Fashion-forward I am not. I would love to claim the title of ‘fashionista’ but unfortunately, for me, my sister got the fashion sense in the family. You would think my sense of style would have benefited over the years but she is also pathologically unable to say anything that might hurt someone’s feelings so basically everything I would try on for her looked ‘cute’…so benefit me, it did not.
Essentially I struggled for almost 29 years to appear stylish-while-standing. I was always at least a year behind any sort of trend because I wanted to make sure it was really sticking around before I tried it. I also needed to be positive beyond a reasonable doubt that I was not wearing it incorrectly. It took me at least two years to wear leggings and a good three years to venture into the world of skinny jeans. I would say the last year before I fell I was getting comfortable in my own style. But a lot changes when you’re no longer vertical.
Trying to find outfits that work while sitting down all of the time has proven to be tricky. A lot of pants are uncomfortable because they sit really high; shirts ride up if they aren’t long enough; jackets don’t do up properly; boots are sometimes impossible to get on without zippers in the right places; feet swell making some footwear impossible; loose tops make me look super wide; tight tops aren’t always very flattering (more the ‘mummy tummy’ issue); and you have to be able to get everything on while sitting down. Essentially I would rather go back to the sleepless early days of parenting than get dressed every day. There are lots of fashionable wheelchair users out there posting their ‘outfit of the day’. I’m over here wearing the same outfit at least three days a week so clearly I have some work to do.
I enjoy looking nice but I really struggle to find clothes that work for me. My closet was still full of so many things that were no longer suitable for me. I waited over a year but I finally went through everything and bagged it all up. Some of it I loved but it didn’t fit right anymore. Some of it I wore at the hospital and rehab and I couldn’t wait to see it head out the door (I would have burned it if that wasn’t socially irresponsible). But it wasn’t any of those things that got me to the point of tears. Believe it or not, I started to cry when I went through my socks and underwear.
Okay, so hear me out. I was always a thong girl…they were all I wore. Except now it feels pretty dumb to wear a thong – it’s not like visible panty line is plaguing me. Honestly, I would kill for someone to be able to see my panty line at this point. Regardless,I got rid of every single one of them but was still managing to hold myself together. What really got me were my foot socks…you know the ones that only cover your toes and heel so that you can wear cute shoes with a barefoot look without your feet getting sweaty and gross. There is no purpose in me wearing them now because the shoes I would wear with them fall off too easily. Also my feet don’t get sweaty anymore (another para-perk). Throwing out those socks made me feel like I was giving in and saying goodbye to something that just felt like ‘me’. Our house used to be scattered with my little black socks. Never a pair…always just one. It feels like forever since I have seen that and I know that I won’t ever see that again. I mean my kids leave their socks lying around but that isn’t cute and endearing like it was when I did it. But looking at all of those stupid socks in a pile, untouched for over a year, brought me to tears.
I have never had to clean out a closet after someone died but I imagine this felt similar; memories attached to things that I wish I could experience just one more time. What I have lost weighs heavily on me tonight. I know that in time it is something that will feel distant and other things will become ‘me’. Like maybe the paint chips on the doorframes from when I hit them with my wheelchair. However tonight I am mourning the woman I was before; the woman who wore thongs and little black socks every day. I don’t feel like that woman anymore but I am slowly feeling more confident in the woman I am now; the woman sans thongs and little black socks.