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Bitch: When I Was The Abuser (Part I)

When I say, 'Don't LET anyone treat you like that,' or 'Don't BE the victim,' I speak from personal experience. As a temporary ex-abuser.

This is a tough one to write. I’ve been nagging myself for years. Since I published Jim McCoy’s guest post about his abusive ex-wife recently, I remember my cringe.

For decades I’ve encouraged women to assert themselves and not tolerate male abuse. I encourage them and others to reclaim their power, and how to avoid abusive people, but I’ve never admitted my own story as an abusive bitch. It was temporary, and only in short-term dating. Amber Heard I wasn’t, but I’m still responsible for a time when my mouth and poisoned soul were a real Love Canal. It’s time for me to own it.

I always say don’t tolerate abuse (and if you do, you are). Because I can state quite personally: Abusers know what they’re doing and give people whatever they’ll take. I would know. The label fit me for about twelve years.

It’s time for admit what I was on the other side of abuse. Never the victim. Certain guys let me mistreat them. Listen up: The more of my shit they took the less respect I had for them.

Remember that, always.

I want you to understand, if you’ve ever been in a physically, emotionally, psychologically or verbally abusive relationship that abusers lose respect for you every time you come back for more.

And coming back gives them permission.

‘Bitch’ is my two-part story of a time in my life when I mistreated men out of a sense of bitterness and romantic entitlement. I want people to know they should never put up with bad treatment from others, just as I encourage women not to tolerate it from men. Part I is how I got that way. Part II, about my abuse, will run on Saturday.

The backstory

In 2000, the man I was living with for years dumped me out of the blue. Jerry walked in one day and said, “We have to talk.”

He punted me back into a dating scene that had changed while I’d been gone. People met online, (as in fact Jerry and I had, before it was cool), with early singles sites. Dating fatigue set in quite early when all you did was flip through photos, picking out the cute ones, then getting ignored. As opposed to, say, meeting with people at social events and talking to them. A great personality can make an average-looking person more attractive.

What I also didn’t understand, tragically, was the new rise of easily-accessible Internet porn which was warping mostly male brains about human sexuality and keeping them at home rather than meeting real women. (Now it’s warping everyone’s brains.)

Relentless rejection and rudeness spiralled me into a deep depression. I cried a lot. I raged at Jerry. After getting blown off, ignored, or treated insensitively by men online I wanted to meet (would it kill them to just message back, thanks, but no thanks?), my rage spread. After enough mannerless, insensitive treatment I thought, “Okay fine. If you don’t have to be nice, neither do I. If my feelings aren’t important, neither are yours.”

I stopped treating men with consideration, and blamed it on them. I wonder who they learned it from. Chicken or egg, n’est-ce pas?

My doctor put me on Prozac, then Zoloft. But drugs need to be augmented with therapy which I couldn’t afford. So I stopped taking them.

I woke up in the morning not wanting to get out of bed. Or in the middle of the night and couldn’t get back to sleep—until shortly before I had to get up for work.

In my black hole, I was obsessed with angry, self-abusive thoughts. You suck! You’re ugly! You’re fat! No one will ever love you again! You’re terrible! How can any man ever love you???

“Why is it okay for you to talk to yourself this way,” I’d ask, “when you’d bitch-slap anyone you heard saying these things to another human being?”

During my more lucid moments, I realized: You’re digging your own goddamn hole. The farther you dig, the longer it will take to climb out of it. And you know you will. But right now, you’re making it worse.

So I picked up my shovel and went back to work.


One night I got blown off by some dork from an offline dating service I’d joined, Great Expectations, which I called Gray Expectorations. This guy was barely worth my time but I was desperate. I called him a few times and I got blown off by his mother. In a way my own mother had once blown off a high school suitor for me. Telling me he wasn’t there every time I called with her familiar ‘lying mom’ voice.

I was humiliated that I’d sunk so low as to put all my expectations on a guy I would never have given a glance to three years prior.

This exemplar of mediocrity snapped me.

I became consumed by an uncontrollable black rage the last time I hung up. FINE, fuck it! Fuck you all! I hate men! I hate all of them! I’m going to get you all! I’m going to DESTROY you! I’m going to make you pay for what you’ve done to me! For what you’ve made me!”

Sound familiar?

Sound like the whiny-ass cry of every abusive male who blames a woman or all women for everything wrong with their lives? Incels? The manosphere? The Red Pillers? No, I don’t need to change, YOU need to change!!!

Entitled much, girlfriend?

Drunk off my ass, I called an English gamer friend who was up at all hours.

“I think I’m about to do something bad, Gareth,” I told him.

“Wot’s that?”

I described a ludicrous plan to turn into this super-hot chick who would make men fall in love with me and then blow them off, because I would have no heart left. I wanted to hurt men, to destroy them, a mass-Miss Haversham. I didn’t care my future targets were innocent men who’d never done anything to me. They weren’t really innocent, I reasoned. They’d surely been assholes to other women, because that’s what men did. They had no souls, no real feelings, except in their dicks. They were penis-bots, life support systems for their dick. They couldn’t feel love. They only faked it to get dick service.

Gee, I didn’t sound too much like the blanket-generalizing losers of what would later become the ‘manosphere’.

Fortunately, Gareth was too sweet and kind and loved me too much to do what any reasonable man would have done, hung up on my loathsome, self-pitying misandry.

Before he could even respond I took another breath and pointed out all the ridiculous holes in my own silly-ass plan. I wasn’t a super-hot chick. I didn’t have the self-discipline to lose weight. If I believed I could turn myself into a super-hot chick I would have done it by now, but I didn’t because I didn’t believe I could. (Twenty years later: I wish I’d tried harder.) I was too old to be one anyway, at 39. Also, I grudgingly acknowledged men could love and did have feelings.

