I was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome when I was 8. Now I’m a teenager, and that isn’t a diagnosis anymore. I have autism spectrum disorder now. I’m considered “high functioning.” But when I’m happy or upset, I sometimes rock my body or flap my hands. My mom says I shouldn’t do this in public because it’s socially inappropriate and may be distracting to others. But I think it’s O.K. I’m not hurting anyone. And even though I can control the rocking and flapping now, I don’t think I should have to. What do you think?
My hunch is that one of your mother’s concerns here may be that people will be cruel to you — or that you’ll get fewer opportunities in life — because of these mannerisms. My own mom expressed similar worries when I was growing up and discovering myself. Yours may not want other people thinking of you as different or treating you badly because of your gestures.
But I’m no expert in autism. So, do me a favor and consult with one, either alone or with your mother. Talk with the expert about the best ways to manage your symptoms, and also to help you distinguish which ones should be managed for medical or psychological reasons, and which ones may be worth managing to help you fit in better — not that expressing yourself authentically isn’t important, too.
The biggest threat here, as I see it, is that you end up feeling a kind of self-hatred for mannerisms that others find off-putting. That would be a terrible result. If we’ve learned anything from trying to be more inclusionary, it’s that a whole host of behaviors, sexualities, gender identities and more that were once thought of as aberrant are, simply, not. It’s the job of others to accept us. It’s not our job to worry about making it easier for them.
‘I Do Not’
Is there a statute of limitations on your husband of 30 years reprimanding your father-in-law for sticking his tongue in your mouth at your wedding (twice!)?
I am so sorry that happened to you! There is absolutely no time limit on discussing your pain and anger over sexual misconduct. In fact, exposing it to sunlight may do you a world of good.
It isn’t clear from your email whether you told your husband immediately about the unwanted kissing or if it was a more recent disclosure. Still, I am doubly saddened by the signature you chose for your letter, Undefended.
I can easily imagine the difficulty of a young woman confronting her father-in-law in the 1980s. But 30 years later, do you really want a man to defend you? It’s been striking to watch women boldly share their most vulnerable moments in light of #MeToo. So, reprimand your father-in-law yourself. And if your husband has been an obstacle in this, reprimand him too.
A co-worker shops online for clothing compulsively. She often hides her shopping from her husband, who is also a co-worker. Recently, he confronted her about her spending. They argued, and she promised to limit her shopping. (She hasn’t.) Now, she’s asked me for a favor: Will I collect a package from the mailroom for her on a day she plans to be out of the office? She asked me to keep it at my desk so her husband won’t see it on hers. I didn’t know what to say, so I agreed. But now I have a nagging feeling that I’m complicit in something wrong. I don’t want to create hostile relationships with either of them. What should I do?
I am going to assume that you learned much of what you report here (the wife’s compulsive shopping, the fight and resolution, her breaking her promise to him) the good old-fashioned way: through the grapevine. And I applaud your desire to steer clear of other people’s relationships.
Go back to the wife and say: “I hope you’ll understand, but I don’t want to get between you and your husband. Please find someone else to collect your package.” And for the record, staying out of their relationship also includes not trading in gossip about it. I applaud that too.
But I Need to Finish ‘Russian Doll’
A year ago, our cousins shared their Netflix password with us. We’ve enjoyed riding their coattails. Last month, they told us they were canceling their subscription because they wanted their kids to play outside more. We thanked them for all the great shows. After their subscription would have ended, we went back to Netflix to sign up for our own account, but we discovered we could still access theirs. Apparently, they renewed. If they didn’t want us using their account, why didn’t they just tell us or change passwords? Should we ask them? Should we keep watching?
Here’s an idea: Stop mooching and get your own account! Your cousins may have intended to let their subscription lapse, then changed their minds. Or they may not have felt comfortable calling you out on your freeloading. They owe you no explanation about any of this.