Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Under Pressure

I'm a tell-er. There are certain events and experiences that create a kind of internal pressure that builds up until I simply must tell someone. Usually that someone is my mom. She is the bank into which I deposit my cute kid-stories, my gross symptoms, my embarrassing anecdotes. Hubby's good for that too - but he doesn't get home until six. Sometimes the valves burst before he can get here.

Never is the urge to tell more powerful than when there is reason to believe that the recipient does not want to hear the information. My mother's empathetic imagination is well-developed: if I exhibit symptoms of the stomach flu, she starts to feel nauseous. If I were a considerate person, this would prevent me from calling her the moment I become ill. Sometimes I manage to hold out for half an hour.

Terrible stories are another case in point. Hubby hates tales of suffering animals and children ... but if one crops up in the newspaper, I get all fidgety until he's read it.

The urge to confess our most embarrassing and shameful secrets can only, perhaps, be exceeded by the urge to reveal other people's most embarrassing and shameful secrets. The internal pressure created by a really big secret is at least as uncomfortable as a bad case of gas during the third trimester of pregnancy.

This morning, something almost intolerably embarrassing happened to me. It is truly too embarrassing to reveal here - and I just called my mom, but she's not home. So I'm finding relief in the act of writing about the urge to tell - to lighten my psychic burdens by airing them for the world (or at least for my mom) to see.

Does everybody feel this way? My husband is a vault - he can keep a secret under lock and key with no discernible effort. Is this because the urge for secrecy in some is as strong as the urge for confession in others? Or is he just a stronger person than I am?

49 comments:

Jess said...

I have dispelled nervous energy generated from the need to tell through random, babbly blog posts that allude to what is on my mind but aren't nearly as explicit as the one you just wrote. And I'm now dying of curiosity. Are you SURE it's too embarrassing to reveal here?

Veronica Mitchell said...

My husband views secrets as a way for other people to have power over him, and he refuses it. If anyone but me tries to tell him a secret, he makes it clear that telling him is the same as making it public. "Two people can keep a secret if one of them is dead" is his favorite quote. It keeps him thoroughly uninvolved in gossip.

I think I am more like your mom. Some stories cause me pain, and so I am careful not to tell those stories to someone if I think they will be in pain, too.

Jenifer said...

Talk about pressure, could I be the first comment?

In general the roles are similar in our house, Hubby does not feel the need to spill quite like I do. I think though that I am looking more for someone who understands and nods and says, yeah yeah as opposed to spilling for the sake of revealing secrets.

Of course that is sometimes. Then there are the times that something is just so delicious about someone else that I have to tell. And I am not telling to make the other person seem bad just so that I have someone to talk about it with. Somethings just need to be talked about.

If I tell my best friend about another friend's in-laws say, it is not to trash that other friend. It is more to say, see we all have our issues.

Hubby's family is the worst at secret-keeping except him. They have a horrible worst kept secret kind of thing happening where everyone knows the BIG SECRET and knows everyone else knows, but never talks about it. That drives me crazy.


Blogging is good for bursting valves that is for sure!

bubandpie said...

Jess - Put it this way. If there were any way to turn it into an amusing anecdote, I would.

Okay. Hubby just placed the emergency phone call to find out what was wrong, and he got a good laugh out of my misfortune, so I'll put the basics here:

1) lingering stomach flu
2) professor teaching commando

Fill in the gaps yourself.

andi said...

I too have to tell people (usually my mom) about these things. Although, I do try and not tell her about illnesses, etc, lest she be convinced I'm dying. And the husband is quite good at listening to my blatherings (being married to a counselor has its perks).

And I'm very intrigued about your incident, especially after reading the comment you left. Were you the one going commando? I'm so confused.

cinnamon gurl said...

I am a teller too. Except that I'm pretty good at keeping other people's secrets when they have no impact on me. If they upset me, all bets are off, and I consider myself free to tell as much as I need to feel better.

I am intensely curious about other people. And you NOT telling this thing that is just SO embarrassing? It's KILLING me!

My husband has ZERO curiosity about people and alternates between mild amusement and mild annoyance at my nosiness.

cinnamon gurl said...

