Part Two of Two
by Guest Blogger Troy “Zooman” Cook
When you go out looking for the truth, there’s good odds you are going to find it. Chances are good it may not be what you expected. That doesn’t mean you don’t go looking. I learned that lesson 18 years ago when I hit rock bottom and asked the Lord for help. I had to face down some hard truths about who I’d become. It wasn’t easy, but it needed doing. You can’t run from things, you have to learn to face them.
It was mid July and I was getting more and more information that I didn’t like. Earlier that month, site Head Coach Grimes had been abruptly removed from the site. It was presented that he had decided to move on, but it struck folks kind of odd that his account had been totally deleted. All of his blogs were just gone. People were understandably upset and confused. If he left on good terms, why was his profile gone?
I’d made the decision to reach out to another former Transformation.com member, Michelle T. She’d abruptly left the site the previous year while she was a featured story. I’d asked her a few times before what happened. She refused to discuss it. I was heading to an Austin T.com meeting and decided to call her and ask again. After listening to me explain my concerns for a bit, she agreed to meet up with me to talk. Over lunch we shared our stories. (Read Why I Left Transformation.com by MichelleT here) I was shocked, but at the same time it fit in with other things I was hearing.
We left that meeting not really sure what was going to happen next. I knew one thing, I had to keep looking. As August went past I got more stories and more information. It seemed that Stoney hadn’t just been hitting on my friend. I spoke with several women who he’d approached. It felt like he was using the information from their assignments to target them. This was a pattern I’d seen before when I was going through AA. In other cases he was approaching them as a Christian, using their faith to manipulate them into uncomfortable situations.
As a Christian and as a recovering alcoholic, both things upset me. In AA they made it clear that you were not supposed to engage in relationships with the people you were sponsoring. People are vulnerable when they are working through things and a sponsor is in a position to manipulate them.
I sent a message to the site voicing my concerns. I got a form letter back that didn’t answer anything. I was done. I wanted out. I started deleting my profile information. Only thing was, I couldn’t get my actual profile off. I didn’t want to be a shadow account. I wanted to be gone. I figured there was one sure way to get totally kicked off the site. Start a thread talking about what I thought was happening.
On September 12th I posted a thread on Bill Phillips’ web site Transformation.com. In that post I stated the reasons I was leaving the site. I felt if I mentioned some of the things that were happening on the site that my profile would be totally deleted, which is ultimately what I wanted.
I described how 2 years earlier Bill sent me an email via the site basically getting on me about a remark I jokingly made on a picture he had posted on his profile. That event left a bad taste in my mouth. I also discussed how I believed Coach Grimes was using the site and the 18 assignments to take advantage of women on the site, including a friend of mine based on discussions with her and several other women on the site.
I felt within a few hours I would be removed from the site like many of my friends had been removed over that two plus year period. After my post, I felt my profile would be deleted and possibly someone from the site would contact me to discuss my allegations. To my great surprise, Bill or the powers that be decided to leave my post up. As a matter of fact, Bill was the second person to respond to my thread, offering an apology. He then said how I had reacted out of emotion with my other statements and would like to meet in person to address these accusations, apologize to the people I mentioned and discuss ways to prevent similar occurrences.
At that point in time I thought Bill didn’t know what I had found out about Coach Grimes. I wasn’t speaking from emotion, but from fact, and was hoping that several people would eventually come forward to validate what I was claiming. I did think though, that once the first person came forward to validate what I had to say, the thread would be deleted.
Well, people did validate my claims. The thread rapidly grew to twelve pages. I started to hope there would be some real change. For the life of me I couldn’t figure out what was going on. I’d been deleted, then undeleted and asked to come back on to answer Bill. What bugged me was how people were acting. I’d have folks telling me in private thank you. But they wouldn’t say it in public. There were other people who were supposed to be senior members of the community who just were ripping people for coming out and verifying what I’d said. I was floored that a site that was created to help people change or transform their lives so they could regain their health and spiritual well being could post the statements they did. People were downright mean.
When the post first started generating responses, I had a lot of people email me via Facebook, personal email, my work email and text congratulating me and telling me I had done a noble thing. That it took a lot of courage for me to do that. I got messages that they knew stuff like this was going on and someone needed to speak up. But when the site was shut down for “maintenance” some of the same people starting asking me what was the point of my post and how was this helping others. When Bill’s profile disappeared a few days after that the messages got really ugly. I got messages from a several champions even telling me I needed to work more on these 18 assignments and I had no right to accuse Bill of anything and that these women knew what they were getting themselves into. Soon after that I was removed for good.
What happened to doing the right thing? What happened to getting rid of concealment? What happened?
I sit here and still wonder how it all got to this. From me getting involved in a vision that I believed was being led by a well respected fitness expert. His vision was to bring our country from worst to first in ten years in helping Americans regain and maintain their health. What do I do next?
I just keep doing what I’ve been doing only a little different. I’m involved in a bunch of local area fitness activities including bike events and running charity races. I’ve found a new online community at BFLSpirit.com (TorchSpirit.com) which lets me keep reaching out to help people and doesn’t make people feel scared to speak up. Being the change isn’t about being some guru. It’s helping people find what works good for them, encouraging them, and supporting them.
Just like AA, that change happens one day at a time.