“Alternatives: Pathfinding” (April 20, 2015)

Animality, or more accurately, human-animality, is such an essential part of who I am: my very life, self, mind, and soul are painted with it and have been that way ever since at least my early childhood. It’s not just therianthropy or being otherkin. It’s not just liking or having a connection to animals or even “animalistic-humanoids”. It’s not a fetish or being a fan. It’s the life-blood of me, and though I can describe aspects of it with certain descriptors and labels, it ultimately goes above and beyond those terms and runs deeper than maybe I have tended to want to admit to myself, let alone others.

Why, oh why, have I consistently remained feeling like I am “out of place” or lacking a sense of belonging amongst otherkin, therians, and nonhuman fictionkin (and fictives), seemingly no matter what their ‘type(s) or what they share about their views and experiences? Granted, yes, I’ve felt connection to such people and online communities—I still do—and I genuinely care about members and groups of individuals in such communities as I’ve sympathized and empathized with them, which has led me to offer what efforts, help, and resources I have contributed in the past (at this point) about 10 years. And yet, there remains something major, something fundamental, missing for me that these ‘communities’ have come closer to satisfying than any other people, interests, or communities I’ve come across thus far, but that still doesn’t change the fact that it’s not “enough”. But I don’t even know what “enough” would actually be, let alone how or where to find it, if it even *can* be found.

The focus of my Tumblr blog “Shifting Animality” fits, in general, much more what I’m seeking and wanting to express, but it’s not just what others can so far see on that blog, but also dozens of other posts, many are text-based, some of them by me, that I have saved under drafts, as I wait for the “right time” to post them—waiting for more or maybe the ‘right’ people to follow the blog who will really appreciate that content and, most especially, engage me in discussion about it. However, it’s also on Tumblr, so the likelihood of getting that better or deeper discussion is unfortunately rather low, even if the medium in ways allows me to potentially have better capacity to reach out and find others of similar mind to share thoughts with

Why does my damn mind have to have such specific needs for a kind of people that are so hard to find and seemingly so few in this world? Yet the need is something that remains in me, unshakably, regardless of what I do or don’t do—regardless of pushing it away, desperately hiding it from everyone, even trying to hide it to extents from myself for the better part of 20 years or more, and sometimes shaming myself for it (or parts of it). Sure, I could try to “move on” from the therian and otherkin communities to focus on trying to satisfy this similar but different need and desire, but I haven’t even *found* a place or people to move on *to*.

I’ve offered my help, my writings and thoughts, and so forth in the therian and ‘kin communities for years in large part as a means to reduce the isolation that numerous other therians/’kin can and do feel. And within the past few years, I’ve come to realize that I, myself, am still isolated too much when it comes to various things regarding my human-animality, and no resources, discussions, increased acceptance in the communities, higher diversity within them, or individuals have managed to remove that feeling.

It also doesn’t help that since probably my early childhood some part of me has felt like I, in essence, “should” be physically nonhuman, humanoid, and it’s of course something that I can never actually have—I completely realize and understand that, yet consciously knowing such doesn’t ultimately take away the subconscious longing for me to be, physically, ability-wise, behaviorally, etc. something humanoid but not actually human. I don’t actually see my body or human life as a “cage”, and I don’t want superficial body modifications to try to somewhat satisfy my longing, as those aren’t what I’m looking for either. No one will ever be able to really see me for who and what I feel I really am—a sentiment that I know many therians, otherkin, and fictionkin can relate to, among others. But maybe when that’s stacked along with other issues in my life, my future, my goals, and so forth, it makes the reality of it harder to bear, especially chronically. I’m already feeling like I’m basically “floating” through life with no real, set direction, and have been for years, so anything that additionally makes me feel more isolated is enhanced and made significantly more difficult to bear.

What do I want—sincerely, deeply want—at this time? I’m not actually sure—I keep trying to figure that out and keep coming up with no answer or something too cryptic for me to yet decipher. However, I can at least say that: I long and crave to have my art and art muse back and well alive again (I fucking miss that so much), and I want to be able to let my human-animality SING through my art (in whatever form) without me goddamn worrying about how others may view it or respond to it. To let me throw parts of myself in depth and detail, symbolically into my visual art, poetry and poetic prose, and personal essays and tossing them out in some form of public view for others to see and react to, and to not feel like I’m losing pieces of myself or making them vulnerable, but instead *strengthening* and enhancing parts of myself. I would love for others to find inspiration in my artistic ideas and these aesthetic displays of my soul-parts, and maybe actually get to connect with some of those people and find notable similarity, possibly even friendship or more.

I don’t want my art muse to be hidden, scared, and near-comatose anymore—I haven’t wanted it to be stuck like that for years and years—and I wonder if somehow pouring myself into my art through a lens heavily colored in human-animality is a way to significantly help bring it back from its place of high vulnerability. No bigger, especially other-people-changing goal here: just to be able to use my art to throw myself out ‘there’, open-armed and exposed, and not regretting it or shaming myself for it, and to stand through it time and again in confidence—increased confidence—for somehow “showing” parts of my true self to the world that I can never show by other means. To not be so damn “hidden” and loving myself for doing it.

I am a creature of fantasy, of fiction, of humanity and nonhumanity, monstrous and not, and these things do not need to be physical reality for me—they are parts of me, my very Soul, and I continue to live with them entwined and melded into my essence and being. Wings, claws, fangs, feathers and fur, ferality and domesticity, angels, monsters, chimeric creatures, prey and predator, guides and guardians of spirit and animal; they’re all, and more, parts of me that can’t be seen remotely near the surface but are integrated into the foundations and pillars of that which is Me. And this is something to embrace and appreciate within myself, not to continually disguise and hide from everyone in nearly any form for the rest of my life. I don’t want to *shout* my Self to the world, but I do want to let myself breathe and sing it into my art where it can have some form of expression and escape for those more obscured parts of me.