ERNIE AND ERNESTINA: Searching
Book Two, Chapter 311: The River of Enlightenment and Growth
It’s the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and I’m at the farm market. Farmers far outnumber their customers so the farmers have time to talk.
After I buy eggs from one of the vendors, she asks about my Thanksgiving.
“I spent time with my son,” I say. “We’re working on our relationship. His daddy died two years ago. That was a blow to us both.”
“They were close?” she asks, her blue eyes squinting in the sun.
“It was both a beautiful relationship and an unhealthy one.”
She nods. “Enmeshment. That’s what it’s called: enmeshment.” So, she knows about co-dependency. “My brother died of AIDS,” she continues. “He was everything to me — brother, sister, best friend. We were almost one person.”
“Are you co-dependent with your husband?” I ask.
“With my first husband I was. I married a daddy. I was twenty. Someone told me at my wedding not to let him put me on a pedestal. I didn’t understand what she meant. Not then. I was his ornament. Every day before he came home from work, I changed my clothes. I fixed my hair. My appearance was important to him, and I wanted to look good for him. But he began to feel like a stranger to me. We were strangers to each other. I was unhappy. When I was mad at him, I took it out on myself. I got in the car and drove over the hill to the liquor store. I’d never had a problem with alcohol before, but now I drove when I shouldn’t have. I knew something was wrong, especially when I started going to bed without even changing my clothes. I was depressed, of course. I signed up for a psychology class and found out about co-dependency, enmeshment. I didn’t want a divorce, but three years later it came to that. He was making good money, and I knew I was leaving financial security, but I wasn’t able to stay a stranger to myself any longer, and I didn’t want a husband who felt like a stranger to me.” She pauses. “Life is about learning.”
“Yes. Coming to know our inner world and the inner world of others. It’s amazing. And it’s constantly changing.”
“It’s a flow,” she says.
“The River of Enlightenment and Growth,” I say.
“Amen,” she says.