I Have a Dark Past.

I admit it freely: I have a dark past.

While I have a happy, glorious, ridiculously wonderful life now, my adolescence caused great angst in my immediate family, and it lasted for years longer than it should have. I continuously made poor decisions from the time I turned 15 until at least the age of 25.

In my earliest years, I was a mouse. I rarely, if ever, spoke at school before the age of 10 – which is when I also began to be bullied mercilessly by a girl who never explained her cruelty. I suppose I was an easy target.

The bullying went on for three straight years. During this time, I never made a sound in my own defense, got straight A’s, and obeyed the teachers and the rules without fail.

But I was a bit too sensitive. By 7th grade, I was somewhat of a basket case. When a random snowball hit me one wintry day, I assumed it was meant for me. I cried for a week.

We moved twice during my 8th grade year, and my shyness wasn’t helping me get through puberty. I was lonely and sad and way too sensitive for middle school.

So in 9th grade, I decided that rule-following hadn’t won me any friends, and went into full rebellion mode. My parents were great role models, so I decided to do anything they didn’t want me to do. I went from A’s to F’s in less than a year.

By the time I went off to college (having gathered my senses enough to graduate from high school with honors), my parents must have been thrilled to have me out of the house.

In college, I was such a trouble-maker that the dean called me into her office regularly. I was on “social probation” more often than not, and I was frequently blamed for things I actually didn’t do. Such was my sterling collegiate reputation.

So when I think back on myself as a youth, I don’t see myself in a kindly and forgiving way. Until I heard that one line in The Judge movie, I didn’t know how harsh I’d been to myself.

I thought of myself as a monster.

And my behavior then makes Dylan’s behavior now look like pixie pranks.

Dylan is sweet and sensitive and kind. He has a heart as expansive as Montana. He is trusting and caring and beautiful from the inside out. Plus, he’s brilliant and funny and wildly interesting.

I was all of those things, too.

And then I got bullied, and hit by the snowball, and moved out of my comfort zone one too many times.

So, in an attempt to avoid future pain, I turned myself into “a monster.” This decision didn’t actually keep me from future pain, and actually created more pain, so I do not recommend this path!

But I was afraid that Dylan would head that way, too. I was so afraid, I forgot to notice all that good stuff that’s still in him.

And suddenly, thank you, God, and whoever wrote The Judge script, I can stop judging Dylan as harshly as I’ve judged myself.

And maybe, for awhile, I’ll remember not to see myself like that, either.


  1. lisa m says:

    I spent alot of my early parenting years apologizing to my mom for all the mean things i said and did, now that MY boys were doing them. I think I don’t have as hard a shell as my mom (maybe) had; she never showed how much it must have hurt. It later became a joke and bond for us–I’d call and say “sorry.” She’d say,”What did they do now?”

    • Kirsten says:

      Lisa, your mom sounds a lot like my mom! I’ve been apologizing practically since the day my first was born – and she totally understands. It’s a wonderful thing to have someone who not only understands, but cares just as much as we do! 🙂 Thanks for sharing.

  2. Kirsten says:

    Glenn, you are so kind. I thought you were an absolute angel in college! We are probably harder on ourselves than we are on other people. Thanks for your kind comments. It’s so reassuring having someone who actually knew me say such nice things. 🙂

  3. Glenn Sheay says:

    I can only speak about your college days, but you’re being too hard on yourself. I was never called into the dean’s office, but that was only because I never got caught. I’d be happy to elaborate, but there is not enough space here. Also, academically I was never good student. Anyway, we’ve all done things in our younger days that we regret. Even though I haven’t seen you since college, I feel that I know you from reading these posts. Your kids are lucky to have a mom like you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *