Walking In Heels

Caroline ArmstrongThere are some things you simply cannot blag your way through. You can fool people into thinking that you like them. Into thinking that you don’t. Into thinking that you’re happy even.

Nobody can blag their way through walking. You can either do it or you can’t.

Standing is quite easy to blag though. When I first started going for screen tests I was still very much a faux-stander. Luckily I quickly cottoned on to the fact that Shopping Channels tend to have counters you can lean on, so I made sure I only applied for jobs at those channels. After I learned how to stand again properly I was able to branch out to where I find myself these days.

It’s not even worth blagging your way through physical recovery. I did with the standing because it was taking me too long and I had sh*t to do, so I compromised. The rest I put the graft in and learned the hard way.

Well. Almost the rest. I may have left one thing out.

I can’t walk in heels. I never bothered re-learning how to. I set my standards fairly low at being happy just to walk in flat shoes. Actually it’s worse than that. I realised that when I wear cowboy boots, the stiff leather means I can always feel pressure on my shins as I walk, so I know my legs are fine.

I been walking really well, (which is to say walking without having to consciously think about it, totally like I was before the wheelchair) for at least two years now. Walking fairly averagely for three. Badly for four. It’s far beyond the time I sorted this out. But this little cowboy boot talisman kept me feeling safe and secure, so I didn’t change things.

Big Mistake.

Mistake because I went for a screen test in the summer and decided I needed to wear heels for this one. How hard could it be? I pose for photos in heels all the bloody time (because as you can see above, photographers make me. So I went and I took these heels with me, slipping them on as I went through the doors of the studio building.

I then proceeded to spend the next hour falling over. Again and again. They gave me the job anyway thankfully. But I was mortified, so I’ve only ever worn flats to work since.

Around the same time I gave a talk where I told on myself about why I wore cowboy boots. What I didn’t realise at the time was that when you tell on yourself to other people? Your magic talisman stops working for you. So now there was no security blanket. The cowboy boots didn’t work anymore. There was no safety to be found whilst walking.

Now I’m having to learn how to walk in heels.

I hate it. It’s basically almost as bad as learning to walk again at all. More difficult in some ways, (and I don’t say that lightly, trust me if you haven’t ever had to do it then I can’t explain what it takes. It’s not even something I’ve ever gone into detail about because a small part of me is afraid to.) But anyway, there’s some disparity in my centre of balance between how my body used to walk, and how it walks now that I’ve re-learned. And as soon as I put heels on my body tries to walk how it remembers walking all those years ago before the wheelchair happened. Now, because my centre of balance has shifted, I fall over a lot in heels.

There are lots of cut and bruises happening right now. And that’s fine, I can cover those for work pretty well. But mentally it’s a pain in the *rse. And I’m kicking myself for not having done this sooner. Because waiting this long was entirely unnecessary. And I’ve expended far too much energy kidding myself that I was fine and I didn’t need a life with heels.

And I don’t. Heels aren’t vital for goodness sake. But freedom is. And being in denial that I’m making any aspect of my world smaller than it needs to be, out of fear is inexcusable. I know better than that. I can do better than that.

So, if you see me falling up and down a high street near you? I’m just practising. Practising making my world a little bit bigger. Nailing this part once and for all.

And if you are learning how to walk again right now? Do yourself a favour and put some bloody heels on. Do it before you even learn to walk outside even. Don’t kid yourself you’ll sort it out later. Because there’s so much else to master that you just won’t. And that’s the whole reason I even built this little website in the first place. To share stuff like this. So that no one ever has to feel alone anymore.

In the meantime maybe we can just all keep putting one foot in front of the other. I promise to catch you if you promise to catch me x




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4 thoughts on “Walking In Heels

  1. Yammy says:

    I can’t walk in heels either, so I wore flats to a wedding and spent the entire evening feeling incredibly short…

  2. Hi Caroline, I hope the heels are starting to work for you and your world is starting to open up again! A mutual friend recommended that I read you blog – Deborah Klayman, she felt we may have a similar view on life and it’s…………joys. I have only just started to write and am finding it very enlightening – having to consciously understand my thoughts and reasoning and then to put them down in a way that communicates what I’m trying to say. No flannel, but I hope I will manage to be as clear and entertaining as you. By the way, I used to love walking in heels, am having to completely re-learn, due to muscle loss, but think I have the added incentive of enjoying them. All the best and here’s to strutting in our Stillies x

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