But before you let me off the hook, I have to confess: I was violent. I never physically hurt anyone, much less anyone female, but I emotionally abused every woman who rejected me. In high school, I called Cynthia a disgusting whore after seeing her snuggle with her boyfriend on a field trip. In college, I showed up drunk at another woman’s door the night after she ended our two-week relationship, pounding and screaming until she threatened to call the cops. After graduation, when an evening of drinking ended with my office crush going home with a random guy, I shouted, “My life would be better if that bitch were dead!” in front of my co-workers. Management was terrified; when they fired me the next day, they drove me 10 miles to a psychiatrist’s office in fear of a potential office rampage.
Things are much better now. I live with a wonderful girlfriend, and work at a job I enjoy. Age and antidepressants have mellowed me, and a healthier diet and regular exercise have imbued me with greater self-confidence. But as Paul Schrader—who created Travis Bickle, the ultimate lonely psychopath—once said, “You never outrun your childhood.”
So while my anger and misogyny have subsided, they’ve never completely gone away. Over the past 15 years, I’ve gone through romantic breakups that included hideous words and actions, and I’ve argued with female co-workers in ways I never would with men. Just a few months ago, I got into a screaming match with my father’s wife in which I called her atrocious names.