Maybe the other wheels need oil! THINK OF THE OTHER WHEELS

Guess who has a deadline and a houseguest arriving in less than 24 hours and piles of laundry and floors that need vacuuming and a bathroom that needs scrubbing BUT ALL THE DISHES ARE DONE SO TAKE THAT. That’s why I’m blogging. Or more likely it’s why I’m thinking so much. Okay, I’m always thinking so much.

So here is my thing. I’m not all that loud. You might think from my penchant for ALL-CAPSery that I’m loud, but I’m not that loud. I guess I’m loud in a HA HA I THINK I AM SOOOO FUNNY sort of way sometimes. But I’m generally pretty private and quiet and being in crowds freaks me out and having ANY ATTENTION on me at all makes me want to cry and hide and point at someone else and run when heads are turned.

Because of this, I have a really hard time asking for help. Well, not asking for help. I can totally ask for specific help when I know that I need it and I know what I need. But support, you know? From the general collective. I’m TERRIBLE at that. Any time I do mention I’m having a hard time and get kind words back, I want to apologize. Oh, please, no, don’t worry about me. I’ll be FINE. I can take care of me. Look! At all those people with bigger problems! Go hug them instead!

And here is what happens. There are lots of people, whether they are extroverts or what, who are VERY GOOD at letting everyone know they are going through a hard time. And then you sit and you watch the support roll in. By the truckload, so much support, everyone is thinking of them, holding them up in prayer. And I resent it. I resent the HELL out of it.

And my uncharitable thoughts spiral out from there. Why can’t SHE just DEAL with her problems? Why must she make such a spectacle? Why doesn’t anyone help the people too quiet to know how to say they need help?

Well, dumbass. Because how in the WORLD are they supposed to know those people NEED help?

I see a lot of people talking about how people write on the internet and try to sell themselves as so happy with these perfect lives when meanwhile insanity is happening beneath the surface. And later they are criticized for this, for painting a happy picture when they weren’t happy at all. And that DOES happen, that definitely happens, but then I get (also uncharitably) defensive. You can’t tell! You can’t! Because sometimes people are just private! Sometimes the things we carry aren’t for the internet or even close friends. Sometimes the things we carry are ours to carry alone.

But also sometimes people ARE lying to sell their lives. So maybe I should reel that in. Maybe I shouldn’t give the benefit of the doubt OR judge. Maybe I should just STOP.

Then of course there are layers to what people are willing to share. Just because so-and-so is very vocal about certain stressors, it doesn’t mean EVERYTHING in her life is stressful, nor does it mean there aren’t things happening that even she isn’t mentioning.

This all sounds very ominous. I promise things are a normal amount of fine and messed up over here. No great turmoil. This isn’t a cry for help. It’s just, I don’t know. I get frustrated every day–EVERY SINGLE DAY–of my life when I find myself not stopping and taking a second and realizing WE ALL PROCESS THINGS DIFFERENTLY. There aren’t right and wrong ways.

Well, kicking kittens is a wrong way.

But there aren’t. And I need to stop. To stop resenting the squeaky wheels. THEY NEED OIL. So they squeak. And people bring them what they need.

And that’s ANOTHER thing I do. I see someone being very loud about a problem, and I immediately imagine what sort of problem I’d have to have to be THAT vocal about it. And I compare my imaginary makes-an-introvert-scream problem to the WAY AN EXTROVERT PROCESSES REAL ACTUAL PROBLEMS and that’s just not fair. NOT FAIR. Not to either type of personality. Or anyone on that sliding scale, I suppose, so as not to pigeonhole everyone.

I’m not going anywhere with this. It probably sounds preachy, and I don’t mean it that way. I just, I don’t hide things on purpose. I don’t know that it’s even HIDING, it’s just not sharing, because it’s mine and I’m protective of it. Maybe. I know it’s not pride that makes me do it. I have no desire for everyone to think I have it all together. And it’s not shame. I guess sometimes there is shame, but I’m not embarrassed that I can’t do it all, that I need support. It just doesn’t even occur to me to talk about it.

But, man. If it does occur to you to talk about your problems, to live your life out loud? I admire you. And you deserve every drop of oil you get.



Filed under Probably too serious

39 responses to “Maybe the other wheels need oil! THINK OF THE OTHER WHEELS

  1. I love this, and I love you. I am doing a lot of nodding.

  2. I think you and I have a lot in common. Just because I don’t broadcast everything for the Internet to see doesn’t mean I’m being dishonest. I’m just sort of a private person, that’s all. And that’s okay. Just like it’s okay that others aren’t as private, because, holy crap, how boring a place would the internet be if everyone were super private about everything?

    • RIGHT? I need some drama from somewhere, and I prefer it not be in my own life. I guess there’s the teevee, but, come on. Internet is the best people-watching there is.

