Celeste Bonin, who performed under the ring name Kaitlyn in WWE, is a former Divas Champion in the company. But nearly one year after she won the title, she abruptly left WWE. Bonin says she was wrestling with serious personal problems behind the scenes, which led to her asking for her release before a show in Philadelphia in early 2014.

“I left wrestling because I was like, I thought I was gonna get fired,” Bonin said on The Sessions with Renee Paquette. “I felt, like, less and less relevant. I had so much, like, shame. I had gained all this weight and my body was giving me every signal that I was not OK – like, emotionally; like, mentally. I had just so much hatred for myself.

“I had so much resentment for myself and like, that projected outward towards others and I was like in self-destruct mode. And so I just asked for my release on a day that — it was a really sh*tty day.”

Celeste Bonin says she’s not happy about the way she left WWE. She spent years away from professional wrestling as the former fitness model struggled to find happiness and fulfillment in her life.

“I had gotten engaged really fast and I felt like I just needed to go on, like, a hiatus and just figure my sh*t out,” Bonin recalled. “You know, I left and I got, like, a couple of months severance and I didn’t really have a plan on what I was gonna do. I literally felt like I don’t have anything to give, to share. I don’t know what I’m gonna do.

“I don’t know what my career was – I felt so lost and I just got married and I was like, ‘I’ll start a business!’ And I was like, maybe I can do that. I don’t know anything about business. I don’t know anything about clothing manufacturing and stuff.

“And I can see this now,” Bonin continued. “To me, it was just replacing wrestling, and wrestling was replacing fitness and competing. So like, my only relevance I felt growing up, like in my teen years especially, I started to find my identity in being really muscular and strong, and I started working out a lot. I competed as soon as I got out of high school and that became my identity.

“I was like, this is gonna be the way that I get to love and respect and be something in the world, is through this. This is the vessel. And so when I started doing that, I had some success, and immediately after the first couple of shows I did, I started having really f*cked up body dysmorphia and I didn’t understand nutrition. I didn’t understand how to take care of myself.”

Celeste Bonin’s marriage ended in divorce in 2017. Around the same time, she was battling alcohol and drug addiction. She says the pressure she placed on herself to succeed became overwhelming.

“Wrestling became my new vessel,” Bonin explained. “Like, this is how I’m gonna be someone. This is my – this is it. This is my opportunity. So, I grasped it so tightly. Like, this has to work for me. This is my way to be someone in my life. This is it.

“And so that’s why when it didn’t turn out to be that for me I think, like, I just started falling apart and like, ‘Why can’t I figure this out?’ And then when I left, after I got married and I started my business, that was my new way of proving and being like, ‘Please tell me I’m good enough world.’ Like, please tell me I am enough to be successful, to run a business. I’m smart enough to do that and capable to do that.

“And 7 years I tried. 7 years I tried to do that and eventually, towards the end of that, before I met Grant – he’s my fiance now. He’s my business partner. He’s truly, truly been my teacher. And now, it’s so insane to unravel the process of the stages of awakening I went through throughout our relationship, leading up to now.

“But when I met him, I had just left – I had just come out. I was like, months away from coming out of medical detox for drinking. And so, like, it was the third time. So that means I literally could not find it in myself to look at the root problem, to look at why I was doing that, to why I was numbing myself. I was, like, in this prison that I didn’t know how to get out of.

“And I didn’t even know I had built myself into it. And so I – like, my only escape was drinking or drugs because I literally did not know how to not feel the pain that I felt on a daily basis. My body was really unhealthy and I would close the blinds in my house, like on sunny days. It was very – I was like a creature. It was, like, very strange.”

Celeste Bonin spent more than four years away from pro wrestling, but eventually, returned to the ring. In 2018, she found her way back to WWE as a participant in the Mae Young Classic tournament.

If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit The Sessions with Renee Paquette with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.

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