Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Tempting of the Doon

Seeing as my Winter classes will be starting in the next couple weeks, the amount of time I get to spend writing will be very limited for the next few months. My plan for the new year is to make several changes in my attitude and my basic outlook on life, and one of those changes is to be more brutally honest, and the first step in doing so is writing this particular article and getting something off my chest.

It’s no secret to anyone who knows me that I both love and hate professional wrestling for very disparate reasons. It’s also no secret to anyone with even a limited interest in the sport that it’s somewhat synonymous with steroids. Professional wrestling gets more criticism for steroid use than any other professional sport, even though wrestlers mainly use it for cosmetic purposes rather than performance enhancing. We’re not altering our stats, and steroids won’t make you a better professional wrestler. I’m not going to point out any wrestlers in particular, but come on, most of us know who does and doesn’t use them, you don’t get that big from doing bench presses alone.

My entire life I’ve been a bit of a goody-two-shoes. I’ve never smoked, I don’t drink alcohol, and my entire foray into drugs is limited to the one time I smoked marijuana when I was 14. When I first entered the professional wrestling business, I was adamantly against steroid use, even going as far as creating a MySpace group (HA! MySpace) called “Pro Wrestlers Against Steroids,” which decried the fact that the talented are left behind while the pretty were rewarded.

In the Summer of 2010, I made a conscious effort to improve my body. I needed to lose weight. By no means was I still a fat guy at this point, but I was sick of people telling me that if I had the body that I would have a contract with one of the big wrestling companies. I needed something to take my mind off of my recent breakup, and dieting was one of the solutions I chose. It turned out to be a good decision. Around this time last year, people had really started to notice a change in my body, and right now, well, if you haven’t deleted me from your Facebook feed yet, you’re well aware of how I feel about my body, I’m quite proud of what I’ve managed to accomplish. The only drawback from getting in shape is that I managed to do it in such a speedy fashion that in addition to losing the weight, I also lost a lot of muscle mass. Many people also thought that since my body had changed in such a dramatic fashion that I had done so by illegal means. Here’s a picture of me taken in December of 2010...


…and one taken on March 5th, 2011...


…and lastly, one taken on August 18th, 2011.


As you can see, in a span of about 8 months, I went from bulky to lean, I had completely transformed. A short time after that second picture was taken, I had signed up to attend an open tryout for TNA Wrestling (currently called Impact Wrestling) in Pittsburgh on April 9th. At the time, I was afraid of being too small. After years and years of denouncing the use of steroids, I started researching them like crazy. Which ones were the best for mass-building, which products I could use to prevent some of the unwanted side-effects, etc. Seeing as I’m a professional wrestler and that I also work at a gym, steroids would not be hard to come by if I really wanted them. About a week before I left for Pittsburgh with my good buddy Jake, I was hooked up with some steroids. I hadn’t taken them yet because I wanted to get other people’s opinions about them. I asked a lot of my friends, both in and out of the wrestling business. The non-wrestling friends gave me a unanimous “Absolutely not.” The friends I had in the wrestling business were more of a “If you do them, make sure you trust the guy you get them from.”

Knowing that Jake and I had a total of 12 hours of driving ahead of us to and from Pittsburgh, I wanted to discuss this with him. Jake and I often think alike, and I knew he would look at it from the perspective of both a professional wrestler and as one of my best friends, which is what I wanted. Looking back, it almost felt like I was waiting for just one person to tell me it was okay and then I would do them. By no means did Jake tell me it was okay, but he and I discussed the pros and cons and he left me to make my own decision, which I feel is what a real friend does, that man has always been brutally honest with me, and if he noticed that steroids were affecting me in negative ways, he’d be the first person to sit me down and say so.

Despite never being given the go-ahead, I decided to try them anyway. I remember being in my basement, with a loaded syringe, butt exposed to the world, and…I just couldn’t do it. I don’t know why, but I just couldn’t make myself do it. Maybe it was the fact that if I did it would make me the biggest hypocrite in the history of the world. I remember sitting there thinking about all the people that would be disappointed. I thought about my loved ones that had passed away, like Cole and my grandmother, and wondered just how much I would be letting them down. I thought “If I’m not good enough without them, will I be good enough with them?”

It’s amazing to think how far you’re willing to go in order to live your dream. I no longer look down on people that do or have done steroids because I understand their mentality, you just want to be better. It’s a very cut-throat world, and the world of professional wrestling is even more so.

In retrospect, I’m glad that I can still say that all of my muscles are 100% mine. I remember a guy who used to come into the gym admitting to me about his steroid use, and then bragging about how he was smaller than me but was bench pressing more than I could. He didn’t it take too kindly when I called him out for having synthetic muscles.

By no means do I consider myself better than someone who uses steroids, like I said, I understand. I guess I just realized that they aren’t for me, and I haven’t even considered using them since that day in my basement. We all have our moments of weakness, and that was one of mine. I’ve had many before, and I’m sure I’ll have plenty in the future. At this point, I’d rather never make it big and live with a clear conscience than make it big and be disappointed with myself.

However, with all this said, I don’t view steroids as a dangerous substance, when used correctly. I’m sure many people have a differing opinion than the one I hold, like the generic argument of “roid rage.” Hey, you know what else makes you act like an asshole when you abuse it? Alcohol. And which one, statistically, kills more people every year? That would also be alcohol. Steroids don’t crack the top 10 on the list of substances that kill the most people each year, as a matter of fact, they don’t even crack the top 100. Does that make them safe? Absolutely not. If someone came up to me and asked “Hey, should I do steroids?” My answer would be “Probably not.” But you’d be hard-pressed to get me to say anything other than “probably not” to a boatload of things. You probably shouldn’t jump in front of a speeding car. You probably shouldn’t have sex with prostitutes. You definitely shouldn’t do meth. Seriously? Meth? Come on, man.

It’s also hard for me to disprove the positives of steroid use. How am I supposed to explain to a child that he shouldn’t use performance-enhancing drugs when a great percentage of our professional athletes, men and women who should be setting positive examples for today’s youth, are users? Who am I to judge when I still hold Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone in such high regard? I still buy every weightlifting magazine I see with Arnold on the cover, and I can’t even explain how influential the Rocky films have been on my life.

I kind of veered away from my own personal experience there, but I wanted to try and explain why I had a change of heart. It wasn’t until I had my own moment of weakness that I understood why anyone would want to do them. I’m glad I was ultimately able to resist, but when I say I was an inch away from doing them, I mean it literally, that’s about how big the needle was.

For any loved one of mine who may be reading this, if I’ve let you down, I truly am sorry. I’m sure that some of you now see me in a different light. It may be a negative light for considering steroids, or it may be a positive light for ultimately resisting. Every one of us have that one thing in our lives that we feel people look down on us for, and we all say “They just don’t understand.” Well, after this experience, I’m able to say that I do understand. I understand completely.

Thank you for reading,

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