Life 15 – The unProfessional Wife

60″ x 44″ (152cms x 112cms)

Also available as a high quality tea towel (see below)


The story for Life 15

It’s easy to think that if someone was being abused within a marital relationship, that they could leave easily. We tend to think that people are stupid or are failures because they don’t take charge or leave. I don’t know any of the answers but research has bought up a number of reasons: Denial, hope, shame, guilt, financial worries, practical reasons such as the children, or even fear of reprisals. It must be very difficult, but imagine how much more difficult it was when divorce was frowned upon and women had nowhere else to go and were more financially dependent on a spouse.
The Words stitched onto the body are:
I had an arranged marriage. I know this because I arranged it. It took 20 years of expectations and careful training by my parents, and was achieved through the process of unnatural selection. I could have been an air hostess, or a model, a secretary or a nurse or a teacher, but I became a professional wife and chose you.

When I was young, beauty and status mattered more to my family than brains , so I developed a tightly clipped accent to go with my tightly clipped figure. I weighed myself each day and kept control of fat by putting my fingers down my throat and throwing up now and then like my mother did. It was important to stay in control.
With your ring I thee wed and agreed to provide personal sexual and emotional services, free domestic labour, and become a nurse and teacher. I love our children with all my heart, but I never loved you. You were all so demanding, and I was ground down by overwork, and lack of sleep, and was caught because I was dependent on you. Then suddenly things got worse and I didn’t know why but I blamed myself. You started to get angry and you broke my flesh with your teeth and bruised my soul. I pretended nothing was wrong and I carried on. You changed jobs and we moved to the other side of the world, and I hated to leave my children behind in boarding school, but I carried on. You made me be quiet and walk in bare feet and only speak when spoken to, and I cried, but I carried on. You made me keep your secrets, and broke my nose when I questioned, and I carried on. You made me pray each night on my knees for forgiveness for being a bad wife, but I carried on. You were jealous and stopped me talking to anyone or going out, and I was isolated and frightened, but I carried on. I don’t know why I carried on.

I’m 78 and that was many years ago, and then recently your past caught up with you and you were put in prison. I don’t do much. I sit and drink gin and think, but I don’t cry. I’m relieved to be an unProfessional wife and I shall carry on.

Image available as a high quality tea towel here.



  1. Every day we see something amazing, big or small. This is that for me, for today. Stops me in place. Like a novel compressed into a few seconds. Thank you.

  2. I don’t know that you should lighten up on the next one. It feels so good to read these and realize we are not alone – Oh! It’s not just me! Others have felt the same pain – we are not alone! The words are truly beautiful and so healing. I believe this to be my greatest internet discovery. How can I ever thank the person who sent the first one my way.

    • Thanks Carol, Oh there’ll be the usual social commentary, but with my tongue in my cheek!! And of course they’ll be the odd sting in the tail if you look closely 🙂 Annabel

      I just wanted to let Annabel know that I read an article on her in the Australian Textile Art Magazine and was totally blown away by her wonderful quilts but also moved to tears about her Hello Dear, What Did You Do Today article. What an import artist saying such brilliant things through her work. Annabel if you get this thank you for enriching my life with your work and words. Much love Judy

      Thank you Judy, I’ve moved your feedback to the comments column so that I can reply to you here. What a lovely comment, I’m so honoured that you felt you wanted to spend the time and I really appreciate hearing your reaction to my quilts. Annabel x

  3. This piece is truly a work of art , as well as, a piece about truth.. Why , oh why do we blame ourselves when life falls apart? I’m 70 years old and mine has just done that. In moments of loneliness , I find myself asking “what did I do”. But when a new day dawns , full of renewed hope, I say “you did nothing wrong”. So progress is being made. Thank you so very much for sharing your work. It is inspiring.!!

    • And thank you for sharing part of your story, and taking the time to comment. I hope all your days are full of renewed hope.

  4. Thank you Julie. I might do a bit more work on the quilt yet – not entirely happy with the painting in parts. Twiddling!

  5. The lady is beautiful and serene and her expression maybe bears witness to the weight that has been lifted from her after so many years. You have captured a wonderful solidity and reality in the setting and the figure. A great addition to your ‘Life’ series.

  6. I suppose I shouldn’t say that this is “beautiful” given the subject matter, but it is. But it is. Beautiful, powerful and strong, like many (most) of us.

    You have given woman like her a voice and done it beautifully.

    Thanks for making the world a better place Annabel. 🙂

I love to read your comments, thank you.