Tales from the Infusion Clinic, Special Edition: The Sound of Fury, Part 2 of 4

CONTENT NOTE: Essentially, all the warnings and alerts for readers, especially those who feel they are in a precarious emotional and/or mental state. Bookmark this for later. Or never. Whenever is best for you. In this multi-part post I address various forms of domestic violence and reference other forms of violence. I get personal. I do not write about any abuses in graphic detail, but oftentimes the muted, even mundane details can be the most triggering. And I write about some lasting effects, including mental health/illness crises and self-harm. Take care of yourselves and thank you for reading.

Part II. Dis Closure … a MyGoodWolf exclusive

This time it’s personal! As in, truly personal history. Note cautions above. (Was not easy to post this.)* Continuation of Part I. Did you hear what I Heard?

I am a survivor several times over. Meaning I’ve endured multiple traumas and lived to generally not tell the tale, except in therapy. (And even then …) I have hinted at my trauma history here and there in this erratic blog and some people know bits and pieces of my history, but very few know the whole picture. Those who do are my husband and a couple psychotherapists. So yeah, I can keep a secret! Almost as well as those who took certain information to their graves. My PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) has surged to crisis levels more than once these past few/several years, most recently over the roughly 6-month period this last November-April.

This is not a digression.

Here’s a listing for the first time all in one place. You’ve been cautioned. Not all on this list are traumas in and of themselves, but contribute to an overall environment of instability. Some stuff listed below may be the result of trauma. Some … just needed to be on the list.

◦ I’m the child of parents and a guardian with largely untreated mental illnesses. (My mother was also a victim of malpractice in this regard.)

◦ I’m the child of parents with likewise untreated eating disorders.

◦ I’m the child of a parent and a guardian with debilitating and on a few occasions life-threatening alcoholism. (Also untreated/under-treated)

◦ I’m the child of domestic and sexual violence. I was witness to and subject of these abuses, perpetrated both in person and from afar. Our abuser had a diverse portfolio of tactics. Abuse enabled in part through legal and medical systems.

◦ I was the victim of a sexually and emotionally abusive teenage relationship.

◦ I grew up in an economically depressed area with an undertow of racism, ableism, anti-Semitism, and stark classism. Sometimes, I was the target of prejudice. More often I was witness to bigotry directed at people I liked and folks I loved.

◦ I was a victim of sexual harassment before I knew what to call it. Colored my education, from junior high through college, with the worst offenders being teachers and professors. During my dance career, I also experienced harassment from strangers disguised as fans.

◦ I’m a survivor of suicide loss several times over. Most notably, my mother died by suicide. And a couple mentors. A colleague. The list goes on … surpassing numbers of loved ones who died due to AIDS.

◦ I am mentally ill. Clini D,** bad nerves, and shell shock; i.e., Clinical Depression, Generalized Anxiety, and PTSD. I’ve “entertained” suicidal thoughts more than a few times throughout my 59 years. In therapy/treatment for last 40 years and counting.

◦ I’m a recovered bulimarectic. (Yes, autocorrect, that’s the proper term for a person with bulimarexia, so stop already!) I do still suffer from body dysmorphia. In between is my self-harm … thang. Manifested in different ways. (Mostly past tense. Working on it.)

◦ I’ve lied more often than I care to admit. Usually to keep “secrets” related to the above, at the behest of others, stated or implied, and out of a terror I often could not name. I tend to get caught in other kinds of lies. Except, of course, lies to myself.

◦ I’ve worked with and for victims/survivors of sexual and domestic violence in various settings for half my life now. Somewhat diverse group of adults and teenagers, though majority were female and white. I am an advocate/ally/activist for survivors, doing what I can, when I can, now from my altered reality of early retirement due to disability.

◦ I have no children. I have had no children. I have had 3 miscarriages, an oophorectomy, and a complete hysterectomy (entire uterus, cervix and all). One-ovary menopause was awful! I don’t recommend it.

◦ I’ve literally survived a few near-fatal asthma attacks and one burst appendix yearning to be free! Thank you, AMA medicine! I’ve also been a victim of medical gaslighting and malpractice. Dammit, AMA!

◦ 28 years ago, a man, seemingly under the influence of a psychoactive substance, crashed onto our front porch, shattered a glass lamp, and sliced open my husband’s forehead. While I was on the phone with 911, our dog Joplin chased the man away, saving the hubster! Assailant never caught by authorities. Hubs stitched up nicely. Thanks, AMA doc!

