Category Archives: addiction

AVERSION.

Two magnets opposed cannot touch.

Or, we humans lack the strength to bring them together.

But, what of the psychological forces which repel?

I have no memory of what could have provoked the first episode, nor can I recall the manifesting scenario. All I do know is, my tendency to be easily averted has been lifelong.

Basically, aversion is turning away.

As a force, aversion seems to drive me to move in a direction opposed to that which I would otherwise choose. I can avoid tasks, events, even people, for days to weeks, cause not immediately named. And, my emotional connection to the activity or the person doesn’t seem strong enough to prevent this.

Rejection, or its potential, always lurks as a catalyst.

Often, the behavior of a single, key individual affects whether or not I turn from something toward which I would normally run. It’s as if some negative power or influence attaches itself to what I love, rendering it hostile. Like a poisoning.

Several months ago, I was displaced as pianist by another available candidate who had actually been nominated by me to serve temporarily in my stead when I could not. I made this recommendation on the basis of another’s reference, something I rarely do without knowing the quality of the player. But, ultimately, I lost my seat to this person, the panel in place to choose having determined availability to be the sole criteria in line with their needs.

While all these appeared satisfied with their decision, I was fairly well demolished by it. Gradually, I lost interest in my association with the group and, even more astonishing, my desire to play the piano. Now, every time I so much as look at my beautiful Steinway grand, aversion grips my soul.

The initial emotion was, invariably, anger; how dare anyone infiltrate my precious relationship with the music I made on this magnificent instrument?

Yet, the anger gets directed toward that from which I’m averted! The piano itself embodies the negative force exerted by those who have expressed their rejection of me, as if to become a tool of their power.

The dishes in the sink, waiting to be washed, seize me similarly. If I do not wash them immediately, they become increasingly capable of averting me until not a single clean plate or bowl remains and the task demands attention.

I use the term “lifelong” because I cannot return to a time when aversion was not played out in my realm.

Psychologists posit that trauma is the originator. Pain, and the fear of pain, cause us to do everything in our power to prevent its recurrence. Somehow, trauma causes pain and pain becomes associated with that which we hold dear.

Childhood trauma has many aspects – physical abuse; sexual abuse; emotional abuse. Being beaten; being violated; having love and care withheld. Our brains make connections. A single event can permanently associate the pain it generates with any number of experiences in the future which trigger its memory.

Likewise, the source of the aversion attaches itself like a barnacle to that from which I’m averted. They meld. The source seizes ownership.

Many, many years ago I did experience a memorable trauma, one which can be isolated and named. That episode caused PTSD, a phenomenon still manifesting residually all these years hence. And, what did this affect? My other musical instrument, my priceless cello. The ghosts of the nefarious surround me every time I look in its direction.

My conscious awareness of the cause, plus my love for my students, are the only forces which overcome this realization; I deliberately penetrate the veil of hate every time I choose to grasp hold of that instrument.

Aversion isn’t just a psychological neurosis. It’s the power of hate to command control over that which is loved, very well one of the demons about which the ancients speak.

We must all rise, and stand against such a force. “Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it.” – Song of Solomon 8.

Nothing should touch that which is loved except love itself.

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Copyright 8/28/22 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights those of the author, whose story it is and whose name appears above this line. Plagiarists, take your hate and turn away.

littlebarefeetblog.com

Ships In The Night.

CHAPTER 48.

The white Pilot approached head on, swung in front of her, and slid into the first spot.

She backed up. Was this the church lot where she’d parked, last year? Music had just begun wafting from the main stage, and every pedestrian was headed toward the sound. The scene was strange. Cues were missing.

She leaned onto the wheel and braked, waiting. A young woman with long, thick honey hair exited the Pilot, walking purposefully toward the sidewalk and crossing the street. Covered in short culottes, a high, wide pelvis and strong legs drove her torso forward like the back end of a camel.

The white Pilot bore a New York plate.

The young woman was alone, moving as if on a deadline, her comportment in stark contrast to the two and threesomes heading down the sidewalk anticipating an afternoon of live musical entertainment. And, in from New York state by herself, no less.

