Sunday, September 17, 2006

What they mean when they tell you you're too smart for your own good.
  • At an early age, before they had us approrpriately divided into classes based on your developmental stages and intelligence, and even after that, I found myself constantly able to do the work assigned to me in school without having to wait and listen to the instructions. Back then, this afforded me the head start to get it done and earn the status of being the best, the fastest, the smartest. In the long run, however, it just fucked me out of the important lesson you're suppose to learn at that stage of life: how to listen.
  • Having identified me as gifted slightly later, they began taking me out of my regular classes during unimportant times, like penmanship practice, for advanced placement classes in Problem solving and creative writing. This afforded me the advantage of being able to write the best reports, stories and essays in class, but, to this day, nobody can read them until they're typed.
  • And that brings us to: respect. While other kids were learning the importance of respecting their elders for their superior knowledge, intelligence, and common sense. It was much earlier than most that I began to realize that the many of the adults around me weren't smarter than I was, and this lead me into a very early, very prolonged "question authority" phase. This triggered the cockiness that caused me to doubt the reasoning behind every moral, standard, and institution I encountered, blazing my own trails in many ways that ultimately failed, for lack of the time-tested common sense that I was too good for. When I didn't want to do something a certain way, I could easily dream up an argument to justify the behavior I wanted and totally convince myself, and many others, of it's validity. Don't feel like going to school for another four years? Well, college is just part of a grossly overrated system that shuffles people blindly into a place they may or may not belong, costing them, in the long run, lots of time and money that often would be better spent developing their individual skills in a different environment. Don't want to do homework tonight? People put too much emphasis on academics, anyway; the pressure on students today is overwhelming to the point of suffocation, and nobody gives credit to teenagers whose achievements are more personal, like being an excellent friend, or just being kind.

Then I went and got married. I couldn't be bothered to listen to my mother when she plead with me to be nicer to his family, or to be yoked into a subservient wife role when she suggested that I spend some real time learning to cook the things he liked. When people would criticize me for the obvious hypocrisy I practiced in spending enormous amounts of time with ex-boyfriends but being controlling in his social life to the extreme, I said merely "I need what I need, he needs what he needs. It's not hypocrisy to need something of your partner that they don't nessecarily need back. It's simply being realistic."

I was drawn to Zack for a myriad of reasons, but one cannot deny the cold practicality behind some of them: Here was a boy with few opinions, whereas I could not shut up, in all my intellectual superiority, about the righteousness of what I believed. Here was a boy who was willing to follow where I wanted to go, whereas I was a girl determined to blaze her own trail. Here was a boy who, initially, thought so little of himself that he felt there was nothing of him worth holding onto; I, a girl who was unwilling to sacrifice.

It's taken this long, but now the unspoken tension has grown in intensity to the point that it's presence becomes, often, undeniable: he resents the respect I have neglected to give him, and I am dumbfounded and defensive at the all-too sudden build up of changing standards.

The vaginismus and related problems have, undoubtedly, provided us with more than our fair share of problems, but, as we scramble to fix those with little time left on a ticking clock that reminds us constantly of a deadline of frustration we have previously been willing to to acknowledge, it's impossible not to notice the unrelated problems that have taken their toll. Don't get me wrong-- I believe that the vaginismus has, at the very least, excelled the growth of every problem that we have. A man, many argue, needs respect in a relationship as fundamentally as a woman needs love-- perhaps not the most politically correct of ideas, but I believe there is a degree of truth to it. I also believe that sex can supply a man with a feeling of confidence that he can't nessecarily get anywhere else; a feeling, perish the thought, of providing for his wife in a way that demands her (oh, god, the feminist in me is shuddering here) respect and gratitute. (Jesus Christ. It's so awful to write.) I, of course, also must point out that this trade of pleasure for respect is a two-way street, and one a woman can more easily profit from, even. But perhaps one that a man needs more.

Still, here is a problem that we have that's not directly related to vaginismus; one that would have manifested itself eventually. I have failed to respect him adequately in the past, and, over the years, part of him has become very angry. He has become a man who is ready to demand what he needs and deserves. As for my part, I have lost sight of the girl who was selfishly stubborn, and lost sight of the relationship I was drawn to, in part, because of convenience. I find myself, scared as a girl, but no less a woman in love with a man, and realizing that she has little time to figure out precisely how to give him what he now needs and has always deserved.

Where are my grade school teachers, now?

On with it.

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