Saturday, November 27, 2004

not sexy

Like I don't already know


Sometimes I really like it when Greg is totally blunt with me, and sometimes I find it particularly demoralizing. This weekend, our talks have fallen into the latter category. Greg and I have shared what I believe were a few moments of attraction, a very long time ago, from which nothing ever materialized. I was skinnier and had a lot more hair then, and I was in therapy. It was, as usual, all my fault that nothing ever came of it. Or rather, the fault of my lack of experience, which makes me shy and standoffish and quick to hold my emotions close to my heart (and sometimes downright nauseous). It is a defense mechanism I learned early and haven't been given enough of a reason to discard just yet. It's not that I don't want to. Two years ago, I felt ready to move onto another plane, to stop being so emotionally closed. I'm only now emerging from the grips of anxious depression that thwarted my progress. I don't blame anyone, it's just life.

So when he says to me, on our second or third beer last night, that I'm not very sexual, or sexy, and that I should really just date and get more practice because otherwise nothing's ever going to change, well, you can imagine that I didn't want or need to hear it. Other people have no qualms with informing me of my romantic shortcomings either. Whilst I love my friends dearly and I do understand that their motivations for saying such things to me come from a well-meaning place, they don't fucking help at all. I am sometimes baffled by how together and steely everyone must think I am, as I'm horribly sensitive, just really good at masking when I'm hurt. You would be too if you got beaten for no reason as much as I did growing up. I'm not throwing that in as a play for sympathy or as an excuse, just as context. So telling me I am a frigid old woman at 27, well, that hurts. I've been in a sad mood all day largely as a result of that conversation.

There is a theory about emotional development that I learned in a marital and family therapy class I took for kicks during the last quarter of college, a theory of competencies. Instead of conceiving of emotional development as something that happens stepwise in stages, it is scattered, and people can be very developed in some areas and weak in others. That, on its own, makes perfect sense. I hold similar views of cognitive development, but I've always taken the theory a step further. I believe that there is a point at which strong development in one area can actually diminish the space available for development in another. I don't see why this couldn't be applied to emotional development as well.

And so I've been batting around the notion that, while I can certainly make progress on some metrics, that the developmental trajectory of my personality and the compounding effects of my past and current behavior, will ultimately limit the degree to which I'll be able to become a fully self-actualized human being, at least in the sexual sense that everyone has determined to be so goddamned important.

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