I Am Enough
Date: 10th Sep 2021
Sunday, September 5, 2021
Calvary Baptist Church (Hunter College)
New York, NY
“Will you, Wonít You.”
Todrick has on his choir robe and is singing “Jesus Loves Me” in the style of Whitney Houston. He is feeling it and loves being the lead soloist for the week. The church was one of the few places in the entire world where he felt safe, accepted, and completely at peace. The lights were hot, and he glistened in front of the congregation. This place was not a shared place for The Ramseyís because Austin didnít share Todrickís faith. He could not see how an all-powerful being could allow the traumatic things that happened to him in his childhood to happen. Todrick didnít push it because of the advice of his therapist. This was also a separate activity that he wanted the two to work on anyway.
The congregation was on their feet and rocking back and forth with hands raised towards the sky. The song finishes, and Todrick wipes a tear from his eye. The choir takes a seat, and the pastor approaches the pulpit and thanks them and Todrick for the lovely music they had provided that day. The sermon made Todrick think it was about forgiveness, and while he thought he was an expert with that dealing with one bipolar Austin Ramsey on a daily basis, he discovered he was not when he received one of those mysterious envelopes from FIGHT! NYC.†
When he opened it, there was a note that read, “We need a favor from you, Ms. Tabor-Ramsey. We would like to do a feature on you to highlight you as you are the #1 contender for the Manhattan Championship. We would like you to focus on what growing up was like for you, your parents, challenges, triumphs, where you are today, and what winning a match of this caliber would mean to you. Ė Miss F.
Todrickís thoughts wandered because he still had not made up his mind on whether or not he would do it.
”There are parts of my childhood that are buried deep, and I donít want to think about much less air it out to the world. I suppose I promised all the boys and girls out there who are like me to be a role model for them. I will never forget growing up without positive or any representation in the media and on the screen. Meanwhile, other children had heroes and people they could look up to and emulate. I identified with Storm, Wonder Woman, and Batgirl, but it was never acceptable for me to be those heroes. The other children shunned me, and if my father caught me, I was beaten with whatever he could get his hands on. He was determined to beat the “sissy” out of me.”
Tears form in Todrickís eyes, and he stands up and hurriedly leaves the sanctuary. He goes downstairs to use the bathroom to clean himself up because he knows he wouldnít be bothered down there. Instinctively he pulled out his phone and dialed Austinís number. Austin did not answer, and the tears flowed. He needed his support system; just the sound of his voice would be soothing.
”OMG, if I canít make it through this, how can I make it through it on television? Iím supposed to be stronger than this. Who is going to believe that I can beat a veteran like Joe Montuori? Sure, I had a big win at Toxic Tag on my road to redemption, but no one expects me actually to win the title. Itís that doubt that I have endured and overcame my entire life. When someone told me I could not do something, I had to get dirtier, fight harder, and dig deeper to prove them wrong but also to myself that I was worthy. I have always been worthy, but people will go out of their way to ensure you donít feel inadequate.
I need to get my shit together and get out of this bathroom before someone sees me. I canít afford to look weak in any way heading into this match. Iím still on my road to redemption, and one victory does not mean that I am back on top of the mountain. I need this win to prove to the world that you donít have to be the “man” that society says you have to be to be taken seriously for one of the top-tier championships in a wrestling company. Honey, I am Cordelia, and he is Fiona Goode, a selfish supreme. If American Horror Story has taught us anything, when a new supreme rises, the old one withers away and dies.
Todrick washes his face and wipes it down with a napkin. He stared at himself in the mirror, and satisfied with what he saw, he exited the bathroom with his head held high. He hangs his choir robe on the designated hook and walks outside to his car.
Wednesday, September 8, 2021
Austin and Todrickís house
“What Shaped You? Who Are You Now? Where Are You Going?”
Todrick sits in the make-up chair in his bedroom. His better half is downstairs, giving him space. He thinks about what all he is going to say when that camera starts rolling. He had vowed to himself that there would be no tears. He needed to be strong, but he would be true to who he was, so if they flowed, then they flowed. Outside of talking to Austin, Akasha Monroe, or Samuel Chatman, he had never revealed much of what he was going to say to the world. He was going to give Fight! NYC what they wanted. They still believed in him, and he had to believe that to keep working hard for them. Why else would they send him this particular request for a favor? They were testing his loyalty to see where his head was at. Austin would undoubtedly be against him doing something like this, and it was a test to see if he would pick the company over his husband this time.
It was a no-brainer, thanks to an emergency therapy session that turned out to be unneeded. Austin held true to his word to not interfere with Todrickís career and expressed no emotion about it. He told Todrick he supported him no matter what he chose. Todrick chose the business that paid him. This was a safe platform to share this truth so that the favor would be granted. Todrick closed his eyes and took a deep breath. He let everything melt away from him at that moment and thought of his mother, his original protector. She had endured so much to protect him from his father, family, and the big imperfect world. He could feel her warmth, and it gave him strength.
