This may be a bit of a long one. I’m going to start talking about the Johnny/Amber trial, which I know everyone is talking about for good reason – but the thing that pulled me out of my years of dormancy on my blog for this is how I’ve been self-assessing why it’s so impactful on me personally, so I’ll got into that at the end too.
For those who run across this and have zero idea who I am – well, honestly, I’m not really that important in the grand scheme of things so it largely doesn’t matter. But because I know some people will want to know some demographical information to get a quick glance at me as a person: I am an asexual lesbian woman. I could not possibly be less interested in men. I write LGBTQIA+ stories for the most part, and I am all about people being able to be true to themselves. It becomes too rambling to go further into that but just know that truth is incredibly important to me, and when I consider the concept of equality, it’s important to me that it’s equal for everyone, not just whichever demographic is convenient for an ulterior motive or agenda at the time.
Like many people, I’ve been following the Johnny Depp/Amber Heard defamation trial happening in Virginia. For future reference, at the point I’m writing this, week 3 has ended, Johnny finished his testimony, and people are saying Amber is going to go on the stand tomorrow or early next week.
I very much believe Johnny was the victim and Amber was the abuser. For full disclosure, I am absolutely disgusted not only with her being so abusive – but how on top of that she not only forced him into a situation where he was seen as the abuser (doing all the things to her that she actually did to him, when she wasn’t just lying entirely about situations like the sexual assault) but she also tried to destroy his life, and then on top of that went around in public speaking on behalf of abuse survivors.
I cannot overstate how abhorrent I find that. I’ve felt for decades now that it’s bullshit when people say they care about equality, but then they only apply the concept of equality when it’s convenient for them. Yes, women are absolutely victims of men in abuse. But also yes, men are absolutely victims of women in abuse. And the same goes for female/female, male/male, and any variation there within or outside of the cis-scope with nonbinary, trans, and all variations that exist now or in the future for gender identity, sexuality, just identity in general.
I’ve been quiet for so many years on so many things I’ve wanted to speak about, because it just feels exhausting to me. I’ve convinced myself that my voice doesn’t matter; that I have nothing of value to say that won’t be said by someone else – even as I know, objectively, that can’t possibly be true. We all have our own life experiences, and there are some aspects I’m in kind of a unique position about where it probably would be interesting for others to hear my take. But I silence myself nonetheless, again and again, because I just don’t have the emotional energy to deal with it all — to fight for my voice to be heard, to fight for it to be validated, as it feels like I’d have to do.
I wasn’t originally really aware of any of this trial. I knew nothing about Amber Heard years ago. Johnny Depp – I only really knew a couple things about him. Years into watching movies, I discovered that some of these very different characters I liked were all played by Johnny Depp. That may seem completely obtuse, but I’m not always the best with faces–and so many actors retain a certain set of mannerisms across their characters that once I know who plays one character, in all their other roles, regardless of the context of the character, some part of me in the back of my mind while watching is saying, “This is so-and-so playing this part.” It doesn’t at all mean they’re bad actors – far from it. And it doesn’t mean I can’t or don’t love the movie or story or characters or any of that – far from it. It’s just a thing on some level my brain acknowledges with little to no consequences other than just noticing it. Maybe it means I am a little more likely to remember their name when asked for what actor I like, because I remember they played x number of roles, because I was always in some form so aware it was them playing it.
Johnny is one of very few actors where I just did not connect across his movies for some time that it was the same actor. He did such a good job, in my mind, becoming the characters or roles that I didn’t have that thought going, “Oh, this is Johnny Depp playing this character” – I just thought of it as “This character is doing this thing right now.” When I eventually realized that several movies I liked, and characters I remembered clearly from them, all were the same actor — I had a moment of, “Wait, what??”
So, after that, I did consider him to be an actor I liked, but because he fell into roles so well, I pretty much never remembered to name him as an actor I liked because my brain just kind of forgets details or glosses over things and sometimes I forget connections I made.
Years ago, back when I still had cable TV and watched it regularly, I remember I watched some behind the actor-type show. I honestly remember very little about it, other than it was about Johnny Depp, it talked a little bit about his history but I don’t think much, it talked about his relationships – at the time he was with Winona still or had recently broken up? Maybe? dude I really don’t remember – and it showed him just doing whatever. I remember so little about the content of the show itself; but what I remember very clearly is I had a very good impression of him as a human being. He seemed gentle, kind, caring, and yeah, a bit eccentric/weird in ways – but everyone seemed to see him as a good soul. I also remember it coming up that he was a bit of a romantic–something about why he wasn’t rushing into marriage because he wanted marriage to be forever, and he didn’t want that pressure on the relationship. Because he’d been married before and tried proposing before and they didn’t last forever, and the romantic in him wanted it to. Something along those lines. More importantly, from what I observed in the video (and, knowing me at the time, probably extra research I did afterward to look up if the show was biased because he seemed so nice in it) – what I saw was a person, a human being, I genuinely liked, and felt especially would deserve the benefit of the doubt. Everyone does, but some people I give extra credence to because of their positive patterns of behavior.
