Do you remember when you fell in love with professional wrestling?
How about when you fell out of love with it, if that's the case?
As I begin to write this, it's late May, 2020, and I am currently on the longest break I have taken from active competition in professional wrestling in my now 17 year career. My last match was March 14. Two months and some change, so far. My previous record was one month, after getting dropped on my thought-maker.
My body feels a little better than it did on March 15, and I wish I could say that I spent these two months in quiet reflection, meditation and mental healing but nope; I've mostly just day-dreamed about wrestling.
My previous work of learning to generate mental stability has helped me tremendously during this fear and stress inducing time, primarily by allowing me to recognize when my thoughts wander off into Downward Spiraling Gloom and Doom Town so I can chloroform them, toss them in the front-trunk of my vintage Volkswagen Love-bug of willpower, whip out in a tire screeching u-turn, drive them to the wondrous Villa of Better Shit To Think About, and dump them on a WCW picnic blanket in My Happy Place Park. Well, really I just let them go and refocus my mind to something positive, but that's not as fun to write.
After I started writing this, it has been reported that 22 year old female Japanese wrestler Hana Kimora has died. It hasn't been verified, but the current theory and narrative is that she was cyberbullied into committing suicide.
In one of her last tweets she said, "I wanted to be loved."
One of the last thoughts Kimora-san wanted to share with the world was that she wanted love.
I started this piece with the idea to write about people's love for professional wrestling and how it's either been cemented or destroyed by the impact of the Covid 19 Pandemic. Let’s bookmark that idea, for now, and delve deeply into love and suicide.
From my mid-teens, through much of my early adulthood, I thought about killing myself everyday; usually multiple times a day. Downward spiraling gloom and doom.
I was deeply depressed.
I watched documentaries about suicide. I listened to songs about suicide. I went down Wikipedia rabbit holes of reading about notable suicides. Downward spiraling doom and gloom.
I was deeply obsessed.
I wanted to be loved, too.
Kimura-san, I get it. Truly.
Amidst thrashing violently against the waves of that murderous ocean called despair, I was able to find some floating debris that I slowly crafted into a life raft. It saddens me deeply that she didn't.
Everyone's life is different and so is everyone's brain chemistry. I haven’t the slightest clue if I could have helped, but damn I wish I would have had the opportunity to try.
From around the time that I first fell in love, and the girl that I loved did too but with someone else, I suffered from depression. That depression would turn my preteen temper tantrums into full blown teenage rage. The violent outbursts would lead to sad regret, which would then deepen my depression and that, of course, would fuel the outburst. That ever cycling gloom, doom, and kaboom continued into my adulthood.
At 17, I took my first steps down my dream path of becoming a professional wrestler.
At 19, I fell in love, again. This time with someone who actually loved me back.
In my 20s: I got married, I built lasting friendships with lots of amazing people and, through it all, through everything I had to be thankful for, I...still just kept sleeping in past noon, eating sh**y food, blaming the world for my problems, blaming myself for not helping to solve the world's problems, being a bad friend and worse husband, and thinking about ending myself everyday.
I recently read a post on Facebook where a person wrote, "To my friends who are wrestlers. Why did you want to be a wrestler?"
I started to comment something quick, and still true like, "Because I wanted to get paid to travel the World."
Like I said, true, but I decided to look deeper and really contemplate my truest answer.
I wrote, "Because I wanted to hurt myself and have people cheer me on for doing it."
I didn't really know that until I thought hard about it, but could feel the truth of that statement.
Around the same time that Hana Kimura’s death was confirmed as a suicide, I made a Facebook post admitting that I had withstood years of suicidal impulses and came out the other side healthy. I went on to say that people who are struggling with suicidal thoughts could reach out to me. They did.
I spent the next day interacting with some beautiful human beings who have been faced with some ugly human problems. My own human problem became that - despite the fact that I have more free time as my wrestling career has been paused by a pandemic - I have a family life and I had not anticipated just how many people I might reach with that post, how many would reach out to me, and how thin that would stretch my time. It was a lot.
Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh teaches about the human mind using the metaphor of the unconscious mind - all the sh** that’s going on under the surface that you’re not fully aware of (my words not his, of course) - being like the earth. Buried in that deep dark earth is seeds of human emotion, some are beneficial - those he calls seeds of mindfulness, but I’ll just call them sweet seeds - some are detrimental - those he calls seeds of affliction, but I’ll just call them sh** seeds. He then recommends the simple process of watering the the seeds of mindfulness - sweet seeds - and not watering the seeds of affliction - sh** seeds. Simple doesn’t mean not-difficult, as we all find out again and again.
Allowing myself to become overwhelmed is the premier way that I water the sh** seed of stress. Tall and wild weeds of stress shot up from those sh** seeds into my conscious mind.
