February 11, 2021:

Now I question the literalness of her statement.

I don't think she felt specifically stupid. More that I challenged the complacent sense of superiority she'd become used to, over years of belittling others. With some of the most intense verbal aggression I've ever encountered.

Where her brilliance — she has the fastest mind I've seen up close — allowed her to out-dazzle others who are more easily intimidated.

Eventually I came to challenge not only her grasp of details but more particularly the rhetorical strategies she used. With two parallel senses of exasperation. Firstly that her verbal ju-jitsu was intended to win, which is not the same thing as to seek truth. Secondly that it was repetitive, a certain muscle memory of manipulations, so that eventually it became more tiresome than impressive.

This doesn't change my reaction to her emotion. She felt disoriented, and disempowered, and I understand that she needed her sense of superiority, perhaps as protection from past traumas. I felt compassion for her distress, along with guilt for causing it.

Yet at the same time, I stand by my responses. It's not so much that she was frequently wrong, and I knew it, and could site chapter and verse if necessary to demonstrate. Right or wrong isn't what was important in our context. What mattered was my inevitable, and just, revolt against being browbeaten.

She was mean. She was consistently and viciously verbally hurtful, so much so that there were two occasions in our time together when I sat and cried. Once when I had to stop the car because I couldn't drive through tears. Another time on the back steps where she couldn't see me. I made her feel "stupid", but I never was mean, and I never treated her the way she treated me, and others.