Despite the fact that this is my fourth memoir (putting me one ahead of Churchill at this point), it's nonetheless incredibly important to me. I can't help but feel that this book I never intended to write is a gift I've been handed, largely through the inspiration of one exceptional performer. Maybe, I thought, I could honor Tori by donating half of my advance to RAINN, the anti-sexual assault group she co-founded in 1994. That was the plan until last November, when I heard Tori's latest album, Midwinter Graces. Somewhere in the midst of listening, I decided that donating all of that advance sounded like a pretty good idea.
My wife, upon meeting Tori last summer, accused her half-jokingly of having cast some type of spell over her husband. Fifteen minutes later, upon leaving her dressing room, my wife said, "OK, Mick, I completely get it now." My daughter, 17, will often say, "Dad's listening to Tori Amos—hide the checkbook." Hopefully, in time, she'll get it, too.
In retrospect, I guess my daughter's right—Midwinter Graces did turn out to be a fairly expensive CD. But I'm thankful I bought it, and I'm thankful for everything Tori has motivated me to do inside, and especially outside, the wrestling ring. For many years, I had thought of the fight against sexual violence as one best waged by women and survivors of assault. But then I heard that voice one night, in my beat up Chevy minivan, on my way home from some other road trip I can't recall. "When you gonna make up your mind? When you gonna love you as much as I do?"
Since February, I have been a weekly volunteer for RAINN's online hotline, doing my best to help victims of sexual violence piece together their lives. Last week, I was named RAINN's volunteer of the month. It's a tremendous honor, and it's amazing to think that it might never have happened if I hadn't heard that haunting voice in the back of Maxx Payne's car. So many years after that first listen, Tori Amos still inspires me every day. Most of all, she still convinces me to believe that I'm strong enough to do the things I already know need to be done.
Portions of this piece were adapted from Mick Foley's book Countdown to Lockdown: A Hardcore Journal.