  3. My childhood family is very, very fond of a book about temperament types. I haven’t even read the book in…maybe ever, but we are constantly referring to people who are doing something that’s “SO sanguine” or “SO mel” or whatever. I’ve found it helpful for that breathing-through-the-nose I have to do when someone is…I’ll call it “processing,” like you did, that’s a nice word…PROCESSING things in a way I consider…let’s call it “different.” I consider it DIFFERENT. Not wrong. Just different. (wrong.) DIFFERENT. But even with that, it’s still hard for me to see highly squeaky wheels demanding a huge share of attention over nothing YET AGAIN. I know you JUST FINISHED SAYING it’s okay that they process things that way, and I even AGREE—as long as I’m not currently dealing with someone processing in that way. How about this: it’s okay for them to be the way they are; it’s okay for others to prefer not to watch/participate in it. There.

    • You are just so REASONABLE. I couldn’t agree more. Because as much as I self-flagellate, I do still end up being bothered by it. I try so hard to separate the ones who really are just external processors from the, well, attention whores. But I think there are some pretty big red flags on the attention whores, no? So let’s all agree to aim our eye lasers that way. Or not, because that’s what they want us to do.

    • Jesabes

      YES, this is me. I suppose I can accept some people process like that and it isn’t wrong (just DIFFERENT), but darned if I’m going to participate in it (by sending thoughts, etc.). I’m not judgy mcjudgy pants about it, but I really try to ignore it. Because if I think about it I get so super annoyed. STOP ASKING FOR OIL, GEEZ, YOU CANNOT STILL BE SQUEAKING.

      • Jesabes

        Oops! And now I’m going ‘down on squeaky wheels’ like you just said this is NOT about. But! It amounts to the same thing you said. Basically, I see how it speaks more about me than them, but that kind of stuff annoys me. It just does. That doesn’t mean people need to stop. It just means it annoys me. Which is my own problem and not something they need to worry about. And I’m selfishly happy it annoys other people, too.

        • Haaaa at “selfishly happy”. I totally get that. And it’s all good, I just don’t want squeakers to come into these comments feeling like it’s a pile on. As Linnea has pointed out, non-squeakers are a difficult bunch in their/our own right.

  4. Yeah, this is me too. I want people to use telepathy in order to figure out how much oil I need.

    • Yes. And it better be the right kind of oil! It’s incredibly unfair of me to be upset with, for example, my husband for not providing what I need in a stressful time, when I don’t even know what it is I need in the first place. Why can’t other people read my mind to figure out the stuff I’m hiding even from myself?

      Then, of course, there’s the part of me that knows it won’t ever be the right kind of oil because I can’t accept help without feeling guilty. I’m like this with gifts, too. I almost always want to return things, not because I want something else–I never replace them. I just don’t feel like I need anything and don’t want anyone to make a fuss. I’m a grandmother already, apparently.

      Okay, maybe that was more than what you meant.

  5. This is SO. YES. I am an internal processor and my sister is an external processor. She says horrible hurtful things because it’s the first thing that comes to her mind. She later may say all the nice things that a normal human would come up with eventually, but by then it’s all shit-canned for me. And yet. I know that this is just the way she is. This way of being (disorganized in every sense of the word, mouthy, very sensitive to her own feelings but not so much to others’) is just the way she is. It gets her a lot more support from other people because she always looks like she’s on the edge of crisis. (This week her crisis is trying to decide if she should push to bump her 5yo daughter into first grade next year. I do not have any idea why she thinks she should talk to me about this.)

    Her husband works full-time (she does not) and does all the household maintenance and cleaning stuff. My dad is constantly helping her with big projects (building a fence, mowing the lawn each week, rebuilding the flooded basement). We joke in our family about “the last 10%”. If I start a project, I almost always FINISH it. Sooner rather than later. My sister will NEVER finish anything, ever. So people step in to finish for her. Squeak squeak squeak while I sit over here quietly trying not to be resentful.

    AT THE SAME TIME, my own 8yo needs more than other kids his age. More of everything, pretty much. So I am in the uncomfortable position of having to squeak VURRY LOUDLY on his behalf. I am constantly having to hold myself back from apologizing for him. He gets special treatment in class, more attention from camp counselors to keep him on-task, he doesn’t do regular chores–all he has to do to earn his allowance is not swear and not throw things basically. As a rule-following introvert, all this makes me completely nuts. But there it is.

    • Thank you so much for reminding me about internal and external processors. I am fortunate that my brother processes things the same way I do, as do most members of my family. However, with friends, I tend to be drawn more toward the external. I want to help people! They seem like they need the most help! Except … they don’t. They’re just processing. Can it, Diane.

