I have an exam on Thursday, but I’m struggling to concentrate because I’m experiencing an issue with someone who seems unwilling to respect basic boundaries.
I could have called this post “The Saga of the List Continues”. I’m going to summarise what has happened to date. I’m doing this, in a public post on my site, because I’m starting to feel as though my perception of reality is being distorted.
When I found my name on The List, it made me feel incredibly uncomfortable. I couldn’t figure out why I felt uncomfortable because the feelings of discomfort outweighed my ability to figure out the reason for my discomfort. I sent a message through the contact link to ask to be removed from The List. My message was:
“I am uncomfortable with being included in your list.
You never contacted me to obtain my permission to be included in on this list or to confirm whether I was comfortable with the set of abbreviations attached to my name.
While the abbreviations attached to my name are mostly correct unlike many of the other bloggers listed here, this just seems quite icky. We’re people. We’re not listings on a spreadsheet.
I should be in control of which parts of my identity are most important to me and therefore the parts of my identity that I want other people to know first. You have taken that from me with the way in which you have included me in your list.
I realise that you will probably be receiving a number of messages similar to this one and that may lead to a delay, but please remove me from this list, and let me know that that has been done.
That was on the 23rd of December. I received this reply on the 26th of December:
Thank you for contacting me. I have removed you from the Actually Autistic Blogs List. Please let me know if you want me to add you back and if so, how you’d like to be described.
I have received volunteer offers of help to contact all the bloggers on the list to get approval for their listings, so that will be commencing shortly. I will gladly accept more help on this if you (or someone you know) are willing to volunteer.
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and/or Happy Holidays!
Judy (An Autism Observer)”
I was grateful that I had been listened to, and that I had been removed from The List. But, I was still uncomfortable. I was still unsure of exactly where my discomfort was coming from, and it was disconcerting to think that some people clearly feel that it’s ok to categorise people in the way we had been categorised on The List. To unpack the reasons for my discomfort and to hopefully let people know that putting people into boxes is inappropriate, I wrote this post.
I specifically did not link to The List in that post because really, the issue was wider than just The List. It was about people defining me according to their needs without ever considering whether those definitions work for me (you know, the person being defined). I used the definitions on The List to illustrate how problematic it can be to put people into boxes without their consent. When I hit publish and share on that post, I assumed that that the issue was now done.
I assumed wrong.
On the 5th of January, the list maker returned to comment on that post. You can see the comment on that post because I approved it when I replied to it. At that time, I assumed that my non-consensual entanglement with The List was done.
I assumed wrong.
On the 9th of January, I became aware that I had once again been linked to The List. I wasn’t added back to the list (thankfully), but rather the post I wrote to unpack my discomfort had been linked in a blog post on The Site of The List as follows:
“Cas explains well the potential harm in reporting personal information even if it’s already public, which I had not appreciated.”
I’m not really sure when it was decided that we were on a first name basis. I most certainly hadn’t decided that. Somewhat tangentially and ironically, I only have a first name for the list maker because she seems quite concerned about keeping her own personal information private while not understanding why people have issues with her displaying everyone else’s information.
I ignored my being linked by first name. I ignored the fact that I am once again linked on a site that I do not want to be associated with in any way. Let me make this clear: I do not know who this person is. We are not on first name terms. We are not friends.
So, why am I writing this today? I have an exam on Thursday. I should be studying for that. I asked to be removed from The List. I was removed from The List. I ignored my relinking because I just wanted my entanglement with The List to go away. I thought that that boundary was clearly set in my first message. This should have been over weeks ago!
Except apparently it isn’t. Last night, I discovered another comment from the list maker on this post. I have not approved that comment, but it is as follows:
“Cas, are you aware that the “Previous” and “Next” links at the bottom of each post are backwards, so that “Previous” links to the next post and vice-versa? You may want to fix this.”
I haven’t approved it because it is totally unrelated to the content of the post. I also haven’t approved it because I do not want to build any sort of relationship with someone who seems to have massive issues with understanding how boundaries work. I also haven’t approved it because doesn’t the list maker have a list to fix? Why is she misplacing her business in my space?
I will say this in response to that comment: I’m not incompetent. I am well aware that my previous/next buttons work weirdly. I even know why they work weirdly. I could probably spend a bit of time fixing this issue, but it’s a complete non-issue for me.
What is a massive issue for me is the seeming intense interest that a stranger has decided to take in me. I said NO! It is also an issue for me that there seems to be a theme of “I’m just trying to be helpful, so why aren’t you being grateful?”
I’m not expressing my gratitude because I didn’t ask for this “help”. I didn’t want this “help”, and the fact that this help keeps making me feel as though I’ve entered the land of Creepyville indicates that I do not need this “help”. This help is not helping me. This “help” is reminding me of every single time I have had to work really hard to reinforce boundaries which should have been respected in the first place. This “help” is reminding me of exactly why I am the stand-offish, leave me the F*ck alone person that I am.
Everyone makes mistakes. Even people with the best intentions make mistakes, but your actions after you learn that you made a mistake speak louder than any of the intentions that led up to the mistake. This unwillingness to listen, this unwillingness to respect boundaries has nothing to do with being autistic. It has everything to do with feeling entitled to have access to me (and others) at a personal level while being unwilling to practice some of the basic tenets of relationships: consent and boundaries.
We are not friends. We will never be friends. I cannot be friends with anyone who doesn’t understand the importance and non-negotiability of consent. I cannot be friends with someone unwilling to respect boundaries because boundaries are there for a reason. Setting boundaries is an act of self-care, and when someone disrespects that act of self-care, that shows they don’t care about my wellbeing.
I do not care how much work it will take to fix The List. I never wanted to be on that list, so I do not care how it is fixed, when it is fixed or who fixes it. All I want is to not be involved with anything related to The List – and that includes not receiving unsolicited, irrelevant advice from a stranger who has my email address anyway in the comments section of my blog.
If other bloggers are happy to work with the list maker to fix The List, then that’s great. Everyone should be permitted to make that choice themselves (this goes to consent again). I have chosen not to be involved, and I have communicated that, but for some reason, saying thanks but no thanks seems to mean I must really need “help”.
I said NO! and now I’m saying leave me alone.
I have better things to do than concern myself with inappropriate lists.
Since writing this, I have been linked to again on a different post on that site as follows:
Let me clear something up: It’s not that I do not want to be categorised as a parent. I DO NOT WANT TO BE LISTED ON THAT SITE. My role as a parent is important to me. I do write about parenting, but I do not feel that my role as a parent should be relevant when people decide to read a blog written by an Autistic adult. Childfree Autistic adults can also offer invaluable advice to parents because they were all autistic children and can all write about what worked and what didn’t in terms of the way that they were parented.
I awoke this morning to find yet another link back notification to my previous post about this in a new post on that site. I have sent the list maker the following email:
Please remove ALL links from your site to mine. If you persist on continually relinking to my site, I will take the whole thing down.
Your number one rule is:
“1. Bloggers’ Requests Prevail. Any request by an Autistic blogger overrides all else.”
So follow your own rule and do as requested. This is enough now. Your actions have become triggering.”
I have nothing else to say on this matter. I have said everything I can possibly say.
Final update 21/01/2017:
Links to this site from that site have now been removed. I received the following reply to my email:
“I believe I have removed all links to your site. You requested earlier only to be removed from the list, which I did. I apologize for misunderstanding.
I would love to be able to say that this is over, but I have assumed wrong a few times already so I cannot be certain. In addition to that/because of that, I will now have to deal with my continuing anxiety spiral caused by the actions of the list maker.
Building community: This is not how it’s done.