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.