Disclaimer: Discussing Otherkin and Functionality

This isn’t a writing challenge. If anything, it’s a disclaimer and a prelude.

You see, I want to write about functionality, health, and otherkin. I want to write about the impact an otherkin identity has on your life, and ways to manage and deal with it. I want to talk about how it enriches your life and how it negatively impacts your life – how to minimize the negative impact and maximize the enrichment.

And yet… there’s a tendency, in the otherkin and therian communities, to underplay the impact of one’s identity. There’s a trend of normalizing the experience, trying to make being otherkin more acceptable, palatable, mundane. Any impacting experiences attributed to an otherkin nature aren’t because you’re otherkin; they’re normal human things.

Of course all of these experiences are within the realm of human experience. We are undeniably human, after all. A wolf therian experiences the ecstatic sensation of wolf-mind and phantom limbs – but so can the person with a wolf totem, and the spirit-worker dancing with a wolf skin. An elf-kin experiences an inexplicable homesickness and a sense of not belonging to any earthy place they’ve been – but so do a lot of teenagers, and a number of SF&F fans. A gryphon-kin feels deep boiling anger and aggressive reactivity that he struggles to control – but so does the guy at the local bar with abuse in his past and unresolved issues.

I could play this game of alternative explanations all day. I can do it with any spiritual experience. The question is: Why? Why try to normalize, rationalize, trivialize, and dismiss these things? If framing your experience in a spiritual context helps you better deal with it, if it enriches your life in some way – why not continue framing it like that? And who knows – the spiritual/energetic explanation may be as real and valid as the mundane explanation. It can be both/and; it doesn’t have to be either/or, only mundane or only spiritual. A mundane explanation of an experience doesn’t immediately invalidate or disprove a concurrent spiritual explanation.

So I am going to write under the premise that otherness does affect us and influence us – mentally, energetically, behaviorally, and spiritually – despite the knowledge and acceptance that it may be “all in our heads”. But I feel that working in such a premise requires a disclaimer and a warning:

An explanation of a behavior is not an excuse for that behavior.

Too often I have seen people in many situations fall into this trap.

  • “I have a conduct disorder, so I can’t help acting out; it’s not my fault I get into trouble.”
  • “I’m empathic, so I can’t help getting overwhelmed by others’ emotions; they should control their emotions better.”
  • “I’m a wolf therian, so I can’t help growling at people and being aggressive; it’s just what I am.”
  • “I’m vampiric, so I can’t help feeding on people without their consent; it’s instinct, I can’t control it.”

Knowing why you behave a certain way is not an excuse to continue behaving that way. It’s not an excuse to give up your personal power or your self-control.

It can, however, be the first step in learning how to manage and control the behavior. I find that once I understand why I think, feel, or act the way I do – once I figure out the root cause of the issue – I can begin addressing the root problem and better learn to deal with its symptoms.

An explanation can be valuable if you don’t stop there – if you use that knowledge to find solutions or work on your problems. Excuses, on the other hand, are useless and worse than useless: they’re enabling and avoidant.

Managing your symptoms and behavior is your responsibility. Sometimes it requires seeking outside help, and that’s perfectly okay – but it is your responsibility to seek out that help, and then accept and utilize the help you’re given. No one can fix you. No one can even help you if you don’t let them. You have to put in the effort of working on yourself as well.

You are as human as you are “other”, and it is your responsibility to find a way to function as best you can within this human society.

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13 Responses to Disclaimer: Discussing Otherkin and Functionality

  1. Aethyriek says:

    This is one of those rare things that should be read by Everyone. I’m looking forward to the follow up.

  2. fellbornmage says:

    Agreed. Agreed. Agreed.

    I don’t underplay my identity and human-wise, I believe I’m doing fine. I made to university after all and working my way up my career by doing internships. It’s a balance. Underplaying in the community makes me so frustrated.

    I have traumatic memories from Before, its shaped who I am. I can’t avoid it. I’m trying my best to work out several centuries worth of trauma (at least what I remember), causing me a lot of rage, despair, and pain.