Ok, I must stop writing comments before reading all them. You went commando? That goes so far away from my Hermione vision of you... wow!

Any time I'm too embarrassed to talk about something, I usually decide that embarrassment is for wusses and I should let it out for all those have suffered similar embarrassments to commiserate with. Be proud!

DaniGirl said...

Never mind the teasers, I want details! C'mon, I just blogged about peeing my pants in Loblaws - how much worse can it be?

(Er, I'm guessing that marks me as an inveterate teller, too. Thank goodness for blogging to release the pressure. Matter of fact, by the time an anecdote makes it to the blog, it's already been honed through the oral rendition to my mother, Beloved and any friends within earshot.)

bubandpie said...

Sin - Believe me, it wasn't by choice. You never really appreciate how good underwear feels until forced (by, um, illness-related circumstances) to teach a class without it.

niobe said...

I like keeping secrets. But I hate other people keeping secrets from me. I'll say that I respect their privacy and their choice not to tell me, but, in fact, I don't.

Underwear is, in my view, vastly overrated.

Kyla said...

I feel that way, too.

And if I'm putting your clues together. I am SO SO sorry for you! Ack! Intolerably embarrassing sounds about spot on. Something similar happened to me when I was junior high age. I almost died.

Andrea said...

I'm a vault. If you tell me something and say that you don't want anyone else to know, I'll keep it a secret forever. I really excel at not-talking.

Karen said...

My husband is also a vault. He is a writer of fiction, so I wonder if maybe he has enough telling. Also, he's extremely introverted so, sometimes it doesn't' even occur to him to say out loud things he ought to.

Janet said...

I am the same as you. However, I can keep other people's secrets; just not my own.

My husband could carry information to his grave. I never have to say, "Keep it to yourself" when I tell him something. It's a given.

MOM-NOS said...

I am, for the most part, not a tell-er. I can sit with a secret - my own or someone else's - for a long, long, long time.

slouching mom said...

If it's any consolation, last year I experienced something similar, only I was in the SUPERMARKET. Where bathrooms, as we all know, should be condemned.

TMI, or not TMI? That is the question.

Swistle said...

YOU TEASE!

Yes, I sometimes HAVE to tell. Blogging is a good outlet for that. And I have two best friends I can tell practically anything to.

Bon said...

this post made me laugh. the comments made me laugh harder. i am very very fond of your way with words, and hopeful that you have been able to recover from your commando experience. i too - for different but no more comfortable or under-my-control circumstances - have taught a class whilst awkwardly aware of the, erm, seam of my wool pants.

and secrets? i am getting better at finding my own lid, mostly because my mother repeatedly has proven herself a poor outlet. and Dave doesn't thrill about secrets like i do. but i like other people's, quite a lot. and can actually keep them.

Laural Dawn said...

I know what you mean. If someone else tells me a secret I can keep it - but if it's about me NO WAY!

painted maypole said...

i don't have quite that same kind of pressure, although I am definately a talker. I like to sort of deconstruct something that has happened and talk it over, and this usually happens with my husband, from whom I'm lucky to get a few grunts on occasion. But the bursting to tell? very infrequent with me.

b*babbler said...

Ooh, bubandpie, that really sucks. Maybe, maybe one day you'll be able to look back and laugh. Then again, perhaps not. You're completely right, things just aren't good if you're not wearing underwear.

I'd have to say I'm more the tell-er in our family, but then again I seem to have more embarrassing/crazy things happen to me, so who knows.

Suki said...

Or maybe he just manages to process them out, like my boy does. And I do sometimes.

Just like a year ago I would be itching to know what's up with you, but.. now the itchiness is relegated to manageable levels and I will soon forget about it. :P

I usually have to tell The Baby though. He's quite cool with it, and then reminds me it isn't important before we both forget. :P

(after reading comments)Aaah.. you finally succumbed! Poor lady, you. Hope you're feeling better now!

Magpie said...

I'm a good listener, and a good secret keeper. I think they often go together.

