July 26, 2021

Like many autistics, I care a lot about justice. This could be due to taking rules seriously, unable to distinguish which ones are worth enforcing and which aren’t. Or it could be aesthetic – when a favor is unthanked or a mistake unapologized for, my world feels off-balance and out of harmony.

In either case, I don’t hold myself to less of a standard than anyone else. As a child, this led me to apologize constantly. I felt frustrated when classmates told me to stop, because that left me without a way to make things right. The apology itself was treated as an error, creating an error loop that I could never close.

I thought what I wanted was reassurance that the balance had been reset. What I really needed was reassurance that I wouldn’t be abandoned – even if the scales of justice were askew.

I learned this by receiving it, when my boyfriend figured out that the best way to respond to an apology is to remind me that I’m good. “I’m sorry” may feel like a cry for justice, but it’s also a cry for security.

P.S. I write from my personal experience as an autistic. What I share is not a substitute for advice from an autistic medical professional. Also, some of my opinions have changed since I first wrote them.