being yourself, change, dreams coming true, express feelings, fear, Goodworks, higher power, inspire, Jane Butler, Jane Paffenbarger Butler, joy, Quaker Meeting, security, teacher, trust, words, writing
Yesterday, Sunday, I wrote this.
I have no desire to run into myself today, in fact, I am actively trying to run away, hide, be somewhere where I won’t know what’s on my mind. Others drink, I hide. So at the Quaker Meeting, (and really I didn’t even want to be here because I know that just like when I was a kid, alone in Arden, there is nowhere to go to get away from myself), I sit on the back bench in the corner, eyes wide open hoping to stay present and aware of today, and not fall backwards into memories of what once was. Typically, like most everyone else my eyes are closed, but not today.
Working on my memoir, rewriting it, re-reading it, reliving all the old stories, and tough ones too, is tricky. Reading in detail scenes of me as a young adult afraid my father would stalk and kill me, or remembering finding people for the first time I felt I could trust, and remembering the isolation of a whole childhood, immersing myself in all that so I can tell it to you clearly and accurately, so you can feel the story, too, is dangerous. It’s hard not to relive a little of it and forget that it is all history and no longer really my life. Oh, I wish I could say I don’t suffer from any of that anymore but I do. I do all the time, just not so acutely.
So I am sitting in a back corner of the Meeting House now as I scratch this out on a shred of paper, trying to put myself back together after another early morning session of working on my manuscript. It’s okay, I tell myself, things are different now. I am able to relate, able to feel, able to be, so much better. Yesterday at Goodworks, where we make houses safer, dryer and warmer, I eagerly volunteered to go under a deck in the mud on my belly, with Ed my new friend, to jack it up and put in a new 4×4 support at a joist to lift the sagging boards. I loved it. Thank you, God, I loved doing that. I loved it because of getting dirty, and accomplishing a task with a team, of helping, of it raining and me getting to be among the elements, of comraderie and discipline and patience, and hardly any of that was for the homeowner whose home we were improving.
Earlier this week I told the ten-minute version of my life story to a gentleman I am trying to help through my church, who otherwise would have no way of knowing who I am. I tried to explain why I am so passionate about the things I chose to do. How I feel alone and want to connect. Oh, he felt my passion to help he said, the first time we met weeks earlier, but now he understands it better. I opened my 1983 personal bookkeeping records and walked him through my finances for that year. All I did is read each line, $65 for gas this month, $385 for rent, etc. to show how to make a budget using actual people’s real numbers. Then we moved on to 1990 where I had assets beyond my engagement and wedding rings, and the record was typed and not handwritten. By 1996, it was computer generated and I had Certificates of Deposit. I spent twenty minutes discussing everything I know about how CD’s work before our time was up. The gentleman wondered if we could do this again, and next time maybe discuss money market accounts. I have no special financial training but it seems my past isolation has led me to keep careful records, always aware I am on my own with no one out there to catch me if I fall. But I love life in the moments that I am sharing what I know.
I do these kinds of things to feel like I am part of the human race. To be one of the people who helps and not a lonely person at home disconnected and confused even though that is the default world I sometimes live in when I read my own book too much. Because that is how it used to be.
At the Meeting House I would crawl into the corner behind me and exit my life if I thought I could, because working on my book is hard. But I am determined to finish this year and get it off to publishers and be done with this phase of telling my story. I’ve got my eyes open at Meeting today because I just don’t want to look back.