The Good Doctor
'Try harder. You must try harder. My kids don't like you.'
Rob's words from last night fired off like a thousand darts into Sarah's brain.
She stirred. As the pale morning light edged its way through the angled shutters she rolled over muttering to herself, 'Not yet. No. Too soon to surface.'
But the after effects of last night's injection now kicked in and actually made Sarah want to purr. How lucky was she, married to a successful, hardworking G.P. who cared? Valium for marauding anxiety, tramadol and Phenergan for a delicious woozy high, panedeine forte for pain.
'But Rob, ' she whispered, 'I still have a bit of a dull head. Can you just give me a needle, a last one before you go to work? Please.'
'Well, ok. But Sarah you're having too much you know. You have to try and cut down. Am taking my kids out tonight for Chinese. Meant to tell you. Best if you don't come. Better I do things with my kids on my own. And you do things with your kids on your own. The Brady Bunch doesn't work. Never did.' With that Rob disposed of the needle, snapped shut his doctor's bag and headed for the door.
In spite of the afterglow of the shot, sleep eluded Sarah. Stumbling to the kitchen she made herself some tea, crawled back under the covers and cradling her cup struggled to make sense of her life; so little real time together.
During week nights Rob had suggested that she not cook for him. He'd explained carefully that he preferred to eat alone, not be subject to any weekly menu she'd concocted. Sounds a fair request Sarah had reasoned at the time. Less work, less mess. She should be grateful.
'I'm just too needy, too bloody precious,' thought Sarah recalling one hot Saturday in June. The children were pursuing a variety of activities as she's prepared a huge platter of ham sandwiches for lunch. She'd merely suggested she and Rob sit down together in the cool of the verandah with their plate and a cup of tea.
'What!' he exploded. 'You want me to take time out from my kids and sit down with you. What are you thinking. What's gotten into you Sarah?'
What had she been thinking in those days. She was no longer sure. Nothing seemed to make much sense, not then and not now.
At least she could have him to herself in bed. But no matter how intoxicating, how exhilarating each encounter began Sarah worried her sharp responses would spoil things.
If she said she needed to pee, Rob had this peculiar habit of suddenly pressing down hard on her bladder barking, 'Well off you go. Hurry up and split the whisker.' The routine never varied. There had to be a better way.
To Rob's mild amusement Sarah took to wearing head phones in bed. Listening to the Big O meant she could let go of her need for whispered sweet nothings, could bliss out instead on the throb of the music in time with whatever rhythms they managed to get going.
If it didn't bother Rob that he hadn't a clue about the 'Hugh Grant stuff of Romance ' as he liked to call it, why should it bother her. She had better things to fret about.
'And so, it had come to this,' she thought. Separate families, access weekends of barely disguised rage and hostility from angry, confused teenagers who seemed to hate her. A war zone. When had she begun to notice the first red flags, the first warning signals that she expected too much.
Maybe that Friday evening so long ago. The children had happily and noisily spilled in discarding their bags, pillows and doonas over the living room floor and furniture. Sarah had not really minded but was keen to clear the space before their expected dinner guests were due to arrive. Feeling she was running out of time she had dared ask Rob for help to marshal the children.
'But Sarah,' he'd boomed, ' my kids are here to have fun, to have a good weekend. They're not here to do your bidding! '
Blinking back tear, Sarah had swallowed her rage and focused instead on Rob. What an amazing husband. He'd spent hours preparing an array of fish and goat curries complete with sambals, garnishes and homemade mango chutneys. It would be an evening to remember.
As Sarah fumbled for another sodden tissue she told herself, 'I must stop living in the Past. Tomorrow will be better. '
Tomorrow she was due to meet her new psychiatrist. Not only had Rob hand-picked this good doctor but he was willing to fill her in on all that ailed Sarah. What was it again? Oh yes, depression, drug abuse and angry outbursts consistent with features of Borderline Personality Disorder.
'I'm truly a selfish mess', sighed Sarah. ‘But so lucky to be married to a man who actually cares! '
Editor’s note: This story precisely and succinctly documents the domestic abuse, mal-treatment, manipulation and Gaslighting which can happen to someone who lives with a spouse who has unrecognised, unacknowledged autism. The result is a woman who blames herself unnecessarily and suffers from chronic Ongoing Traumatic Relationship Syndrome. She is not in any way mentally ill, but experiencing normal emotional stress reactions to the abuse.