Posted: Tuesday, December 30, 2008 7:23 pm
Dear Annie: I am a female college student living with my parents until I finish school. I love my family, but there are a few problems, most involving my older brother, “David.”
When we were children, we were fond of making each other’s lives miserable, as siblings tend to do. Things got a little easier after David was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome. My parents made some changes and David began to behave more normally.
Lately, David and I fight a lot, mostly because my workload means I’m not always home to take care of my chores and he feels the need to do them for me, even though I don’t ask him to. He later uses that to make me feel guilty.
We also get into fights that can occasionally become physical. He gets so mad over little things that I don’t always see it coming. A few days ago, he threw me to the floor and kicked me. I ended up with a bruised arm and back, swollen lip and cheek, and a sizable bump on my head. Because he has Asperger’s, my parents blamed me, saying I “should know better.”
I can get counseling through my job, but my parents have no interest in getting David into therapy or anger management classes. I don’t want to report him for abuse, but I also don’t want to be seriously hurt. Any advice? — Hurt in Michigan
Dear Hurt: Your brother’s disorder does not mean he gets to abuse you, and your parents are setting him up for future difficulties if they don’t help him learn to control himself. They can find help through MAAP Services for Autism and Asperger Syndrome (asperger.org), P.O. Box 524, Crown Point, IN 46307.
You also must protect yourself by staying out of David’s way. Don’t interact with him unless others are present, and move into your own place as soon as possible.
Dear Annie: It has been about 15 years since my last blood test. In that time, I have slipped up on a couple of occasions and had unprotected sex. Though I have no reason to suspect anything is wrong, I would like to be sure.
The problem is, I am terrified to walk into a clinic or doctor’s office and request an AIDS test. If by some chance it should come back positive, I would be mortified. Is there an anonymous home test available to detect the HIV virus without all the public humiliation? — Worried but Not Enough
Dear Worried: The only FDA-approved home testing kit, “The Home Access HIV-1 Test System” is available at most drugstores. You will, however, have to mail your blood sample to a lab for testing. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has an information hotline (1-800-342-2437), and someone there should be able to answer your specific questions about confidentiality.
Dear Annie: I cannot in good conscience allow the letter from “California,” whose daughter didn’t get into a sorority, to go unchallenged. Who would put their daughter on medication and under a doctor’s care as a result of a poor choice?
Perhaps a better solution would be to share with the daughter the reality of her choice and some alternatives available to her. She is 18, and the consequences of her choices are hers to deal with. The parents should discuss the odds of getting into the sorority in the first place and explain that she is allowing this sorority to have complete control of her life, that she will often face disappointment and rejection, and that how she chooses to deal with them is what creates maturity. Perhaps she could brainstorm solutions to make this a more empowering experience.
Our self-worth should not come from others’ acceptance of us. Maybe a few weekends working with Habitat for Humanity would change her focus. — H.D.
Dear H.D.: Some people have a more extreme reaction to rejection than others. Your suggestions are good ones, but if she needs additional help, she should get it.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
Published in The Messenger 12.30.08