Let me first off say this is my second time writing this letter because my browser crashed and I had to start all over so here I go...
I have two friends that are apart of this "little" story, lets just call them "Jadon" and "Colin." I have known Jadon for about 2-3 years and the same goes for Colin. Note that Jadon is my closest friend 2nd to Colin and I trusted him for many things. I trusted Jadon with one of my closest secrets (because I was so tired of being "stuck in the closet"). Last summer me and Jadon were on steam chatting and I figured since we were close I told him something that bothered me for a long time that I never told ANYONE else. I told him that I "liked" horses and was into bestiality at that time and only WATCHED VIDEOS of it, (I stayed away from bigger animals and never really did anything with them) I then start telling him that it was like a drug for me and I didn't ask to be this way. Surprisingly, he tells me that you can't just bottle it up inside and all I am thinking is "wow, this guy is actually giving me a chance!" Cool right? No, bad decision because next thing I know he starts sending me all this pony crap (that I do not like) I guess because he was messing with me. He was making false assumptions, a lot of them.
After coming home from my high school me and him decide to skype and then I start bleaching like a goat and he did the same back (for some odd reason) and this keeps going for a while. One day I went so far as of to ask him to baa like a sheep; he just kept asking why so I hanged up (feeling as if I made the situation odd enough). I solemnly regret taking such a long shot. Everything is alright so far, right?
*fast forward to the middle of the school year*
I am at high school and it's time for lunch so I start waiting in line like any other "normal" guy and then suddenly my heart drops and shatters into a million pieces. Three guys are baa-ing like sheeps and laughing at me, people (around 20) were just staring at me (only me) weirdly, I felt like crying. I just wanted to try and be another guy in the crowd. Them out of nowhere all this anger and hatred surges within the bare fabrics of my soul. It was not because of the people that laughed at me or the fact that those stupid juniors were obviously making fun of me, It was because I just realized I got fucking stabbed in the back. (I am a freshman)
I then preceded to go home and blow off steam by breaking fences with my legs (of course where no one could see me) and it felt pretty damn good. I then confronted Jadon and asked him if he told anything about what I told him (the only guy I told) to which he said vaguely, "noooooooooooo". I chose to end the call and thought "fuck it". Then the guy (Jadon) starts conversations talking shit about furries and saying how they should "kill themselves" and how they are "gross" while I also skype with said Colin. I assumes he knows I have a secret affection for the furry community, it's just that Colin doesn't know (hopefully) and goes along with Jadon's crap so I don't really say anything...
I can't call Jadon on it because I have no physical evidence of him saying anything about what I told him. If he did "let the cat out of the bag" then that ass caused me a lot of pain and humiliation. We all still talk to each other as if this didn't even happen but it still bothers me because I have been bottling up these feelings.
He is a red-headed ginger who has a lot of time on his hands (maybe even more then me) and can easily be taken down, excluding the fact that he has a gorilla for a brother who is ALOT stronger then me. I don't want to be anyone's clown.
Should I just cut the cord with this guy?
Derik (age 16)
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If Jadon was the only person you told your secret too, one must conclude, logically, that Jadon told the other people at school. This is backed up by the bleating he and the others were doing. Clearly, by sending you pony stuff etc., he was mocking you. You might ask, then, why would a friend do this? Probably because you made him uncomfortable by revealing your horse fantasy. One way that immature people cope with discomfort is by mocking the source of that discomfort.
Before you ditch Jadon, if I were you I would talk to him and explain to him how much he hurt your feelings. Don’t dance around the issue by asking him if he told others. You know he told others, so don’t let him get away with denying it. Tell him that you realize you made him very uncomfortable and you’re sorry about that, and ask him if he feels he can get over this. If he can’t, your friendship really is not going to survive. But, if he can be more mature about it and not make it a subject of gossip and mockery, then you can possibly still be friends. He has to realize, though, that he violated a very deep trust and that this is going to take some work to heal so that you can forgive him.
This is kind of a dicey situation because I don’t think Jadon is emotionally mature enough to want to commit to working on a friendship. He’s likely still in the phase where he craves his peers’ approval and is worried about how others perceive him (a phase a lot of people never grow out of). You see, his telling others was a way for him to distance himself from you and your secret so that others would not associate him with that secret and think he was into horses (or whatever), too. In other words, he showed that he cared more about what others thought than your friendship. That is a big sign of a lack of character on his part.
I don’t actually hold out much hope for Jadon, especially after he trashed furries. Does Jadon know Colin well? Do you think Colin can take this news? That’s the next thing you need to find out.
In the end, if Jadon is unrepentant about his actions (or denies the obvious and won’t own up to what he has done to you), if I were you I would not consider him a friend anymore. Have enough self-respect to stand up for yourself and not be insulted and betrayed by someone and allow it to slide. Clinging to the friendship of a hater will just wither your spirit, and no one needs that.
Consider this a lesson learned in how to determine who is your real friend and who is not. It’s a hard lesson, but an important one.
As many of my readers have likely heard by now, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled today that states cannot ban same-sex marriages. This is a major victory for human rights in our country (note, I say human rights, not just gay rights).
The 5-4 ruling, though a long time in coming, demonstrates that our government can, eventually, work and is a testament to the wisdom of the Founding Fathers who created one of the greatest documents ever written: the U.S. Constitution.
Some conservatives are saying that the U.S. Supreme Court overstepped its bounds, that this is a violation of states' rights or of religious rights. Nonsense. The overly aggressive assertion of states' rights is what gave us the Civil War, thank you very much. While there is a time and place for state rights (such as taxation at the local level and determination of public works projects), the law of the land falls under federal jurisdiction.