I pushed through those thick weeds of stress and replied to every message, every chance I got, in the moments between living my life. I did what I said I would do: I listened and I only gave advice if it was asked for. At the end of that day, I felt relieved, connected, grateful, like I was living life with purpose, and tired, very tired.
The next day, I suddenly had a mini-meltdown where all that stress that I had pushed through the day before pushed itself up like last night's ten margaritas.
Allowing myself to become stressed is the premier way that I water the sh** seed of anger.
A sharp and dense briar patch of anger exploded into my awareness.
I know this subjectively, but I'm also subjected to hearing about it from basically anyone that gets to know her: my wife is one of the sweetest people you will meet.
So, what was the tipping point that made me feel so angry that I wanted to scream and break things?
Well, my sweet wife was busy and not paying attention to me when I very much felt like I needed attended to; after a day in which I had allowed the yard of my mind to fall into the ruinous look of a child’s nightmare of a haunted estate.
So, what stopped me from screaming and breaking things and feeling remorseful and sinking into depression and lashing out and so on and so forth like I would have during my darkest days?
Because - almost too late, I must admit - I realised that there was anger, instead of becoming angry. Because I had so often, before the pandemic, before falling back into the deep groove of dissociative daydreaming as a coping mechanism, watered the hell out of the sweet seed of witnessing what was going on in my mind without associating myself with what was happening in that war zone.
Wow, look at that. I’m really f***ing pissed off, right now. Enough to do something I’ll really regret and, you know, I don’t care that I will regret it. My stomach feels like Johnny Blaze from the Fantastic Four gave me a spin kick to the belly and his flaming boot is still in there melting my intestines and I just want to make the whole world feel that pain with me. I know that this anger is over nothing and I'm being ridiculous, and knowing that doesn’t help the slightest bit. This sure is a terribly interesting terrible experience. I thought to myself.
I did what any sane adult would do in this situation: I thought of Mister Rogers; specifically his song about dealing with anger called “What Do You Do With The Mad That You Feel”.
I decided to do push ups with the mad that I felt. I did fifty, the most I had done in one go since I tore my pec last year.
Wow. Fifty. That’s cool. But do I still want to rearrange the furniture in a less than feng shui manner? Lemme check. Yes, yes, I do still want to turn order into chaos. I thought, as my wife walked past me to go to the bathroom. I tried to make eye contact with her, but she didn’t look in my direction.
AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!! I Thought, before adding, Jason, concentrate on your breath, Jason! Okay… Breathing in, I know I’m breathing in, breathing out.... AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH! Why is she ignoring me!
As my wife exited the bathroom. I tried to make eye contact, again. No luck.
That was it! I had had enough! It was time to say something. I pursed my lips, took a strong, deep breath through my nostrils, and said ... *pause to build tension* …, “Darling, could we please talk?”
“Okay.” She said.
We both sat down criss cross applesauce on the wrestling mat that is in the back corner of our living room and stared into each other’s eyes.
“I’m not feeling very well, today. I know you’re not meaning to ignore me, but I’m feeling…” I say, pausing to think of the right words before continuing, “...less than loved, I guess.”
We’ve found ourselves back at "I wanted to be loved."
Like Hana, - the beautiful young woman who grew up without her father, who was bullied as a child for being a racial minority, who, as an adult, was cyber bullied for losing herself to anger when her roommate on a reality television show accidentally destroyed her ring attire - I was just looking for some love.
I wonder if Hana Kimura became a wrestler because she wanted to be loved? If she joined a reality show because she wanted to be loved? If her passionate love of professional wrestling caused her the upset that caused the internet backlash that cost her her life?
I fell in love with wrestling as a child. I haven’t always liked wrestling since, but I don’t think I could ever fully stop loving it. Wrestling had been my only reason to stay alive at times when I really didn’t want to be. Wrestling brought me many of my best experiences. Wrestling made a man of me.
Yeah, I have to admit, I will always love wrestling.
So, what would I tell Kimura-san, if I could go back in time and talk with her?
Maybe, I would say, “Water the sweet seeds inside you and let all those sh** seeds dry up like I imagine Candace Owens’ vagina does around a man that has more compassion than money.”
Maybe, I would say, “You have thoughts, but you are not your thoughts! And you sure as sh** aren’t what the sad people of the internet think of you!”
Maybe, I would recite her the lyrics to a song by Fred Rogers and we would both weep at their simplistic beauty and truth.
Most likely, though, I would just shut the f*** up and listen to her and love her no matter what she said. Love her, not like I love wrestling or like I loved that girl who didn’t love me back in sixth grade, but like one human being loves another human being when you know that there has never been another person on Earth that was just like them, nor will there ever be anyone just like them again, and yet underneath all those infinitely beautiful differences you know that just like you they’re suffering from the worst diseases to ever plague mankind, fear and loneliness, and just like you they want love and to be loved more than anything.
Love In The Time Of Covid 19