“We had both arrived in the United States with dreams for the future, but our American Dream had degenerated into a nightmare of paranoia, wasted promise and substance hell.”
That’s how Jeanie Clark describes her and ex-boyfriend Chris Adams’ life journeys in her autobiography “Through the Shattered Glass.” The book came out in May 2016, and I interviewed Clarke a couple months after, but I had never read her story until recently. If I had only known then what I know now, sweet Jesus, we would have given Oprah a run for her money.
Clarke has opened her diary for the world, leaving no stone unturned regarding her drug addiction, troubled childhood and various relationships, most notably, with Steve Austin. (She came up with “Stone Cold.”) It’s a brutally honest account of her mistakes, as well as those of folks around her, and her ultimate redemption. Although she was in World Class and WCW for only a brief time, she has been involved in the business for decades; at one point, it was her lifeboat to a better life, and at another point, it almost killed her.
I’m stunned that her story hasn’t gained more attention for revealing unprecedented insights into Steve Austin. In the same vein as ESPN’s 30 for 30: “Nature Boy,” Clarke’s book shines a light on the personal life of arguably the biggest star in the history of pro wrestling, from his romantic love letters while pursuing the future Lady Blossom to his reluctance to disagree with his mother to his constant drive to be the best in his profession, ultimately sacrificing his family in the process.
She doesn’t put all the blame on Austin, though. While he sought isolation from increasing fame and a whirlwind schedule, Clarke felt trapped and lonely, seeking an escape by any means necessary: Vicodin, GHB, Somas, Xanax, Ambien and eventually, crack cocaine. A lack of communication was their downfall – something she blames on both parties – and the juxtaposition of Austin’s professional rise during her personal downward spiral is heart-breaking.
The book includes quotes from several wrestlers and personalities she encountered throughout her career, like Jerry Jarrett and Bill Apter, which add depth and different perspectives to her story. It’s tragic that most of the people who would truly add to the story – Adams, his wife Toni, Gino Hernandez – are no longer alive. That’s one of the main reasons she decided to write; in addition to being a therapeutic exercise during rehab, she needed this self-reflection to speak on the behalf of all her friends and loved ones who sadly lost their battle against addiction. It’s up to Clarke to keep their memories alive.
As someone who has experienced a loved one battling addiction, as sadly, it seems like we all have, Clarke’s story strikes a nerve, perfectly capturing the hopelessness that those addicted and especially their loved ones feel. It’s a testament to her strength, determination and overwhelming compassion that she was brave enough to put pen to paper and allow us into her world, a place not so different from our own. By sharing her story, hopefully others will receive the encouragement and inspiration to overcome their demons and act as a pillar of strength for those in need.
“Through the Shattered Glass” is available on Amazon.