Confessions From a Former Psycho Bitch From Hell

A quest for perfection turned Vironika Tugaleva into an urban legend.

I spent the better part of my life wanting to be perfect. When I was a kid, I had virtually no friends, so I had a lot of time to plan my incoming perfection, compare my lack of perfection to that of others, and bargain with a God I wasn’t sure existed about when and how I was going to get it. Though I grew up and learned that I would have to work to get what I wanted, I still never felt like I was perfect enough. One thing was for sure, though. One day, I knew I would, in fact, be perfect. And, I told myself, when that day came, I’d just flush all this overweight, overemotional, insecure garbage down the toilet. I’d get all new friends, change my name, and never, ever tell a soul about who I’ve been.

My past self would, likely, consider me a traitor.

What I’m about to tell you was supposed to get flushed down the toilet. It was supposed to disappear into the past. It was to be compartmentalized and filed away into the “never tell a soul, regardless of intoxication level” cabinet in my mind. If it came back to bite me, I was going to deny it and suddenly remember an appointment across town.

This is the story of my first love. The story of being a “Psycho Bitch From Hell.” A story I suspect my ex still tells to anyone who’ll listen. A story he’s probably gotten really good at telling. A story that’s probably so different now that I wouldn’t recognize it if I heard it.

So let me take a shot and give you my take on all of this. Because after years of listening to men talk about their Psycho Bitch From Hell girlfriends and swallowing hard, knowing I’d been there, I’ve never, ever met a woman who confessed to ever being one.

Statistically speaking, that’s impossible. Logically speaking, it makes perfect sense. Shame kills authenticity. Shame disables communication.

So allow me to confess.

 

♦◊♦

 

Not to sound really cliché, but it really did all start out perfect.

I first met him in high school math class. He asked me for batteries. His CD player was, basically, an extra limb. He had long hair and ripped up jeans. He was in a band. I fell hard. Really hard. Like nothing else mattered.

And why wouldn’t I?

He was gorgeous. He was talented. He was funny. But, most importantly, being with him was the first thing in my entire life that felt that good. I’d never ridden a bike, had a french kiss, or jumped on a trampoline. Fifteen years old and shockingly inexperienced in the pleasures of life, love didn’t just take the cake; it took the whole damn bakery.

When I talked, he listened. When he talked, I listened. He thought my life was really interesting and I thought his was too. He made me feel things between my legs and he tasted really good. He told me I was beautiful. We would lie in bed and hold each other feeling this magnetic, powerful attraction between us. We would both talk about how good it felt. And it felt really good.

Being with him consumed me. Completely and wholeheartedly. It felt better than anything else. Everything else took a backseat to that feeling. Not that I had anything else going for me. I didn’t have any hobbies, interests, or passions. I spent most of my time neurotically obsessing over my food intake, watching TV, and writing angst-filled poetry.

Being with him felt so good that I wanted more and more. I never wanted it to stop. Being with him meant escaping from the world inside my head and the world inside my home. Being with him meant I never, ever had to feel pain. It was like that for a few years. Just pure painless bliss.

The thing about love is that it makes you forget everything else. There’s these magnets inside of us that compel us towards one another so that we can mate, love, and be happy. These magnets activate in people who have similar values and interests. These magnets activate in people who don’t. They activate regardless.

The thing about self-loathing is that you think it’s happening to everyone. You don’t know anything else. It’s like that with abuse, too. It’s like that with rape.

You don’t know until you know. You don’t know what the label is for what you’ve experienced until it suddenly surfaces in a conversation, movie, or article. You gulp down a dose of shame and think “Wow, they’re talking about me.”

I felt like that about a lot of things. I felt like that when I saw, at the bottom of an article I wrote for Good Men Project, a link to “In Defense of Psycho Bitches From Hell.” I definitely gulped down a whole lot of shame reading that.

