What if: Your Dirty Laundry Might Be Aired?

dirty laundry

Here is the second hypothetical situation presented to the 2016 Enneagram panel. Each person responded to the scenario by stating how they would feel, what they would think, and what they would say and do.

Situation: You discover that a family member is writing a tell-all memoir in which he plans to outline his grievances against several other family members, including you. 

Type 1: I would actually feel fairly safe. And what I would think is, Go for it! Write it. I would read it.

Type 2: I’d be surprised, shocked, gasp…me, little me? And I would be hurt. Then I would think, What happened to this person? They’re out of their ever-loving mind to do this to their family. What about the feelings of the other people involved in this family? I would want to see them face-to-face. I would want to show them that they are loved and cared for and to figure out if there was a reason that made them go in this direction to strike out. And I would ask them if there was something I could do that would help alleviate whatever anger or frustration was going on to do this.

Type 3: I don’t have to say it. I’d feel outraged. Outraged! How dare you? And I would confront the family member, really close face-to-face, and say, What the hell do you think you’re doing? And when that person says, Well, I’m going to write it anyhow because (the Type 1) is going to read it, then what I’ll do is get the other family members together and say, We can’t let this happen. And we would gang up on that person. And if that person doesn’t give in, moderate some of this, they’re cut off.

Type 4: Well, I would feel horrified and humiliated to have family secrets revealed, especially ones about me. I guess I haven’t led as good a life as (the Type 1) has. But I would think the person who is revealing all of this information is misguided at least and selfish and inconsiderate at worst. What I would say and do would depend upon who the offender is. If it was someone close, I would want to know why he is doing that and express my dismay. If it was someone not so close, I would probably just break off the relationship.

Type 5: Well, I really wouldn’t care. There are always at least two sides to the story. I would not attempt to interfere. Not surprisingly, I recently read a book that interviewed 20 memoirists, and each one of them spoke to the issue of writing about others and how much to include of other people’s lives and discussed the pros and cons. But none of those authors would condone writing a memoir in order to prove that you are right. I also believe that this family member’s motives would probably be obvious because that’s the nature of writing.

Type 6: How do I feel? I can’t even access that. Really what’s going on is I can imagine all the horrible things that I’ve done and how they might be interpreted, and I’m totally overwhelmed and shut down by the number of things that might be revealed and what people will think about me. That’s what’s really going on. I guess those are actually all thoughts, though. Surprise. What do I say and do? Depends a lot on the quality of the relationship and my perception. I don’t know. I have no clue what I would do.

Type 7: I agree with (the Type 3). I would probably get together with the other family members and say, This person has completely and totally lost their mind. But in the process of doing that I would also get with the family member and say, This is what you’re going to do; if you write this, this is what it’s going to do to these specific people. Not necessarily mentioning myself, but I would try to talk them out of it and try to do some kind of intervention to stop it from being written.

Type 8: I find it very interesting that everyone assumes  this is going to be published. Because nowhere here does it say it’s going to be published. It just says they wrote it. They’re writing it. It’s not even done yet. How I would feel would totally depend on if he had already expressed his grievance to me personally before taking it public. And I would think it totally depends on what I did that his grievance is about. I tend to stand by my actions, so I would probably be OK and think it’s just his side of the story and he has a right to it. What I would say and do depends on so many things, but mostly what I did.

Type 9: I would feel angry and concerned, not particularly about myself but about what would it do to the family and the family members. And I would think that he’s vindictive and emotionally immature. I would try to draw him out and listen to why he has his grievances and then explain to him and help him see how he’s hurting himself as well as others.

How do you think you might respond to a situation like this? Would you feel safe, horrified, angry, or concerned?

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