Ornate box turtle spotlighted by sunlight and shadows of wheel spokes
Studs Turtle in a contemplative mood

While there’s much more to me than this list, I have been undeniably shaped by trauma since infancy. (Adverse childhood experiences correlate with later development of autoimmune diseases; I intend to write about that.) I’ve also been molded by directives to keep secret “personal issues” like alcoholism and depression and to deny abuse outright. Not only do I view the world through the lens of one who has survived domestic and sexual violence, but also as one who has endured and witnessed other forms of violence that are pervasive and still largely tolerated, although they’ve become progressively less acceptable over these last 6 decades, at least according to public policy.

As with the George Floyd murder, I began paying much closer attention to the Depp/Heard trial after the small group, come-and-go drug-lounge that is how I like to think of the infusion clinic. Full disclosure: I did not go back and watch any significant portions of courtroom testimony. I read and watched as much as I felt I could safely consume. Then one night, my husband and I saw a clip of Heard’s exclusive interview with Savannah Guthrie on the evening news.

“She’s just so … odd.” [Hubster, aka my life partner]

And there it was. First comment from the love of my life, who to that point had seen but a fraction of the trial coverage and commentary I had. Celebrity scandal is even less his thing than mine. And he’s been concentrating his energies on recovering from hip replacement, as he should. (He’s progressing quite nicely!)

Hub’s comment caught me by surprise. Since when have we been fans of normal? Is watching the evening news a sign of our descent into normalcy? Do we need an intervention?

Up to now we’ve been casual fans of Johnny Depp. We like his weird movies, but not the Disney pirate franchise. Despite eschewing tabloids, celebrity gossip shows, et cetera, we’ve heard tales over the years of Depp behaving in ways ranging from inappropriate to clearly abusive. Tales often spun later to portray Depp as a harmless eccentric, framing his hurtful actions as aberrations, made possible only by consumption of impressive amounts of alcohol and/or drugs. No lasting damage!

Because that’s how a male celebrity off the rails and in the throes of chemical addiction is presented. Especially, a proven cash cow like Depp. (Major misnomer there, eh? Shouldn’t that be cash bull?!) Instead of being painted as a drunken, drug-addled freak lashing out, or an alcoholic/addict in need of anger management and intervention, he’s pictured as a lovable eccentric, hailed for both his macho ability to remain standing after consuming inordinate amounts of alcohol/drugs and his manly stamina through multiple rehab stints. Such heroic personal work! Yet, little to nothing about how any of this affects the people in his life. (We’ll come back to this later.)

Celebrities of lesser stature are painted with an entirely different brush. Women and girls on a separate canvas altogether.

Yes, Amber Heard is a little odd. Plus, some say, she is not a perfect victim — whatever that is. Johnny Depp, who looks great at 59, is extremely odd. His talent, good looks, gender, connections, and well-channeled weirdness have made him a wealthy man, adored by millions around the world. He may also be a very accomplished (spousal) abuser. Not perfect, mind you, just really, really good.

Do I believe Amber Heard? I don’t want to sift through the testimony from the UK trial and/or this US one and risk a major PTSD episode so that I may play pretend juror. I have enough on my plate with my memories. I have reservations, mostly, I think, because I (kinda) hate that the Washington Post op-ed at the center of the US trial was written by folks at the ACLU. Even so … yes, I am leaning in her direction.

Do I believe Johnny Depp?

No.

I mean, are you kidding me? No!

Fuck no!

From my perspective, shaped by surviving and witnessing intimate violence, the image of Johnny Depp presented at trial fits that of a domestic violence offender to a nearly comical degree. He was calm and charming. Personable. Confident and relaxed. Unwavering. Absolute! He never hit her! Never assaulted her! He never started anything; he only defended himself. He never hit her; she started everything. He was always the victim. Excellent use of the DARVO tactic: Deny, Attack, Reverse Victim/Offender!

Johnny Depp easily “justified” abusive and violent language about/or directed to Amber Heard by simply dismissing each as irrelevant, out of context, mere fantasy, a joke between friends, etc. So comfortable were so many with him, that when he admitted to assaulting cabinets and joked about excessive alcohol consumption, many in the courtroom laughed, smiled, and/or nodded. Yes, they were entertained!