When the Amber Heard allegations first came out, I don’t even know how soon I saw it. I just know at some point I was aware of it and I distinctly remember thinking, “Wow, that seems incredibly out of character for Johnny.” It didn’t make sense to me at all based on what I’d seen in that video, or the little I knew of him. But at the same time, of course that video could have been biased after all, although I truly didn’t believe it was; I truly believed that was who he was. So the next thought was that it was, of course, possible he had somehow massively changed as a person in the years since. That also seemed like way too huge of a change considering he’d been in the industry for years when I watched that video, meaning if he was really as terrible as he was being made to seem, I would’ve expected it to have come out beforehand through rumors/etc. And I remembered him being a romantic so much, or just something positive about the way he looked lovingly at relationships, that him being a domestic abuser was about literally the last thing I’d ever think to see. So it still seemed strange. My next thought was, “Well, this really just seems so unbelievable for Johnny, the little I know of him – but, if alcohol is involved, people can act completely differently when intoxicated than when not. Same with drugs.” I still thought it seemed weird, because I was pretty sure him drinking or using drugs wasn’t a brand new thing, and his previous partners all said he was a gentleman – but you never know how things can change in a person’s brain chemistry, so who knows.
My ultimate initial feeling was it seemed so incredibly bizarre to consider Johnny doing anything even close to any of this that, if it was indeed the truth, then the only explanation must be that he was incredibly mentally ill from his substance abuse, to the point that it had changed him into an entirely new human being when under the influence, and therefore he desperately needed help. I felt sad for him, because it seemed like such a long way to fall as a person from what I’d seen of him before.
So I felt like the allegations were confusing and surprising, but I didn’t have a strong thought either way on the veracity of them. My default reaction if someone claims abuse is to listen, and to look for the signs, and if I don’t see them or am unaware of them, then make no judgment because it doesn’t mean it did or did not occur – it simply means I have no way of knowing. Until proven otherwise, in a situation specifically like Amber/Johnny with my having some knowledge of Johnny and none at all of Amber, I felt sad for both sides because toxic and abusive relationships aren’t good for anyone.
But I didn’t otherwise know what to think. I assumed Amber was probably telling the truth because who just comes out and lies about that in that manner? But if she was telling the truth, something had to be very wrong with Johnny where he needed help (instead of or in addition to condemnation, depending on the details) – so it was then very sad for both of them. And upsetting. And she of course would understandably be upset and, if she was being hurt, getting out of the relationship was very good for her.
At the same time, some part of me was also thinking about how male victims of domestic violence, especially by a woman, are rarely believed or even listened to – so some part in the back of my mind wondered if possibly there was more to the story? That would maybe track more with what I knew of Johnny? But I didn’t know and I didn’t research because other stuff was going on in my life, and I couldn’t do anything about any of it. I liked Johnny as an actor, had an impression of him as a good person from that video, but I was distracted by other things going on personally and just didn’t follow any of it, as I didn’t follow any other celebrity stuff that may have been happening at the time. The only reason I noticed that at all was solely because I knew I liked Johnny, so I noticed when accusations were said against him; otherwise I wouldn’t have even noticed that much.
I didn’t pay a lot of attention to the news, especially celebrity news or tabloids, for years. Well, I still don’t, and never really have actually. So I didn’t know about all the stuff being said about him here and there; I vaguely knew of some things, still thought it seemed so weird compared to how he had been, but it just further made me think he must be incredibly ill then and someone seriously needs to intervene and help. I didn’t see any of the stuff with Amber being a spokeswoman for ACLU, with her being with the MeToo movement, I don’t think I even saw anything about the sexual assault allegations. Not that I recall anyway. I mostly only vaguely knew about Johnny things because of movies – people wanting to kick him from the Fantastic Beasts enterprise, maybe a whisper here or there about Pirates, things like that. I remember people talking about the dog/Australia apology video, and how it looked like they were being held hostage, and people were saying it was further proof that Johnny was abusing Amber because of how awkward it looked or something. I do recall seeing at least part of that video – and by that point I was just assuming maybe I’d been wrong about Johnny – or maybe he was just that sick.
I’m always not only willing – but in some ways, often looking for excuses – to believe I’m wrong about something, no matter what I feel about it. I always think that it’s my fault for not doing more research, my fault for not knowing more, my fault for everything. So I try not to make hardline decisions or opinions on things unless I have reason to know for an absolute fact what exactly did and did not happen, why and when and how, and all other variations of information I can collect. But that’s an almost impossible standard to meet – and even then, if someone were to come to me with additional information I hadn’t been aware of previously, I’ll listen to it or try my best to do so, and I’ll take it into consideration, and that may result in me completely flipping my opinion 180 if I determine some fundamental part of my previous opinion or decision was flawed or uninformed.
It’s just…. natural to me to assume there’s always something else out there with more information that may change my mind, so I try to be fair if possible in my reactions to things. Obviously there are times I have emotional reactions to things, times my frustration or impatience or temper or whatever gets ahead of my mouth, and I rant or vent about something as if I had all the information, or as if the information I have must be 100% correct even if I don’t know for certain it is. But once that rush of emotion passes, I always try to reflect on it, and keep an open mind to future information, and really question myself about if what I thought or said was truly fair, or if I was being biased and unfair in my emotional state. I typically try to verbally address that bias or reflection at the time or later, but there are times it’s just not possible or it’s so awkward to bring up later that I get my anxiety going about what is more damaging to the other person — letting lie that not-fully-correct-or-fair thing I said whatever time period ago?, or letting it slide so I’m not bringing it up again and potentially upsetting them way later?
