Cat-like Vapor Lock (and other stress-induced oddities)
How are you under pressure? God willing, you're better than I am.
Despite having years of experience as a professional counselor (and by that, I mean that I had years of professional counseling), I still have a weird vapor-lock response to out-of-the-ordinary stress situations.
When my husband and I were dating, he got a pet snake because it was the 90's and he originally wanted an earring with a little feather hanging from it, which I discouraged with every fiber of my body because - even though I had a huge crush on Steven Tyler at the time, only certain people can pull off that look (my future husband not being one of those people. Not even close.)
He ended up getting a snake instead.
Pushing the rubber stopper into the bottom of the terrarium where the snake would reside, my future husband punched his thumb right through the glass, cutting him down to the bone.
I sat on the couch nearby, watching blood pour from his hand down his arm. In a rush, he shouted for me to get a towel, but I sat there staring, with my legs crossed, and my flip-flop-clad foot bobbing up and down.
He yelled a bit louder, asking me to get him a towel, and I heard him, but his voice was in slow motion. I calmly and slowly - too slowly - got up to grab a towel for him.
I was like a deer in headlights, completely frozen. Like any second, I'd just implode into a puff of dust (and glitter).
It was an out-of-body experience.
A few weeks ago, I took my 8-year-old son to Target - once known as my Happy Place, but now referred to as Ground Zero For Where The Man Showed His Weeny To My Child, and I became a blathering idiot to the policeman taking the report.
Not that it was about me - but I wanted the officer to take me seriously so that he'd take the situation seriously.
The next day, I tried to undo the cop's first impression of me by calling his office to ask some questions. I took deep breaths as the line rang, and prepped myself for what I'd say, intending to sound as buttoned-up and non-meth-heady as possible.
I figured I'd open with, "Hello Officer, I'm not a weirdo - I'm a writer."
And if he gave me any flack, I planned to go all Reese Witherspoon on him and say, "Excuse me... do you know who I am? I'm the owner of a blog that is super-popular in my neighborhood Facebook group, so...."
Stressful situations - they don't even have to be that out of the ordinary; it could be something as simple as talking to someone I know, but who intimidates me a bit - make me go one direction or the other: I either go into the aforementioned vapor lock, where I freeze and hunker down like a cat in the middle lane of a freeway, or I turn into a chatty Kathy, vomiting words strung together without any pauses.
Like one long-ass hashtag.
You know what else happens? Because I hate nothing more than sweating (my reason for not being a big exerciser, and a struggle my doctor says I'm just going to have to "get over"), Mother Nature - who clearly hates me - has cursed me with a peculiar stress response that makes me sweat around my hairline.
The hairline that once housed wispy cute baby hairs, but now is home to springy ringlets that curl from the moisture of the sweat.