  6. Yeah. This. I just…I am almost the exact same way.

  7. I … well, I guess that I complain A LITTLE, but then everyone else has so many bigger and more horrible complaints that I feel silly and stupid for any complaints I make about my own life. So then I shut up, which doesn’t make me feel better about what I am going through. A bit, it makes me feel worse – why can’t I deal with what I’m dealing with, everyone else’s problems are so much bigger? Etc.

    Life is hard, whether you’re vocal about it or not.

  8. It’s funny, I rarely squeak IRL except to my very nearest and dearest, I’m pretty private that way. But something about twitter, how supportive and ask-&-ye-shall-receive it is, in fact the VERY aspects of it that drive you nutty, somehow liberate me into squeaking myself when I’m feeling in need of grease. So I’m especially nodding when you note that different people process stuff in different ways, because I’m apparently different whether I’m online or off. Which may be it’s own problem, but whatevs. Anyway, great post.

    • This is how I am. I am SO not a squeaker in real life. I am utterly, totally, (to a not quite healthy degree) internal about processing.
      But online, something is different. Maybe because I like to write as a way of processing my own feelings, maybe because I see other people with the same issues, maybe just because it doesn’t feel entirely real? I dunno. I know that lots of times I’m not asking for support, so much as I’m getting it off my chest so it’ll stop rattling around in my brain. I rarely specifically ask for support (the one or two times I have it has felt INCREDIBLY STRANGE), but I will brain dump on the internet, which does tend to lead to support.

    • I just didn’t want anyone who thinks they are a squeaker to feel GUILTY about it. Goodness knows, if there is one thing none of us needs it is more guilt. Processing out loud is PERFECTLY FINE. I was walking a fine line here of trying to express that I think my own read on squeaky wheels is unfair and uncharitable, but I also didn’t want anyone who shared that opinion to think I was judging them. What has ended up happening is I went off balance entirely and it turned into LET’S WHINE ABOUT SQUEAKY WHEELS situation, which is even more unfair of me. Anyway, I love everybody.

  9. Wow. WOW. I really loved this. Lots of nodding. It’s sort of embarrassing to admit how often I’ve felt this, ESPECIALLY: “Why can’t SHE just DEAL with her problems? Why must she make such a spectacle?”

    I think it’s more online that I feel this than in person. It’s not that I don’t squeak, it’s just that I don’t feel comfortable (USUALLY) being super squeaky on the big internet where anyone can see me (HELLO BOSS, WHY YES I AM MISERABLE and all that).

    Anyway. This was great. You should share and write more often. 🙂

    • I think it’s good we’ve got people on Twitter talking about how they are external processors and helping those of us who are not understand that they aren’t garnering for buckets of attention. They’re just thinking out loud, the way they think, and that’s PERFECTLY okay. I feel awful. I mean, I felt awful before! But now I feel more awful for having been so very uncharitable. Which we all are at times, but still, no excuse.

      • NotPerfect

        I don’t think any guilt is necessary. You are not actively shaming people. You aren’t. You have created a discussion about something that everyone thinks about at one time or another. And, well, sometimes people do things that are undeserving of charity. Your discussion is simply that, it’s not pointed or exploitative. It’s a discussion. You’re good.

        • Thank you, Nic. You are, as always, a voice of reason in my very loud head. I just don’t want anyone’s takeaway from the post to be, “Yeah, people who whine on the internet sure are annoying!” Because, no. That’s not what I meant at all. I’m glad you see that.

  10. I talk about some problems and tend to focus on that and worry the opposite, like, people must think I’m a miserable dishrag of a person. When I am not! I just…like to complain a lot? I don’t even know. But yes to all of it.

  11. ebj123

    Ok, now I have the Nervous Feelings that you are tired of hearing my complain about Paxil Withdrawal on Twitter! I do try to keep a lid on Twitter complaints, I swear but this is just GRINDING me down and sometimes I just need to say “woah, this is so hard.” I honestly wish there was something I could ask for, but there’s not even really anything can do to make it better.

    I do think sometimes people complain a lot about how hard their lives are because they need more help and don’t know how to ask for it correctly, and are just thinking that if they illustrate correctly how hard something is, they will get help. I know my husband and I get into this – when I should just say “I need ____ from you” instead of moaning about how hard I have so he will feel sorry for me and help out more. It never works! I don’t know why I do it.

    • Elizabeth I know I don’t speak for everyone, but I can honestly say that I appreciate your candor about how hard your Paxil withdrawal has been, and I empathize with you for it. I don’t think at all that’s what Diane is saying (especially following the ensuing twitter discussions) but please please, don’t keep all that in. We do care. (Also, I have been on Paxil and so has my mom, so I was talking to her on Monday about our lack of withdrawal complaints, it just stopped working. I can’t imagine what you are going through)

      And I do the same thing with my husband, and then get pissed that he doesn’t do what I’ve asked him a thousand time to do IN MY HEAD.

