In 5th grade, I had this pair of Dr. Martens knock-offs that I LOVED. They felt especially rebellious when paired with my St. Patrick’s Elementary School uniform.
I wore them out – from the inside out. Like, until the actual inserts started corroding. I wore them even though they smelled so bad that my mother made me leave them outside the back door when I came home.
One morning, when my beloved fake docs totally reeked (but I still couldn’t let ’em go), I decided to perfume them with CK One.
Now, this was the early 90s in Jaffrey-Rindge, New Hampshire where this particular Calvin Klein unisex fragrance was all the rage and my younger sister had actually saved $50 of her very own money to purchase an entire bottle.
I stole one silver cap full and carefully distributed half the contents into each shoe. Then with my tights already on, I slide my feet back and forth to ensure full coverage.
Out in the open – which is to say, on the walk to the bus stop – and then actually on the bus – the smell wasn’t noticeable…but once in the confines of a small classroom with only 12 students and one teacher, the rank quickly shot up.
“What is that?” our teacher asked. “Does someone have food rotting in their desk?”
As she made us check, I dragged my feet as far back under my chair as they could go.
“Is something in the trash?”
She investigated – found nothing – and then headed to the window.
Through the commotion I raised my hand.
“Can I have the pass for the bathroom?”
She nodded and I darted for the Girls Room where I quickly removed the source of the stink and filled each shoe with liquid soap and started scrubbing with wet paper towels. I gagged (and cried a bit) through the process – and then repeated it on the bottom of my feet – over my tights.
While the soap on the tights seemed to freshen things, the combo of rotting soles, CK One, pink liquid soap and damp paper towels only enhanced the puke inducing stench from my now unavoidable, unwearable favorite pair of utterly destroyed shoes.
I stuffed them with mounds (and mounds) of toilet paper and then buried them under a couple of sweaters and sweatshirts and abandoned notebooks in my locker.
I went back to class in my stockings.
My teacher and classmates were kind enough to connect the dots, without out saying anything out loud.
That’s the first day I remember hating my feet. Like really hating them. Casting them as nothing more than an embarrassing source of stink and rot. So, for the next…I don’t know…25 years, I basically beat them or ignored them. And, not surprisingly, they grow hard and tired, a bit diseased and at least once in college, shredded to the point of near hospitalization.
Tonight, during yoga, I was asked to kiss my toes. Part of the practice of giving my own body the tender love and attention it deserves.
When we love our bodies, our bodies will love us back. So, love your body.
Kissing my feet never occurred to me – but what I did learn from all that time hating them (and nearly every other part of me at some point, too) is that how I feel about my body (and me) absolutely affects how my body (and me) actually function.
Hate made me hurt – which makes me believe that Love could help me heal – and sometimes, getting to the truth, just stinks.