Protested Asylum 1: Happiness

London: 1847

I was happy.

Such a simple word, but I could feel it. Just over a year ago, I married a man my father had met during one of his trips into London on solicitor business. Mr. William Shaw was a man of good means and came from a good family. He followed in his father’s footsteps and became a barrister making him well off and well respected in London. My father invited him to a party my mother had planned after I had come out to society.

When Mr. William Shaw and I met, he instantly took a liking to me. I was lucky. After a short time of knowing each other, he asked my father for permission to marry me. It was all so proper, and my father not only gave his blessing, but was excited at the prospect. I thought I was happy. We married shortly thereafter after receiving a special license and moved away from my home in the country to London to live. We immediately began trying for a family.

William wanted several children. He believed it illustrated signs of great wealth. We bought a house that was large enough to house several nurseries to support our growing family. Our persona was very important for him. After only several months, I discovered that I was with child. A few months later, Ruth Margaret was born in November during the city’s first snow of the season.

Happiness is almost unimaginable now. All emotion has been replaced by tactile pains. It is so cold, and no matter how many times I ask, I am told I do not need another blanket. I am not used to being treated like this. Others typically do as I tell them. It is during these cold, dark and quiet moments when it happens. I wouldn’t call it a hallucination, more of a daydream. These are the only times that I truly question my sanity. She comes to me more often now. When the doctors and nurses are more abusive than usual, I close my eyes and there she is. My beautiful Ruth! It makes me wonder. Does she remember me?

William was disappointed with a daughter, and he desired our next child immediately. Despite his hesitation towards her, I have a hard time turning my attention away from her. I spent most of my time with her, despite the frustration from William for ignoring my daily duties or the teasing from the servants for being around so much. Ruth was truly a wonderful girl and hardly made a sound. She will make a fine lady someday.

When I was not near my beautiful Ruth, I wandered aimlessly, unsure of my purpose. I felt numb to all other life around me. I was often found staring out my window. I would love to say that I daydreamed as I watched the people walking down the street, but in truth I stared blankly, mind empty.

That blank stare is even more common now. How could it not be? It is no longer filled with love but rather pain. Thinking that life could be wonderful and happy is a lie that I have discovered since my time here. There is nothing kind about life. It is hard, traumatic, and cold. It is so cold. Suddenly, Ruth fills my thoughts, and it sends an unusual warmth through my body.

After a month of William’s attempts to touch me, he became angry for neglecting him and my duties and told me to visit the doctor. The local doctor said if I did not obey my husband’s demand of my time, William and I will never conceive another child.

“Mrs. William Shaw, your behavior towards your husband’s needs is very unbecoming. You must resume your wifely duties immediately” the doctor told me. I nodded in agreement with him, because I knew that I had been neglecting William and my wifely duties since Ruth was born. It was very unsavory of me.

The doctor did not understand the difficulty I was having. The labor was reasonably easy and there were no major issues, but I just cannot seem to leave the comfort of Ruth’s nurseries. I stand, staring at her. I would love to say that I was only thinking of everything that needed to be done for William, but in truth I stare blankly, mind empty with only the love of Ruth running in my thoughts. I find myself helping to take care of her rather than provide for my husband. When the servants are successful in getting me to leave, I simply wander the halls aimlessly with no purpose at all.

To Be Continued…

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