Even my own life…. I feel like I’m not an expert on myself or my life, because what I perceive of myself or my actions will never be the full story. Surely, it’s as important or more important to know how I affect others around me? So if asked to explain who I am as a human being, I can talk about my values or what I try to do or tend to do, but I am always worried that maybe I’m wrong, maybe I’m delusional even when I know I’m not – maybe, maybe, maybe, all the way down the whirlpool into silencing myself once again. Just in case I say or do something wrong. Just in case I hurt someone. Even by just being me.
That kind of thought process featured heavily in why I felt like I wasn’t sure exactly what happened, and I doubted my own impressions because 1) objectively it is very possible and even plausible that what I’d seen or heard to give me a good impression was just due to good PR, and 2) even if what I’d seen/understood was 100% correct, that still didn’t mean there couldn’t be circumstances in which the person I “knew of” even vaguely was not the same person behind closed doors.
So I don’t think I commented on any of this at any point, publicly or possibly even privately very much.
At some point along the way I ran across a video on YouTube mentioning some information about Amber/Johnny, and I vaguely recall it had some audio clips with Amber and Johnny maybe, or maybe it was talking about her prior domestic violence arrest, or something. [In retrospect I assume it was Incredibly Average but maybe not] Whatever it was, it made me think even more that the entire story seemed pretty surprising and confusing, and so more and more I was thinking about how men aren’t believed or listened to in cases where they’re the victim of violence, especially by a woman, and it made me wonder more and more – what is the full story? Is this really all there is or is there more?
I didn’t know anything about the UK trial, the divorce stuff, the donation declaration, even the upcoming US trial — none of it. If I knew, I definitely forgot because this all kind of came out of nowhere for me.
I don’t even remember what got me into watching some of the coverage recently – I think one of the true crime channels I follow on YouTube mentioned it, or maybe YouTube recommended me a video. Whatever the case, in the past few weeks, I have become very educated on this case – but more importantly, the history of everything leading up to it, and now even the sheer insanity going on behind the scenes with the level of money, power, influence, and just overall weight that Johnny has to fight against for his voice to be heard – and to be heard fairly. Every time I think things can’t get any crazier, they do. In incredibly shocking ways. The UK trial alone is absolutely crazy to learn more about in the background – the connections between the judge and Amber’s team, to the point that I cannot for the life of me fathom how the judge wasn’t disallowed from presiding over the case for the sheer level of conflict of interest alone.
What at first seemed to be a really sad and frankly shitty case of a woman abusing her husband and then blaming him for abusing her, has turned into something with ties and connections to so many big names and companies and connections that it’s insane. Let’s put it this way: 2 of the people who have previously backed Amber are some of the most powerful, wealthy, and/or influential people in the world. And that’s not even the end of it. There are mega powerful organizations who appear to have colluded with Amber in order to destroy Johnny simply so they can move forward their own agenda. With the level of power and influence she’s had behind her, it’s no wonder he’s been absolutely buried. It’s no wonder he feels like he’s all but lost his life. And it’s no wonder he had to wait so long, fight so long, just to be heard in any sort of a somewhat objective manner – to even just tell his side.
I normally would have thought someone was being a bit conspiratorial or dramatic if they tried to say this trial has so far-reaching of implications. I would have thought it was hyperbolic to suggest that this story is more than a very sad and upsetting case of violence in a relationship. But it turns out from everything I’ve seen/heard (and fully believe, especially after extra research beyond the trial) – everything shown about how the violence against Johnny physically, verbally, and mentally, was so much worse than I had ever imagined…. and now, even that level of abuse turns out to only one part of the story.
It’s already awful and horrible and just fucking disgusting what happened to Johnny in his relationship, and how he was made to feel voiceless afterward. But then on top of that for Amber to coopt movements supporting and representing real victims/survivors when she in fact is the fucking abusive person– I cannot overstate how much I loathe that. I absolutely fucking hate people who falsely claim something for personal benefit, especially when it deals with any sort of real-life serious, very important topic like abuse, assault – and, she isn’t doing this but other people do this in totally different cases: mental illnesses, everything.
I try to remain compassionate and sympathetic to people. Even if something or someone manages to push me to a point where I am beyond myself with anger or disgust toward it/them, I still try to always step back when I can and assess my reaction. How much of it is objectively fair, and how much of it is informed by my own bias or sympathies?
In Amber’s case, just solely looking at her as a human being, I feel bad for her that her mind is in such a state of uproar, and her life experiences had such power, that she lives the way she does; that she has to experience life this way; and that she therefore does such irrational things yet believes them to be rational. It’s very sad to think about being so messed up mentally but not only not being able to see it, but even believing yourself to be fully in the right – because inevitably, that will push people away, and if a greatest fear of hers is to lose people, it’s very sad that her own mind has turned her into the enemy of her actual dream or goal.
That’s very sad to me, including in terms of how difficult this all must be for her to sit through this silently, listening to people point out all the awful things she did or said. I can have empathy for that. That would be difficult for any human being, and if she’s so sick she doesn’t even realize she’s sick, that’s just sad.
However, what she’s feeling now sitting in court listening to these things a few hours a day? Johnny had to live with that for literal years, from every single angle possible, while losing everything in his life as a result. That would be hell. And the biggest difference between Johnny and Amber is that what everyone is pointing out about Amber is the truth of her, therefore exposing all her lies and manipulations; but what Johnny dealt with for years were not only lies, but in some cases his own fucking abuse story coopted and weaponized against him by his abuser.
