It was exactly a year ago when I first met Robert. The autumn colors had just taken over the maples outside my practice and the days had begun their inevitable downturn of dark.
Robert, a sleek, ridiculously charming man in his early forties, walked in absent-mindedly with Nemo, a Welsh Corgi with tired eyes and a lazy tail that had not been wagged in long time.
Robert had come to seek help for Nemo who had been acting gloomy and incapable of expressing any emotions for some time now. As I started to work with Nemo the story of Robert begun to unravel simultaneously. And although I am only a dog whisperer, Case Robert had begun to fascinate me to a great extent.
Since childhood Robert has had a peculiar feeling that his parents, who got divorced when Robert was 5 years old, do not accept him the way he is. They have always been quick with applause when he has won another triathlon tournament or received another promotion at McKinsey or given another keynote speech in a globally acclaimed event. Still, somehow, their applause has always left him longing for more. Something he cannot quite articulate.
When it comes to Robert’s love affairs, he has enjoyed plenty. Dark haired models, slender French blonds, witty Princeton graduates, sentimental Scandinavians and cosmopolitan designers. What has been in common in all of his relationships is that they have all come to an end. Most of them in an identical way.
The beginnings have been full of physical closeness and sharing of deepest thoughts. Phase Honeymoon has been followed with a relaxed phase 2 where the couple enjoys daily routines together and devotes their best energy to each other.
The problems have not risen before phase 3, which starts out with the girl bringing her things to Robert’s airy apartment, little by little. First a toothbrush. Then some clothes like a pajamas and sweatpants. Gradually Robert has found the girl’s things blocking his way and destroying the order and harmony he has devoted so much time to establish.
It is typically in the middle of phase 3 when Robert calls the meeting over. He explains that things have evolved too briskly and he is not sure of his feelings. He needs some space.
Girl after another has left the elegantly decorated kingdom with fury. After the breakup Robert has always found great pleasure in solitude and order. Especially in order. Every item in the apartment has its own place. No more does he need to herd the girl to put the bowl in the right place in the copper closet. He sighs with a relief and his life goes on until another short-lead romance enters and exits his orderly existence.
It became clear to me that what Robert never experiences with his partners is the sense of complete surrender. He never closes the deal. It is like there was something dark he dares not show or even take a look at. Close relationships make him feel he is loosing control.
Well then, how has all this affected Nemo, the bystander? Robert’s thrive for order has left little space for Nemo to exist. The Corgi has become his master, unable of expressing affection.
Sadly, I will not be able to complete my work with Nemo because I just received a text from Robert saying he is switching his dog whisperer once more…
So that’s it. I’d better forget the case and get back to work because I can already hear my next patient prancing nervously in the lobby. This one is a Chihuahua with identity crisis. The dogs these days – you can hardly find an easy-going creature anymore.