The lonely journey of Tiger Woods

Writers write, and so I write.

The Tiger Woods event today has really torn at my heart, and I find myself incredibly sad. I’m so sad, in fact, that I don’t believe I can move on unless I share that sadness here, in the place where those who know me so well have been with me through thick and thin.

In the days leading up to this event, I have read, watched and listened as observer after observer shot holes in what Tiger was about to do. It was a staged PR event that “legitimate” reporters would do well to avoid. The golf writers association actually boycotted the event, saying — are you ready for this? — that to attend would lend credence to the canned event. They wanted a news conference to ask questions. Shame on them. As I heard on the radio this morning from Colin Cowherd, “This is their superbowl, and they’re not attending.”

Observers called it every ugly name under the sun, and now, in the hours following his statement, I’m reading words like “pathetic.” Pathetic?

So let me say what’s on my heart, and you be the judge.

What Tiger Woods did today was straight out of the rehab recovery manual, the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. If you’ve ever been there, you know that addicts need to make amends in order to find peace, and that’s exactly what I saw today. Every sentence in that statement was carefully worded to accept responsibility for his behavior, acknowledge those he had harmed, and state that talk is cheap, and only future behavior (what’s known as “living amends”) really matters. Moreover, I felt genuine contrition in his statements and a ton of self‐loathing and anger. He acknowledged a return to a higher power, and his description of why he did what he did — “I convinced myself the normal rules didn’t apply” — came not from a man who is trying to get his kingdom back but from one who has confronted the humbling reality that he is not God.

The only person who can say that Tiger Woods is an addict is Tiger Woods. From what I saw today, he is behaving like an addict who is trying to find his way home, and anybody who has been there knows that is a lonely journey. I’m not suggesting feeling sorry for the guy or that you consider him a victim, for as he admitted himself, he’s guilty of despicable behavior that he brought on himself. I do believe, however, that addiction is a dark, dark place, and only those with the light of experience can bring others out. If he finds his way home — and I certainly hope that he does — he will have a light that he will carry himself to help others find their way out of the cave as well.

Addiction is a form of insanity, and what is the behavior of one of the most recognizable people in the world orchestrating dalliances with porn stars and prostitutes if not insane? Any non‐addict would view this as impossible. “He’d never get away with it.” But not an addict, for the addict lives by intentions, not behavior.

If you’ve never read any literature about sexual addition, I encourage you to look at the seminal book on the subject, “Out of the Shadows” published by Patrick Carnes in 1994. It is a chilling look at the life events and conditions that shape people with this horrible affliction.

Addicts feel unloved and unlovable, which means other people cannot be depended on to love them, so their needs will not be met. The resulting rage becomes internalized as depression, resentment, self‐pity, and even suicidal feelings. Because they have no confidence in others’ love, addicts become calculating, strategizing, manipulative and ruthless. Rules and laws are made for people who are lovable. Those who are unlovable survive in other ways. (pg 84)

Addicts confuse nurturing and sex. Support, care, affirmation, and love are all sexualized. Absolute terror of life without sex combines with feelings of unworthiness for such intense sexual desires. Sexual activity never meets the needs for love and care, but continues to be seen as the only avenue to do so. Addicts have a high need to control all situations in an effort to guarantee sex. (pg 85)

To us, Tiger Woods was a child of privilege, because he could hit a golf ball better than anyone twice his age, and yet none of us knows the price he paid inside to do that. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not blaming his environment or upbringing, but we know so little about what disconnects addicts from reality or at what point in life. The bottom line is that at some point — if he is indeed an addict — Tiger Woods made decisions based on self that later put him in a place to get hurt.

“So our troubles, we think, are basically of our own making. They arise out of ourselves, and the alcoholic is an extreme example of self‐will run riot, though he usually doesn’t think so.”

Here’s another matter. Celebrities have problems with rehab, because their “handlers” force them back into the limelight before they’re ready. Addicts shouldn’t even open their mouths — except for 9th Step amends — for at least a year. Why? Because they know nothing. Zip. Nada about which they wish to speak, and to do so is, again, selfish. They want to brag about how well they’re doing, when the very act of doing so is self‐centered and almost guarantees failure. Life is filled with such sorry creatures. Relapse is an indescribable hell, if one is truly trying to find their way home.

“Take questions?” What a moronic thought that is. He doesn’t even have the first idea of how to answer them. He should not answer questions, and the answers are really none of our business in the first place.

The question for Tiger is not how does he get his wife back or how does he get his family back or how does he get his life back or how does he get his adoration back or even how does he get his swing back. Much more than that is on‐the‐line here, for a young man’s very life is at stake. Tiger is, after all, a human being, and as a very wise fellow told me a long time ago:

Human beings are like snowflakes, all the same, yet all different. Put a flame to the snowflakes, and they melt. Poke humans with an icepick, and they bleed. Poke the psyche of humans with a figurative icepick, and they bleed, sometimes even worse.

Tiger Woods is a human being, although he has been thoroughly dehumanized by those who view themselves as better than him. It is, after all, so much easier to point fingers of scorn and ridicule when the object is less than human.

Again, Tiger brought all of this on himself, but the thing is he now knows it. And it appears from this heart that he’s acknowledged that there is a higher power, and It isn’t him. That’s a powerful starting point, for he’s going to need all the strength he can get to ever hold his head high again.

How dare we call that pathetic? How dare we judge him by that with which we judge ourselves?

Shame on him? No. Shame on us.


  1. http://Vince%20Crunk says

    Should have said this earlier — nice and different take on this. I really don’t care about Tiger anymore — not a big golf fan but your perspective is an honest and for now and on the money one. I linked to this from a facebook status — trust that was/is OK.

  2. After such scandal, Woods remains my idol. I’m glad to see Tiger on the golf court again.


  1. […] wrote two pieces about this in 2010, The Lonely Journey of Tiger Woods in February after his public amends in front of the press, and then a follow‐up in August after […]

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