Nature and Demeanor

One of the reasons I resisted changing Jux’s focus for so long was because of the perceptions of what that might mean. Does it mean that my overbearing personality has finally subsumed the rest of the people here? God I hope not. In theory, this is just the inevitable: I post the majority of the content, I’ve always posted the majority of the content, and since everyone else has completely stopped, why not just admit it and move on? I was honestly thinking of setting up something on Blogger and just going with it, cross-posting here and maintaining the Juxly airs, but who does that serve? Anyone? I don’t think so.

So here we are. All the others you might know, possibly love, and don’t remember? They’re still here. Kenny, Peter, Samantha, Hannah, Laurie, and some new faces can all post should they so choose. I’m not stopping them. The “Follow Me” links may be 100% Graeme now, but that doesn’t mean I’ve kicked the others out. We’ve just moved on. It was time to stop pretending.

But let’s go back to the start. Why would I care if people think I’ve gone egomaniacal and staged a hostile takeover? Isn’t that idea preposterous? Well, yes, it is, so once I got over it my mind started to mull over the question of why I cared, which was much more interesting. Through that particular looking glass I had a long discussion with myself about how I perceive yours truly, how it’s changed over the years, and why this matters at all. That’s enough preamble though; let’s get on to some stream of consciousness rambling on the subject of nature and demeanor.

A decade or more ago, when I had the worst of my problems with depression, I started to think of myself as a split personally. I don’t mean this literally, I never thought I was crazy, but I did think that I had an innate nature that I was desperately trying to get away from. Doubtless fueled by teen angst and endless hours of Nine Inch Nails music, I saw the inner Graeme as intrinsically evil, or at least slightly disturbed. It was from this font that my depressions spilled and from this vessel that all of my dark thoughts and urges swelled like storms, forming, swirling, raging and dissipating.

Against this I forged my demeanor. I was trying to be the best person I could be. I was kind, generous, empathic, and gentle. I was thoughtful. This was the persona I tried to cast about myself. It was this version of me that I wanted to be true. It was also how I thought I’d differentiate myself from my peers. I’d be as nice as possible, at least to (gasp) girls, and they’d love me for it. Other guys were jerks, I was nice, hey date me. Clearly this was the most original idea ever. But then my confidence would fail and down I’d go again, or so it felt. While working on the idea for this post I told Billy Todd that I thought the NIN song The Becoming described what slipping away into a depressive episode felt like the best, and I used to listen to that song while doing it. I mean, just read this shit; maybe I’ve been misinterpreting the lyrics for over a decade but I don’t think so:

I can try to get away,
But I’ve strapped myself in,
I can try to scratch away,
The sound in my ears,
I can see it killing away,
All of my bad parts,
I don’t want to listen,
But it’s all too clear.

Maybe you had to be there?

In the early 2000s, around 2003 or so, my perceptions started to change. I’d become a more confident person, more secure in who I was in life, as most people do when they leave high school and make their way through college. It was during these middle years that everything flip flopped on me. There was a new dichotomy between my nature and demeanor. Now I was, by default, a nice guy deep down inside. I really was that cuddly, huggable person I’d pretended to be, wanted to be, for so many years. There are even posts on this very site about how I’d actually turned into the person I’d always wanted to be. But now I was a dark person on the outside. I was sarcastic, arrogant, and irreverent, and all of these traits I played up for comedy. Why? Because it made it easier for me to approach people, easier for me to speak in public, easier to flirt with girls and everything else. It was fun and funny, and everyone who was close to me knew exactly what it was: an act I put on. Of course, in those rare moments when that fountain of real, deep dark thoughts came back, I’d also probably, briefly wonder that maybe part of this was because I now understood my own personal Achilles heel too well. I’m a strong, person, but also a trusting and open person. But get to my heart and all of that was gone. I’d gone from thinking I had a dark, black heart with a laughably over-the-top nice guy shell to someone actively maintaining a Jerkass Facade.

That covers the years 1997-2007 and does absolutely nothing to explain what any of this has to do with where the post started. Well, let’s get to that then, shall we? Enough rising action!

Something happened in 2008 that shook my perceptions, again. I’ve never really posted what happened on Jux out of respect for the other person involved in that, but I am going to have to mention just enough now for everything to make sense. Part of what drove the breakup with Laura was that I wasn’t caring enough. I could express myself very well through words but my actions were too closed off. Until she told me this I had never even considered this to be a possibility. I was so secure in my perceptions of myself as the nice, caring guy, and by extension boyfriend, that it never occurred to me that this might have changed over time. Had it?

To save you a few years of my own introspective thoughts: Yes, yes it had. I’d always been nervous about some things, which is a topic for another day, but over time I’d become actively afraid of expressing some of them. Afraid to expose that part of myself to ridicule. Laura’s personality made that worse in some ways through no fault of her own, but that didn’t change the underlying truth.

Where did that leave my nature, though? And did I even still have a split demeanor? I obviously wasn’t following my old nice guy persona, and if I was still inherently the person I’d thought I’d become I sure as hell wasn’t showing it. So what was I?

I’ve been working on just that problem for two years now. Mostly I’ve been working on fixing those specific nebulous reservations I’m not posting about yet, but I’ve also been mulling over what it means about the roots of my personality. Sometimes I flip back to the old days and think my dark heart has come back. Sometimes, most times, I still think I’m a nice guy, just one that got tired. Who knows?

It’s when I wonder if my nature might not really be less kind than I’ve always wanted it to be that I actually worry what people think about me, at least a little bit. Hence, “I wonder if turning Jux into my de jure blog will make people think I’ve taken over” and this entire post. We’ve been over that already, of course, so you know I got over that.

With a little help from my friends, particularly this year, I’ve been trending back to regaining the faith in myself and my nature that I lost in 2008. Sometime soon my inner coin will stop flipping, and I’m pretty sure it’s going to land where I want it to land…at least until it’s flipped again, eh? But that just means more stuff to write about!

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