And that thing that happened to you? Happened to me a couple of weeks ago. I hate going commando...and where did that expression come from, anyway?

nomotherearth said...

We'd be a good pair, because I love to hear secrets AND if I say I won't tell anyone, then I will honestly not tell another soul. (However, it must be assumed that if I don't promise not to tell, then I will probably tell Mr Earth. I find it hard not to tell him everything - even things he doesn't want to know..)

bubandpie said...

Kyla, Slouchy, Bon, Magpie - It is immensely helpful not to be alone on this one. (Nothing eases the "I just shared TMI" remorse like a few people joining the party.)

And b*babbler - The "things just aren't good if you're not wearing underwear" just prompted a loud bark of laughter. So true. It's amazing how confident I felt in my afternoon class in my fresh pair of nice clean undies.

Kathryn said...

I have the same type of diarrhea of the mouth when something funny, embarrasing, disgusting, etc has happened, and like you my husband and my mother are the innocent bystanders it falls on.

Ok. I need details. What happened? Did ya poo your drawers? he he Sorry, kinda funny only because we have all had weirdness like that happen. I was sick and very pregnant a couple of years ago and couldn't wait till my husband got home from work so I could tell him that I coughed too hard and pooed my drawers. ha ha! Kinda funny now, not so much then. TMI? Oh well. ;)

Mimi said...

God, are you in my HEAD today, bubandpie?

I'm a compulsive teller. Today, I'm totally overwhelmed with something I can't tell on my blog but which is having a major impact on my life in a scary and negative and, um, scary way, and I just disburdened myself to my friend/colleague in the next office. And now I'm afraid all the grad students in The Pit heard. This is how poor my self-control is.

Pynchon? The kinds of secrets he manages to keep would curl your hair. Seriously. He doesn't even have a GLIMMER of a need to release the pressure. It freaks me out, actually.

-The Shiny Happy Mama- said...

OH, poor you! That is embarrassing stuff. If I'm deducing correctly, then the same thing happened to me whilst pregnant with Lilah. And I didn't have to teach a class. I just had to walk home from the playground.

As far as secrets go, it depends. Stuff like pregnancies, miscarriages, health problems, divorces, I keep to myself because the person in question has the right to spread such big news. Little stuff like embarrassing moments and gossip...eh, that's just dinner conversation. But if someone asks me not to tell, then I won't. Trust is not something to trifle with.

Amanda said...

Hmmm, I do share just about everything with my husband...three pregnancies in as many years and he's heard some pretty graphic stuff. That said, I am not a teller with the rest of the world, unless of course you include the folks who tune into my blog, then I am kind of a teller.

Julie Pippert said...

It depends with me. I can be a vault. But I do need to process in some version of "out loud." When I was younger I needed feedback more than I do now. But often I still need that wall to bounce things off of.

Julie
Using My Words

bren j. said...

Thankfully you managed to get clean undertheres in time for your afternoon class. Yikes! If you were telling me the full story in person I would be peeing laughing (definitely no pun intended) but feeling embarrassed with you all the same!

As for secrets, I think my closest friends know me well enough to assume I'll tell my husband. My biggest personal secrets I keep to myself. For the times when I just can't keep a secret, it IS quite handy having a group of close friends who all live in various parts of the world and aren't actually friends with each other.

gretchen from lifenut said...

Oh, boy....I know what happened to you, and I am sorry.

I think some people are spillers. One of my mom's good friends is a spiller and I know the craziest things about her. In a way, it endears her to me because I think everyone has secrets and embarrassments, but she never pretends to be above it all. She knows life has muck.

Is it dignity vs. transparency? Can you possess both?

I am more of a vault, BTW.

Lotus Siva Carroll said...

Ha! I'm often fighting the urge to write about something that has happened in our home that I find hilarious, but stop myself when I realize it might be embarassing to John.

That said, in general I am more of a, "Did you know this about ME and MY experiences???" (yes, I am quite fond of myself, thank you very much, heh). But I'm not such the passer of stories of others.

My HUSBAND is the one that loves to tell a story about someone. I have observed his family, and either they all learned it from SOMEONE or it's genetic. haha!

