The Chameleon

A first draft, which is suffering from a lack of focus. No storyline as such - just an attempt at expanding an idea to see where it goes - the idea being a vague one of a lack of personality - persona. I feel this could be the forerunner of something else; maybe aspects of which to be used again at a later date.


How does a person evolve without a fixed personality? What does this mean? Are we born without a personality at all? Do we suddenly become a personality in our own right at a certain age? What if none of this is true - or only partially? Say we are born with personality traits which will govern how we will become, but only if acted upon in a certain way. Are we then all very different yet the same - all made of the same building blocks but they being arranged in all sorts of different ways? How each individual block bonds with another might well be down to external forces and external forces alone. What happens when the sculptor in charge of the building blocks has no idea how to go about creating a well balanced person? Indeed.

Why this particular man wasn't 'well-formed' is a subject matter for another day. He wasn't well formed - take it from me. I call him 'The Chameleon' owing to his ability to change his persona to fit a particular circumstance. If he was to meet a timid person he became different. This is not to say he would emulate the person. When confronting such a shy person he might well become confident in response. There were various signals at play here apart from the more obvious ones. He would become the person required to fulfil the needs of the other or of the situation at hand. This was how he operated on a daily basis. It was how he coped and survived amidst the various scenarios he would find himself in throughout the day. It disturbed him to do so, knowing only too well this was not the way he should be. Who he should be wasn't apparent to him so he tried on role after role thinking one would fit the bill. Nothing but bewilderment was the outcome, and he came to accept his changing ways was how it would always be - as if a ghost amongst the living, the substance of which dispersing and rearranging itself ad hoc.

There were periods of relative stability - or at least very few changes occurred within a given time period. The main reason for this, of course, was there being no need for a change at all - stability of a sorts through the situation remaining the same - stability by familiarity, so to speak. Still, there was no confirmation as to the type of person he should be - he simply became who he thought was required, not consciously you understand - it was by reflex action, carried out on a deep level - subconsciously, by all accounts. Once the occasion altered he too altered along with it. Strangely enough, relationships were not out of his reach as he appeared always the same to all who crossed his path - romantically or otherwise - though each thought differently of him - obviously.

One of his worse personas was one where he appeared to have no backbone at all - a jelly of a person. He took on this stricken visage when confronted with a situation he could no longer supply a worthy actor for - consciously, subconsciously or otherwise. There was no doubt in his mind this was who he really was - a nervous, stricken wreck - a nonentity of monumental insignificance - or so he thought at the time. Hatred stirred deep in his heart and soul during these scary confrontations - hatred for who he was and for those who influenced proceedings - there was growing hatred all around.

‪Self loathing became part and parcel of his condition. It was inevitable this discord would reach out, thereby creating a boundary of significant range. It was so much easier to remain in his own protective bubble than take on the rigours of everyday life as practised by 'normal' folk. A reclusive lifestyle beckoned then - it was a clear favourite - a cop out in a way. He could think of no other means to acquire some vestige of peace of mind than to either limit his acquaintances or to only venture out to well known areas. He became a creature of habit as a consequence - a loner - an outsider. Who was he when on his own is the thing?

Strange as it may seem (or perhaps not) he was fine in a way when left to his own devices. No longer the person without a backbone, but only too aware his solitude was upheld by more or less a spineless individual, one where he didn't feel capable of much of anything bar existing. In the back of his mind was the nagging thought the next social hiccup would undoubtedly send him all a quiver. He was not on solid ground whichever way you looked at it.

Nevertheless, being alone was of much greater preference than being with a person who made demands on his mind and body, as 'acting' was exhausting at worse and tiring at best. Still, even being alone was taxing to a certain extent as he was never totally relaxed - how could he be with all this self analysis going on? Where was he? What would it take to drag himself up from the steaming, mental quagmire of his own making - or someone's, anyway - the dark, secretive inner recesses of his own mind. Who was he really? Would he ever find out? Did such a person exist at all? He felt, deep down, he was there, but buried beneath all sorts of mental flotsam and jetsam - horrible, vindictive baggage keeping his real self prisoner in some hell-hole of his own or their making. It would take an absolute miracle to free himself from the heavyweight confusion. The path to the surface would not be uncovered by anything more than a huge struggle. His freedom would be hard fought to say the least. It might be an impossible journey to take and it was this realisation which saddened this man unduly - he might never know true mental and emotional stability. Rage and sadness became his constant emotional bedfellows.‬

Every so often he felt the person he appeared to be was more to his liking - close to the type of person he would choose to be. This invariably occurred when in the company of the opposite sex. They instilled in him some primitive condition, itself a natural reaction, one he felt was aligned with the unadulterated, intrinsic form of his inner self - his 'true' self, one requiring little adjustment to simulate - if any. This was not the case with all women though, as some required many types of 'man' all wrapped up in one to make them feel complete and this was counter-productive as far as he was concerned, dangerously so - but exciting, nevertheless. Testosterone definitely played a major role here. It seems the sex-drive is blind to a lot of things - including confused self awareness. Still it was impossible for him to settle down with anyone long-term. How could he when each and every relationship would place too heavy social burdens on him. So he drifted aimlessly, more often alone than otherwise, with no end in sight as to his multiple guises.

