Monday night when Chris Jericho brought up CM Punk’s alcoholic father, I froze…
I froze because that single promo on RAW hit a little too close to home for me. While I cannot speak for all kids of alcoholic parents, I must say that I personally felt the whole thing was just a little too much, particularly the part where Jericho promised to make Punk an “alcoholic.”
Having lived through an experience similar to Punk’s I can truthfully say that those are moments I’d rather not live through again, be it in real life or through the fictional action-packed drama that makes up WWE programming. To me the promo and its intended direction were unnecessary and their feud did not need it. I felt the same exact way when they used Jeff Hardy’s substance abuse problems and Lita’s real life affair with Edge.
Allow me to be the first one to acknowledge the pink elephant in the room: at what point is a real life aspect of someone’s life off-limits? Granted I don’t think they blindsided Punk with this angle and I’m positive he knew about it and signed off on it; but I still am left wondering if anything is considered too far?
If Randy Orton was a wife-beater, went to treatment, saved his marriage and was trying to stay on the straight and narrow, would that get worked in to a story line too? If Rey Mysterio was caught with his pants down and a hooker’s face in his lap, would they use that? Where does the WWE, or any pro wrestling company, draw the line on its subject matter?
Chris Jericho’s promo brought forth a surge of memories I’d tried my best to forget, memories of a three-year-old daughter clinging to her father as he walked out the door to choose alcohol over his family. The promos reminded me of his wife who worked two jobs and countless hours of overtime to support two daughters, one of whom was a precocious toddler.
That promo brought back memories of that precocious toddler telling her father “I love you,” only to be greeted by a deafening silence on the other end of the phone.
Alcohol destroyed that family; it warped a father into an unrecognizable monster, a monster that I was forced to live with, love, fear and loathe at the same time. That monster had taken away the first man I really loved and my sense of security and stability.
There was one brief moment where that monster slept, allowing me to see my father once again. I’ll never forget that feeling of excitement, that despite my parents’ separation I’d be able to hold my father in my arms. At the time he was staying with my uncle due to my grandparents’ disapproval of his lifestyle choices.
My mom walked me into my uncle’s house and I was greeted with tons of unfamiliar faces save for my father. At that instant no one else mattered; not my uncle whose nose was saturated with powder and definitely not all of the other strangers littered about the room. All that mattered to me was reaching the arms attached to the body of the one person I longed to see… my dad.
When I finally him something seemed odd; his eyes were bloodshot red and he had a funny gait in his walk. I turned to my mom for some understanding, but she was fuming and it only confused me further.
The grip she had on my arm tightened. “We’re leaving,” she said.
I started to cry. All I wanted to do was see my dad, to return to those days where smiles and laughter made me feel like the center of his universe. Instead here I stood, my mother yanking me away from this man that I loved so dearly with no explanation as to why.
He reached out and grabbed my other arm and made a bold proclamation to my mother. “She’s staying,” he said.
“You’re drunk,” she replied while pulling me towards her. An impromptu tug of war began at that moment, both parents literally yanking the arms of their young daughter in towards to very different directions, literally and metaphorically. I was scared and confused, trapped in a situation only made worse by the reemergence of the monster that robbed me of my father. Here it was, once more, ripping my family apart by the seams.
It wasn’t long before I physically experienced being torn apart. My arm popped out of its socket, forcing both of my parents to release their respective holds on me. Even to this day there are no words that can adequately express the amount of pain I remember experiencing at that moment.
My mom, who was a R.N., popped my arm back into place, temporarily healing a permanent scar on my impressionable young mind. My dad timidly backed away from us and my mom took me home. It’d be months before I ever saw my dad again.
I guess it’s good that my dad and I are a lot alike. We both bury the bad in order to try to see the good. We don’t talk about that incident, and we don’t we talk about those days, but I am positive my father doesn’t care for that memory either.
Fast forward to March 2012; normally if we don’t catch RAW together, my dad calls me or I call him. He happily tells me about everything I missed, despite knowing full and well that I DVR the episodes.
Last night I didn’t get a phone call and I didn’t call him either. I just felt uncomfortable.
It’s not WWE’s fault their storyline stirred up bad memories for me. I can’t help but wonder, however, if I’m the only one who felt it was a needless addition to an already interesting feud. Sure it helped bring some prominence back to the forefront for the title match at WrestleMania 28, but couldn’t they have accomplished the same via a different route?
Wrestling has always primarily been my escape from a grim reality. The WWE seems hell bent on blurring the lines between gimmicks and reality, and while that attracts viewers and their hard-earned dollars, I can’t help but wonder if there is truly anything left that is too much for TV.