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Tigergate has gone from being a figurative pain in the neck to a literal one. Yes, Tiger Woods himself has insisted that the spasming neck pain that inspired him to quit the Players Championship has “zero connection” to the SUV crash that tore the veil from his harem of mistresses. But there’s little doubt in this sex therapist’s mind that the “bulging disc” or “inflamed joint” in the beleaguered billionaire’s upper spine is deeply “connected” to his struggles with that other bulge—that inflamed joint a little farther south in his anatomy.
Whatever the nature of his injury, Tiger should know from his mama’s Buddhist tradition—if not from his six weeks at Mississippi’s famed Pine Grove sex addiction clinic—that everything is “connected.” Certainly, everything that happens in your life is connected physically through your own body, as well as mentally and spiritually in your own head. Connecting the head to the rest of the body, it follows that the neck is often the locus of great emotional tension.
But before we get too psycho-sexual, let’s get physical. Tiger’s current neck injury could well be a delayed reaction to the November 29, 2009 crash. During his pre-Masters press conference, Woods told reporters that the “accident” gave him “…a busted-up lip and a pretty sore neck.” It seems that a “pretty sore neck” could easily lead to a very sore neck, should it start straining from the rigors of competitive golf.
Add to the mix the psychological effect of having just been exposed on a mega-scale as a sex maniac/sex addict/lying bastard (take your pick of demonizing labels), and—from insult to injury—you have a recipe for excruciating pain.
On some level, the golf prodigy knows this better than anyone. In the same press conference during which he asserted “zero connection, absolutely zero,” Tiger admitted that his five-month break from golf had left him rusty and more susceptible to injury when he returned to the game.
“One of the reasons why I think this thing flared up is because I wasn’t conditioned to it. I had been away from the game for such a long time and came back and ramped up really quickly in order to try and play the Masters. The body wasn’t quite ready for that.”
Makes sense. Of course, Tiger neglected to acknowledge the reason he took that “long” hiatus: because he’d been caught playing a different set of holes.
More to the point, he was playing according to a different set of rules than those by which he’d led his fans and sponsors—maybe even his wife—to believe he’d been playing.
Whether he goes on to save his damaged marriage or become a spokesmodel for polyamory, I hope that Tiger’s six or so weeks at Pine Grove gave him some of the much-needed therapy that will help him to be a better, more aware, less self-centered sexual being. Not that there’s anything wrong with being nonmonogamous, in this sex therapist’s opinion. But all of that cheating and lying was bound to blow up in his face—and neck.
Some of the lessons Tiger may have learned in the sex addict tank could prove painful in more ways than one. Admitting that you are a selfish, careless, untrustworthy, compulsive sexual hypocrite in your free time just might affect your perception of yourself as a winner on the tees. Then getting the news that your wife Elin, the media darling who assaulted you with your own 5-iron, is shopping for several top divorce lawyers to uncover your assets…well, it’s bound to give you whiplash.
Poor Tiger. Well, not so poor. This new, wounded, humbled, humiliated, vulnerable, sexually and financially exposed Tiger is far more interesting (to this sex therapist anyway) than the old, artificial, made-for-endorsements ideal who was never real, in the first place.
The new, more authentic Tiger is a celebrity from whom we can learn something, not just buy something.
It’s understandable that the guy didn’t feel up to connecting the dots of his personal pain at a press conference. Here’s hoping he can at least do it in a therapist’s office. If Pine Grove doesn’t work for him, my offer still stands.
Some folks question the veracity of Tiger’s pain claims, suggesting that he’s faking it to cover up his recent lack-luster performance. But there’s little doubt in this sex therapist’s mind that his pain is as real as his affairs have been. And his personal turmoil is as “connected” to his physical agony as are the vertebrae in his spine.
Here’s hoping Tiger’s neck joint heals fully and quickly. Will he learn how to handle his other joint? Only time—and tabloids—will tell…
Dr. SUSAN BLOCK is a sex therapist and author of The 10 Commandments of Pleasure, occasionally seen on HBO and other channels. Commit Bloggamy with her at http://drsusanblock.com/blog/ Email your comments and fantasies to her at firstname.lastname@example.org
© May 16, 2010.