The Yellow Wallpaper: John’s Story

Author’s Note: This is a tribute to the story ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. If you have not read the story before please click the link

I do not know what to do; she keeps getting worse.

My father never told me what to do when your wife goes mentally ill, they do not teach you that in medical school either.

I am a man of science, despite the secret contempt that my beloved wife shows for it; my rationality is the only way of dealing with her romantic delusions.

Sadness and sorrow, only happens to poor minds; not to the sharp ones. I wonder why God cursed women with this affliction. As man and husband, I suppose it is my divine duty to deal with the late sins of Eve.

My wife is consumed by her restless heart. If the devil had a way to pull the strings, it is through the heart not the mind–the heart in a woman will always be stronger than her brain.

I make an effort for her not to talk about her condition. If this is all in her mind, then I must clear her brain of it. Intellectual activities with emotional instability will only keep her sick.

I try to teach her the value of self-control, that it is the job of the husband to be his wife’s teacher. I do feel shame for performing a poor job, but I realize that the devil thrives off negativity.

I am taking afternoon walks that helps me stay positive.

I gave her the room with the yellow wallpaper; I find yellow to be a comforting color, it should make her think of sunshine and daffodils.

Work is a place of refuge; it is a reward from God, as you do not feel personal distress when you have many case loads. I can fix these people, that have real problems not like the imaginary problems of my wife.

When I get home I find out that this wall paper is terrible; she is blinded by her madness.

My sister comes, but there is not much she can really do.

My wife is not getting any better, if she doesn’t get back to normalcy I will have to send her away to Wier Mitchell in the fall. It would be for the best.

There are a few bright spots at least, Wilma the widowed nurse I work with is very nice.

My wife only gets more ill; she says she feels so much melancholy but never cries. It is peculiar.

The only thing I can do is treat her like she is a little girl, which is the best way to treat a woman. I read to her like a little girl but it is hard to be a father to two children.

The baby is well and healthy. The Lord is not cruel enough to give my daughter her mother’s sickness.

On my afternoon walk, I wonder what it would be like to have a child with the widowed nurse…Lord forgive me for having such thoughts…

I focus on work and the baby; these are the activities that are giving my life purpose and joy.

I am trying to train her to keep negative thoughts out of her head. It is exhausting as I plead, “I beg of you, for my sake and for our child’s sake as well as for your own, that you will never for one instant let that idea enter your mind! There is nothing so dangerous, so fascinating, to a temperament like yours. It is a false and foolish fancy. Can you not trust me as a physician when I tell you so?”

We are saying few words to each other; she is obsessing about the wall paper.

I do not enjoy talking or looking at my wife.

I pray for forgiveness but I have thoughts about sending her away and starting a new family. A family with the widowed nurse.

I continue to pray for my wife to become more tolerable. There are days when I can stand her company.

The brief moments of normality always end as she gets worse obsessing over foolish things like the color of wallpaper.

I am preparing myself for widowhood. I see wife’s health is only temporary.

I can no longer hide my queerness from the nurse.

Today, the nurse wore a yellow dress, I thought of new days filled with brightness.

I try to be loving toward my wife, not out of love but out of guilt.

I dream about that yellow dress my nurse wears; she has her wallpaper I have the nurse’s dress…

She broke down. She can longer function. I sent her away.

My sister returned home and the widow nurse consoled me; she talked about how the lost of her husband was devastating.

She put her hand on mine, and we looked into each others eyes, and God took away our loneliness and despair.

I am a man of tradition but I would like her to wear her yellow sundress at our wedding.


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