Aside from the depressing predictability of more daily revelations in the Harvey Weinstein case something else sits uncomfortably with me. It’s the sudden remorse and claims of sex addiction, at the point he has been exposed.
This morning on Broadcasting House there was an interview with a guy called Jonny Scaramanga who had decided to “come clean” about committing sexual assault and harassment in the past. This too left me feeling uncomfortable in the same way, and I began to wonder what exactly was going on.
From time to time I work with people who seem to have a part of them which isn’t in the room. It’s as if a proportion wants to change but the rest is holding out. Often these are the clients who profess most gushingly their gratitude for the work we’re doing. It’s like a declaration of something which doesn’t need declaring. It’s almost as if they are trying to convince themselves.
What I find most curious and suspicious about such public displays of regret is that they are so unnecessary. Why talk about the work required when all that really matters is doing it? What is there to be gained from telling the world that you believe yourself to be a sexual predator, or that you have struggled with a sex addiction for all the years you’ve abused your power so appallingly, when you didn’t do anything to address it?
Speaking to a friend who is a recovering addict he told me he felt angry that addiction should be appropriated by Weinstein. It can feel more like a flag of convenience than a surrender to the power of demons.
In all my experience working with people in recovery from addiction, anxiety, depression or other emotional neurosis it is those who turn inwards first that make the most sustainable progress. Only when change has occurred inside of us can we really say anything of substance and value about the place we have come from to the rest of the world.
If the change doesn’t happen inside you tell lies to yourself. It seems preposterous to go into therapy and not tell the truth, but many people do it. I’ve done it.
At a time in my life when I felt ashamed, unable to integrate the part of me which had chosen therapy and the part which couldn’t bare the honesty required, I would say things I wanted to be true, keep quiet about that which I hadn’t yet come to terms with, and talk confidently about a version of me I didn’t even know very well and wasn’t sure I liked. This strategy is the one we employ when we want to try and stop falling.
Later I realised that the fall was a gift, because without it there was no way to stand up again.
I don’t know if Harvey Weinstein is trying to stop the fall. He probably can’t in a practical sense, but it’s futile in the search for recovery anyway. I don’t know if Jonny Scaramanga has fallen already and feels that his public acknowledgement is part of the reassembly rather than something darker. I hope so. But most of all, I wish that more of us would realise what an opportunity it is to reflect with honesty on ourselves and resist the temptation to sell ourselves short with nothing more than a thin version of half the truth.