My mother regularly tells me that I kicked off my socks on the way home from the hospital as a baby. Ever since then, it has been a struggle for her to make me wear shoes. Many women and girls I have met discuss their love of shoe shopping and their favorite finds. I, however, kick mine off whenever possible.
Now, I have heard that many people with Aspergers cannot stand to go barefoot. The feeling of the ground against their feet is too uncomfortable. Aspies senses are heightened. Thus, I cringe and shy away from bright lights, loud music, scratchy clothing, spicy food, and overwhelming smells. So it would make sense that I would hate feeling the ground underneath my feet, right?
Well, in my case, my skin is so sensitive that shoes irritate it. Furthermore, wearing layers such as a coat or tights also bug me. The sensation of material against my body causes me to squirm with discomfort. Give me a cute little dress and let me run barefoot through the grass any day over jeans and tennis shoes! I often describe the sensation of needing to let “my feet breath” or get air. When they are enclosed, I feel trapped. Part of my body seems to be cut off and crammed into a tight itchy place. It is as if different parts of my body get claustrophobic in certain clothing.
Now, one could argue that my aversion to shoes goes further than Aspergers. Am I looking for freedom or a safe way to rebel? By walking on rock and other hard surfaces, am I attempting to harm myself? Do I think that I am proving how tough I am to others as well as myself? Is the smothered feeling I get when my feet are covered a symbol of repression in my life? I do not know. All of these questions are possibly true but I am not sure right now.
What I do know is that I hate wearing shoes. Over the years, my feet have built up tolerance to many things. Gravel no longer breaks my skin. Ice can be crossed quickly and hot sand or tar barely make me wince. Sharp objects might puncture my soles but I heal from them quickly. Overall, my feet have toughened considerably.
Yet, it was very nice to have them cleaned and polished on Wednesday. Layers of dirt and stains from years ago were scrubbed off. Although I have always been fond of my tiny feet, I rarely have taken care of them. Seeing them with pink painted flowers and light flesh tones, I smiled. Although I love to go barefoot, I also liked seeing my feet pampered and pretty.
So, I know that I will not start wearing shoes anytime soon for fun. However, I have gotten to the point where I choose freely to put them on for appropriate occasions. Along with this, I am trying to learn what shoes feel better or worse on my feet. Yes, I have been barefoot since being a baby but I now know when to slip on some shoes. It might not seem like a big deal but it is a step forward toward having a healthy and normal life.
Go Barefoot by Body by Mags
Why is Barefoot Beautiful? by Barefoot is Beautiful
Shoe and Foot Health by Raoul Pop
Touching the Earth by Ahcuah
The Sensory Experience of Autism by Inside the Mind of an Aspie