Think about that for a second.
Think about being violated by someone you loved, someone you trusted, and then not only having to deal with that (especially as a man, who societally are told they’re not allowed to be victims or have emotions) – not only that, but then having the person who violated you run around publicly taking your survivor story and twisting details of it so the violator is the violated. So the pain and injuries and abuse you lived through for years, not only now need to be figured out mentally which is in itself a huge prospect – but now, your own pain, injuries, and abuse, are being accused against you. That bruise you sustained from being hit by someone you love? The one your loved one was already gaslighting you into believing was your fault? Now, to the public eye, not only does it not exist on you, not only does your abuse mean nothing to the point that it never happened – but also now there’s suddenly a bruise on your abuser, who says you gave it to them; who says you are the aggressor. And now you, the victim, are being called all the things you wished you could call your abuser. You can’t tell people you’re abused because no one would have believed you from the start, you feel – but especially now with the full weight of society and powerful people and entities against you, you especially can’t speak because people will use your pain against you like your former loved one did. They will tell you not only it didn’t exist, but you’re disgusting for suggesting it did, and everything that happened and is happening to you is completely your fault. You deserve every awful thing you ever get. You may as well die.
It’s gaslighting on top of gaslighting on top of cruel and malicious manipulation for, ultimately, no reason whatsoever other than someone’s hubris, mental instability, possessiveness, and unjustified resentment or rage. It is the ultimate abuse by the abuser. A way to not only make you feel voiceless as you were before, but actually make you globally voiceless as well.
If you haven’t been following this as closely – or you have but you’ve mostly just seen the trial, know of the things going on there, and don’t know some of the things I’m referencing from the past – then I recommend you check out a few channels. You’re going to see some of the channels were badmouthed on social media recently by Amber Heard supporters, but it is my current belief (based on all the evidence I have seen, watched, heard) that those accusations at least in the course of this specific topic of Johnny Depp’s situation – are nothing more than further manipulation, gaslighting, and in some cases outright lies. I have to imagine that some of Amber’s supporters are doing so in a way where they genuinely believe in Amber; they aren’t trying to use this situation to further their own agendas, and therefore are cherry-picking what they can from Amber to try to drown out any dissenting voices. Rather, they are just trying to help in a situation that they see as very clearly one direction – and in that direction, yes, it would be understandable to want to help. But my personal view is those who feel that way are simply unaware of a lot of the background information that has piled up over the years, and can be seen unedited, researched, and heavily documented or connected online.
I have not seen everything on these channels about Johnny’s case – and have only watched recent things for the most part (last year or two primarily). I don’t know anything about what may or may not be on the channels in the past; I know a little bit about the people themselves but not a ton. So do keep in mind that, while I believe the information being presented because it fits so perfectly with everything else, if you need to do extra research of course you should do so. I know that I am always willing to change my mind on something when I get new information, so I personally think these are very likely reliable sources because I have seen information mentioned across multiple sources which corroborate each other, and I know I didn’t go into this blindly believing one way or another. But you of course should always be critical when watching new information, and see if you believe it does or does not fit; if it is true, not true, or nuanced; and any other assessment. And, of course, should more information come out in the future I’m unaware of now that drastically affects the credibility of their information, I will take that into account. But given that a lot of their evidence I’ve seen are surveillance videos, court documents, and more – generally, I feel it is reliable. These are, however, please note – Johnny support channels. I don’t think that discounts their evidence at all; after watching videos and the like with them, I find them believable. But I will mentioned that from the start just for context and transparency.
All of these channels have been following Johnny’s situation for years, some longer than others. They championed Johnny’s side even when it was unpopular, because they believed in it so strongly.
ThatUmbrellaGuy: https://www.youtube.com/c/ThatUmbrellaGuy – has extra information I don’t see elsewhere, references some really interesting connections and background information or stories or evidence in his videos and livestreams. This is the best channel to go to for in depth information overviewed and tied together. He also seems to have some sort of semi-direct link to information from Johnny’s side that no one else has or breaks in the same way. **Note from the future, 5/21/2022 (between day 19 and 20)–I’d been watching TUG as a main source of information as the trial went on, and watched a lot of his other videos. I especially recommend him now. But also, he’s the one who ended up being named in the trial itself as having Adam Waldman as a connection, so turns out my belief that his sources were legit was actually correct.**
Incredibly Average: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCg0C-N_MPYYOXyF4T3jMxNQ – This is probably(?) the place I saw a YouTube video forever ago with audio clips or something. Brian from Incredibly Average has been doing this for I think possibly longer than anyone, and he provides tons and tons of reconstructive information, he is the one who first released all those audio clips and did the bars of text with profiles on the screen transcribing conversations that we now see all over the internet. He painstakingly reconstructed the full layout of the ECB based on multiple partial blueprints and created a high quality one of his own in order to track the various stories of the various people living in the penthouses. **Future note: he was also named in the Adam Waldman part of the trial, as ThatBrianFella**
Popcorned Planet: https://www.youtube.com/c/PopcornedPlanet – background information, interviews, recaps, etc. Guests have included exclusive interviews, including one recently from a neighbor in the ECB who personally met Johnny and Amber and others; as well as ongoing guests representing legal, psychological, and other views. ((I will note that I don’t love his presentation style as much as the others – he has a lot of guests and there can be some accidental speaking over of them and etc that can feel a little off-putting at times for me personally, plus the fact that there are multiple people on screen at once with such a busy background image can sometimes feel a little bit stressful or chaotic – but he has interesting info that should definitely be checked out if you’re interested in this topic, and he absolutely means well and has knowledge))
Colonel Kurtz: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCAxriNBFZQPTsj9vBOSnhkA – looks more at the psychological side of things, and as a layperson has been assessing her feelings of the trial. She sometimes talks to a lawyer too. One thing I found really interesting is that in 2021 she was looking at Amber’s friends on social media, giving historical context of their lives, and how that may affect how they interact with Amber and why they are friends, and what that would mean for the trial.