I guess I was too good to be true, just like in the archetypal “psycho bitch” story. I guess I was misrepresenting myself. Because underneath all that beauty that he saw was a scared little girl with a mountain of baggage and a whole lot of pain. A girl I was convinced had died and gone when I met him so I would never, ever have to deal with her again.

The thing about love is that it doesn’t make you forget everything else forever. After a while, the mask peels back, the curtain lifts, the cracks begin to show.

The moments without him became torture. Being alone meant being alone with my thoughts. Being alone with my thoughts meant an endless tirade of insults. The more I tried to silence what was happening in my head, the more powerfully it came back. After a while, I began to have nightmares. Those nightmares flooded over into real life. I was a walking time bomb full of shame, fear, and loathing. And my only antidote was him.

I started getting really angry. Really angry when he wanted to do other things. Really angry when he wasn’t there. Really angry when he was there, but was doing something else, thinking about something else. Really angry when his presence no longer calmed the demons inside of me.

We started fighting. A lot. Over time, these fights escalated. I cried. He yelled. I threw things. He cut himself. I called the cops. He pinned me to walls. I ran away. He drank every night. I threatened to kill myself.

The more we fought, the more our love eroded. After a while, there was nothing left. No respect, no love, nothing. Either of us could do anything to the other and feel justified because we had memories as fuel. We ran straight into a point of no return. Then we passed that point and ran some more.

After I left, I continued face-first on a downward spiral. I did a lot of things I’m not proud of. I told people the story of my angry, asshole ex-boyfriend. They sympathized with me.

One of my ex’s friends used to call me on a regular basis. It wasn’t really him calling me. It was his phone. It was glitchy in this weird way where it would dial my number from his pocket. I would pick up, hear shuffling, and hang up. This would happen at least 3 or 4 times a week. This one day, months after we broke up, I picked up and was about to hang up as usual when I heard my ex’s voice. I froze mid-action horror to hear to him speaking to what sounded like a bar full of people. He was telling a story. The story of his psycho-bitch ex-girlfriend. A story that was exaggerated on my end and completely lacking in the role he played. I remember that feeling. The chest punch of embarrassment. The hot sting of anger in my cheeks. It didn’t feel good.

That feeling just fed my hatred for him. I would tell the story of my angry, asshole ex-boyfriend and add the story of the phone call. Just to accent how he wasn’t only an asshole, he was a liar too.

It was years before I saw how hypocritical I was. To see that I, too, was a liar telling an exaggerated story of my asshole ex. A story completely lacking in the role I played. It took years before the anger and hate died away and shame and regret set in. It took years before I faced my demons.

I remember the cold November night years later when I woke up in a cold sweat realizing, for the first time, that I had a part to play. Within a few minutes, I realized that I had a huge part to play. Half an hour later, I was convinced it was all my fault. An hour later, I was convinced that I was a monster.

I spent three days locked in my room with the lights off, refusing to speak to anyone. I played myself tapes in my head of what I said. What I did. What I felt. What I did to him. Regret was a five tonne weight that sat on my chest and slid around painfully when I tried to move. I didn’t move.

Somewhere around day two, I started having memories of my childhood. Memories of being hurt, insulted, and used.

I started to understand, for the first time, what was going on. I started to understand what was happening to me. The hunted becomes the hunter. Still, though I understood, I couldn’t forgive myself. I would try and try, but forgiveness didn’t come. I still felt like a monster. I felt like I had done horrible, unforgivable things to people that I could never, ever take back. Not just my ex, but other people I had exposed to my twisted self over the years. There were, and I’m sure still are, people out there who, at their worst moments, remember me. My words. My face.

I fervently apologized and made my amends. I begged for forgiveness. No matter how much forgiveness I received, I still felt the same. I started to lose hope. I started to feel like I would carry the weight of my mistakes with me forever.

