ERNIE AND ERNESTINA: Searching
Book Two, Chapter 322: A Summing Up
My Al-Anon friends say I’m too hard on myself, yet I’m the only one who knows how Ernie and I were with each other.
Even Joshua doesn’t know. What he saw was a kind of act we put on for him, as we put it on for others. I didn’t even know we were acting. It’s just what we did. But it was an act.
I don’t want to be an actor playing a role following a script I didn’t write. Not anymore. I may still be a heavy presence. My voice may get too loud. I may be too hard on myself. But I speak my truth.
I don’t want to weigh myself down with guilt and shame. That won’t help Ernie or me or Joshua. Or my mother or father. Or all the other people I’ve been unkind to.
Kindness — it’s my weapon against guilt. I will learn to be kind to myself first.
Ernie said this about kindness: one can be kind out of strength or out of weakness. Of course, back then I didn’t know how one could be kind out of weakness. But I am when I’m pleasing others while being hurtful and untrue to myself. Then it’s no longer kindness. It’s caving in so as to be accepted and liked. Or to avoid an argument.
Was Ernie kind out of strength? Or out of weakness?
If he’d been healthy, he never would have married me. If I’d been healthy, I wouldn’t have married him. In the best of all possible worlds, each of us would have recognized our flaws and shortcomings — our need for emotional and spiritual development — and worked at that.
Our goals were work-related and money-related. They didn’t include relational.
In the best of all worlds, Ernie and I would have recognized our shortcomings and sought help and health. Then we would have had the chance to become an honest, trusting, committed couple who look each other in the eye and make decisions for a common good, each of us expressing our thoughts and feelings. Getting better at it. Getting better at expressing ourselves in the moment.
That didn’t happen.
Still, I am so glad I knew Ernie. I am grateful to this writing for helping me come to know him much more deeply.
He once said to me: “You’ll write about me.”
Yes, Ernie, I have. And I am grateful to you for giving me that nudge and that permission.
You were so good to me and for me. I miss knowing the person you would be now.