There is a difference here between the way this man behaved than someone who took on the full mantle of a different personality - those suffering from 'Multiple Personality Disorder'. This man played a role whereas the latter became the role - was the role; the former being aware of the change each and every time. Which was more distressing? Possibly being aware was the more unsettling of the two, as each change was duly noted, catalogued, with a growing list the outcome, whereas the other was oblivious; though I am not sure on that score - maybe they are close to being one and the same. Whichever it was there was no apparent answer to his predicament - the ability to merge all his creations into one, or maybe to just adopt one and be done with it? Would life itself provide the answer?

What would it take to take this person out of his comfort zone to such an extent worrying how he appears to others would be the last thing on his mind? Let's place him in a hypothetical situation - a life and death one. Say he fell off a yacht into shark infested waters. Surely, even if others fell into the water with him at the same time, his main consideration would be survival and not something as inconsequential as his outward manner. Say he survived, to eventually end up on some desert island. Wouldn't his need for sustenance outweigh any other superficial requirement? What can we learn from this? Am I proposing his condition is nothing but self-indulgent nonsense and a good kick up the jacksy would cure him once and for all - as long it was sufficiently harsh? Maybe I am, but, then again, this is hardly the type of approach the medical establishment is likely to adopt. Anyway, how can you inflict such hurt on someone in a civilised society, one which is long term - needing to be permanent, by all accounts? Civilised society is far more complicated than the primitive environment I put forward. There are far too many twists and turns. Too much stress can cause complete breakdowns - the very opposite of what is required. In other words a different approach was needed, one requiring understanding of sorts. Where would it come from or from whom?

Time is a great healer. In this instance lessons were learned over a long period. The main one could be considered kind of anti-social in its make-up, it being 'he' was far more important than 'they'. By this I mean he began to think less of the needs of others and more of his own. This resulted in a much more stand offish approach, but it worked. The rage towards others he turned inwards - self flagellation in a way - to thrash out the weakness - to instil some measure of moral fibre - backbone, if you will. Why should he cower in fear when meeting someone or some new situation - why shouldn't they bow down to him? OK, this was the exaggerated idea behind the approach but to some extent it balanced the books somewhat. Before you love others you have to learn to love yourself. This really what all this adjustment was about - he needed to focus on all the good within himself - to build up his confidence however misguided the idea of his own particular qualities were. It wasn't the complete answer though. Only long periods of solitude really hit home. It was during these lonely hours when a great deal of self introspection occurred, allowing him to think back on how he was 'made' and why he was as he was. He realised only understanding would provide the key - acceptance of another's frailty being a part of the remedy.

Are we not all flawed? Who is perfect amongst us? No-one and no-one is ever likely to be. We all have hang-ups - worries - concerns. Eventually this damaged individual came to accept such a realisation - to be less distanced - to place himself in 'their' shoes instead of quivering in his own. He became considerate - partially, as much as his condition allowed. Did the mass of 'others' eventually leave him be? Slowly but surely they all amalgamated - merged. It didn't happen overnight, but over many years. You could say he became tired of the change. Anger became his friend in times of doubt but it was nearly always aimed at himself - he would beat himself up mentally if need be. Did this merger happen because of many years of introspection or was it simply one of physiological change? Did he simply became older - his brain along with the rest of him? Difficult to say. Many illness can burn out to some extent - especially those of a mental nature.

Spending time with those of us who are intuitive towards another's plight helped immensely. It was a fundamental requirement to surround himself with only those who placed as little mental stress as possible - those who were calm and considerate people in their own right - the thoughtful amongst us. Over time he came to trust such people, to the point character adjustment wasn't necessary - if he felt like a jelly - worthless and weak - it was fine as there wasn't any need to be other than who he really was. The jelly solidified under their auspices and his own relentless character re-forming techniques - his self correction. I think all this and the passing of time provided the cure he sort. Life's habit of growing responsibilities too played a part.

Here is something to consider - was this person just shy? Are many of those who become mentally ill in some way simply suffering from a high degree of shyness? Can some turn into psychopaths - sociopaths - by purposely destroying the part of their psychological make-up which deals with empathy - having destroyed it - sectioned it off - buried it - out of necessity?

In this instance we can be glad his anger was turned inwards as opposed to outwards as we no-doubt have a very troubled man on our hands here. His life was a war-zone of his own making (or he thought others were to blame). Each meeting was viewed as being a confrontation - one which inflicted masses amount of pain and confusion on his psyche each and every time. It would be understandable if he eventually grew to hate every single one of us - every kid or adult on the block, viewing us as nothing more than nuisances. After all solitude worked for him. It was only human beings who spoiled his peaceful repose - were they then not the enemy? We can also be thankful one of his personas didn't become something akin to the Terminator, or some twisted, cruel deviant hell bent on punishing those who crossed his path. Another story for another time maybe, but one to consider, I think ...