And the jury was won over. Somehow the jury felt they “abused each other” and that canceled out the harm, just like double technical fouls in basketball. He was more believable, stable throughout, as you’d expect from a victim. (Say what?!) Amber Heard would sob one minute and turn ice cold the next. The deliberating jury of 5 men and 2 women didn’t know what to make of her. She made them really uncomfortable.

Yup, that’s what we victims/survivors do. Our existence makes you all uneasy. And when we break our silence and speak about our violations and our abusers, we make you all very un-fucking-comfortable. Female types, especially. Trans and other gender nonconforming folks take that discomfort to levels off the charts! Thus, the current hateful legislation around the country.

(I will suppress political rant/digression #4 for now.)

Artistic drawing of woman's lower half of face and chest, tinted blue. Bright light with green tint emanates from mouth, erasing all facial features.
Unspeakable by DÅL|é

*I’ve experienced an array of internal backlash — ridiculous thoughts, awful rashes, hellacious migraines, etc. —between writing and editing this post. And then again, from editing to posting it. Yes, the extreme heat is a factor. As is this — this thing right here I feel the need to do.

**Thanks, John Moe! John Moe is the creator of the brilliant podcast The Hilarious World of Depression and author of a memoir with the same title. After a pandemic-related hiatus, Moe’s podcast resumed in 2021 on a new platform as Depresh Mode. I recommend all! Even if you don’t have Clini D — you poor bastard!😁

Coming up … Part III. When Barry Met Sally

Tales From the Infusion Clinic, Special Edition: The Sound of Fury, Part 1 of 4

CONTENT NOTE: Essentially, all the warnings and alerts for readers, especially those who feel they are in a precarious emotional and/or mental state. Bookmark this for later. Or never. Whenever is best for you. In this multi-part post I address various forms of domestic violence and reference other forms of violence. I get personal. I do not write about any abuses in graphic detail, but oftentimes the muted, even mundane details can be the most triggering. And I write about some lasting effects, including mental health/illness crises and self-harm. Take care of yourselves and thank you for reading.

Part I. Did you hear what I Heard?

The infusion clinic is often my touchstone on how those outside my immediate circle feel about current events. I just happened to go in and sit there, soaking up the hard-to-fully-comprehend juices for a couple hours, the day after George Floyd was murdered, when all of us with assorted chronic maladies brought together by varied infusion needs were still in denial. Most, myself included, couldn’t yet watch the whole 90-second clip being shown then and had no idea the fatal assault lasted over 9 minutes. We could barely say Mr. Floyd had been killed, much less murdered. White and Latina women in the clinic that day, including nursing staff, as most days.

Occasionally, there will be a Black or Asian or Indigenous person in the chairs. That’s primarily based on appearance and my assumptions. Mostly women, the occasional man. Again, just assuming. Could be trans. Non-binary. Intersex. Infusion clinic relationships are like those “single-serving” ones referenced in Fight Club. Except for the nursing staff. Although there’s been some turnover there. There are a couple nurses I quite miss. Ah, the comings and goings of medical personnel.

[Digression #1: One major oversight in Breaking Bad casting: no Native American medical personnel or support staff. In Albuquerque, New Mexico?! Really strains credulity.]

June First I went in for infusion, just hours after the decisions and awards were announced in the Johnny Depp defamation suit against ex-wife Amber Heard and her counter-suit. We all confessed to not watching the daily trial proceedings, available for live streaming.

“Not a fan of drunken pirates!”

“Yeah, no, but the first 2 movies were good!”

“Who’s got the time?”

“Who’s got the spoons?!”

“He’s so weird! But … I don’t know …”

“I do like the Scissorhands movie! Winona Ryder was so young!”

“Not a good idea for my mental health.” [That was from me]

Some had caught snippets here and there, but over the six weeks of the trial — 6 weeks, FFS! — even those of us who vowed to stay away could not avoid the barrage of sensationalistic press coverage and social media frenzy surrounding it.

Yes, truth be told, the others actually said “total circus” as in media circus instead of “barrage of … media frenzy.”

[Digression #2: As a lover of circus and a disabled/retired aerialist and teacher of circus arts, I object, as modern circuses are well-organized multi-level entertainments that have an overall astounding safety record, considering their activities. Especially if you look at the ones that don’t involve wild animals, which admittedly is the real stain on the modern circus reputation. That and exploitation of artists, the latter being a problem throughout the performing arts world. The elephant in the tent, as it were.]