By the middle of day three, I began to realize that, if I was going to forgive myself for doing terrible things, I’d have to not only apologize to those I had hurt, but I also had to forgive the people who did terrible things to me. And I did. It took time and tears, but I found compassion and I gave forgiveness.

And it helped. It helped me forgive myself.

You see, I couldn’t forgive myself for being a monster without accepting the fact that, perhaps, everyone, if put into certain circumstances, would act like a monster. I couldn’t give myself the room to have done and said awful things without also giving that room to every other living person. I couldn’t give myself compassion without also giving compassion to others.

Since that day, everything has been different. I lost all the Psycho. I lost all the Bitchiness. I left Hell.

If there’s a moral to this story, it’s that, when it comes to fighting monsters, compassion is the only way. It is the only way because every monster was once a frightened little child who was scared of monsters. But we don’t stay scared children forever. No one wants to be a victim forever. No one can live in shame forever.

It’s interesting that we are so willing to be kind to victims, but not to bullies. Every bully was a victim once. Maybe I’ll get a lot of flak for saying that. But I really believe it. Shame is the prerequisite to violence.

Forgiveness is hard. It is. But, if we fight hate with hate, that breeds more hate. If we douse hate in compassion, it can’t survive.

 

♦◊♦

 

As for my ex, I saw him on the street about a year ago. His hair tied back, his jeans without holes, and a girl on his arm, we walked by each other with only a glance. Just as we passed each other by, I heard him say to the girl he was with “That’s her. That’s my ex I told you about. You know, the crazy one who … .”

And so I’m an urban legend. A statistic. A character in a story. A series of comma-separated adjectives.

While it hurts me to live as a monster inside people’s minds, I’ll be okay. I’m going to be fine because I’ve grown and learned and become a different person. With every day is a chance for me to do good in the world. I can’t ever erase what I’ve done, but I can seek to do better.

I can’t help but think about how my ex’s hate for me, how his Psycho Bitch From Hell story must be weighing him down. I can’t help but wish for him to forgive me. I wish that all the men out there with stories of crazy bitches like me would forgive us. Because so many of us are reformed and repentant now. Of course, some are still the same. All the while, all the Psycho Bitches From Hell in this world are just hurting, confused, and lost. So are all the Angry Assholes.

If you ever happen to get one in front of you again, I hope that you have the courage to listen, show compassion, and tell her that it’s okay to feel that way. That it’s okay to be hurt. That it’s going to get better. Compassion is the only way that people make it out of the cycle alive. In order to be mentally healthy, we have to heal. We can’t heal if we’re being called names. We can only heal with love, support, and understanding.

Martin Luther King Jr. once said that… “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

I’m not saying it’s easy. I’m not saying it doesn’t hurt like hell. But compassion is absolutely the only way that we can ever hope to live in a society where we can coexist in peace—as men, as women, as people. To forgive and love one another is, really, the closest any of us are going to come to perfection. And that, I’ve always thought, is a worthy goal.

♦◊♦

I would like to personally thank Atalwin Pilon for suggesting that I write this story, title and all. He opened for me a door of opportunity which, at first sight, scared me out of my wits, but in the end sent me on a personal journey of vulnerability, acceptance, and healing that I’ll never forget. It is the mark of a true leader to challenge others to make leaders of themselves. Thank you, Atalwin, for inspiring and motivating me.

This post, and others in the Psycho Bitch from Hell series, has inspired Atalwin to create 2 Workshops in New York City around the themes of these articles. MORE INFORMATION HERE.

Read more on Sex & Relationships.

Image credit: krysta_karenina/Flickr

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About Vironika Tugaleva

Vironika Tugaleva is an author, speaker, reformed cynic, people lover, and a very different kind of spiritual teacher. Inspiring and wise beyond her years, Vironika helps people heal their minds and discover their inner strength. You're invited to read more about Vironika and her inspiring new book The Love Mindset .