There’s just an absolutely insane amount of information about things going on in the background in the past and currently, that even though I thought about putting some of the key pieces here in this post, it just feels overwhelming and impossible.
**Note from the future: seriously, go to TUG/ ThatUmbrellaGuy’s channel to get tons more info about what’s been going on in the background all along. And if you’ve never watched Incredibly Average’s videos, you should. You will definitely recognize some of the same source material as is presented in trial.
Also, I now know that the AH supporters have been doing way tf sketchier stuff than I initially thought, and that there’s just a huge amount of things going on behind the scenes in the past, in the present, likely in the future…. I now know there are even things like an open FBI investigation into witness intimidation (of Johnny’s witnesses, seemingly on AH’s side), and more things I can’t even remember right now. TUG will have all the info on his channel if you want it — and if somehow he doesn’t, check the other channels I mentioned.
Lastly, I’ve now seen Amber’s testimony, the cross-examination, the redirect, her witnesses… all of that. I’ve seen even more evidence backing up what I’d felt earlier about Johnny being the victim of her abuse, and her not only outright lying to the media, but now also constantly perjuring herself in this court and other courts — and even making others do the same. Right now, I don’t have the fiery frustration in my heart talking about this, so I will say this: she’s very, very ill, and she needs an absolutely insane level of help. I want to feel sympathy or empathy for her because even for someone not as ill as she is, this would all be difficult to go through.
But I can’t feel that for her very much, if even at all, because she did all of this to herself. Every single step of the way, over and over and over again, she had so many chances to make a different choice, to make a better choice, to change her narrative, to not do such monstrous things. Every single step, she could have at least shown some level of regret, or self-awareness, or even just a hint of indication that maybe she was struggling against it internally and her brain chemistry was making her do this but she was trying, maybe, even a tiny bit, to stop it.
But I don’t see that in any step of the way, in any form, on any level. I see malicious actions every second, manipulation from before the beginning of their relationship, and even in her past relationships she had abusive behavior. She lied back then too; intimidated those around her, made false claims that the reasons things were happening was because other people were -phobic/-ist instead of acknowledging that other people were simply telling the truth, and she didn’t like that her “truth” didn’t match reality and their truth, so she decided to attack and blame and cause pain and injury and havoc rather than take responsibility for ANYTHING of herself. Not her actions, not her words, nothing.
And even taking into account her childhood wasn’t great — well, neither was Johnny’s, and he didn’t turn out like her. Or, even more closely — neither was her sister Whitney’s, and Whitney not only didn’t turn out like her, but she also grew up to continually be abused by Amber to the point that I truly believe she’s scared of her, and she’s being manipulated into doing what Amber tells her to do because Amber is too volatile and dangerous to cross.
It’s sad to have to say, but at this point I have a difficult time seeing Amber as a victim of anything — even things back in her childhood she probably was a victim of — because she has lied, manipulated, abused, and gaslit so much that I just can’t take anything she claims as being credible anymore. I am trying to continually push back against that natural reaction, in her childhood primarily, because I know part of that is my frustration and disgust over this entire thing as I mentioned way before. And because I have huge amounts of empathy and sympathy for Johnny, who didn’t deserve any of this. If Amber had wanted to go scorched Earth on someone in Hollywood, surely there were people who actually had skeletons in their closets that may have turned Amber into some sort of karmic retribution for their actions–at least then maybe, despite how awful she was being, she would have been doing something that person deserved on some level to receive. But she didn’t choose a person like that. She chose Johnny. So even that caveat of karmic retribution not only is not accurate, it’s even worse because his karma should have been something good and kind and loving and generous coming back to him. On the other hand, now that I think about it — maybe it did, in the end. She can’t get anyone to show at court for her other than two people who are clearly compromised, while he has people going back decades willing to speak up for him publicly and even in court under penalty of law. Because they are telling the truth, and ultimately the truth always wins out. At least, I like to think so.**
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So, here’s where we pivot a little. Originally, I thought this would be longer part of this post, but maybe it won’t be after all.
As I’ve found myself spending hours watching straight court footage of the trial, highlights and recaps, assessments and reviews, and older videos with further evidentiary information of note – I couldn’t help wondering why I was so invested in this. Obviously I would care because of the topic and how it touches not only on my frustration of the inequality of listening to or believing victims of different demographics, but also how it was allowing me to challenge my impression of Johnny from years ago and see if I’d been right, wrong, or somewhere in the middle. Obviously, the hypocrisy would have been maddening to me from what she has done to what she has said and even beyond her, all the other hypocrisy built into this from so many organizations or people connected to it directly or indirectly. Obviously, I would care about the genuine truth getting out there no matter what it was.