    • Empathize? Sympathize? One day I’ll figure that out. Damn.

    • Elizabeth! No. Well, if I’m being honest, I suppose I was speaking to things like what you’re going through. I know I can’t know how I’d react, but my gut tells me to internalize. And especially when I am going through a difficult time myself and either don’t want to share with the internet or can’t, I look around and see the people who can and do and receive support in return and I’m jealous. STRAIGHT UP. That doesn’t mean in those moments of an uncharitable spirit I stop seeing that these are people who are truly in need of support. What you are going through right now, I don’t know how you’re breathing, I really don’t. I’d never fault you for your need to process it aloud. I can’t speak for anyone else, but you’re not BOTHERING me. I think of you often and wish there were something I could do and wish the doctor could do more for you and hope it will all pass as quickly as possible.

      I have similar issues with my husband. I end up getting passive aggressive, which helps absolutely no one. I expect him to read my mind, and that’s incredibly unfair. But I also don’t know how to say what I need. I don’t KNOW what I need. Isn’t that why I got married? No? Ha.

      But really, it all amounts to envy and lack of understanding on my part. It is nothing the squeakers are doing wrong.

  12. Yes. This.
    I also agree with Shriekhouse that I switch from this a little over Twitter, but even then not much. Frankly most people wouldn’t even know that my mom is dying if I hadn’t reached out to Miriel who then reached out to everyone else in the world FOR me. Maybe all us “other wheels” need to get our own Miriels?

    • I have a Miriel! Oddly enough, it’s Miriel’s sister Arwen. When I was in crisis with Leo last year, she rallied her internet on my behalf. When I was hurting too much to do more than quietly cry to friends, she made sure I got the support I needed that I didn’t know how to ask for. Those Thomas ladies are something special.

  13. NotPerfect

    It often feels like we’re just spectators on the internet because we get to witness far more interactions than we do in real life and it can get overwhelmingly loud. I tend to process well conversationally, even through conversations on twitter, but I tend to do much of my processing privately.

    My mind also goes to some uncharitable places. But I try to distinguish between those who are processing/expressing versus those who are courting attention/sympathy. The latter tend to have long patterns of such behavior and it just makes me leery. Where I run into issues with this is when it feels like I’m going against the norm by not bubbling over with support and warmth as everyone else is. I try to remind myself that I’m just a spectator here and it’s okay, those are not the relationships I choose to cultivate.

    • Yes. Such a difference between someone actually in crisis and someone who is shouting LOOK AT ME for the hell of it. The problem for me is that I was resenting both. And it’s awful, but it boils down to envy in a way. Look at them, getting all that attention and comfort! I wish I could have that! Except … I don’t. It’s some sort of messed up grass is always greener phenomenon. I should say, though, that while I lovingly water that little seed of resentment, it never blooms into actively disliking the person. It’s all a reflection of my own insecurities, and I am doing my best here to own that. People who process out loud shouldn’t feel like they are BOTHERING those of us who don’t. And I’d guess that those who DO bother others likely bother both kinds of processors in somewhat equal measure.

      • NotPerfect

        I totally understand what you’re saying. I wish there were an easier way for you to express what’s going on to get the sympathy you need when you need it. Maybe a high alert email group? Just. If you ever need that support, people will come running.

  14. I do think I am a different person on Twitter/email/blog/writing (which I just tried to spell “wrighting” about 5 times). And I also don’t know if I’m an extrovert or an introvert. I think a bit of both. I do need to process things verbally, usually, I think, but I don’t like to write about all my problems unless they are acute problems and I need Twitter to get righteously angry on my behalf (eg, Dr. Eyedrops). Hmm.

  15. This is one of the key things J & I argue about. I process out loud. All is woe and despair, then I have a cookie or a nap, and it’s better. He… he is like you. He’s not secretive, it just doesn’t even occur to him to talk about things that are bothering him. His dad’s death has sort of brought him up cold and he’s realizing it more, and… man… I just don’t even know what to say or where to start with that, but it’s something that he’s talking about. Sometimes. On some days.

    • Linnea, I think you are touching on another bit of nuance here. I am incredibly private when it comes to processing things in my life in a public forum. But with close friends and family? OH THE RAGE. Or the woe. The agony, the misery, the nonsense of it all. I talk all their ears off, and I feel better. My husband is like yours. It doesn’t occur to him to talk about the things that hurt, which sometimes I’m good at dealing with and other times I get mad and want him to react and I push and push and push and ugh. Good luck to you trying to help your husband through the loss of his father.

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