Monday, July 1, 2013

Aunt Jane: Priding Herself on Her Discretion

     Before posting my third installment of Paternal Relatives: Narcissists or Just Behaving Badly? I wanted to do an entry about my AJ, that ties into the first installment of the series.
      In my entries so far, I have talked about my Aunt Jane and how out of all of my paternal relatives, she is one of the few whom I have not minded keeping in contact throughout the years.  As of now, AJ and I are still in contact, but it's funny because planning the entries to include in this blog has given me the opportunity to start thinking more about aspects of AJ's personality and how she really fits into the scheme of things when it comes to my paternal relatives.
     I recently had a phone conversation with AJ that was typical of most of our talks, however the one thing that was different about this conversation was that I firmly recognized a quality about AJ that I had never paid much attention to before.  I realized that AJ takes pride in her ability to be discreet with other peoples information.  In many conversations we've had, she has brought up the fact that she doesn't like giving out peoples contact numbers and other personal information without first having their permission.  In our last phone call, she brought up this point again when talking about my father, with whom she has recently spoken, but who has had no contact with me since about 2010.  I have spoken to AJ about my reasons for cutting communication with my father, and she definitely agreed with me on this decision, so when my father asked her for my contact information when they last spoke, she lied and told him that she didn't have it.  I was glad that she didn't give him my phone number and that she had told me about him asking her for it, but aside from that, the main thing that stood out to me was her pride in the fact that she had not given out the information.
    As I've mentioned in my Gossip/One-Sided Storytelling entry, I think that AJ is an information gatherer just like AM and my SGm but she does it to a lesser extent, or as I've been thinking since my last conversation with her, maybe she just uses a different approach.  While my AM and SGm are more obvious about craving for information, AJ comes across as the caring, concerned family member who just wants to know how everyone is doing;  She'll ask me questions about how I am doing, how my job is going, and how my boyfriend and our daughter are doing.  All of these inquiries are fine, and I don't mind filling her in on the basic details of our life.  The thing that I have been wondering about is whether AJ really cares about the goings-on of my life or if she is mainly just happy that she is one of the few people with whom I keep in contact with from my paternal side of the family, so she still gets to gather information while most of the others have been cut off.  
     To answer my own question, I do think that AJ genuinely cares about me and my family,  but I also think that she is playing a role to some extent because she is well aware of the fact that she is viewed as one of the more decent relatives, and not just by me but by several other family membersWith AJ's well established role as the decent relative, people are more willing to share information with her, which in turn gives her control as to what other family members like AM and SGm get to know.  Information is power, and my paternal relatives love feeling like they have that kind of power, so I wouldn't put it past AJ to act in this manner, even if she herself isn't fully aware that this is her motivation.


  1. I_W, I think your last paragraph here is very clear-eyed. The family member who "gets along" with everyone, esp. those are estranged from each other, definitely gets something out of it. You are dead right that "information is power." Keep that always in mind. Do not share with her anything that could ever be used against you. I hate saying that. I wish my life had taught me a different lesson about FOO and people in general. But if you have an inkling of intuition that AJ likse her "established role as the decent relative," it means that if the balance of power ever shifts, her personality might change.

  2. Hey, CS, thanks for the comment. I definitely do try to make an effort to withhold most information about my life, because although I do tend to trust AJ more than my other paternal relatives, she's still of them and they are a close bunch, seeing each other all the time, so I don't want her being able to pass along too much information or knowing to much info herself, even if she claims that she keeps things to herself. Most of what I tell her is trivial information, and I don't really care if she passes it along, because none of them can do anything malicious with the kind of information I share. But at the same time, since all of them just love information, anything that they know of someone's life IS important because it makes them feel like they are in-the-know, so it gets tricky.