The Pressure Begins
It happens in an instant. The change around me is as if the air itself is trying to squeeze me. Or perhaps hug me? Either reason, either way, the pressure around me changes. It is a sign that I am overwhelmed. My brain is handling things, but it isn’t going very well. Or that it is so overwhelmed that it isn’t able to handle things and will soon shut down.
And that shut down? When my Critter Brain takes over, and I get angry or annoyed by situations, people normally would not bother me. And that, I try very hard not to do. I am not always successful. At that moment, it takes a Herculean effort to keep that tapped down, to keep me in charge.
And maybe those situations and people would annoy me anyway. I don’t know. I am still learning me, my brain, and how all interact with the world. Right now, I am not taking anything off that table of possibilities. Especially since I am still in the midst of what I am writing about. I never walk away from these writings with anything determined. And even if I were to come to a determination, it is never one answer.
I am in Las Vegas this week with family and friends, and let me tell you; sober Vegas is a unique and intriguing place. I look around me and wonder how many people are like me or how I used to be—drinking to handle the overwhelming everything that is a place like Vegas.
Sober in Vegas
Sobriety brings the awareness that the air around me has changed. Sobriety has brought that awareness and simultaneously removed my ability to escape while still participating. Drinking provided me the numbing respite, the false sense that I was okay. So that I could stay seated, laugh, and joke while ignoring the pressure that is all around me.
The feeling that the world is slowly pushing me within myself, threatening to crush me. Now, I handle walking, even when the group stops. The forward momentum keeps me from stopping still and either screaming at the top of my lungs or crying. In those moments, I feel desperate. I will do anything to release that pressure and maintain tenuous control.
Except I don’t do either of those things because I still have that connection with my rational brain. So instead, I pull my hood up. I bring my head into my hood, like a turtle withdrawing into its shell, protecting the soft bits from the world. I wrap my arms around me; hands pushed so deep into my hoodie pouch that I am in danger of ripping the seams.
Wrapped in my walking woobie, I can focus on that little comfort that brings. No matter how small, that comfort allows me to keep myself together. To do what alcohol used to do for me – create a space between me and the world. An escape from whatever is happening around me, keeping me from spiraling down into a place from which I may not return.