helen-louise (baratron) wrote,
helen-louise
baratron

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h-l's history with indirect communication

Several years ago, there was a thread on alt.polyamory entitled "RJ's history with 'indirect' communication", in which rmjwell tried to articulate what it was about indirect communication that bugged him so much. This rapidly turned into The Thread That Ate alt.poly. I remember it spanning a good 2000+ posts (Google Groups suggests 3157) and several months.

One of the things that came up in that thread was the idea of people saying one thing and meaning the polar opposite. An example was given of a visitor saying "What a nice, fresh breeze!" and meaning "Please close the window". That completely blew my mind. If a visitor in my house was to remark on the pleasantness of a breeze, I would either sit there continuing to enjoy the breeze alongside them, or offer to open the window wider. I certainly would never get any idea that the person was cold and wanted the window shut. The idea that someone could say something so utterly contrary broke my brain.

So, a few days ago, we received a letter from an elderly relative that is so full of indirect communication, we hardly know how to interpret it. So I'm asking all of livejournal to offer insights.

"Thank you for the parcel. You really need not in future send gifts at my age. I really do not need much, just a card or letter is enough."

What does this mean?
a) Please don't bother to send me a present in future. I already have more toiletries than I think I'll use in the rest of my life. any more. As it is, when I die, you'll find several cupboards full of unused toiletries.
b) Please don't bother to send me a present in future. I don't want you wasting your money on something I don't really want. You have no idea what I actually like, anyway.
c) Please don't send me a present in future. I would rather you took the time to keep in contact rather than spending money on items to assuage your guilt.
d) Please don't send me a present in future. I would rather you actually bothered to visit me rather than spending money on items.
e) I am going to ask you not to send me a present, but if you comply with this request, I will be offended.
f) All of the above?

"I have meals on wheels + home help 3 times a week. Twice for housework and one day they do shopping, all of which I pay for - so I can manage."

Why is she telling us this?
a) I am proud that I still live in my own house.
b) I am proud that I live independently of the State, unlike a lot of other elderly or disabled people.
c) I am annoyed that I have to pay for help, but too proud to try to claim it for free.
d) I am annoyed that I have to pay for help, because my relatives don't come to see me often enough.
e) All of the above?
Tags: family
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