Fighting Dirty: Part I — Addiction, Fear of Abandonment/Need for Control, & Lies
The Johnny Depp vs. Amber Heard defamation case is back — there’s so much that’s not being discussed in terms of manipulation, trauma, abuse, and narcissism — what that really looks like within our day-to-day relationships. Addiction, co-dependency, unpredictable reactions, and instability can consume you if you allow them to do so, but there’s a way out.
I’m normally not one to write about the day-to-day affairs of the Hollywood elite — but the Johnny Depp vs. Amber Heard defamation lawsuit caught my attention (again). Back in early 2020 during the beginning of the pandemic, I remember diving into the story to watch the deposition tapes of Ms. Heard — the reaction videos, the hot takes, the newly-released documents…it all read like a movie. I hadn’t been paying attention to “cancellation” of Johnny Depp nor had I even remembered who Amber Heard was up until then — but what I dove into — and am reflecting on yet again, are the things that come along with a toxic relationship. I’m of the belief that our world’s largest problems — rooted in human behavior and communication disconnections — are largely in part due to the result of generations of unhealed traumas and learned behaviors and reactions. I realize that’s quite the simplification — but in the context of every day interpersonal relationships, we really do forget how fragile all of us are. This article is a combination of my personal experiences and the lessons I’ve learned/am learning combined with those of people I’ve also known — as well as the general public, including the Depp vs. Heard case.
The only people who will ever truly know what happened in a relationship — are the two people who engaged in said relationship. Both will have their own recollections of events — it’s natural to assume that one version may differ slightly than the other. I can imagine that putting your entire marriage on display for the world — even as Hollywood’s finest — would be rather difficult. It’s curious, isn’t it? We’re led to believe in our early years that Hollywood’s finest are something we must aspire to be like or admire for their talents and accolades. That’s all fine and well, but this particular lawsuit reminds us once again that no matter if you’re Johnny Depp or the guy down the street — we all have our own shit, to put it bluntly. We tell ourselves we’ll quit that bad habit “eventually.” We say the cruelest things in our weakest moments to the people we “love” the most because they’ll always forgive us when we say “sorry,” and pretend that we have no control over our own thoughts, words, and actions, and we make excuses for bad behavior to those who are willing to indulge it.
We learn these behaviors at an early age — I think most of us can recall an incident or two which sticks out from our childhood. There’s no competition when it comes to trauma — and there’s no story that’s too seemingly meaningless to not be told. I don’t really care to hear how much money had someone had growing up — I care to know what they remember and why they feel it sticks out to them. Why does that nagging trauma always rear its’ ugly head when a similar situation (or so we think) comes our way? The older I get, the less I feel we have any idea what we’re doing, on a societal level — when it comes to accepting ourselves as humans. Fragile, chaotic, unpredictable humans. Now more than ever, I see the need for deeper discussions about what it means to be a human — and my current focus is that of emotions and how they play into the inner workings of our collective existence. Why do we do the things we do? Why do we so easily repeat the very same patterns that we know HURT others along with ourselves? Again, just my opinion here, but I think part of the problem is that societal attempts to “heal” end up exposing the deeper roots of how cruel humans can be (RE: the #MeToo movement, Hollywood, Amber Heard’s infamous Op-Ed, and the lies she told,” which are now being challenged for defamation in court — and why I’m writing this article).
What do the “stories” of society show us?
The “instant fix” is so engrained in our society, at this point I’m not sure what abandonment of that would look like. It’s possible, but it’s so deeply entrenched within our lifestyles. The only way to get over that messy but crucial piece is to go through it. If *the media* wanted you to reflect in a real way, they’d stop telling you how to do it, and we’d likely not even be here. I’m rambling — let me clarify. Let me know if you recognize any of the following:
We numb ourselves with opiates and alcohol to avoid the haunting memories of traumas relived. We seek out approval from those who only demand more once they see that we’ll do whatever it is that they ask and more, only to be mocked again, by ones we love. We cling to any semblance of a healthy relationship, even when it’s clearly not, because deep down, we’re afraid that what was once thriving and alive is now rotting and destroyed — and there’s nothing we can do about it. We blame everyone else but ourselves when confronted with the consequences of our actions (or inaction), and push away those who dare hold us accountable for the very same things we likely told them to challenge us on at some point in the past. We “fight” for a love that’s unrequited, created only in our heads as some sort of coping mechanism. We convince ourselves that various concessions we make along the way might “finally prove” our loyalty and devotion, only to be sacrificing our own integrity and sense of self. For what? What is it that we’re fighting for — and why are we fighting for ourselves LAST?