Removing her foot from the brake, she turned and parked a space away, only to think again and pull out around toward a closer vantage point for audio. Something wasn’t right. Spying a posted Restricted notice, she knew then that this was not the lot she’d chosen the year before; in fact – wrong church – she would need to head one full block further east.

Sure enough. Pulling into her now recognizable north/south alley between the college library and its neighbor, the cathedral, she stopped her car and shut off the engine. Windows open, cross breezes flowing, the music – soaring above the historic homes on 6th and wending between the overhanging trees – could now be clearly heard, right from her driver’s seat. Lowering the visors and adjusting her shades, she settled back to sit alone for the private concert which, this year, would be her consolation prize.

He’d been the single source of hopeful anticipation wrought by the whole, sorry pandemic, he with his keen curiosity and teeming desire for discourse. She’d been riding on his wavelength for weeks and then – with no warning – shut out, bereft, absorbing whiplash like a crash test dummy. Now, her only recourse to move through the stages of grief, she would plant herself within earshot of the very thing which had captured her in the first place: his music.

Familiar treble strains carried their opening tune. Looking off, her eyes half closed in reverie. Momentarily startled, she turned. Here came the white Pilot, yet again, pulling up through the alley and passing her on the driver’s side.

The young woman’s profile was now visible, softer and more youthful than she’d appeared from the rear. What had moved this woman to reposition her own vehicle, on such a fine afternoon? She watched through the mirror as the Pilot continued in search of a place to light. What might be directing its travels?

Her phone vibrated.

“On my way.”

She stared. This was her ex, an hour ahead of schedule. In the care of his dying mother, he needed to borrow her printer to prepare urgent care home intake forms.

Irony flooded the parking lot. This was a moment produced and directed by the Universe, Providence at the helm. Human will. The power, of choice. The fork, in the road.

Wearily, with the impetus of a grandmother whose alarm clock heralds breakfast for the child in her charge, she placed the key in the ignition and turned on the engine, its hum attempting consonance with the concert filling the air. Putting the car in gear, she headed down the drive, turning westward. The music swelled, almost plaintively after her retreat, calling, calling. She kept driving.

Theirs was a fraught intersection. Lasting, in her mind, nearly five years he was yet again in need of her efforts. And, with the regularity of familiar habit, she obliged. Documents forwarded, printed, rudiments accomplished, they headed to the beach to walk the dog. This time, he would dissolve into his own grief, anticipating an emotionally absent mother’s death, and she would embody empathy. To any onlooker, minus any familial resemblance he could be her brother.

The dog was older now, tiring earlier and, after a momentary stop at the clearing to test a flock of Canada geese they were headed home. She noted the time. The main stage had long since released itself to the festival’s next act.

Across on the bayside berm, a bright blue compact caught her eye, the newest car color to trigger her since his lone visit just three weeks before.

Parked directly behind it was a white Pilot.

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Copyright 8/20/22 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights those of the author, whose story it is and whose name appears above this line. Please write your own songs. Thanks.

littlebarefeetblog.com

Johnny.

Johnny was my idol.

Johnny Crawford. Son of RIFLEMAN.

Then, Ringo Starr. Mickey Dolenz.

And, David McCallum. To use a borrowed term: “…….Yumm.”

(Who knew why blond curls captured me, but my Kindergarten crush had so many.)

Heck, my own father – the first crooner, the first bones player…….he’d set the bar high.

How does a girl choose?

Before the hormones descend, it’s purely an aesthetic. Pretty faces. Strong bodies. Drummers. But, as the female child transforms, all her sought after features manifest on the random character in the story which tells her own……

Johnny Depp never drew me. His characters were cartooned buffoons. His skin was painted. He was masked.

By the time he showed his face, I had moved on. From 1987 through the 90s and beyond, after a five year dalliance into slumtown as a diner waitress/ pop band keyboard backup I had become a working professional, both accepting my first position in the related arts department of the school district for which I had spent my college years preparing, and taking the stage as a live musician. I was done with idol worship. There was real work to do.