Comments

  1. Thanks for your article Vironika. It takes guts to own up to our own part in the train crashes of our lives. God knows we have our part to play. No relationship exists that isn’t the creation of both parties. It is born, grows, lives or dies based on what two people voluntarily create together. Yes, one can be an asshole, but the other has some part in creating that narrative. Or changing it. Or exaggerating it.

    • I say I’ve never met a woman who’s admitted to being one… and I found one! Hooray!

      Check out this article “Crazy’s Side of the Story”

      http://www.elephantjournal.com/2013/01/crazys-side-of-the-story-amy-taylor/

      • Sorry, Mark for the comment above being wildly unrelated to yours! I have no idea why it hasn’t wound up on the bottom of the page.

        As for an actual reply – Thank you for your kind words and support. I really appreciate it. And, yes, taking responsibility for ourselves is, really, the only way out of maladaptive cycles. We can blame others forever and be miserable or endure the misery of facing the truth for a better future. It’s really a red pill, blue pill sort of situation to find yourself in the midst of creating a mutually destructive relationship, I think.

  2. What gets me is that women are NEVER asked to do this. Never once, while telling a domestic abuse story (and that’s what most psycho-ex stories break down into) are they ever asked what part they may have played in it.

    For instance, to use an example, at a party back when I was 19, a woman attacked me, so I threw her on the ground. A couple of years later, I found out that one of her friends was spreading stories about me (saying that I beat on women). So I confronted her. I told her flat out that when I threw that girl onto the ground, she had already swung a beer bottle at my face.

    It didn’t matter. Her friend just started screaming, saying that a real man never hits a woman no matter what, and all of this other smack.

    So ladies, remember that. Remember this. Most everything goes both ways. Next time one of your girlfriends tells you a story about an abusive ex, remember that you’re only hearing the part of it she wishes to tell. She isn’t mentioning the part where she threw a frying pan at him before he slammed her into the wall, or that she was about to pick up a knife when he punched her in the face.

    And yeah, some men are just straight-up abusive. Some women are just straight-up psycho. If we’re not allowed the acknowledge the second, I’m not going to listen to anyone who says the first.

    • Joanna Schroeder says:

      Women are CONSTANTLY asked what part they played in it. They are told, “Try not to upset him” all the time! Seriously, unless you’ve lived it, you have no idea.

      You’re right, though, that feminists have been actively working for decades to end that question being a part of helping survivors of DV. And we should also have a push to end that question being asked of ANY DV survivor.


      • You’re right, though, that feminists have been actively working for decades to end that question being a part of helping survivors of DV.

        Yes. It’s one thing to eliminate that question in cases where a woman is acting in self defense or when she is being abused.

        Problem is instead of extended the possibility that whenever a woman gets violent it may have been in self defense an assumption was extended. It became an assumption that when a woman got violent it HAD to be because the guy did something to her. Women are equal to men in all things….except the capacity to do bad things.

        And as a result it is becoming taboo to even question a woman’s actions even when she is the abuser.

        As a guy I’ve seen this play out in messed up ways. Trying to talk about being harmed by a woman and being drowned out by delcarations that I should “walk away” or that I should “think about how she feels” (as I’ve seen played out here at GMP a few times).

        Oh and thanks for acknowledging that feminists played a role in this. (You wouldn’t believe how hard it is for any of them to admit that feminism had a hand anything bad that’s happened in the last 60 years.)

      • The way I read his comment was less “Try not to upset him” and “she was instigating violence by being violent and he got blamed for it while she got away with violence.

        There are abusers who abuse because they enjoy the slow process of manipulation and control and there are couples of people whoI would call co-dependant (think borderline personality disorder etc) to the nth degree and fall into cycles of mutual manipulation and mutual abuse and drama often playing out gendered stereotypes against each other “violent man” “psycho woman”.

