Friday, February 19, 2010

Tiger Woods's apology, Mia Michaels's brilliance, and the Addictive Dance o' Death

Kayla & Kupono, "Addiction" dance
I know. It's the Year of the Tiger, and today Tiger Woods's gave his long-awaited statement to the press in the wake of his sex scandal. Yet before I comment, I want to summon one of the most powerful and eloquent portrayals of addiction I've ever seen. The brilliant Mia Michaels, who choreographed the dance for SYTYCD, said, "I think everybody at one point will have or has had an experience with wanting something that's not good for you." Yes, and some of us have made a lifelong pattern of it. That's one hallmark of addiction. The repetition. The enslavement to the wanting. And the inability to let go, even when it hurts.
"You are the Addiction," she told Kupono. Kupono knew addiction firsthand. He said a good friend's addiction to drugs had "almost destroyed my family, almost destroyed my friend." He didn't want to dance this character, or be that drug -- even for a minute and a half performance. Then he broke down. His emotional engagement clearly ignited the dance, set to Sara Bareilles's "Gravity." Check it out:
"Addiction" dance - Kayla Rodomski & Kupono Aweau, dancers; Mia Michael, choreographer
This dance reminds us people can be destructively, uncontrollably hooked on a person. People can be addicted to love as well as sex, as well as drugs, as well as alcohol. Some people use relationships as a drug. As a love junkie, I did this. I confused sex for love, and I entered into the territory of sex addiction through love addiction. This is often the portal for women, as Dr. Drew noted on that Oprah episode with cast from VH1's "Sex Rehab." Lots to chew on, and think about in terms of Tiger and this addiction. Like Elin, I also was drawn to sex addicts -- people who were never just satisfied with me. If that's not a prescription for psychic hellaciousness. 
[Note:  SYTYCD without Mia Michaels, without the choreographers on the judging panel, is greatly diminished for this viewer. The choreographers brought gravitas, passion and artistic vision to the discussion of dancers. Mia Michaels was the queen. No wonder she won an Emmy for this piece. I no longer watch SYTYCD. It got too big for its Danskins.]
Tiger Woods, victorious
On top of the world - flip side, "I felt entitled"
Check the above photo of Tiger. Then this one below from the press conference today:
Tiger Woods at press conference
1st public statement post-scandal, 2.29.10
Do yourself a favor, and watch the 13 minute statement. Whatever you think about this world-class athlete personally -- his statement is powerful. Someone on Twitter today asked me if he was in recovery-recovery or celebrity recovery-recovery. My sense is that he is ready to get better. I checked in with Benoit Denizet-Lewis today, and we both concurred. Tiger had come across vulnerable, sincere, and willing to take responsibility. There are no guarantees, of course. But what his public statement can do is crack open the cultural awareness about sex addiction. That's why it matters in the bigger picture of our health as a society. Further, his dedication to rigorous rehab can perhaps help educate people about the treatment and hope for sex addiction -- and other process addictions as well as substance addictions. When he brought up the spiritual dimension, and his training in Buddhism, I applauded him further. This aspect is key to true recovery, and often left out of the more general public conversation. Then he went on to say he had a long way to go. That, too, is crucial to convey to people -- that there is no quick fix here. In the end, I was simply moved by the emotional openness of his speaking. I believed. And that is the biggest testament of all. I say bravo to Tiger for putting a face and voice to this pervasive addiction.  Perhaps it is not just the year of the Tiger, but also the year of deepening awareness of such wildly destructive process addictions.
What are your thoughts?


  1. Hi Rachel,
    I agree with you...Also another thing he mentioned is getting his life in balance, learning how to reach out for support/help (and that he hopes someday to be a support to others going through what he went through)...He sounds like a fellow walking this path.
    xo, Marina

  2. Money buys a lot of forgiveness.

    Lupe F.

  3. Ah, Marina, you're so wise. I'm really happy to be walking this path with you. You're absolutely right. That was another point that struck me and rang true. You can't do it alone. Funny my main vision for this new year was balance. Still have the black string bound around my wrist from New Year's eve Intention Setting ceremony -- speaking of Buddhism -- to remind me. Great to bring up that point. You rock! (Will post about Lampanelli another time).

  4. Lupe, you're so cynical! How goes it?

  5. I can be bought with sex and money. Drugs? Not interested. Fortunately, I have nothing to sell and no money for hookers. Sigh...

    Lupe F.

  6. Watching Tiger Woods today and following comments on his apology - many which were cynical and denigrating - I wondered how many of us who have battled addiction have felt compelled to stand and make known our remorse and shame before millions of viewers and then have our ownership of behavior taken apart by commentators with no regard for what may have been absolute sincerity. Criticized for being rote in his delivery - I don't know how Tiger could have done anything but read from text and maintain any semblance of dignity. His comments on entitlement - I found rather extraordinary. As another addict, I can only wish him well and hope his recovery is met by him head on and day to day.

  7. Wow, Rachel. This is the best artistic depiction on the subject I have seen to date. I was in tears when I first saw this (I was a dancer and am hopelessly addicted to SYTYCD). Such important work. Thanks for your brilliance! Reposting!

    P.S. I agree 100% w/ your assessment of the show w/out Mia or other choreographers on the panel. Didn't DVR one show last season. Also, the theater's proscenium POV was not shot as well. :-(
    Jill Merin

  8. I've just finished "Love Junkie," and am struggling. Although we have lots of parallels, I seem to have (finally) separated sex from love. My needs for sex are voracious, and I am able to find partners to soothe that need. My fuck bone is no longer attached to my heart bone, though. As I search for love, I continue to find and avail myself of available sex. Does this mean I need therapy?

  9. I've Struggled with love addiction. Appreciate Posts like these because they bring to light many of things people like me go through. Thank you for your post and everyone's comments

  10. About Tiger Woods, I believe no one can ever use a very serious problem such as love addiction just to justify a wrong doing like wrecking a family. It's just not acceptable..

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