    I’ve wanted help for a while, but hey, it’s not like I can tell a regular therapist that I’m a demonkin. And I know I need to learn patience. In my life before this one, my Household* practiced what I called Synchronizing. My Household’s version of the military would have a squadron link minds up to each other , we all became each other’s limbs, our orders were instinctual, things got done and understood. Fast. A single flaw in the link up could all lead to my squadron dying, because then one mishap means the entire chain of orders and timing is scrambled.

    I would describe Synchronizing as being in the zone, mind clear. And you just Know what to do as we communicated to each other in thought flashes of densely packed informations. And you instantly do it. It’s like playing a video game and traversing a difficult level without breaking a sweat because of highly honed reflexes.

    Fast forward to the modern day and I’m yelling at boyfriend because we’re both high from contact smoke during Gay Pride and my old instincts are waking up. I keep expecting him to synch up with me since we’re so close, demon instincts are getting frustrated, so I yell. Human brain knows its pointless since we’re not Synched, being stoned is not helping.

    Having sobered up and looking back on it, I am embarrassed.

    *Demon Households were/are led by a Lord of Hell. Society down there is pretty feudal.

    Eventually, I’m going to write a post explaining this whole Synchronizing thing in more detail and how it messes with me communicating with other people.

    • Celestial says:

      Hmm… I am now interested in this Synchronizing thing you’ve mentioned here. I’ve had to deal with something very similar. Very similar indeed. I won’t go into it here, but I’ve found that, for some odd reason, having a tea light candle lit next to me as I’m going to sleep (I’ve got the thing in, like, three different glass containers at the same time- no fires for me!), helps me to feel less like I’m completely alone. I’ve had to Merge with some others that I know (not flames, but spirits), but I’ve yet to understand what exactly that means. I avoid community labels for my own reasons, but it would be really nice if I could find one that fit me. I’ve been doing this for so long, all I can go on are feelings… and I’m still gonna need a label for myself one day.

  3. Yes. Absolutely. There’s normalizing in the sense of “it’s not weird to be Otherkin”, but then there’s normalizing in the sense of “Oh, don’t question ANYTHING you do”. Well said.

  4. Pingback: June Link Roundup | Weaving Wyrd

  5. hakuchou says:

    I’m interested to see more on this!

    One thing that I hope you will address, is that not everyone can be functional. Not because of otherkin nature, but, someone might be otherkin and also have for example a disability that does not allow them to function the way people consider “normal”, or, function at all. And, no matter what help they try, they’re always different from normal.

    Also, I think, it might be interesting, to be deconstruct what is the definition, “functional?” Who decides what is functional, and by whose standards we are working to be functional? Most of us can agree certain things are not functional, e.g. taking energy from people who do not consent to it, or, going to a stranger on the street and howling in their face. This is because it can have a damaging effect. But, for example, is it functional to make “yip yip” sound in public? And, is it less or more functional for you, because you are otherkin, than someone who is a normal “frat boy” kid who is doing it on the street just to be funny? It’s an interesting thing to deconstruct….

    • Meirya says:

      I usually define functionality akin to the GAF scale – if something impairs functionality, that means it is negatively impacting your ability to hold down a job / go to school, negatively impacting your ability to develop and maintain meaningful social relationships (friends, family, significant others, etc), and/or causing you undue pain or distress.

      You can be low-functioning in general (ie to the point of being on disability) due to trauma or developmental disabilities or other problems without your otherness being the cause of your lower functioning.

      Is making “yip yip” sounds in public impairing your ability to hold down a job/go to school, ruining your relationships, and/or causing you pain or distress? If yes, maybe you ought to look at managing it better. If you yip in public due to Tourette’s, all you can really do is manage symptoms to some degree; you’re not likely to eliminate the symptoms, but it is possible to manage it better for *your* optimal functionality. If you yip in public due to being a fox therian, you can probably find better ways of controlling it – ie going into a field or your backyard to express your foxness so it’s less likely to burst forth in undesirable public behavior. (No one at your business meeting is going to accept “but I’m a fox!” as an excuse for barking in the middle of an important meeting, for instance; nor should they.) If you yip in public because you’re a frat boy who thinks it’s funny – other people aren’t going to think it’s funny and are going to give you dirty looks, and if it’s happening late at night at full voice in a quiet suburb, someone might call you in for disturbing the peace… which is a problem, and you need to have better behavior or deal with the consequences, just like anyone else.