“Gareth,” I blubbered, “I feel like I’m about to make a conscious choice to give myself to evil. I almost did this a half hour ago. Then I wavered. I felt really close, like I was at the edge of a very narrow chasm and that all I had to do was take one small step to give men what they deserve. But then I stopped. I had this very weird strong feeling that if I did, there was no going back. And that I would render myself permanently unlovable. Somewhere, I feel like there’s always hope.”

It wasn’t the alcohol talking. I had a strong fear I still recall that I was about to make a huge mistake from which there was no turning back. Maybe I’d revile evil one day but my soul would be irrevocably damaged by having given myself to it. Tainted. Ruined. The way we imagined raped or seduced Victorian women were forever ruined, except I really would be. That a part of my sick soul would wither and die, like an irrecoverable wasted limb.

We talked for hours. About the evil in all of us. Of the white people in old photographs I’d been Googling gathering around for a ‘party’ - a lynching of a black man. The celebrations. The people who looked just like me, albeit historically dressed. About finding the pictures of Emmett Till’s corpse in a coffin in an old magazine story and wondering how adult men could torture a child like that. I talked about the ‘good little Germans’ who followed Hitler.

The camp guards who told themselves Jews were sub-human, but not so much that they minded pulling the pretty ones out of the death queues to be their sexual servants. The civilians who smelled something cooking if they lived near certain camps and pretended it was, uh, neighbors making dinner.

How I didn’t want to be like that. Like them.

Gareth talked me back from the chasm. When I sobered up I didn’t want to give myself to evil.

I still think I dodged a real bullet that night.

In retrospect, while men really had been inconsiderate clods, I came to understand that I myself suffered from a crippling sense of romantic entitlement, as became clear several years later when George Sodini, an angry incel who hadn’t had sex in years, shot up a women’s fitness center in Los Angeles. His online manifesto detailed all his grievances against the women who’d remained immune to what he thought were his many charms. Weirdly, it wasn’t just wanting sex; he wanted connection, to be loved, to have a girlfriend.

Underneath many incels’ obsessive focus on sex with a Stacy lies a genuine extremely human desire to be loved.

My fascination with his story was a weird sort of kinship. He was, in a certain sense, a brother-in-arms.

I didn’t condone Sodini, but I understood him. I sympathized with him. I still do. Love really is all there is.

He was a scumbag, for sure, but he forced me to acknowledge I had become a scumbag too.

When I analyzed Sodini’s sexual entitlement, I found myself—but entitled to the easy access to men I’d had when I was younger. Sex is harder for men to come by; romantic love harder for women. Men had fallen into my lap, without my effort. When I was young, I was a pretty belly dancer, which definitely gave me cachet, like being the head cheerleader.

But now I was no longer a dumb kid, and it turned out, guys my age really were more interested in younger women, especially ones who wanted children, which I didn’t. Here’s another incel-style mistake I made: Blaming men for wanting something that didn’t align with my own desires. It takes awhile to find a man who’s willing to cut himself off from this normal human desire for children, and I got a tubal ligation at thirty-nine. Many men say they don’t want children, or they don’t care, but they can change their minds, in their forties, fifties, even their senior years.

Never say never when you’re a man.

Men and women think and plan their lives in different ways, because we are different, physically and psychologically. We don’t always synchronize with what the other sex wants. We have a biological clock; they don’t. There are fewer real-world consequences for male tomcatting. It’s not always humanity’s artificially created ‘patriarchy’, it’s God’s or evolution’s plan to perpetuate life. It’s not fair, but it’s humanity’s reality.

I had moved to Canada, where I was less isolated and had made many new friends. Getting older had calmed me down a bit, and as I moved through menopause I wondered whether hormonal changes were responsible. I still was in a bad place, but I suffered fewer dark depressive episodes and the type of cycling thoughts that trouble angry, depressed people: Men are stupid. Men are awful. I really hate men. They only think of themselves. I hate them!

I really hate them! I can’t imagine how I could ever love one!

A few years later I found Buddhist psychology via Tara Brach’s Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With The Heart Of A Buddha. The first time I read it, it pissed me off. Compassion talk really pissed me off. Why the hell should I have compassion for a sex that felt no compassion for me, or women, period?

The second time I read it I was simply nonplussed. Meh. I should get rid of this thing, eh? I didn’t know it yet, but that reaction demonstrated progress.

Then one day I cleaned out my bookshelves and put Radical Acceptance on the pile bound for the thrift store. Then I picked it up. I was depressed again, but over unemployment, not men. I didn’t even think about them much anymore, or write about how much I hated them in my journal. I only hated myself.

“Once more with feelin’,” I told myself. “And if it sucks I’ll put it back on the pile.”

I laid down on the couch and started reading. Then I got up to grab a Kleenex. Then I got up to grab a pen. And I started underlining.

Half an hour later, my Kleenex was soaked, and Radical Acceptance was lying on my coffee table.


Don’t Be The Victim - My past articles on avoiding and not tolerating abuse

Part II will publish on Tuesday, and will detail how I emotionally abused men that passed briefly through my life. I knew what I was doing and I have only myself to blame. Just because some people are assholes didn’t mean I had the right to become one.

Don’t be like I was.

Did you like this post? Would you like to see more? I lean left of center, but not so far over my brains fall out. Subscribe to my Substack newsletter Grow Some Labia so you never miss a damn thing!




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