There and Back Again

Dear Everyone,

I have an important announcement to make and I honestly don’t know how you’ll take it. Some of you may rejoice and others might be angry. If I’m lucky enough, you may not care at all. It hasn’t been an easy task determining the best way to say this— but this seems like the only way to allow space and time for all to process the information. I certainly don’t want to do this in person. I don’t really want to do it at all. I need to though.

I’m leaving. 

No, really this time. I’m exhausted. I have been for years and I tried to take a break but obviously that didn’t work at all. In 2015 I had a meeting with a group of people I respected and discussed the future of The Asylum and what my goals were. I didn’t really have any. This whole thing started on accident. It wasn’t even my plan originally to do this full time but I got stuck with it and I chose to see it through because my name was attached to it and too many people were already in love with the place. It felt selfish to take it away from others.

Was it easy? Fuck no. Was it fun? At first. It increasingly consumed my entire life. I made so many mistakes and failed so hard an immeasurable amount of times! It was at my own expense that this place managed to survive and then thanks to all the people that came and went along the way who contributed their time and friendship to me. It’s important to say all the times I preached that this place was nothing without you all was true. The faces may have changed over the years, people coming and going…usually leaving to go and do their own thing eventually. School, jobs and even starting families!

It has been an absolute privilege to be in my position and to have shared so much time and all the experiences I have with you. I don’t take those memories for granted. The good ones or the bad. But I’ve watched everyone grow up and start their lives for 15 years. It’s my turn.

The Asylum started in 2006. In my high school. None of the original people are here anymore. It’s just me. I was 16 then. When I arrived in Nowata I was 19. In November I turned 30. My entire young adult life has been wrapped up in this. I’m thankful though. It was always funny that the haunt was an asylum; as it’s been a great source of therapy for people (as many of you have told me) and the same holds true for myself.

I wasn’t the cool kid in school. In fact, I got bullied quite frequently. My home life wasn’t ideal but I love my parents and they did the best they knew how. I internalized a lot as a kid and never learned to express myself in healthy ways. Nor was I good at making friends. There was a lot of baggage to unpack over the years. It’s embarrassing to remember all the anger issues I had early on in this venture. Thankfully I overcame those around 2014. Adding the stress and weight of responsibility this place demanded on top of all that though? Hoo- boy!

Coming clean entirely, I tried to kill myself in 2016. Stress and depression coursed through my veins. It’s still a constant battle in my head to not go into autopilot and do something stupid.

I wanted to help people and have an effect on their lives in a positive way. It took several failed attempts for me to learn, however that you can’t help everyone. My dad likes the saying “you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.” It’s very true.

The hardest lesson I learned in all of this was that no matter how hard you try or what you sacrifice: you will always be the villain in someone’s story.

In 2015 when I had that meeting with all my advisors I set some goals:

1.  Three events year-round in the hopes of paying people hourly.

2.  Hit $100k in revenue for the October season.

3. Reach a point where I could either pay myself to do this or at least begin moving into a bigger facility before I turned 30.

The timeline was five years…times up.

I always knew I would be leaving one way or another. Just the circumstances aren’t exactly how I imagined them to be. I had other plans in mind and quite literally had every intention of just giving this place away. Because it doesn’t need me. It’s bigger than one person and it no longer belongs to me. It belongs to all of you. No amount of bull-headed determination, spite or lack of sleep would have made this place succeed if it was just me standing in an empty building.

That being said: the doors will not close. I will not take this place away from you. It’s time to spread your wings and fly without me (and fly you will) I expect to see you soar! Be bold, be brave! Try new things beyond my vision and what limitations I possessed!

You’ll receive more information soon but rest assured I saw to it that you would be well taken care of under new leadership and ownership. Fear not. Your future is very bright. Many of you may have heard whispers regarding these moves and some of you have even approached me asking if it were true. I apologize if you felt I was dishonest. At the time, no deal had been set in stone yet so I had no truth to give. But yes, it’s true. And it’s done now.

I’ll still be around here and there to say hello and assist with the transition where I can. Please don’t take this as “fuck you all I want you out of my life” because that’s definitely not the case. I don’t want anyone out of my life. I just want to have one.

I’ve done all I can do here. I’m capable of so many other things and I’m ready to pursue that.
After all, 15 years is far too long to live among such admirable hobbits. I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like, and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve. I regret to announce, this is the end. I’m going now, and I bid you all a very fond farewell.