Today’s post is the conclusion to the short essay titled “The Woman in the Wallpaper.” The piece was composed in response to a course requirement at Simpson University.
This true account was originally written in past tense. At the advice of my professor, for the purpose of this blog (and other future publications) it was rewritten in the present tense, as it is presented here.
The Woman in the Wallpaper Part Three
I’m stretched full-length on a soft, pillowy gray couch. My head rests on a small bolster near the arm and my stockinged toes touch the armrest opposite. The room is dimly lit with lavender scented air that lends to the serene, safe atmosphere. Gail, my crisis counselor, is seated in a plush, charcoal colored, high-backed chair opposite me.
I begin the session with the encounter with my mother. I also tell her of the quiet voice that went unheeded that day. I add that I have never mentioned this to anyone before. I tell Gail how I wanted to tell my mother that God had been trying to keep me from being hurt that day. I say that even though I ignored the voice, God still kept breath and life within my tortured body.
I ask a rhetorical question: “Did my mom forget the phone call to come say good-bye as I was not expected to live through that night?” Gail doesn’t answer.
“You didn’t mention any of this to your mother?” she asks.
“Why do you think that is?”
“I don’t know. She wouldn’t believe it anyway.” I envision my mother scoffing at the idea that God wanted to keep me safe.
“Why didn’t you get out of the truck?” she questions with a soft and gentle tone yet her steel-gray eyes drill through me like an awl that seems to touch my spine.
My head and shoulders droop, my eyes focus on the fingers of my right hand resting on my lap and clutching a battered tissue as I anguish.
I explain that there were a lot of reasons: the lack of a ride––no one to call to pick me up–– and my desire to spend Independence Day with my love. I tell her how I wanted to avoid my sister, Lisa, who was staying in our house––we had been bickering. I didn’t want to spend my holiday arguing with her. I tell her that’s just how me and Lisa are: we get along great for about two days, then the tensions roil into ugly scenes. It was our third day together and I was fearful things would turn. I lower my voice and add that maybe that’s what I told myself in the moment to justify my staying on the truck.
* * * *
I am like Gilman’s woman in the yellow wallpaper; searching and longing to escape my self-imposed prison. This prison of shame since that blistering-hot July afternoon. This voice of shame––a frenemy carrying the false claim as protectorate of my soul––is squawking in my ear like a parrot belting out mimicry.
Platitudes such as ‘beauty is only skin deep’ and ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ fail. The game continues, still, 19 years of you take it––no you take it. Why should I take on your gift of shame? This is only something that happened to me.