I want to share something very personal with everyone.

15 years ago, I got a teacher fired for basically using me as his emotional punching bag. For many years I felt proud that I stuck it to someone and acted like I was the shit for doing so. My ego spiraled out of control because I had felt like I stood up for myself and ousted someone of authority from my life.

I was a real tool back then and basically did whatever I wanted. I hurt feelings, I burned bridges, I destroyed relationships all because I wanted to feel bigger and better than what people were making me feel at the time. That teacher had his own issues as well. I hope he’s doing better now and I hope he changed for the better. He has five kids and a wife, and I hope he is setting a good example for them.

While some of those people deserved (and in some cases, still deserve) it, most of them didn’t. Despite being in a Catholic school, many people did not act Catholic at all. Maybe it was the fact that my grandmother had very high standards for what it meant to be a good person. She went to church daily for 80+ years before getting sick (this was also the same time that she started getting sick to the point where she could no longer leave the house).

Why did I do it? What could have I done better? As a 15-year-old kid, you don’t really know what to say or do when people in authority, people who you are supposed to trust, end up abandoning the fact that they need to set an example for you and turn against you. The fact that I looked up to my grandmother was a double-edged sword. I started having unrealistic and unattainable expectations for other people because of that. All of my actions at the time were out of emotion and rage over being made to feel inadequate. In short, hurt people end up hurting other people.

But recently (as many of you have seen during the Twitter fiasco from Monday-Tuesday), I felt myself sliding into the same behavior patterns. Anyone who knows me and talks to me knows I am open about my emotions, in contrast to the toxic masculinity narrative that men are told not to be open about their emotions.

But things are different now. I have a career now. I have a chance to make changes in the world. I’m not the 15-year-old kid lashing out at everyone and everything anymore. I’m 30 years old. I’m supposed to mature to the point where I can be a good example to others. Sometimes I don’t do that. Monday and Tuesday were great examples of that. But I’m taking something negative and turning it into something positive.

I’m not seeking to turn the Elvine situation into something about myself (for those who saw the threads/tweets about me being censored by others). I wanted to do something good in light of a terrible situation. Those who have read since the first paragraph should now understand why I act the way I do. The situation put me in the shoes of my 15-year-old self and made me revert to my old behavior. I was snarky, sarcastic, and downright caustic because those were my defense mechanisms when I was 15. That was my immediate response. Why? Those people reminded me of the bullies I had to face.

What I failed to do was remind myself that it was a different time, different place, different circumstances. I don’t have to be that way anymore, and I don’t have to let other people dictate my happiness and my attitude towards the world. Instead of griping about it, I’m going to do what I can to create more positive change in the world. But nothing can take those experiences away from me, and all I can do is come to terms with them and reflect on what I did and what I could do better.