Virginia Sherwood/Bravo
August 24, 2010 01:00 AM

Jacqueline Laurita realizes she may have come off as “bitter” and overly interested in the drama relating to costar – and former friend – Danielle Staub during the second season of The Real Housewives of New Jersey, which ended Monday night. But she s clear about one thing: there was a reason for the animosity.

“Things were getting out of control,” Laurita tells PEOPLE. “There was other stuff going on that we didn t talk about because it would draw too much attention to it. If we addressed the lies she was spreading, it would keep it going.”

In drama that played out on the show, Staub had engaged Laurita s daughter, Ashley Holmes, 19, in an online war of words, before a physical altercation occurred last fall, during which Holmes pulled her hair. Staub pressed assault charges and Holmes was found guilty and had to pay a $189 fine.

But Laurita says there was even more drama going on behind the scenes. “If there was nothing going on we wouldn t be so angry with her. Out of nowhere? Obviously something was being said and done to warrant that anger,” she says. “It was stuff she was saying about everybody. She had a mission to destroy , but me getting angry is just fueling the fire.”

And though she says she “didn t always like” how she came off during filming, Laurita says she s ready to sign on for season 3. “I would do another season. It s a chance for you to see yourself as others see you. It s a growing, learning experience,” she says. “I m hoping Ashley will see some of how she acts. I see it in myself. When I saw myself being bitter it bothered me.”

And she says, she s can handle the criticism that comes with being on a show like Real Housewives.

“At the end of the day, the bad press or blogs or things, it doesn t bother me,” says Laurita. “For me it s a job. It s entertainment. It s a show that s doing very well and we re doing well. And I have thick skin. You have to be okay with putting yourself out there and letting judge you.” –Charlotte Triggs

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