Todrick heads downstairs in a red shirt tied up in the front, light blue jean shorts, and red gladiator sandals. Austin sees his reflection on the TV and pauses his game. His mouth drops as Todrick walks past him. Todrick smells like spring flowers and sits down next to him. Austin canít take his eyes off of him.
Todrick Tabor-Ramsey:† Do I look alright, honey?
Austin is speechless and just nods. The doorbell rings, and Austin is paralyzed. Todrick playfully rolls his eyes and gets up to answer the door. The segment producer and camera crew are there. Todrick and Austin had discussed having all those people in their house with COVID being what it was and in exchange for doing this, FIGHT! NYC had paid for COVID tests for all of them and ensured all were negative. Austin agreed after that was agreed to. They went outside to set up, and the natural light from the sun was going to work well.
Todrick sits in the directorís chair they set up, and finishing touches are made on his make-up. The producer is rambling on about how the segment will go, but Todrick is hardly listening. He canít do this any way except his own. Austin canít help himself and steps out onto the patio. This wasnít about him, but he knew what his spouse needed. He cleared his throat loudly and motioned for the producer to come over. He motioned for him to come over to the side of the yard. Todrick looked panicked for a few seconds, but he could see a sense of calm in Austinís demeanor, and the other man did not look panicked. Todrick relaxes, and the men walk back over.
Producer:† So, after talking to Austin, Iíve decided the best thing for you is to tell your story your way. We donít need questions because it will authentically Todrick that way. Are you okay with that?
One thing you canít say about Austin Ramsey is that he did not love Todrick. Once again, Austin had shown that even with all the foolishness, Todrick was his primary concern. They had not discussed how Todrick would perform with questions, but Austin knew and handled it. This was one of the many reasons why when people asked Todrick why he stayed was a no-brainer to him. People donít see this side of him, or they refuse to, as seen on The Life NY. Austin comes over and whispers into Todrickís ear.
Austin Ramsey:† You got this, Babe. Speak from the heart and let it all out. Iíll be right over here if you need me. The world needs to hear this, and you inspire me. I love you.
That was all Todrick needed to hear, he had already felt his Momís presence, and the hole was completed with Austinís presence. He was ready, and it was showtime. The producer counted down, and the red light illuminated.
Todrick Tabor-Ramsey:† Hey, Rockstars! It is good to come to you live on this platform. Thank you for to FIGHT! NYC for reaching out and being genuine about what this is. As all of you know, I will be facing “Twizted Thoughtz” Joe Montuori for the Manhattan Championship this Saturday at Venom #7. We will get to that, but I need you to understand me so you can understand how important this match and winning it is to me. If you ever watched “The Color Purple,” then you know this line, “All my life, I had to fight,” that is Todrick Tabor-Ramsey to an exact science. I was not born into a family where I had a silver spoon and a Tiffany rattle. That is the first difference between Joe and me. My father was a pipe layer, not that pipe, ya nasties. He was an actual pipe layer for the city. He had to get his hands dirty and was raised to understand that a “real man” worked his fingers to the bone to provide for his family. There was no silver spoon, no mafia money or support to put scraps of food on our table at night.
If we wanted it, we had to do what we had to do to survive. Hard work and perseverance were demanded and required. As conflicted as our relationship is, he taught me that, and it has never left me. That is the only reason you see me in a wrestling ring today. My story is not just a reality TV star on MIL programming and a star on The Life NY. My stock makes me more than a reality TV star redeeming himself in a wrestling ring between seasons of the show. I am more than someone who has to tell the world how great they are versus someone who you can see my grit, will, and determination.
Now donít get me wrong because confidence is needed, but there is an old adage that pride goes before destruction. Some classic examples of this are Goliath, and David beat him with a mere slingshot. Everyone counted David out, but look want he accomplished with a simple rock. Then there was Samson, he was great and powerful, and Delilah took him out by cutting his hair. An act so simple took the mighty titan down. History and mythology are littered with Titans falling to the gods that were counted out. It wasnít until they declared themselves gods did they and all those around them believe that fact. Joe may be a titan, but I am a goddess, and you want to know how that story ends, ask Atara Themis or visit your local library. Hell, ask your kid in grade school that is learning about Greek and Roman mythology. What did you expect, a girl sitting here with pom poms saying, I can do it, believe in me, and I can? Well, Iím not her, so letís be clear about that. But what shaped me to get me to this point?
Well, I grew up in a traditional southern home to black Baptist strict parents. There were not just societal norms, but the norms of the black community which emphasized being a man, providing for your family, protecting yourself and others, and did I mention their definition of what a man is? Honey, look at me. I donít really fit that mold, do I? Another significant difference between Joe and I, he expects things to be handed to him because he was born into it, I was born into this, and it never worked out. I know and understand adversity, and instead of throw money at it, I adapt and overcome being a permanent solution. Money only buys off those until they want more. I solve the problem permanently.
