Glamour October 2006
Glamour October 2006

When I was eight, my family moved from Memphis to California. I had the thickest Southern accent in the world, and no one could understand a word I said. Beeing different is difficult for any kid -especially the “new kid” in class- but I think even more so for me, because I was incredibly shy. The other kids can’t understand me, I figured, so what’s the point in trying?

When I was nine years old something happened that caused me to retreat into my shell even futher. My mother developed an excruciating headache and had to be hospitalized -she was diagnosed with a brain aneurysm. She came out of surgery like a trooper, but the experience was terrifying. Then, a year later, my father was travelling on business and had a massive stroke. In a single year, I’d nearly lost both parents. I din’t feel like my classmates could relate to what I was going through, so I just clothed myself off from them and pretended nothing bothered me.

At 18 I was cast on Beverly Hills, 90210. Suddenly I was beeing chased down the street in London, stared at constantly and having the red carpet rolled out everywhere I went. All of these new, hip people came into my life and wanted to be my friends. There were not good people by any means, but I started to emulate them. I was experimenting with my personality, running from that shy kid who’d never felt comfortable. [Doherty feuded publicity with costars, had a brief marriage to actor Ashley Hamilton and was later arrested for drunk driving.] Now I have huge regrets, but even up until a few years ago, my big quote in interviews was, “I don’t regret anything. I’ve learned from every experience.”

The one place I allowed myself to be a bit less tough was in relationships. But because I hadn’t dealt with my issues, none of my relationships worked out. My second husband [Paris Hilton porn tape costar Rick Salomon] turned out to be completely different from the guy I thought I’d married: Who was this person selling porno? It was the most hurtful thing ever, but I still put on my game face in public.

When I was 27 my mom sat me down and said, “Honey, don’t pretend this stuff isn’t hurting your feelings. If you go through your whole life beeing so self-protective, you’re going to feel sad a lot.” Something about what she said woke me up. I realized I would rather have people know me as the shy, awkward person I am than this bitch on wheels who was tough.

I got rid of a lot of people in my life. And after lots of therapy and lots of patience and love from my family, I started to allow myself to open up. Now if I’m having a bad day, instead of hiding in my room and crying into one of my dogs’ fur- “Oh, Roamy, you’re the only one I can trust!” -I’ll call one of my friends.

The other day I did a press conference for my new show, Breaking Up with Shannen Doherty, a reality show where I help people deal with confrontation. When a reported asked me about my reputation, for the first time in a 25-year career, I started to cry. Finally, I wasn’t going to laugh off their questions, because that was doing such a disservice to myself. I said, “Please, give me another chance.” I was allowing myself to be vulnerable [in public]. The next frontier is romantic relationships. That part of the journey is going to be tough, because my walls go up so quicly. But in order to find good people to be with, you have to allow yourself to be vulnerable. You may get screwed over, but you may just find that gem of a person. Taking that risk is worth it.