to think that my left calf muscle wouldn’t be seeing the sun until 2018, and wondered whether skin could become translucent from underexposure, and then my brain went to some weird depths and I started to think about what a translucent-skinned leg would look like and what internal bits you’d be able to see and whether or not it would be better or worse to be able to see what was going on in there and if I had translucent skin, would I have been able to detect that damn infection any earlier??

Then I wondered if my coffee had been spiked.

Since that post, however, if you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that something seriously downright brilliant has happened.

I can now wear two shoes.

Well, boots to be precise. In fact, it’s important that for 95% of the day I wear something with a heel so my Achilles isn’t overstretched.

NB: believe me when I say that for someone who is 5″2, being forced to wear a heel does not pose an issue AT ALL.

So even though I’m still not in the clear in terms of whether I’ll need surgery or not, as the skin hasn’t healed 100% (click here to get that back-story), my Achilles repair surgeon wants me to ditch the moonboot for the time-being so the muscles in my leg get moving and strengthen – because you know the saying – ya don’t use it, you lose it.

And there are zero complaints from me.

After this news, something crazy happened. I went home and didn’t put two shoes on. I just kind of sat there with the information, and organized to go out on a lunch date. When my friend arrived and I mentioned the fact that I could wear two shoes, he wouldn’t let me leave the house without putting those two shoes on. I dunno why, but I felt really reluctant to implement this task – maybe I was experiencing Stockholme syndrome?? Or maybe I thought it was too good to be true.

Either way, I knew I had to do it. And I knew it was silly to wait. I began to tear the 5 strips of velcro apart, one by one. When I was free of my velcro shackles (or lifesavers, depending on how you look at it), I eased my little tiny leg out of the moon-boot confines. In slow motion, I picked up my leather boot (with no moon), and tried to get my foot inside the shoe. Remember, I hadn’t completed this maneuver for 5 months, so it took me a few goes to nail it (gammy). When my foot was firmly encased within the leather structure, I pulled the zip closed, looked down at my left foot and..

Burst into tears.

Seriously. Not even kidding. Broke down. Hid my face. Snorted.

It was embarrassing.

There was something incredibly overwhelming about that tiny moment of progress in the ocean of my life, a feeling which I’ll never, ever forget. With that action, it seemed as if the weight and effort and stress of the Achilles saga dissipated significantly. It seemed as if the worst of it was finally behind me. But best of all? It felt like a part of my spirit was reattached.

Who knew that wearing two shoes was such an integral part of my identity?

I went out to lunch, a little shaky but determined, and the penny finally dropped as to why that small advancement had felt like such a big step forwards (mind pun).

When I walked into that restaurant, no one stared at my leg before they looked at my face. No one stole a glance at my disability when they thought I couldn’t see. While I still had to focus on the way I was walking, I didn’t have to worry about one leg being higher than the other, or the sound of velcro straining as I moved.

When I sat down, I didn’t feel as if I had to tuck my legs as far under the table as they could go. I didn’t have to jiggle my left leg to warm up my toes, as they were no longer exposed. I didn’t have to consciously make an effort to not drink water and thus minimize the risk that I’d need to get up and find the bathrooms.

And it wasn’t until that day that I realized how much mental effort I had been putting into kidding myself that I was functioning as normal, into pretending to feel fine, into suppressing my anxiety and, yup, even embarrassment when I was in social situations.

And this wasn’t the fault of other peoples’ natural curiosity, empathy and interest. It stemmed from my own imaginings.

I know that crutches and a moonboot are pretty mild when you think about other conditions or afflictions – but it was truly eye-opening to realize that for this entire year, I’ve been trying to trick myself into believing that I’m alright, that it hasn’t been affecting me and that this experience hasn’t challenged me as much as people might expect.

Why I lie to myself like daaaaaat?

The weird thing is that I truly thought I was dealing with everything in a healthy way. But I wasn’t. I thought I took this whole experience on the chin. But I didn’t. By putting up a wall between my reality and emotions, for the last 6 months, I’ve probably been struggling more than I needed to be.

What I’ve learnt is that I have an internal belief system, an expectation of myself to always be ok, to cope, to be a rock, to not ask for help when I need it, to not let people in when I am feeling vulnerable. I have a tendency to deflect conversation, to divert attention away from me, to put on a facade and just get on with it when I should be stepping back and making sure I’m look after myself. I even divert my own ‘weak’ thoughts away from my own consciousness.

When I went into hospital, I took Monday Hustle off Instagram for three weeks, went to Wellington to ‘recover’ and ‘take a break’ which I obviously interpreted as organizing an event for the second day I arrived back in Auckland city. No regrets at all, but should I have put that sort of pressure on myself given the state I was in? Not so sure, anymore.

Turns out I’m not as strong as I like to think. And, both in hindsight and in the present moment – that’s a confronting thought. Obviously having courage in my own vulnerability is something I need to work on.

I encourage you to strip away the metaphorical velcro of your own life as a way to check in with number one and make sure you’re feeling A-OK. When we are out of our comfort zones, it can be a challenging place in which to exist. And, whether you believe it or not, let me tell you now that people are more than willing to lend a helping hand than you’ll even know.

Today – reach out to someone you care about. Just let them know you’re there. Or, if you aren’t feeling 100%, reach out to someone who cares about you, and ask for their support.

Because we all get it. We’re all human. We are not Achilles-snap-proof. And ya know what?? There ain’t no shame in that.

#Monday Hustle

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