[Digression #3: I miss # being primarily known as pound or number sign — or for extra geeky credit, octothorp — instead of nowadays first assuming it’s denoting a hashtag, something of fleeting significance on the World Wide Web. I’ll get over it.]

Back to Johnny v. Amber …

“So, Johnny won, right?”

“Pretty much. He gets 10 mil. And another 5 mil. Except he won’t get the 5 mil. Amber gets 2 mil.”

“They didn’t believe her.”

“Did you?”

“She pooped in his bed!” [Delivered as a stage whisper followed by restrained giggles]

“Um … did she, though?” [Me]

“I thought she said she did it as a prank.”

“I don’t … I don’t know … I think she said she didn’t do it. But …” [Not me, for the record, though such were my thoughts]*

*Confirmation: Amber Heard indeed denied having defecated in said bed.

Coming up … Part II. Dis Closure

Sandhill cranes in a field with speech bubbles denoting bits of conversation. "Move it flocks! Rez for 40 downfield! Damn! Where’s Craig?” “Who’s Craig?” “I’m so hungry I could eat Craig!” “Hold up, Celeste! Charlotte is way behind — again.” “Charlotte! Come over here by me!” “Uh, no thanks, Chad.”
I don’t know if all sandhill cranes have names beginning with C; this is just what I overheard that day! Obviously, Chad is a jerk.

The Quality of Mercy Is Not Strained … Nor Puréed, Neither

Your sympathy is appreciated. Your victim blaming — eh, not so much.

Content Note: Following includes puppy abduction and dark humor. No Shakespearean phrases are used or abused after this point.

My husband and I are dog people. We have loved and shared our homes with dogs throughout our 35 years together and separately before that. What’s more, we like to drive around with the dogs happily hanging their faces out the windows, taking it all in, like they do. Now you know what kind of folks you’re dealing with!

On Wednesday, May 5, 2020, exactly 4 weeks after we adopted him, our 9.5-week-old puppy Data was stolen from our locked but ventilated vehicle, parked about 100’ from a Walmart entrance, an hour before sunset. (All 4 windows were open a little, allowing for a cross-breeze and smells of people Walmart-ing.)

The breaking and entering and theft were witnessed by a Walmart employee and our other two dogs (who declined to talk to the po-po), and all was captured by security camera, which couldn’t distinguish the fleeing vehicle’s license plate. My husband filed a police report, put an ad in the paper, and made numerous posts all over social media. The comments soon followed.

Some people on social media have chosen to question our reality and actions rather than to express sympathy or offer to help find our dog. Or to say nothing. That’s right, people, saying nothing is an option. Just move on, without leaving a comment. Try it. I double dog dare you!*

While obviously quite different in a number of ways, there are some similarities here with my experiences when divulging my health and/or disability status. Some people readily express sympathy or empathy, while others quickly get defensive for reasons I imagine are personal to them, of which they may or may not be aware. Some comments are beyond my comprehension and others I understand all too well as cruel. A few peeps will kindly offer help. More than a few will find fault with me. If only I had done this or avoided that. A very, very few will listen. Bear witness. With kindness. Love, even.

Bearing witness to someone else’s troubles is a simple task that is also quite difficult for many to pull off. I think it’s natural for us humans to want to assess a situation quickly, to know what we’re dealing with. But sometimes it’s best to hold back, reserve judgment, get more information. Waiting, not judging or controlling, can be very uncomfortable.

As the late, great Tom Petty used to sing, “The waiting is the hardest part.”**

I have certainly been guilty of rushing to judgment many times in the past. (I will probably also be guilty in the future. Right now I am innocent! Now! Right now!) I have figuratively put my foot in my mouth on several occasions. (I used to be able to literally put my foot behind my head. Then the other one. Circus-style yoga trick. I can still put my big toe in my mouth — not that I do — but I can. This is all true!)

Point is, I get it, I do it, too. And nearly every time I’ve done so, unthinkingly put forth the what ifs — soon after I’ve thought, O, why didn’t I just wait, listen, be still, ask questions? After all, procrastination is a well-honed skill for me! The answer — if I’m brave enough to accept it — is usually something like, … I got scared because it’s out of my and their control and there is nothing more to be done other than feel all the hurt, sadness, and other yucky feelings. Aaaaaahhhhh!