      On the other hand, if your yipping in public is in relatively appropriate settings or not disturbing anyone or harming anyone or damaging your relationships/etc, then who cares? So long as you take responsibility for the behavior, rather than saying you have no control over it. If you feel you have no control, you need to learn ways of getting better control, IMO. (I’m a big proponent of taking responsibility for you, owning your own crap.)

    • Meirya says:

      And I will agree that not everyone can be *high functioning* – but functionality is a scale, not a checkbox of “functional” or “dysfunctional”. Most therapy is aimed at reaching optimal levels of functionality for the individual: minimizing pain/distress, managing symptoms, maximizing life satisfaction/enjoyment. Someone may never be capable of holding down a job, but they might be able to reach a point of being able to have some fairly healthy friendships and/or a healthy romantic relationship, or at the very least regain some enjoyment in life.

      In discussing otherkin and functionality, I want to talk about minimizing the negative impact of otherness on one’s ability to function, and maximizing the positive impact. Does that make sense?

      • hakuchou says:

        Yes, that does make sense. Thank you ^^ I agree that functionality is a scale. I’m just not good at words ^^; So, I did not mean “can’t function at all” (or, they will be dead) but can’t be high functioning, thanks ^^

      • hakuchou says:

        (I guess, the reason I mention functionality is, because not everyone can be high functioning due to other reasons, I hope there is a good way to talk about how to improve functionality while not making people who are low functioning for other reasons, feel that they are less. Or something (´・ω・`;) I don’t know how to say it, I just want to bring that awareness into the conversation.

        Often people will say otherkin are: “living at home losers”, “living in their mother’s basement”, “looked after by their parents”, “socially clueless” etc… and, it’s true that some people who do these things are just not getting a responsibility for problems, but, I worry about saying these things in a blanket way, in case it hides a disability. So, I guess I think, in this discussion, important to watch out for ableism, maybe? I think it can be written in a way to avoid that.)

      • Meirya says:

        I think that’s a very good point to bring up, thank you. 🙂 It’s definitely food for thought – I might have to add a few topics to my “articles to write” list as a result.

  6. I jumped in from okc (elletiani), but either way, I agree with you on a lot of this, but I don’t really have people to talk to about it. Especially not now that I’m living in a foreign country, where even my wiccan beliefs are completely strange and so weird and how does that kind of stuff count as religion? Yes, so on top of not being able to get proper response on my religious views and needs, the fact that I also suffer from a disorder that no one seems to know about here really doesn’t make me hopeful when it comes to being Other. (And I still, after so many years, haven’t been able to figure out who, or even what, my Otherness is.) I’m broaching the subject with a couple of friends back home, so maybe when I return at the end of this year, I’ll have someone to talk to irl.

    Either way, thank you for this post. I’ll go ahead and read more from you. This makes me feel less stranded, even though it’s really just an Internet thing.

    • Meirya says:

      Oof, yeah, being in a foreign country can be tricky, especially when you have some sort of disorder; not to mention the mental health systems in a lot of countries are, quite frankly, terrible. US and Canada’s aren’t as good as they could be but they’re still the best out there as far as qualification requirements, ethical standards, training, etc.

      Also, after poking through your blog… You play on my server!! I love Earthen Ring. I haven’t been active on it for a while (currently leveling a dranei disc priest on a friend’s server) but it’s my preferred realm for RP. ❤ My main is a troll shaman, Ishkiq; trolls are my favorite race (I know, odd favorite, but I adore them). You look to be mostly Alliance on ER though…?

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