You know you're dying to blog it.

Just a little.

Veronica Mitchell said...

It is unnerving how many of these comments on secrecy are puns for the event itself. Ooh. Subtextual blogging.

Aliki2006 said...

Some things I don't tell, I vault them in. But I have a compulsion to tell, as you put it, terrible stories--ones I've read or heard about. I have to get them out, or they'll tear me apart.

I'm sure you can find a way to write eloquently about what happened--I just know you can.

edj said...

I can relate, but I prefer to think that I experience whatever-it-was more fully by SHARING it with my nearest and dearest.
Also, I can keep a secret. I think trust is very important. But I won't keep it unless I'm instructed to, and I assume I can tell my husband unless specifically asked not to.

Kellan said...

I'm pretty good at keeping a secret if I'm told to keep it. But that need to be made very clear or I will feel the need to send the story along, as well. I'm also "a-teller". And I can remember every single detail. I'm very curious what happened to you - it can't be that bad??? See ya.

Mad Hatter said...

Hey, you wrote a post sorta about this last year. (Mind like a steel trap, I gots.) I can keep other people's secrets. I cannot keep my own. The fact that I cannot keep my own makes people think that I can't keep secrets at all. If your secrets start to impact on me and my life, that's when I start getting the itch to explode.

Mad Hatter said...

Geez. I just read the comments. OH MY GOD. But you know, I once had to phone MadDad at home and ask him to bring a pair of panties to the library on his way to work because, er, something went wrong with the backdoor plumbing. Thank heavens, we work on the same campus.

Lawyer Mama said...

I have to do that too. Telling at least one person helps so much.

And, oh, I'm so sorry, B&P! There is nothing worse than that. Well, maybe there is and that would be lingering, icky pantie making stomach flu problems happening without easy access to a bathroom. It could be worse, right? Right?

JCK said...

First of all...OH>>> you poor girl. That would be bad. But,hey...you're laughing and talking about it. You survived to blog about it - well almost, your fans outed you here. :)

My husband, believe it or not, is a blabber. Secrets are not safe with him. Except when important bulletins are told to him -like someone is pregnant, someone is coming to town, someone called...then for some reason he becomes mute and FORGETS to tell me.

You may have guessed. I tend to blab, but I swear I'm good at keeping other people's secrets.

kittenpie said...

I'm terrible at not sharing. Usually by the 12th of December, I am trying to convince Misterpie to open his gifts because I can't hold out any longer. It's sad, really.

Christine said...

i HAVE to tell someone whenever something happens or hear some sort of news.

my husband always keeps his lips tightly shut.

Momish said...

I have to tell all if its about me. I will be taking many of my friends' secrets to the grave.

I still think you have to give us the details on this one!

Ally said...

How cruel to tell us something embarrassing happened to you this morning but we don't get to know what! :)

Poppy said...

"1) lingering stomach flu
2) professor teaching commando"

Oh my...so sorry!

Alpha DogMa said...

The woman up the street is having an affair. Yes, she is. She has a boyfriend who comes over when her husband is working days and her kids go to school and before her scrapbooking clients come for classes.

I've been keeping this secret for TWO LONG YEARS of listening to others rave about her amazing marriage. BRAHAHAHA!

Okay, it felt good to get that out.

Catherine said...

Oh yes! I can keep secrets better than anyone I've ever met. A secret about you, a secret about me, I have the best poker face you could ever imagine and I spent my high school years making sure I studied normal social cues so that I could fake them perfectly.

But...when I have something I want to tell a close person, such as my husband, I pretty much can't NOT do it. Like, no impulse control, which is weird for me. I've actually made an analogy with the desire to push during delivery - MUST GET THIS OUT OF ME!!!!!

Susanne said...

I had to train myself very hard not to spill everything. My internal pressure can build up so much that I tell strangers on the street about my innermost feelings. Once I resigned myself to the fact that my life and I are an open book to all of the world felt fine. But then I'm only slowly learning to consider not only myself but also the other person. How he or she will feel knowing the things I confessed. And so I'm behaving more like a grown-up these days and less like a two-year-old.