        And humans are violent creatures if history is any clue (not that that is an excuse, but it seems to be true). I’d hope that if anyone swung a beer bottle at me I’d run and call the cops instead of fighting them, but I have no idea what I’d do. Not hitting back seems to be the wisest course of action especially if one is bigger simply because one will be blamed. Thinking of parents with violent and defiant kids…parents never get to hit back. If a person is out of control with me, I need to get to safety, not increase the likelihood of me being out of control too.

        As I said, who knows what I’d do.

        • I’d hope that if anyone swung a beer bottle at me I’d run and call the cops instead of fighting them, but I have no idea what I’d do. Not hitting back seems to be the wisest course of action especially if one is bigger simply because one will be blamed. Thinking of parents with violent and defiant kids…parents never get to hit back. If a person is out of control with me, I need to get to safety, not increase the likelihood of me being out of control too.
          It’s one thing to think on what you yourself would do in such situations.

          I think the problem starts once we start dictating to other people what they should and should not do in such situations.

          Not hitting back seems to be the wisest course of action especially if one is bigger simply because one will be blamed.
          Now Julie I know you not would say it but this mentality is precisely why/how larger people (especially men) get shamed into not protecting themselves when someone attacks them. “Why didn’t you walk away?” (But ask a woman that and it’s victim blaming.), “She’s smaller than you why didn’t you stop her without hurting her? (Do we ask women why didn’t they fight back with something less than all our force?)” and other arm chair commentary.

          And it’s not in just the court of public opinion, it’s also creeped its way into the court of law. The concept of police responding to a domestic situation and grabbing what they are trained to calculate as the “primary aggressor”. Hell here in NC it’s actually a different class of felony to assault a woman than it is a man. In fact “assault on a female” is an actual charge.

          This reminds of a scene from the movie SWAT (the Samuel L Jackson/Colin Ferrel one). After shooting a hostage Jeremy Renner’s character tells his commanders, “We get 2 seconds to make a call and you get 2 months to pick it apart.”.

          That’s what’s happening. A larger person gets a few seconds to make a decision that could literally mean life or death and then the public, from the safety of the side lines, gets an eternity to site back and decide whether or not he had good reason to take action.

          If we don’t fight back we’re cowards that deserve to get picked on and if we do then it proves we are violent brutes looking for trouble.

          (Of course what I’m saying here doesn’t cover all situations.)

          • Interesting point, Danny. So, which would you rather be? A coward or violent?

            I believe that anyone who’s ever made a drastic change in the world has, at some point, been called a fool. Every pacifist has been called a coward. Every social reformer has been called a loon.

    • Excellent post.

      You might find this in interesting read. It is written by Erin Pizzy, who started the first battered woman’s shelter. The book is about the women who show up in the shelters.

      http://www.bennett.com/ptv/

      • Wow Mike!! I loved this. I’m really bedazzled by it.

        For those who are think about not clicking on the link… I’ve copied the Author’s Foreword… which is such a poignant and important message!! Thank you again for the resource. I love it.

        “The premise of our work is that every baby needs to feel love and happiness. A baby will bond these instinctive feelings to whatever people and situations are available. It is the birth-right of every child to be surrounded by nurturing and loving parents in an atmosphere of peace. In a non-violent family, a child grows up in such an atmosphere, and then, working from the secure base of being loved, will develop an independent and choosing self that is able to recreate happy love both in future relationships and with its own children. In a violent family, however, this birthright to love and peace is betrayed, because from the moment of conception the child lives in a world where emotional and physical pain and danger are always present. The child then bonds to pain. This bonding becomes an addiction to pain. The child then cannot grow to form an independent self, because he or she is slave to this addiction. Throughout life, the person then recreates situations of violence and pain, for those situations stir the only feelings of love and satisfaction the person has ever known.

        Whether the children of violent families learn to find satisfaction through the inflicting or the receiving of emotional and physical pain, the violence that these people live on is merely an expression of pain. The role of the caring community is to undo this fundamental betrayal of people who have been emotionally disabled by their violent childhoods. By creating a loving environment in which deep internal work can be done to help violence-prone people to understand and to overcome their addiction to pain, these people can then learn to trust and be happy in love instead of pain.”