Growing up, I did not understand why I was different from other little boys. I had the same background as most of them, but I did not identify with them. When we played games, I wanted to be the girl superhero. I wanted to be the Mom when we played house. It wasnít accepted if a girl was playing in our group. In truth, in the black community, it was never accepted at all. But an eight-year-old gender-fluid boy who doesnít know what gender-fluid means doesnít understand that. Joe has lived a life where he understood it all and fit in everywhere. He didnít have to fight his friends or his father to survive, so how could he understand my hunger. My sheer will to adapt and overcome? He continues to show you how he expects to walk in, put in a little bit of work and walk out on top. In contrast, I continue to show you that I understand the climb of the mountain and my will to do what it takes to scale the mountain and conquer my obstacles.
My father hated me, I think. I cannot see the love there no matter how hard I try. He never wanted to understand me or guide me in the way that I needed. His answer was the lash. It was clear early on that I was not the G.I. Joe kid. I was drawn to Sorceress and Evil-Lyn on He-Man. I saw She-Ra, and we were connected. Eternia was my escape. Rita Repulsa was a badass, and although I embodied Kimberly the Pink Ranger, something about seeing Rita in all her glory called out to me. I never wanted to be Wolverine or Batman. I wanted to be Storm and Batgirl. The boots I wore had heels, and the towels I tied around my neck as a cape had bright hues. The only time I wasnít mocked was if we played Justice League. There were so many heroes that no one cared if I was Wonder Woman.
Joe is the man, but he will never understand that. He will never understand what it took to make it through each day on the playground. He will never understand why that prepared me to enter a match where I am out-muscled and outgunned and do what I must to overcome. How many times has Wonder Woman beaten Superman? How many times has Batgirl shown her intellect when even Batman failed? How many times has the Sorceress defended Castle Greyskull until He-Man finally decided to show up? The “men” are expected to show up and achieve victory, but how do they get there? A woman! Joe has made a mess of the women in his life, and there is no one in his corner. He invokes Paul but does he really answer? He needs his crew to keep him going, and I understand that because I need Austin in that way. Just like I needed my mother all those years ago.
She protected me from my father. It made me stronger when he hit her or knocked her out of the way to throttle me. As Whitney Houston sang, “I Didnít Know My Own Strength” and that propels me. Mom knew I used to play in her dresses, heels, and make-up, but she never shunned me. Iím sure that was so difficult for her, I didnít understand it then, but she taught me how to counter the adversary. That will be on display when I counter Joe in that ring. He is the adversary, and Iíve countered the opps all my life. Iím experienced in that area. It wasnít until I got to high school and met Akasha Monroe and Samuel Chatman that I finally met people who made me believe that I was enough. The same two who made me believe that I am enough to have a match of the year with Joe Montuori and actually win the title.
Outside of Austin, I owe so much to these two. They trained me, they molded me, and because of them, I got to meet and train with some of my all-time favorites, Ivory, Maryse, and Jazz. Youíve seen how ecstatic I was meeting them on social media, but I actually got to train with them. They all built a foundation and kept adding on it over the years, and now we are here. Joe comes from a wrestling pedigree, but he doesnít work as hard as he has to because he just expects people to lie down to him. I know who his dad is, I know what his family name means, but that doesnít make me want to cower. I show the proper respect, and this is one more obstacle where I have to be in the words of Bianca Belair, the EST. Joe will be no cakewalk, but neither am I.
What I have survived will crack the toughest nut, but never forget how a diamond is formed and the pressure it takes to get there. Iíve told you where I came from, but see me for who I am. I am a hungry girl. I have dreams and desires, just like all of the people watching this. Me winning is a win for all of us. For all the undesirables, for all the people that arenít good enough. For all the people who donít fit into the boxes and labels that society wants to force on us. Itís not personal, Joe, it is something I have to do. Iíve been on the road to redemption, and it has been my mission to show the world that I belong here and can do my job with ease. One win wonít do that, so I need all your love, support, and faith to help me in this match at Venom #7. Never mind what it means to be in the main event because we know girls like me are never expected to be a headliner, but we are here now. The only thing left is to leave it all in that ring. I promise you, loves, that is what Iím going to do.
Iíve trained and trained, and there is nothing to it but to do it now. The challenge is great, but so am I. I have overcome in an hour what would break someone in a week. This match is the same thing. I respect Joe and what he represents, but that wonít prevent me from doing everything that I can to have my hand raised in the end. This is for all of us that donít quite fit in, donít quite measure up. We are enough! I love you, my Rockstars! Muah.
Wednesday, September 8, 2021
Austin and Todrickís house
The crew has packed up, and the Ramsey house is quiet except for the clack of Austinís controller and the spoon stirring the soup that Todrick was making him.
Todrick Tabor-Ramsey:† Austin, what did you think of todayís segment?
Austin grunts in acknowledgment, and Todrick knows he is in a multiplayer situation online and canít pause the game.
”I think I represented the people who are like me well and me. Iím confident and feel good. Austin wouldíve stopped it all if it was going bad. I can count on that. The fact that all of the #Austins are so focused on the game and not my match means that the one I said, I Do to believes I can win as well. If Austin and Hattie Mae believe it, then I am unstoppable. Iím ready for Venom #7, and the best thing of all was this was not an Austin/Todrick production. This was all me. I am enough!