Make Room For The Stuttering

Shoes That Don’t Fit

Posted on: November 15, 2011

Have you ever worn shoes that don’t fit right? So tight, it hurts to walk? Or even to stand still? I’ve bought shoes sometimes that are too tight, hoping either they would loosen or my feet would shrink.

Especially leather shoes. I’ve hoped that the leather would soften with wear and conform to my foot. I have stubbornly endured foot pain for days. And blisters. Sometimes it worked. The shoe did soften up and became comfortable. Other times, I realized I wasted my money.

What about shoes that are too big? Have you ever fell in love with a certain pair that didn’t come in your size and you bought the next size up? I have, thinking I could  wear fluffier socks or even two pair.

I remember one time wearing shoes that were so wide, I feared falling out of them. And I did! One of the shoes FELL OFF as I climbed stairs!

So what do you do when shoes don’t fit? You don’t wear them! You get rid of them, ideally passing them on to someone who can use them.

But sometimes that’s hard to do. Even when we should get rid of something that doesn’t fit or we don’t even wear anymore, it’s hard to give up what we know.

I remember years ago when a brand of shoes called “Docksiders” was all the rage. I just had to have a pair. They were leather boat shoes, flat, like moccasins. They had sturdy hard cords as laces. I wore those shoes to death. They became scuffed and the cords broke. I couldn’t find the exact replacement laces, so I tied the broken cord together and still wore them!

I outgrew those shoes, but had a hard time getting rid of them. I kept them in my closet for years, finally parting with them when packing up to move.

I had a conversation with my mentor the other day. I was complaining about how dizzying my life seemed lately. I lost a job that I loved, had a serious bike accident, had to move suddenly due to flooding, and had a temporary job that also ended abruptly. All in the course of 4 months.

I was moaning (crying) about how all of this was way too much to handle and it wasn’t fair. When would I catch a break?

He just looked at me very calmly and said, “Pam, stop. This doesn’t fit you anymore. You know better than most how to navigate changes in life. You’re an expert at it. It doesn’t fit you anymore to bemoan change.”

He stopped me dead in my tracks. Of course he was right. Whining and complaining does nothing to change any of the “drama” that has gone on in my life. I can’t hold on to the old ways of reacting and panicking. That’s not me any more.

Like shoes that don’t fit, we have to get rid of strategies that don’t work or we outgrow. My mentor calmly said, “That’s it. I give you permission to stop carrying all this and just let it go. Can you give your self permission?”

I thought about this long and hard. I want to gently acknowledge all of these things going on in my life and let them go. But it is so hard. I still find myself fighting it, as tough as that is to admit.

When something doesn’t fit, we need to get rid of it and make room for newer things that fit better.

Like stuttering, loss, change and pain – we have to take control, not let “things” control us.

What do you think? Do you still have a pair of old shoes in your closet (like me) that you can’t part with? Why is it so hard?

4 Responses to "Shoes That Don’t Fit"

You’re awesome, Pam.

Yep, it’s hard to let go of those “old shoes”, even when they hurt your feet. My thought is that it’s human nature to stick with what you know, as the unknown could potentially hurt you. A sort of “defense” mechanism, probably something evolutionary, and so is outdated being that we’re not in the stone age any more. BUT, another evolutionary human characteristic is the ability to adapt, to change. I’ve found that I usually end up dealing with change a lot better than I think I would. I’ve learned this, and am counting on it to get me through my career change! It’s scary and new, but I really feel that I’ll end up adapting and being happier.

Hi Pam,

Many of us have difficulty letting go of the past. We cling onto our old self-image because we (and those around us) derive a sense of security from the familiar face that it presents.

Self-concept is at the very core of our life experience – it can cause us to resist attempts to embrace change, even though it may be to our advantage to do so. The moment I relinquished my old self-image, I discovered incredible opportunities for growth.

Digressing slightly from your blog post – we have both long advocated the need to create a greater public awareness about stuttering. Can we really expect others to understand what is happening, or know how to react, when we suddenly block or display secondary behaviours? In many instances, even members of our own families have little knowledge about the difficulties that we experience. That is why we have been proactive in addressing community audiences on that subject.

It is said that we should never judge someone until we have walked a mile in their shoes. Mahatma Gandhi (who led India to independence) opined:

“Three quarters of the miseries and misunderstandings in the world would finish if people were to put on the shoes of their adversaries and understood their points of view”.

If your shoes (or strategies) no longer fit, I respectfully suggest that you consider disposing of them to others so that they may walk that stipulated mile in your footwear. When they take time to follow the paths that you have trodden, they will gain a better appreciation of some of the issues that affect an estimated 67 million people worldwide.

Kindest regards


Excellent as usual Pam. One of the greatest lessons I’ve learnt in life is to keep letting go. I like to look at it this way – one day each of us is going to have to give up everything. Therefore it makes sense for me to start doing so now. If at times I find myself getting to attached to something, which ends up creating heartache, I remind myself that it won’t last. This I know I can be certain of.

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