ERNIE AND ERNESTINA: Searching
Book Two, Chapter 303: A Wall
Ernie and I thought being good parents meant always having Joshua by our side, so wherever Ernie and I went — to the racetrack, auctions, the grocery, flea markets, yard sales — young Joshua went with us.
No baby sitter or kindergarten or play dates for him. Oh, no. He was away from us — not counting one or two overnights at his grandparents’ house — only the five days he spent at Vacation Bible School the summer before he started first grade, and he cried when we separated from him that first day.
How is Joshua now?
Social, that’s for sure. He talks to more people in a day than I do in six months. He’s also defensive, hyper-vigilant, anxious. Talks about worst-case scenarios and the need for back-up.
For the past three or four months he’s been “friends” with two women, each of whom calls Joshua her boyfriend and neither of whom knows about the other. This past month he’s also made calls to a third woman. Is he a womanizer? Or is he someone still hurting from childhood neglect? Still needy. Still experiencing a craving he doesn’t know how to extinguish.
Joshua thinks the past is the past. Perhaps he’d like it to be, but it never is. The past is within us and sets us up for our present. If there’s dysfunction in the past, there will be dysfunction in the present unless we begin the inner work needed to repair the dysfunction.
“I don’t want to talk about it,” Joshua says if I bring up anything touchy. “I don’t want to talk about anything emotional.”
When he says this, he’s not setting a boundary. Rather, he’s erecting a wall, and there’s a big difference between a boundary and a wall.