Obviously, so many things.
It would make sense for me to keep up on it here and there; to spend some time researching; to keep track of the case and the conclusion. But although I watch a lot of true crime on my off time, and have watched full or very long snippets of interrogations or court cases – this is not the sort of thing I would have ever predicted myself to be following so closely, on so many angles, and for which to feel so emotionally invested.
There are many reasons many of us find ourselves in this position, and I’m sure my reasons are similar to others.
But there was something that was just tugging at me, that was bothering me that I hadn’t identified.
My life could pretty much not possibly be more different from Johnny’s, so why was I identifying so much with him? I do tend to be empathetic, so, sure, that would be part of it – but there was something else. Something far deeper, pulling closer to my heart or soul in a way I didn’t initially understand.
But when we finally were able to see Johnny himself testify; when I got more and more information about what was happening in the background, when I saw the way Amber treated Johnny privately vs publicly, or maybe more accurately the ongoing gaslighting, and the feeling that the world is stacked against you if you try to say anything…. when I saw how eventually Johnny just stopped pushing back on some topics because he knew there was no point… when I saw it seemed like it didn’t matter how long you tried to be a good person or were a good person; people immediately are willing to flip or consider flipping if it’s popular at the time… that’s when I realized.
I think, even though Johnny and I are so different, especially since he’s had to endure so much physical abuse his whole life that I’ve never dealt with — when I saw him on the stand, trying to find his words to explain why this hit him so deeply, how it affected him, and seeing how long it took him to be able to feel like he had the ability to speak publicly about anything, and be believed… I think I saw a bit of myself in that.
No, I don’t “think.” I know.
The circumstances are wildly different, and I want to be very clear that what happened to Johnny is billions and billions of times worse than anything that happened with me — but I just. I get it. I fucking get it.
I get how it feels so stressful and confusing to have spent your life trying your best to be thoughtful, kind, caring, nice – or at least doing your best not to be someone who makes everything worse… and then out of nowhere, it seems, something happens that threatens that entire view of you publicly. Not because of your actions, but because of someone else’s–someone close enough to you that it has the ability to shadow you as well. I was very lucky, where Johnny was not. My situation was hugely different to his situation– But still, I get it.
I get how confusing it is to have met a person you thought you knew, you cared about and who cared about you; someone you trusted completely who you believed trusted you… and then over time, they change, and change, until they are nothing at all like the person you first met, you thought you knew, you were loyal to and believed in. I get how you can try working with them, thinking they’re just having a period of time where they’re like this, that things will change, that they’ll be who you knew, or they’re still that person but they’re just having difficulties right now and rather than make things worse, it’s better to just try to be yourself as much as possible while trying to support them becoming again who you believed them to be. I get starting a relationship of some sort seeing everything from one perspective, then at the end of it seeing that your entire world has changed around because of them, and where you ended is nowhere near where you began.
I get (to a far, far less extent) how a very public lie of someone you trusted could feel like such a blow, and how it could rearrange the way you interact with the world.
I get how it feels to be a person who tries to do their best for so long – and then because of this person you’re associated with, because of the things they do or say – or don’t do or say, as importantly, in a lot of cases – how it feels to realize your integrity, the things you believe in so strongly your whole life or for decades, is now called into question because of that person.
Johnny was fully branded the person he was not. Again, I am not saying my situation is ANYWHERE near his. It isn’t. But there are enough parallels that I feel this just–fucking deep empathy, and stress and a bit of catharsis, in seeing him be able to speak.
In some way, it feels like he’s saying things I’ve wanted to say before, but just silenced myself instead. It kind of feels like he gave me back my voice – to the extent that I’m even writing this now, after years of not posting anything on this blog.
There are so many things he mentions or has been implied or referenced as to his feelings at different times that also reflect how I felt at times as well, that it feels kind of uncanny.
In 2018, while Johnny had been dealing for years with allegations, and then was hit even harder with the op-ed that drove this entire case to be… that was the year I learned that my friend, and a co-author of a book series, someone I’d known for something like 15 years online — didn’t exist. I learned that the person I’d spoken to on the phone, the person I’d wrote stories with, I’d traded countless emails with, I’d talked endlessly to on instant messages and whose family I’d even spoken to on DMs as well – didn’t exist, and neither did the family member I talked to. I learned that for all those years, that person had been lying to me – or rather, the people who were behind the person had been lying to me. And not just me–everyone. The world. I honestly have to wonder if also they lied to themselves.
I still don’t fully know the reason, although I have some theories. I also don’t know if any sort of mental health situation was involved, although it feels like surely one has to have been for the dedication involved over so many years. Even privately, to such an extent as to even create and impersonate other human beings to back up the claimed story.
On top of that, I also learned that the person was being manipulative, in some cases abusive, to others. That more had been happening behind the scenes than I’d realized, and people were being hurt without me realizing it.
I learned, for the first time, what gaslighting meant, and learned it applied to my experience.
