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Overstimulated & Needing to Carve Space (Mouse Over)

Dear Kim,

I have been thinking some more about my need to leave town. Well, to leave more, I guess, than most people probably do.

I wrote previously about wanting more stimulation from other places. That is true. I do want and need stimulation from other places.

And perhaps ironically, I also need to limit stimulation. The kind of stimulation that I get at home. With ringing phones and looming deadlines and a myriad of meetings. Sometimes, I get so overstimulated that at the end of a day, all I want to do is to pull the covers over my head and talk to no one, not even myself. I can’t even bear to listen to my beloved Mozart.

(Kim: What is so amazing about you is your antennas—that you are tuned into your surroundings in such a super-sensitive manner.

It is so curious that you say that you are grateful that you are no longer a child. Being a child is overvalued. It is so tough.

Someone was talking to me last night about how hard it is not to have a partner. A child is alone, left in many ways to their own devices, and dependent on their environment. You are a pioneer in the manner that you have constructed a life that is so much about defining yourself.)

I have had a problem with overstimulation,—if problem is the right word—since I was a child. I think maybe it is a problem because we live in a world where we are expected to conform to certain expectations and modes of behavior.

I am so grateful to no longer be a child. To have some degree of autonomy—although not as much as I would like—over shaping the way I move in the world. As a child, especially in my hyper verbal family with its intense focus on achievement, it was hard to carve out space for myself. I think as a teenager, I began to do it with food, as my anorexia flipped over into binging.

(Kim: That's a nice image, carving out space. I'm going to have to think about what that might look like. What do we carve it out of?)

Now, while I still struggle with coping mechanisms that are unhealthy, it is so much easier if I can slow down long enough to recognize the symptoms when they arise.

Some of the things that happen to me when I feel overstimulate dare that I get irritable and tired. But perhaps most important of all, I go into this numbing place and then I can't access my creativity from its most organic place. I can create, but it is more compartmentalized and intellectually driven rather than organic.

(Kim: I'm very interested in this last line. Years ago one of my teachers talked negatively about art that was "premeditated" meaning that (to me) it was almost a scheme (or a scam). I also heard once that by the time you are 90 most of the stuff that comes out from you will be really you, and not some vestige of someone else. Is this the same thing?

I like your writing best when it does seem like you are opening up one more door, or scraping away one more layer. I'm not as interested when you appear to be trying to write well. Maybe that is what you are calling "compartmentalized and intellectually driven.")

Later,

Joan

Thursday, Feb 9, 2006

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