ERNIE AND ERNESTINA: Searching
Book Two, Chapter 45: A Mixed-Up Night
Joshua calls. “A manic-depressive support group meets tonight at seven-thirty,” he says. “I can take you.”
“My favorite Al-Anon group meets tonight, too, at five-thirty. Maybe we can go to both.”
“Okay. I’ll pick up soup and sandwiches for us.”
It’s already past four-thirty. I call him back. “Maybe we’ll just go to the early meeting. That’s the one I like.”
I call him back again. “Maybe we’ll just go to the later meeting. I’ve never tried it. Two meetings in a row might wear us out.”
Joshua stays patient. He’s trying to help me, but he’s twisting himself out of shape in doing so. I feel twisted, too.
It’s sleeting out. The roads are icy. The little red car is never good on ice, but we arrive safely for the seven-thirty meeting. It’s a large group that splits into four smaller ones, each to discuss a slightly different topic.
This confuses me. “Which one do I go to, Joshua?”
“We’ll go with the group headed upstairs. ‘Positive Things To Do In Your Life’ sounds like a good topic.”
He and I head up the stairs, then I change my mind. “You go up there. I’ll stay down here for the open forum.”
He looks disgusted. “I’ll just wait in the car.”
“No, I don’t want you to wait in the car. Can’t you go up to that meeting and let me know about it? And I’ll go to the other one?” My voice has climbed. I’m almost having a tantrum. People pass us on their way up the stairs.
Joshua heads down the stairs. “I have to think about me now. I’m tired. The street’s are getting nasty. I’ll be in the car.”
“Okay, Joshua, we’ll both leave.”
He’s playing the role of Rescuer again. He plays it with Christy. Ernie played it with me. Maybe I played it with Ernie. Joshua played it with both of us. It’s not healthy. It’s not a relationship of equals. It undermines self-esteem for both Rescuer and Rescuee.
I have to think about myself now, Joshua said. Good. He does. That’s healthy.
I have to rescue myself. No one else can do it for me. Others can offer a helping hand, yet I don’t want to lean on them so much that I topple them.