And although I still find it hard to fully objectively assess, because my natural reaction to anything is to ignore or downplay things done toward me and just try instead to put myself in others’ shoes and be as compassionate or willing to understand as possible… I think it’s possibly, maybe, potentially fair to say I experienced…
I got to this point and asked someone if they thought even mentioning that I felt I related in even the tiniest bit was fair or unfair, and they said I could fairly say I related to specific aspects of it. They mentioned something about their view so far of Johnny, just in passing. This is IN NO WAY saying anything against them – I very much appreciate this person; they’re absolutely awesome. I just thought it was super interesting on my side, the way my brain works – because I was feeling so confident writing this post until I paused to check on the aspect of how to word my experience or how I could fairly view it, and just that one side comment made me lose all energy for writing this. It felt, between one second and the next, that this was all worth me saying at the very least for referencing how these topics being brought to light can be relatable to others even in vastly different circumstances – to suddenly feeling like I have to stop, I can’t finish this, I need to save the draft and walk away rather than finish, and absolutely definitely not post, because I’m not confident in my voice, I’m just–I don’t ever want to hurt anyone, and I’ve become frozen in place over the years but especially since that person, by feeling like anything I say, anything I do, has the potential to have unintended consequences. I feel like I shouldn’t speak, I should never speak, because that’s the only way to ensure I never hurt anyone. I feel like I shouldn’t have a voice, that I just. Should continue to disappear into the shadows and not exist.
This is NOT AT ALL EVEN THE TINIEST BIT what this person I was talking to was intending IN ANY WAY for my reaction to be. Quite the opposite, in fact–they thought it was good for me to say something. So this is absolutely nothing about what they said.
I mention it only because I think it shows how quickly the weather in my mind changes; from sunny day to stormy night–from clarity and warmth and confidence, to uncertainty, and only vague glimpses of understanding of the world around me through the melody of lightning, flickering in the darkness to what feels like an unpredictable and, at times, frenetic beat.
It’s fully indicative of how I am internally. How my feelings can change quickly in my confidence. How long it takes me to work up the confidence or energy to write anything I’m feeling or thinking – and how quickly it can be quashed by my own shift of mind or heart.
I feel like I don’t know anymore what is right, what is wrong, what is true, what is false. What I am feeling, what I am thinking, if it’s objectively fair, if it’s unjust, if I have the right to speak up for myself, or if in speaking for myself I do a disservice to everyone around me by crowding the internet with my meaningless, unimportant, invisible words and feelings when others could be using that space so much more importantly and effectively.
I silence myself because of that, and I feel like surely that has to be fair to the world at large to do so, but then I also see people having no qualms spreading their voice, even if the content of their message is unfair, unkind, unjust, hurtful, misrepresentative, or more. They have the confidence to yell from the rooftops whatever they think or feel in that moment, and they don’t regret it. But I can’t even bring myself to finish a single blog post since 2019 even referencing at all something from 2018. Years of having time to think about things, to work on myself mentally and physically to some extent; years of health changes, more life experiences, expanded viewpoints on some aspects, and the full expectation to continue to grow and shift and change into the future as I learn more information, as I see more perspectives. Years of what should lead to some minor level of confidence to even just speak about small things, and yet I can’t.
I start second-guessing myself. Am I fair in how I feel? Am I not? What if I’m wrong about everything? What if somehow I’m the bad guy all along? What if what I feel or think hurts someone? What if I unintentionally interrupt someone else’s process of coping or understanding themselves or more? What if I destroy someone’s life because I say what I think, just by saying anything about how I felt and feel? What if I’m doing a huge disservice to the world at large by even contemplating trying to not be invisible? What if what I think I believe or know to be fact isn’t at all, can’t be, because I once believed and knew for a fact a close friend existed, that their family and life did too–but I was wrong? I was wrong.
How do I assess the negative impact of myself on the world when I can’t even assess the impact of the world on my life?
I don’t know.
I don’t know.
All I know is, as always, I’m going to mostly finish a post, but then silence myself. I’m going to save this as a draft, and walk away. Until I know if saying anything is making it better or worse for others.
Because, ultimately, I no longer believe in myself.
When I think on it further, I think I doubt myself, my view, my thoughts, my voice, because I know how quickly public opinion shifts so severely. It makes me worry about having to be 100% right in anything I want to say to make sure I can stand by my word when the public inevitably shifts and therefore perhaps the view on anything I reference does too. It’s not that I necessarily care what others think; it’s that I care that I know I’m able to be as honest and genuine as I possibly can be. And if, in my honesty at the moment, I say something that later, after public views of any reference topic shift dramatically (whether fairly or unfairly), becomes something that is harmful to others or slows down their own journeys…..
I can’t. I can’t do that to others. I can’t hurt them that way.
But then, am I hurting myself in an attempt to not possibly, potentially, conceivably, maybe hurt someone else in some form large or small, direct or indirect, at some point in the nebulous future?
I don’t know.
I don’t know.
I just, feel like I never know anything anymore.
-5/1/2022 1:08 pm
5/21/2022, 12:20 pm:
I don’t know exactly why I came back to this post now, 20 days later. Why I felt it was okay to do.
I think maybe part of it is that in the time in between, as I mentioned in my notes earlier, I learned and saw more and more to feel like my feelings were justified; my impression was verified; that objectively, it’s fairer to believe I was being objective to some extent even with my bias, than it is to believe I have to be wrong. Because in the process of saying I have to stay quiet because I’m not right, I would be calling so many other people in the world liars for saying and feeling the same way I do. And I don’t think they are liars. I know they aren’t. So why should I give them a label or validity I’m unwilling to give to myself? In worrying about being fair to others, in a case like this with so much external validation and so much evidence that backs it all up, I have to acknowledge that I should also work to be fair to myself.
