There are moments in wrestling that never leave us, that resonate so deeply it changes your perspective. Jon Moxely’s return to AEW on January 19th was one such moment for me. There is always a rawness and sincerity to Mox that I find captivating; like every word has the potential to change the fabric of wrestling – because they can, because they have – but I never expected them to change me. It was more than a moment in wrestling. This was the moment I embraced not only my scars, but the scars of the man who made me. A man filled with love but riddled with demons.
The kind of demon that follows you your whole life. The kind of demon that follows you around for years. These demons come in all shapes and sizes for everybody…
I fell in love with wrestling because of my father. Some of my fondest memories were sitting on our worn-out couch and watching not just wrestling, but the way my father’s face lit up when he talked about the feuds, debuts, and the history of the business. His passion was mine and it taught me so much about the world. I learned about love with Randy Savage and Miss Elizabeth. I learned about hardship and determination with Mankind. I learned about heartache and loss with Owen Hart, and though my father wasn’t alive to see it, I learned about embracing scars with Jon Moxely – a lesson that could’ve changed my father’s life as it has changed mine.
Sometimes we try to cover up these scars. Sometimes, we try to pretend these scars aren’t there. But those are the scars we should be proud of. Those are the scars that tell our story. Those are the scars that give us strength. Those are the scars that make us the people we are.
My father was an addict. He tried to hide his scars beneath red flannel shirts, wide smiles, and “Rowdy” Roddy Piper impression instead of asking for help, instead of admitting the truth. In the end, it killed him. On February 29th in 2008 my father boarded a Phoenix city bus after chasing a high and at some point, on that ride, his heart gave out in the grip of meth’s cold hand. Nobody noticed, not until the driver came to his final stop and my father didn’t get up. He would be dead for a week before anyone knew because the world wrote him off. I had written him off.
I spent the majority of my teen years being angry at my father in an attempt to hide my own hurt. I wouldn’t answer his calls. I couldn’t understand why he chose substances over his family, over me. Wasn’t he proud of me? Why did he look for substance where there wasn’t any? Didn’t he love me? I tried so hard to be enough of something I wasn’t: everything. The burden was too much to carry, so I gave up on him, and that has haunted me for a long, long time. What if I hadn’t walked away? What if I’d reached out? What if I’d known better, been a better daughter.
Nobody is perfect, alright? If everybody was perfect, the world would be a very boring place.
I lost myself for a long time because I didn’t understand the truth about addiction. I didn’t realize how easy it was to be thrown against the ropes, blindly clotheslined, and pinned beneath the weight of the shame that comes with housing those demons and bearing those scars. I thought my father didn’t want help, when in truth, he was just afraid to ask for it. Asking for help meant admitting he was flawed, as if he should apologize for struggling, for being scarred. I thought he was selfish, when in reality, he felt helpless. Once I understood, I didn’t know how to cope with my own guilt. I buried it deep. It grew into its own demon, fueled by self-harm and self-hatred that has left my flesh and soul covered with scars, scars I have been too ashamed to bare until today.
Nobody, nobody no matter who you are should be afraid to stand up in front of the whole world and bare it all. Everything that makes you who you are, scars and all, and say, “Hey. This is me!”
I wish my dad knew it had been okay, maybe then his story would have been different, because there is no shame in who he was. I know that now. Where I once carried guilt and blame for not being a better daughter has healed. It is a scar. And I will carry that mark inside until my time comes and I can tell my dad myself that I loved him regardless. But for now, it won’t weigh me down, not anymore. This is me.
I am truly free.
Thank you, Moxely.