College Essay: Kirstin Hayes to attend Bowdoin College

College Essay: Kirstin Hayes to attend Bowdoin College

Kirstin Hayes, Perspectives Editor '22

I was standing on the corner in front of my house in the middle of the night. I still hadn’t finished an APUSH paper. My pink fuzzy unicorn socks were soaked from the dew of the grass I had run across to get there. There’s nothing worse than wet socks. My mom had her arms wrapped so tightly around me, perhaps to shield me from the judgmental stares of my neighbors, but no matter how hard she squeezed I could still feel their eyes on us. We were a spectacle. My brother, Ian, came down to the end of the yard where we were standing, right in front of the street signs. He brought with him two of his coats that he grabbed from the hall closet right before the seven police cars showed up. First, he helped my mom into a coat and then he pushed one of his oversized coats onto me. He gave me a hug to try and put me back together. He kissed my forehead before he walked back to try and reason with the police officers. I wished I could have told him to just stay with us so I could keep him safe. He’s a protector at heart. He was trying to protect us from our brother while also protecting him from the police. His compassion towards Nathan is something that I’ve always struggled to understand. Everything that Nathan’s done lives in my head, and every time his name is mentioned all I can feel is resentment.

Forgiveness is a weird thing. Sometimes I feel selfish for not forgiving Nathan yet. Perhaps I still don’t trust him. I don’t trust him not to blow up when he gets mad, to not push my mom around and destroy the house. It’s not that he hasn’t tried since to make it up to me, and if this was an isolated incident it would be easier to forgive. But how does someone begin to forgive someone else for years of terror and mistreatment? I still find myself ignoring his calls and texts— celebrating every bit of distance that is put between us. Forgiveness still seems too far away.

When Nathan was at school, I would pretend that he didn’t exist. I would pretend that I had one brother, the sweet and compassionate one who always picked up when I called. I never tried to forget Nathan on purpose, but it was rather the easiest way for me to cope. I would never tell people that raised voices scared me because they reminded me of the words I would hear Nathan hurl at my mother, or that I jumped when a door was slammed too hard because that was always the precursor to one of his episodes. I came up with every reason not to invite my friends over, saying “Oh my house is too boring” instead of “We have to get a new kitchen table because Nathan flipped it over last month.”

For a long time, I tried to shape the mess that I had into something from television. I would create false stories about why I hadn’t spoken to my friends in days. I talked about my family as if it weren’t flawed. To everyone who didn’t know better, I was a happy girl with a perfect life. But, in trying to mold my life into a sitcom fantasy, I realized that life isn’t perfect. Things get messy— every family no matter how perfect they may appear— has their issues. Not every family has the same issues as mine, but it’s still my family despite its blemishes. And I love my family. Maybe love and forgiveness aren’t the same thing.