No one (or almost no one) wants to be a victim.*** People don’t want their stuff taken from them and some go to great lengths to assure that. Many succeed. Some don’t. Because bad and awful things do happen. Crime. Serious illness. Abuse. War. Accidents. Natural disasters. Unnatural disasters. To bad people who had it coming. Allegedly. To good people who did everything right and therefore did not deserve it. Supposedly. To mediocre people who made mistakes, sure, who doesn’t, but, I don’t know, they just seem to be taking a lot of punches lately, y’know? Oh well, they’re survivors!

You have to have survived something to claim survivor status. In many cases that something is being the victim of a crime and/or trauma. I hereby reclaim the word victim. It is not a dirty or shameful word. Victims are not culpable for the crimes and abuses committed against them. Just as victims are not responsible for the accidents, disasters, traumas, illnesses they endure. For the official record, I don’t believe anyone deserves to be victimized or to suffer. I don’t wish suffering on anyone. Truly. Not that it matters. Life is full of suffering. Some get more; some get less. (Wow. I sound more Semitic than usual there. I’m a Yo-Yo Semite most days. 🥸)

My husband and I are victims of crime. (Puppy Data, too.) It’s been a week and we’re … ok. We got a lead Monday and passed it on to police. The waiting and hoping continue. As does the grieving. We’ve parsed the shoulda woulda couldas — all the alternate scenarios in which Data would not have been there, then. But the victim is not the one in control of the actions of the perpetrator. The loss of our fabulous puppy is very painful. Some people’s comments are hurtful, too. We choose to honor our pain. We are not ashamed of feeling our pain. Nor of being vulnerable. Of being victims. We are survivors.

Jeff and I deeply appreciate the many folks who have given and continue to give sympathy, help, support, kindness!

Data, we love you and miss you! We pray you are safe and well cared for, wherever you are. (Also, impressed your abductors kept up your reading lessons!)


Now for Fun With Confounding Comments, because it’s my blog and I’ll cry if I want to!🤨

If only he was microchipped!

Alas, we were but days away from handing Data over to our veterinarian for vaccines and insertion of this incredible technology. If only … then we could activate his chip through our Find my iPup app, which would pinpoint his location and send that special dog whistle to my Jewish space laser to take out the bad guys, no due process necessary. (I’m not quite sure what happens for you goyim. Maybe you just get the location of your pup, which you need to reach within an hour lest the chip erases all your puppy’s memory of being housebroken?)

Obviously, I’m joking. That is 100% not how microchips for dogs and cats work. It is, however, how the nanochips in those Covid19 vaccines work!🙄

Why would anyone ever leave a dog in a car?

Just spitballing here, but what if their helicopter was in the shop? Then they’d have no other choice, really.

What if pup’s favorite song is playing on the radio and doggy insists on sitting there through to the end?

Or, hear me out now, maybe because people in stores do not have allergic reactions to dogs resting comfortably in cars and not in those stores reserved for human interaction (and a relative few service animals).

(For real, how do you move your dog(s) around town? No stops ever, because you’re … you? Or do you take your non-service dog inside every place you visit — a part of you that can’t be denied entry, just like your white privilege?)

Maybe he’s just lost.

Oh … kay. So, you weren’t listening? Missed some deets? Accustomed to folks realizing their dog is missing and crying, “Thief!” I do appreciate your stab at sympathy, but no, it is not our style to assume a crime occurred without evidence of such. Although … hubby did recently accuse me of stealing his bag of blue corn chips. But that was really a product of long-time marriage man-brain. As in, bag of chips isn’t where I remember leaving it, so spouse must have put it somewhere else, which is like stealing for me, due to my chromosome-based, manly inability to search our kitchen. (Yes, I do, in fact, dearly love my XY husband, inability to locate a jar deftly hiding out incognito behind another jar, and all!)

Would you leave a two month old child alone in a car?

Can you hum a few bars?

Depends on how well it pays.

Is infant clearly dead in car being dredged from lake? Then I’m going to leave it as is for the crime scene investigators.

Were you good at the long jump? Because, dearie, in jumping to conclusions, you can make some distance, I tell you what!

Dogs die just like babies!

Fact! Do you feel better now?

Data doing his bunny impression!

*Ironic pun intended.

**Yes, that lyric right there is totally, utterly out of context!

***We can debate whether or not there are people who truly want to be victims (note I do not equate victim and martyr) at a future time round about never.