Moxie Presses Joy on Relationship

MoxieSS3a“Of course I love Able to death,” Moxie explained from the recliner in Joy’s living room. “It’s just, he seems so conflicted and depressed since he broke it off with his parents and that … his church.” Moxie remembered her pastor’s whispered admonition to avoid any mention of the Ebenezer Independent Fundamentalist Bible Church. Joy had said just enough to let her know the two little boys in her home were somehow connected.

“Well, yeah, he probably is  conflicted and confused, even afraid, Moxie.” Joy eyed the normally very lively young woman. “I mean … Moxie, he’s taken a really, really big step.  And even if it was necessary and ultimately good and healthy – and I certainly think it was necessary and good – still, this is huge.  It’s like you said just awhile ago, he’s leaving behind an entire world, his world. For good reason, sure, but still it was his life in his world, and that can be traumatic.”

Moxie had called Joy Brighterday not long after morning service at St. Gianna’s, not only to find out why she’d “gone AWOL,” but also to see if she could stop by to talk. And while her pastor failed to satisfy her curiosity about being absent that morning, Joy had invited her over to her house. So after Moxie sent Able on his way to dinner with Blue Poorman, she drove to Joy’s place, feeling a little guilty about having a clandestine meeting at which Able was the subject but knew nothing about it. Still, she had to talk to someone…

“Yeah, I know that. I mean, I really do, but…” Moxie paused, obviously frustrated, then looked back over where Joy was perched on the couch. “I’ve tried and tried and tried everyway I know how to make him happy again, and laugh like he used to… You know, to see life like an exciting adventure, to relax and have fun, and not be so serious all the time. And especially not be so hard on himself… God! It’s like every time I turn around he’s beating himself up about something. I just… Jesus! I don’t know anymore. I mean, I’m really starting to think maybe it was a mistake.”

“What exactly?” Joy frowned. “What are you thinking might have been a mistake?”

“You know… us being together.” Now Moxie sounded like she could cry, which was unusual for Moxie Keener. “He’s always told me I’m the best thing that’s ever happened to him in his life, but he sure as hell doesn’t act like it! He acts more like he’s ready for the grave … and it hasn’t even been that long, you know?  I mean, my God, is it that difficult for him to cut the umbilical cord? I mean…”

“Moxie,” Joy sounded stern. “Stop. Just stop … take a deep breathe, and listen to me.” Moxie complied. “Let’s take a step back and look at this again … a little more sympathetically. O.k.? Able has just left behind his whole world, as we’re calling it, and cut all ties … at least for the time being. But not only that, he’s moved into another, very different world … your  world. And that may be an exciting, fascinating, wonderful world, but … it’s also very new, very different, and so it may be very frightening, too … at least sometimes, especially at first.”

Joy paused and both she and Moxie could hear delighted shouts and squeals from the backyard where Rue and Bane were playing some made-up game with the football and frisbee.

“And anger,” Joy continued. “Don’t be surprised if he sometimes seems angry. All of the confusion and fear and other emotions whiling around inside, and not knowing what to do with them, can easily lead to an awful lot of frustration.”

“Yeah, he definitely seems frustrated … frustrated with me.”

“No, actually, probably not, Mox. Remember what you’ve told me about Able. Remember that he’s not coming from a home and church that’s built him up his entire life; just the opposite. He’s coming from a background of, at the very least, emotional and spiritual abuse. He’s coming from a world, like we’ve said, where he’s been torn down and ripped apart. He’s just now coming out from a community in which he was taught, first and foremost, that there’s nothing good about him and nothing he can really do to change that fact.”

“Able’s just now leaving an environment that cultivates continuous, ongoing self-doubt and guilt … so, of course, he’s doubting himself now and probably even struggling with guilt feelings, and by the way,” Joy arched her eyebrows, “he may – and probably will at some point – feel a tremendous pull back to that environment.” Joy thought of Effete just then and, once again, steeled her mind against the very real possibility that even a woman so abused and broken could very well feel the same tremendous pull. “It’s been known to happen.”

“I don’t understand. I really don’t.” Moxie ran fingers through her long reddish-brown hair. “How he could ever be attracted to that … that garbage … hellhole again.”

“Safety. Security. Or at least feelings  of security, no matter how detrimental it may actually be… Some people – and I know you know this because you’re really intelligent – some people will choose an environment that’s familiar, even if it’s miserable, over the unknown precisely because it is  unknown, and it’s frightening and they can’t seem to get their bearings… They go back to what they know, even when they know it’s bad, just because it’s known, you know?  They know what it’s all about – kind of, sort of – and they know where they fit in.”

“Yeah.” Moxie leaned forward and stared blankly at the coffee table. “Safety and comfort in the familiar … and I’m not familiar enough, not yet anyway … so he may go back after all. And if he does, he’ll probably blame me for all the trouble, too.”

“Well, if he goes back, and I’m by no means saying he will, but if he decides to go back he’ll have  to blame you. It would practically be required in order for him to be accepted again and reintegrated into that community … that world. You know, condemn and totally renounce the evil influence that led him astray – you, of course – with the added commitment never to have anything to do with you again. Unless, of course, you decided to convert, and then…”

“Ha!” Moxie came alive again. “Not a snowball’s chance in hell, pastor dear! They’ll just have to plug a stake in the ground and light the fire, cause this witch damn sure isn’t giving up her broom!” Joy practically doubled over laughing. “No way! It’s hard enough for me to keep up the ‘Christian’ part of ‘Christian agnostic,’ much less going fundy! No … we’ll just have to work on keeping Able on my side of the tracks.”

“Yeah, o.k. Well let’s do that, then.” Joy was still laughing. “So, o.k. there’s a few things I think you gotta know – even though I’m not  an expert here, and please keep that in mind – still, there’s just a few things I think I need to mention.” Joy leaned forward and assumed an ‘affected,’ humorous tone. “For your erudite consideration, my bright and talented, Christian agnostic philosopher.” They both laughed.

“Yeah, alright… Hit me!”


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