Afraid of Little Girls
Dear Margo: Between the ages of 6 and 10, I was severely bullied, but I was given the impression by grownups that such behavior was perfectly normal for children and I shouldn’t be so sensitive. (I now realize they probably did not pay attention to what was going on.) I was threatened with knives, bashed bloody with a broomstick and on at least two occasions suffered injuries that took months to heal. I’ve been told that one of the girls involved ended up in the state hospital for the criminally insane.
Bringing things to the present, I now often feel intense anxiety when in the presence of girls that age. When my cousin’s young daughter wanted to play with me at a family gathering, I found myself feeling as though I was 7 years old again, trembling and barely able to hold back tears, even though she was not misbehaving. When I hear people saying nice things about children, I feel overwhelmed with anger, and while I do not have any specific thoughts of harming kids, I find myself wanting to go off on rants telling everyone the “truth” about the inherently evil and vicious nature of children.
After bringing this up about a month or so ago in an online support group (for Asperger’s, which I have), it was suggested that I may additionally have PTSD and should seek treatment. Apparently, the bullying I experienced was unusually severe even for people who were often bullied in school.
My question is: Would it be worthwhile to seek treatment? I am concerned that it would be difficult to find a therapist familiar with ASD (autistic spectrum disorder) adults because I have heard of cases where further emotional damage is done because our motivations and reactions are different from those of “regular” people. Also, since I don’t have regular contact with children, maybe it’s unnecessary to go through therapy and instead I’d simply continue to avoid them.
However, I want to start dating after having been single for a very long time, and the reality is that most men of an appropriate age for me will be divorced or widowed (I’m 37). And … my friends are becoming parents. What do you suggest? — Scared of Little Girls
Dear Scare: Your insight into the problem is very good in that you recognize the origin of the difficulty, which would make any therapy less involved than you may imagine. What you need is support in coping and help with taming your thoughts. With the advice of a professional, I am recommending cognitive behavioral therapy. The fact that you have some form of Asperger’s is not a factor here. Good luck. — Margo, optimistically
Already Feeling Guilty
Dear Margo: I’m allergic to velvet and similar fabrics that are soft and fuzzy to the touch, and having my skin in contact with them is extremely unpleasant for me, resulting in redness, itching and hives. The problem is that I’m pregnant, and that sort of material abounds in baby clothes and soft toys, which no doubt will be given to us. The other day I was discussing this with my mother, and she said, “Well, you’ll just have to wear gloves all the time, because it’s unfair to deprive your child of proper toys and clothes just because you’re a little finicky.” Is she right, even though these things literally make me sick? And if she’s not right, how do I politely let people know velvety items are not welcome? — Expectant Mom
Dear Ex: Let’s start with your mother. “Finicky” means difficult to please. “Allergic” signifies an abnormal reaction of the body. You can tell her for me that there are many clothes and toys that are not made of velvet, and I have never heard of a “velvet-deprived child.” As for getting the word out about you and velvet, you might drop it into casual conversations with your girlfriends, but if there are any shower invitations, I would advise against putting “Please, no velvet” in writing. Should a few things arrive that are soft, fuzzy or velvet, simply return them for credit … wearing gloves, of course. — Margo, curatively
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Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via the online form at www.creators.com/dear-margo.html. Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.
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