As the Johnny Depp and Amber Heard defamation court trial is nearing its end, I cannot help but feel a feeling of deep sorrow for both parties. Both survived early childhood traumatic experiences. Each accuses the other of abuse akin to that suffered as a child from their respective parents.
It is interesting to observe that they struggle to deal with each other’s coping or survival mechanisms. The three most well known coping mechanisms that we all fall prey to are: – fight, flight and freeze. What happens when we fully engage in two conflicting coping mechanisms?
Johnny’s way of dealing with conflict with Amber is to flee from the perceived dangerous environment. He chooses this option as a safety for the other person and himself. He resolves the problem with other flight mechanisms in the form of his addictions and substance use and abuse.
It is different when dealing with his own emotions at war. He is seen as being destructive, fighting with himself and expressing his feelings of anger and frustration.
Amber’s way of dealing with conflict with Johnny is to fight. She needs to find a resolution and talk things out. Her frustration rises when the dispute cannot get resolved.
She needs to resolve problems and then create formations of beliefs to fit her needs. She feels hurt when she is not heard, seen or acknowledged for her views and experiences the disconnection of Johnny’s flight behaviour as disrespect and abuse.
The difference in behaviour patterns increases the frustration of both parties. Johnny feels attacked by Amber’s fight behaviour, and Amber feels deeply wounded by Johnny’s flight behaviour. They cannot find common ground between these two conflicting behaviour patterns.
While the trial lays bare the vulnerability in a relationship and the full force of domestic abuse, the suffering of early childhood trauma is displayed. These two beautiful people have lost more than they gained with this public trial. Both are engaged in survival at all costs public court trial.
It is not up to us to not engage with the jury’s role of declaring a win or lose of either or both parties.
The lesson for us should be to learn that childhood trauma from abuse, when not healed, holds a force of continued abuse. Neither Johnny nor Amber set out to hurt the other party. On the contrary, they wanted to support each other to heal from their pain and found it impossible. You cannot heal another through your pain.
Your childhood experiences do not need to define who you are. You can work through and heal from your traumatic experiences to create a different outcome for your future. You can determine who you are through the personal growth gained when you choose to heal from trauma.