If this all seems chaotic — that’s because it is. Life’s messy; no need for a sexy — (in terms of getting the attention of the “general public”) — public trial to prove that. Having said that, I understand the Johnny Depp archetype represents another yearning for the “hero,” — the guy who stuck it to the man. Amber Heard’s character represents to me — the archetype of a cold, manipulative and unstable woman who uses her sexuality to heal her own wounds, fill her own voids, and create her own lies. Amber Heard likely repeated behavior she witnessed as she allowed herself to be driven to rage — and what that looks like depends on the person. Johnny Depp’s use of drugs isn’t something to judge — more-so to factor in (logically) within the context of their relationship. Of course there’s a narrative being cast — let’s go further than that. It’s clear that Johnny Depp was cast in an unfavorable light — one that he’s been willing to accept, aside from the reasons discussed in this defamation suit. There are clear examples of which, in my opinion, point to the arguments he makes and vindicates him of what he’d been accused of, from my basic understanding. His mother’s treatment toward his father, Depp admitted, taught him at an early age that saying the wrong thing could ruin the day. Rather than fighting back, escaping the situation was the only way the noise would stop. His mom’s medication became his escape.
You could argue that Amber’s interactions with Johnny reflected an inner rage that many of us know all-too-well: addiction. His interactions were likely in part to learned habits and behaviors that were never treated aside from self-medication. Nerve pills for mom helped with his nerves too. It makes sense to me that someone with a childhood like Depp’s would react in the way that Heard chastised him for doing — “leaving.” But it makes sense that he wanted to hide away because he admitted to seeing his father do the same thing. For years, his father tolerated the verbal and (likely) physical abuse from his mother — staying stoic and quiet, only acting out against inanimate objects. One day, his father finally packed up and left. His mother fell into a deep depression, attempting suicide before Johnny reached the age of 21. It’s a lot, I can imagine, to see your own mother try to end her life after being told that your father had just moved out one day, without warning. He recounted driving to his father’s workplace, only to be told “he was the man now,” — leading to a sense of resentment over the years. Later on, of course, he learned of the “other side” — another unfortunate consequence of our failure as humans to communicate with one another without expectation.
Yet as many of us know too well, it’s not so easy to say goodbye to your abuser when they’re a parent or someone you once fell in love with or trusted. It’s not easy to leave once you understand the weaknesses of someone you love.
My opinion, but I do want to include something else in this discussion that’s not discussed enough — Heard’s seemingly incessant need for control in her personal relationships became apparent to Depp once a routine had been broken. For some, routines provide comfort within the general uncertainty of life. Routines create a sense of safety — but the fallout from broken routines or changes in the matrix, can wreak havoc on the lives of those around them. Addiction is predictable in its’ ability to ruin you internally, even if no one on the outside ever notices it — the external effects of addiction, however, are unpredictable — even in their predictability. Consistently inconsistent becomes the norm — and the person on the receiving end learns to adapt. Loyalty blinds us into thinking we’ve gotta stay to help them through the addiction — we think they’ll finally change after telling us “sorry” for the millionth time.
It’s unfortunate that someone with an abusive nature, like Amber Heard’s, is whittled down to such a minimal and superficial take (she was a gold-digger!) — I mean, maybe, but it’s clear there’s a lot of deep shit going on here — and the trial resembles a reflection on the state of the human condition if nothing else, to me. Just like addiction, abandonment is something that can consume you without realizing the ways in which it manifests itself in life. Fear of abandonment can lead to controlling and manipulative behavior on the most subtle of levels — gaslighting, protection, and self-soothing measures are taken to alleviate the pending doom that comes with loving someone who you always feel is just one step away from finally leaving and calling it quits. No amount of reassurance or love can convince you of this when the fear of abandonment consumes the otherwise trusting human being. Sadly, Amber Heard’s inability to recognize this behavior led to many of the behaviors seen in Johnny Depp. I empathize with both of them, sadly — abuse is never okay — addiction is traumatic — no one really wins. The best thing you can do, is do what brings you peace. I’d love to walk away from investing time into understanding this with a better sense of acceptance. I hope you’ll do the same.
In Part II, I’ll discuss the “highest of the highs and the lowest of the lows” — and how that ultimately defines the terms of engagement within the relationship — and how things typically go south from here. If you’re still reading with me at the end here — thank you. This is cathartic.