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Autism: Separate Bedrooms

06 Feb

Yesterday I moved back into my own room. It may have seemed like an unexpected decision to my husband, but it has been a long time coming. You see, I don’t sleep well in the room with him there. It isn’t him, and it doesn’t reflect how our marriage is going (as it might seem from an outside view.) It is just that I have so many sensory issues that it is hard enough to sleep alone, let alone with another person.

The breaking point, however, was about him – and wasn’t his fault.

In the night, the older of my two dogs made a noise that made me think someone was struggling to breathe. It is ‘lucky’ she did for my husband had turned over in his sleep and pinned the younger of my dogs under the blanket between himself and the body pillow they have claimed as their own. I felt under and she didn’t move. I pulled her out, and her body was floppy.

I thought I had lost her; that my husband had ‘killed’ her (which really would have caused issues in our marriage.) It took nearly a minute, rubbing her head and calling her name, before she finally lifted her head and started moving. I put her back on the pillow to sleep, and tried to sleep myself. Needless to say, I was very tired in the morning.

There seems to have been no real harm done, and I know that my husband didn’t mean to do it – he just isn’t aware of what is happening when he is sleeping, and that makes sleeping with small dogs quite dangerous.

For the morning after, though it was ‘cleaning day,’ I spent most of my time unable to think or function, and fixated on the computer. At a comment for my son (that he was spending his time trying to write down everything he could remember about his cat, who died a couple of days ago) I spent a long time going through old emails, and copying any comment that had been made about his cat over the years since that account was opened.

After lunch, as I was changing sheets on ‘our’ bed, I decided that I needed to move back into the ‘pink room’. Clara survived last night, but next time she might not be so lucky. It wasn’t a sudden decision, as it might seem. I have been considering it for a long while due to my sleep issues, and the bad back pain I get as a result of sleeping in a narrow space (with my husband, and my dogs, there wasn’t much space for me. If I can’t stretch out when I am sleeping, I get really bad pain in my lower back on both sides, which I struggle with through the day.)

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I didn’t do it before because I am up so often during the night for the bathroom, and wanted to keep the en-suite I was actually hoping that my husband would choose to go, since most nights he would get up at some point and move to another bed (so as not to have to put on his CPAP mask for sleep apnea again – without which, he snores really bad, which wakes me up.)

Since he kept moving to other beds, or onto the couch in the night, if I was having troubles sleeping, I had nowhere to go. (I can’t crawl in to a bed with ‘dirty’ sheets – even if it is my husband who has used them – even though I can go onto my side of our shared bed without changing the sheets each night.)

There wasn’t even consistency to it. Some nights he was gone by 1am (in which case I could stretch out, and not have so many back issues) where other nights, like last, he would stay until 6:30am – and I would wish through the night, as my pain got worse, that he would leave.

The fact is, sleeping in the same bed is not good for our marriage. I only moved back in with him the summer after I was diagnosed with Autism because I thought it would be good – besides, I was on heavy (okay, only 1/4 of the lowest dose – but they worked great!… until they didn’t) tranquilizers. They only worked for a couple of months however before they stopped putting me to sleep even at higher doses, and started giving me bad side effects. Nothing else the doctor prescribed worked as well, and I have been struggling there ever since.

I actually like the ‘pink room’ more than the Master bedroom, which hasn’t been repainted since we moved in thirteen years ago – but I kind of need the en-suite as I get up so often through the night (and especially since I hate sharing a bathroom, and liked the privacy of that one. When we have guests it is even more of an issue.)

In the end, however, as I woke from a narrow escape and to a very sore back, there was no real choice. My need for a bathroom was not worth the danger to my dogs, and I had to go. (Having the dogs move was not an option, for I sleep better with them, and without people – besides, it wouldn’t have solved the issue with my back, or my sensory issues from sleeping with another person.)

Yet, though it may seem that having separate bedrooms is a bad sign (or something) for a marriage, my moving to another room was not about our marriage at all.

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