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Am I being cruel to my aunt?

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My mother is battling cancer in a skilled nursing facility. I have an aunt on her side whom I've never been close to, and although she's nice, isn't really my kind of person. I don't consider her much more than a blood relative and don't want to get close to her now. Since my mom got cancer, she's been calling me up trying to "mother" me and I hate it. I actually overheard her say to my mom that she wants to "take over the mother role" for her after she's gone, which I find more than a little patronizing because I'm not seeking a mother figure and wouldn't want her as one if I was.

My aunt called this morning and I didn't answer. I don't know whether the purpose of her call was to talk about my life and offer more unsolicited advice or ask about my mom's condition or both, but I didn't want to talk about either. I spent perhaps too little time thinkng about how I wanted to handle it and shot her this text:

Hi Colleen. I saw that you called this morning. Because the circumstances are bad, I don't want to talk. If you want to talk to my mom, you can do so by calling Cottesmore at xxx-xxx-xxxx and asking for her. Otherwise, you'll have to get updates through my dad from now on. Please don't call/text me again or take it personally. Take care.

After sending it, I don't feel right. It's kind of painful to read. Am I being mean/cruel? Edited by happiness
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No. I can't say whether or not you should have rejected this woman from your life but there wasn't anything objectionable in the way you did it. Rejection is a part of life I am sure she knows that. 


I hope your mother does better. 

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It sounds like you are being reasonable based on this little information, and I thought your text came across as pretty neutral, considering how intrusive and assuming your aunt has decided to be.

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I'm sorry to hear about your mom. Your note is polite.

People can sometime be intrusive because they think you are feeling what they feel (or would feel), or that you want to express things the way they would, or that you need the type of emotional support they would need. It's a naive sort of empathy. When my best friend died in college, I remember feeling that everyone expected me to show more sadness than I did, and some tried to help thinking I'm "bottling it all in", when it would have been fake if I'd expressed myself any more.

In addition, people can sometimes be intrusive because they want to "do something" in a situation where outcomes are really out of their control. It is natural. Their emotional response makes them want to act.

Of course, some people are just pesky and interfering too. Hard to say without actually experiencing the particular concrete case.

If your aunt is basically a decent person, at some point you could tell her that you appreciate her concern for you, but that you are going to make sure that you will not slip in ... fill-in-blank ... (For instance, if you're in school, you could explain that you intend to keep your grades up, etc.) If she's rationally concerned about negative impacts to your life going forward, this should help allay her concerns a bit.

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Very sorry to hear about your mom.


I understand what it is like to analyze texts that you sent and wonder if they took it more harsh than you intended. With my limited understanding of the situation, I think that a text was appropriate. Some people need to know straight forward and to the point [in a serious tone] that they are being too intrusive.


However, from what I gather from your post, I wonder that the text may make her even more worried about you (and, therefore, more intrusive). As written, it seems that you want to shut everyone out, not her specifically for her intrusiveness. I agree with SN's advice. 

Edited by thenelli01
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You are not being cruel because you are not doing harm.  You have every right to exclude anyone from your life and you do not owe them an explanation, though it may pay (politically) to find a diplomatic way to exclude them. 


My advise:  think of it as the art of diplomacy and try to think of what you can say that will motivate your aunt to behave as you want her to.  Spend some time on it as on any art form.  And do not except any guilt for not wanting her in your life.  One of the great things that Ayn said is:  love is exception-making.  Most people don't qualify, and it is not cruelty to sort them out.

Edited by howardofski
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You have every right to exclude anyone from your life and you do not owe them an explanation, though it may pay (politically) to find a diplomatic way to exclude them. 


Sure, you have every right to, but some people deserve an explanation. I don't know if his aunt is one of them in this case.

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