Turns out, my commitment to reality vs. fantasy blew right past the two major heartthrobs of my first graduating class: Mel Gibson, and Tom Cruise. I would play catch up a decade hence, renting everything Mel ever did and writing him a screenplay which he never read because I, longtime step- skipper, attempted to bypass acquiring a literary agent by calling Ed Limato’s office on July 4th. Sharon Stone answered the phone. But, I digress.

So, my world unfolded, populated by literal men, competitive women, and hundreds of children – a gritty gruel of thrill and toil. There was hardly time to experience anything except all the forms of work that a functioning artist generates – rehearsing; performing; teaching; practicing; rinse, and repeat. A teacher by day, professional musician by night, if fantasy had fed imagination this was displaced by actuality. I had entered the realm of that about which others dream.

Perhaps because I was slave to my work, any men who entered my personal sphere saw an easy take. Never any energy left at the end of a week to protect myself from opportunists, the busier I got the less I could discern what was coming at me.

And so, the teacher became the reluctant student. I learned about what makes men seek women, why they keep them and why they discard them. I found out that relationships can be treacherous ground, best left for those who have the time at the end of a day for somebody else.

But, through my role as a public performer I developed a sense of kinship with those others glorified. I knew they were just worker bees, cloaked in familiar persona. I recognized their foibles, afflictions, and failings. And, it was this familial sensibility which drew me to Johnny Depp’s public display of one not so private life.

As captivated as the rest of the some two million, I paid keen attention to his daily, live testimony – whether on the witness stand, or seated at his doodle pad. I had, by this time, seen his dramatic roles, and respected the actor’s depth and timing. I watched his every move, training my ears to every word. His adversary also piqued my interest, as did the slew of ridicule which seemed to follow her everywhere. They each presented the selves they wished us all to see.

And, I peeled them apart.

What did I find? Johnny had ardent fans, but they mirrored what his life had become; Amber had virtually none, at least according to the media blitz. But, what Johnny revealed to me was a quiet child miserably abused, a young man with a gentle, soft heart for the mistreated, and a soul so tortured that benumbing it seemed the only act worth taking on his own behalf. Furthermore, he’d evolved as the commodity of those who saw in him what he’d never recognized in himself. His whole life had unfolded almost entirely outside of his own design.

As creative polymath, he set aside the artistic gifts he naturally possessed in favor of living out characters which seemed attached to an increasing number of external players – agents; producers; directors; writers; casting departments. And, as if to balance that precarious scale, he’d taken to gathering his trusted friends close and handing them extravagance on a silver platter. His indulgences escalated. Ultimately, his ill fated convergence with Amber the tipping point, Johnny’s life was now unmanageable.

The video and audio testimony convinced me of that about which I was very familiar; Johnny was a nearly lifelong substance addict. Many such unfortunates had been in and out of my life. And, Johnny was given to binging, these episodes likely producing periods of amnesia. If he testified to an action, his confession was only as good as his memory of the event.

Regardless the jury verdict, Johnny is still caught in a delicate situation. Were he to admit to the possibility of physically abusing his partner, acknowledging what he might not remember as potential fact, this would vindicate him as a man. But, his heart might not let him. He likely cares too much about those who, for decades, have come to both own him and depend upon him for their livelihood. Coming clean would, ironically, only serve him; by contrast, doing so could leave those he loves as well as his dependents bereft.

Some may also say that “wife beater” is a label to doom any career. I don’t disagree. All labels diminish, reducing every story to its most common denominator. The same is true of “Sexiest Man Alive”; one can neither top nor bottom out from under either. In this case, domestic abuse was proven in court, on both sides of the argument. It’s possible restoring honor is important to some, but for those too humble to crave it the point is moot.

I won’t idolize you, Johnny Depp.

I could forgive you, but you’d have to confess.

And, who among us would remove our mask, first?

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Copyright 6/10/22 Ruth Ann Scanzillo littlebarefeetblog.com All rights those of the author, whose name appears above this line. No copying, in whole or part including translation, permitted. Sharing by direct blog link, exclusively; no RSSING. Thank you for respecting the writer’s honor, however craven.