(Latest letter, April 26, 2015)
I have been facing almost 20 years of hate, flaming, insults, and injuries since pre-k because I have autism (specifically, Asperger’s Syndrome), as well as being Bipolar 1. I have been called every insult in the book, injured many times and was emotionally abused by all my peers. In the end I was left wearing a “mask,” I guess you can call it, so I can try hiding my pain, but in the end, even now at 19 going on 20, I cry myself to sleep because their words and actions echo constantly.
My family acts like they're there for me, but it feels like because I'm a furry they're pushing me away. They audibly say I'm an embarrassment to the family. But I can't move out yet because I have been unable to find a job. I feel like I’m at the end of my rope with this emotional agony I'm facing every day. Therapy doesn't help much and makes me feel more like an animal that they're trying to train to think or act differently. Can you please help or at least give me advice on what I can do?
I'm sorry this is such a long one, but I needed to let this off my chest. Thank you.
Terra (North Carolina)
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I’d like to give you a big bear hug right now and comfort you, you poor dear. That you are being abused for being autistic is an absolute crime. Unforgiveable because it’s not your fault. That your family adds to the emotional pain is even more sad, and I’m sorry you’re going through this. I’m glad you tried therapy, but disappointed—as you are—that you didn’t get quality help.
The fundamental problem here is this: mundanes, whether they are family, friends, peers, or even professional therapists (scientific or religious), are often under the mistaken belief that if something isn’t “normal” then it is automatically wrong and should be “adjusted” or “cured.” Such people who want to change you fail to look at their own flaws and hypocrisy. For example, many people call furries furverts because of the sexual aspect, yet one of the most popular movies and books of recent days was 50 Shades of Grey, which is about two lovers experimenting with sexual bondage and other kinks (by the way, both literary and movie critics panned the book and movie as being low quality, but it sold well because it’s about kinky sex). That’s okay with mundanes, but getting a bit turned on by a naked furry isn’t? Hmm. And even with the sexual side disregarded (and many many many many furries are not interested in it), it is still considered strange to like anthropomorphized animal characters. And yet! One of the most popular films of recent times was Disney’s The Lion King, which, on stage, won a freakin’ Tony Award for best costumes! You know what those costumes were? FURSUITS dammit! and furry puppets! Talking, anthropomorphized animals everywhere. Sheesh.
One thing you could do, then, is point out how misguided everyone is about furries, and what utter hypocrites they are about it.
Concerning your Asperger’s. While you mentioned therapy, you don’t say anything about doing research on autism or getting help anywhere else. Did you know there are all kinds of organizations out there eager to help you? They can even help educate your family and assist them in coping with this situation. In your home state, please visit the Autism Society of North Carolina, and don’t be afraid to pick their brains for resources.
You also need help on your job search. For this, I recommend two sites you should check out: the Asperger Syndrome Training and Employment Partnership (ASTEP) and the North Carolina Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services. Both should be able to do a lot to assist you on finding work and becoming independent.
And while you are working on the above, remember this: you have a network of friends out there who can support you and understand you: furries. Many of them know what you are going through because they have Asperger’s, too (just type Asperger’s in my search box on the home page of “Ask Papabear” and see the results). Reach out to them, as you did to Papabear (and I’m glad you did!)
I hope this can help you in some way, Terra. If not, please write again.
Illustrations on "Ask Papabear" are by Dan the Bear. Check out this talented illustrator on FurAffinity or send him an email.