I think we all should.
So, now, 20 days later, I will try to finish the thought I stopped myself from finishing before:
I don’t know what the right word is for anything related to my experiences. I feel like I can’t really assess any of this properly, so I will not bother with labeling it, because the label itself doesn’t actually matter. Not for this post, or probably in general. And I hate the idea of saying something that’s untrue; I want to be as honest and accurate as possible, and I just don’t want to say the wrong thing.
Instead, what I’ll say is this: I don’t remember if I had any sort of strong suicidal ideations prior to meeting the person, and given my personality I probably would have ended up feeling that way eventually at points regardless of knowing them. But I think some of the points in my life where I felt it so strongly I made plans, I was researching, I was staying quiet so no one would know because if people knew it would be an inconvenience since they could stop me… I think the intensity of those points were influenced by my relationship with the person (or people, I guess) in question.
And it’s also fair to say that my way of interacting online changed drastically afterward and even along the way during our partnership, as a result of them.
In many ways, I’m not the same person I was before I met them. I think that’s for the better in some aspects, and I am positive I would have changed along the way in some ways regardless because that’s life; that’s growing up and living. But a lot of the negative effects definitely existed–and still do to this day. And I don’t know if the changes I would have had would be the same as happened.
I was always someone who was willing to silence myself if I thought it would help others, but I think in some ways I had more confidence back then, before meeting them. I was young, of course, so that will be a part of it. I had a lot of other things going on internally–believing I wouldn’t live past 18 and being perplexed about what to do when I did; things like that.
I feel like somewhere along the way I started gaining some confidence in my voice, though. I feel like I was becoming more willing to give myself the benefit of the doubt, or to try to be fairer to myself than I had been. I was able to complete projects because someone was there keeping me on track; I started thinking maybe my impressions of the world didn’t always have to immediately be dismissed, because I felt like the person was backing me up at times. Telling me it was okay to feel how I felt. That it was okay to be me.
I’d been very strongly of the opinion that people can and should be themselves–that it’s ok to be different. I was pretty fervently in that boat in some regards already before meeting them; things like alcohol or drugs, which I didn’t drink/use even when everyone around me did; things like being interested in things I was interested in regardless of whether it was popular. Things like changing my entire diet from a young age in a setting that was not super conducive to it at the time, being the only person in my immediately family to do so, and continuing even when so many people around me dismissed it as a phase.
But I doubted myself; the validity of the meaning of my existence, or if my feelings or impressions were fair; if, if, if. Was I making the world worse by existing?, I wondered, or was it okay to live? Could I exist without inherently hurting everyone around me, and if that was the only way, was it fair to continue living when all I was doing was damage to people who didn’t deserve it? To a world that didn’t deserve it, and could use its resources on someone far more valuable and meaningful than me, the asshole who was wasting it?
That person listened to me when I felt safer saying some things online that I hadn’t been able to form verbally– in person or even on the phone.
In some ways, that person gave me a lot of confidence.
In many ways, that person later stole all the confidence I’d gained, and took even more to leave me back in a semi-constant state of doubt.
It probably ultimately doesn’t matter, any of this. This vague overview of my thoughts probably isn’t helpful to anyone else.
But I think it’s important to note that even thinking that, because of this trial, because of the additional 20 days of information, I’m feeling like it’s ok to say any of this even if it doesn’t directly serve to help anyone. I don’t have to identify and verify and justify the value of my thoughts just to say them to someone else publicly. It’s okay to just say something, to explain my perspective, and leave it at that.
Every time I write long posts like this lately, I get so tired. I get 3/4 through the post or thoughts and I feel exhausted; I start feeling like I could fall asleep sitting up; my eyes grow heavy and I yawn and want to lie down. It doesn’t make any sense why that happens. I don’t understand it. It’s not because I’m bored–it’s like, the energy and oxygen just slowly seeps from my body without me noticing, until I am left feeling scoured of the motivation I felt at the start, and instead I just want to sleep. Not out of sadness, anger, anything. I just. Every time end up wanting to sleep.
Maybe it’s a relaxation thing? Maybe it’s a stress thing? Maybe it’s whatever it is.
I guess it doesn’t matter in the end.
Normally at this point I would save the draft so I could read it again another time – make sure it makes sense, make sure I feel like it’s okay to post it, make sure make sure make sure. Especially since I get so suddenly so exhausted I can barely keep my eyes open sitting up, I wonder if anything I’m writing makes sense anymore. I probably spaced out. I’m probably tired. I may be wrong with things I’m saying or thinking or anything, because that self-doubt and self-criticism is always there, ready to gain prominence if I let it.
Whatever you think of the trial, or the people involved — whether you are following it or not– I hope you work to be fair to yourself, I hope you take care of yourself, and I hope you’re doing well. You are a human being and you matter. And if you’re dealing with something traumatic like any of the things they’ve been discussing in the courtroom, then I not only am so sorry to hear that and wish it weren’t the case for you, but I also truly hope you are able to get the help you need and deserve. I hope someone is there letting you know it’s okay to be you, it’s okay to feel what you feel, and it’s not only okay but even wonderful to seek help.
You matter. You are worth it. You are valuable. You are beautiful.
Take care of yourself, please.