  3. Savagely honest. Thank you.

  4. We all have the potential to do unspeakable horrors. It takes a lot of bravery to admit this about oneself… but once we begin to do so we start the process of healing. This is the same basic wisdom Buddha and Jesus etc. were getting at…our lives begin in the garden of Eden, and in forming our egos we bite the apple. By learning to forgive and refraining from judgement, we return to the perfection around us.

    Thank you for sharing and welcome back to heaven! ;)

  5. You’re right Evan, it is “basic wisdom” in that it’s wisdom preached by various spiritual groups. It goes beyond religion into science even. Look at Game Theory. Self-interest doesn’t mean looking out only for oneself in opposition to the group. That’s called selfishness. True self-interest lies in finding cooperation with the group. In that, my sharing a story that most people are ashamed of is serving a public good and, to be honest, it served me more than I thought it would.

    I really recommend writing a story about your most shameful experiences and sending it off to an audience of thousands of people. It’s really the healing experience of a lifetime.

  6. awesome write

  7. Vironika…as you said you have never known a woman to admit to being a psycho bitch or as angry and out of control. To have one admit to it means little in the overall scheme of things and does little to change the fact that for most men, the woman they are with probably hasn’t and won’t admit to such behavior. Why? Because she doesn’t have to. Because she lives in a culture that encourages her to be deceptive,too blame someone else for her shit, especially around issues of anger and violence.

    Erin Prizzy is adamant that the women she dealt with purposefully hid the truth about women and their violence.Hell, they even went after her with violence because she spoke out and you make the denial sound like something far more innocent.This is wrong.

    Women have demonstarted that many of them are far too ready to hide the truth..You present the issue as benign tumor, as mostly accidental, but it isn’t. Furthermore, your version asks for something that women don’t won’t do for men, forgive them for their violent and angry outbursts.
    MLK wouldn’t’ allow his followers to behave like those who they were criticizing, as a condition of being a part of his movement. If you were racists, no matter what happened to you, or violent you were out,period.

    This point you raise that everyone, “if put in the right circumstances will act like a monster’, is not a revelation, by any means. Men, in Western culture, have been saying that for decades and continue, for all the good it does, to say it loudly on this site and others as well. Even before men said it, there was ample proof in culture. across the world that humans are this way. So while it is good that you, after years figured this out, it is hardly miraculous, or even special. Based on the fact that it took you years to finally figure things out, your advice makes little sense.
    On the one hand you know that you were wrong; times ten. You also know that it took years for you to get it right. It seems to me that better advice would be to tell the guy that this person is years away from even having the kind of awareness that would enable her to even have a decent conversation about what the hell she is doing
    .Which in your case was the truth.It seems pretty clear that you weren’t ready to hear a message about your behavior that you could process.You out your admission out into the universe, big deal where are the risks there?.
    As a boy, If I hurt someone or did someone harm, my mother wouldn’t rest until I made my apologies and restitution to the person I hurt. She thought it was important for me to confront myself in the guise of the person I hurt, not in some dark confessional. Saying sorry to the person who was hurt takes courage, humility and strength. Saying it to the universe is like apologizing in a text message.

  8. Mr Supertypo says:

    OT question why is the picture of a sleepy woman portrayed in the article as psycho from hell? I dont see the connection????

  9. You are an amazing writer, and a blessing. Thanks for sharing.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] This interview is a discussion of Vironika’s Good Men Project article “Confessions From a Former Psycho B***h From Hell”. [...]

  2. [...] Good Men Project. If you don’t read it, give it a try. I read a well-written post there by Vironika Tugaleva entitled “Confessions of a Former Psycho Bitch from Hell” that said that women are rarely willing to admit to being a psycho b@!#* from hell. Well, [...]

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