A big reason why state laws had to be trumped in this case was that they were causing legal headaches. In Obergefell v. Hodges (the case in question), Jim Obergefell is a gay man who lived with his partner in Ohio. Because Ohio banned gay marriage, the couple married in Maryland and returned to their home state. Obergefell's husband passed away, and the state would not allow Obergefell to have his name on the death certificate. He sued the state for discrimination and had to take the case to the Supreme Court. Obergefell's case was actually combined with a couple other similar suits. The issue here was not only such things as legal documents, but taxation. A same-sex couple in filing federal taxes in a state that disallowed same-sex unions had to lie to the U.S. government about their marital status because of state law (i.e., on their state tax form, they couldn't say they were married, but on the federal tax form they would have to say they were, thus creating quite a conundrum).
Concerning religion: this is NOT a blow against religious freedom. Let me state clearly now that the ruling DOES NOT DEMAND THAT CHURCHES MARRY SAME-SEX COUPLES!!!!!! Please! All you religious people out there who think that's the case, get this through your heads! Sheesh. I'm so tired of that misinformation.
Right now, a lot of conservatives have their panties in a bunch. People like Marco Rubio and Mike Huckabee say that the Court is being dictatorial and complaining that the justices weren't elected by the people (I guess, once more, saying that they believe the Constitution is wrong). Their arguments fall flat. Recent surveys show that the more Americans are fine with gay marriage, with numbers approaching a 2/3 majority. Even if the opinion were in the minority, it would be the right thing to do. Just because a majority of people believe in something doesn't mean they are correct. People once believed the world was flat and the sun went around the Earth; more recently, it used to be true in America that many felt slavery was fine; it was against the law for interracial couples to marry or for women to vote (indeed, women were once considered "property" in a marriage).
Another argument against gay marriage is the erroneous notion that "marriage has always been the same over the centuries." Nonsense to that, too. Marriage is an evolving institution. We no longer have arranged marriages, for instance, and, as mentioned above, married people are now considered equal partners, though it was not always so. Other countries have made same-sex marriage legal, and now we are catching up. We need to evolve beyond outdated concepts of marriage and regard it for what it is: a union between two loving people, no matter who those two people are.
I congratulate the Supreme Court of finally making the correct decision and proving that our Founding Fathers were, once again, very wise to form a government with a balance of powers between the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches.
Now I'm just wondering.... Will those people who threatened to burn down their churches and, indeed, set themselves on fire follow through? You know, I'd actually have a little more respect for them if they did, but I highly doubt they will.
Congratulations to all those in the LGBT community who have literally fought for decades to see this day come to fruition. Well done.
Dear Mr. Grizzly,
I had been considering becoming an ESL (English as a second language) teacher for some time, but it wasn't until the last six months I had decided to do it. In order to do this, I will have to get a bachelor's degree in something (it doesn't really matter what), get a TEFL certificate and move to the country I signed up for. There are some countries that don't require a BA, but I'm a bit more skeptical about those places. I have been considering teaching somewhere in east Asia, like China, Japan, or South Korea. I also want to work on a graphic novel in my spare time.
I have been very indecisive about my career choice for a long time, and my family knows this. My mom and my stepdad are supportive of my choice, but my dad and my stepmom aren't that much. Literally right after I brought it up to my dad he asked me "So, have you thought about anything ELSE you'd like to do?"
When I went to visit them a couple weeks ago, they literally told me to stop going to college and to start going to a technical school, so can get a "real" job, I suppose. Whenever I bring this up to them, they try to change my mind. I've slowly been learning the fact that you can't live up to everyone's expectations, and that it's a waste of time to try.
How do I put my foot down and tell them that I've made my decision, and that I want to follow my dream?
Caleb (age 19, Michigan)
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I’m confused why your parents think TESL is not a “real” job. It’s a very real job, and an excellent one at that. There is high demand for it, and if you’re good at your job you will likely never be unemployed. One suspicion I have is that your parents don’t want you to move out of the country and they would miss you. That’s understandable, but a bit selfish on their part. If I were you, I would pursue the following course:
Now, while I would pick China, I did a little research and found an excellent article by an ESL teacher in China in which South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and China are compared. Overall, this person picks South Korea, but here’s a link to help you pick for yourself. And here is a helpful site on ESL careers in general.
Besides perhaps not wanting their baby to move to Asia, your parents might also be woefully misinformed about what an ESL job is and what it entails. Your job, in order to convince them, is to provide them with information about how great a career choice it actually is. Not only will you make a decent income, you will also gain an incredible amount of life experience that will serve you well for years to come.
Judging by your parents’ comments (and where you live), I’m guessing they are blue collar workers who have lived all their lives in the Midwest, thus developing a rather colloquial attitude about the world in which factory and farm work are “more real” than academics and culture. You need to get them out of this mindset, but in a way they will understand: and that way is to show them you can make a good income and be a success. This isn’t like you are flitting off to Asia to party and occasionally teach a class; this is a serious career choice. So, gather up your research and make your case.
One last thing I’d suggest is to ease off the “put my foot down” strategy. After all (pretty sure of this) it’s your parents who are likely going to do a lot of the heavy lifting in paying for your higher education. Therefore, approach it like you would a salesman making his pitch to a large company for a long-term investment (you are their investment in the future). Don’t go for the emotion; go for hard facts. Don’t use glitzy, starry-eyed words such as “this is my dream,” but, rather, use words they understand, such as “I can make a salary in China that will allow me to put almost half my income away for savings and investments for the future....”
That should help. Good luck! I’m routing for you!
I'm new to the furry fandom and I'm confused. I've heard of all these conventions for furries and bronies (which I'm new to bring as well,) but I don't see why they're so cool. I mean, sure it's a event that prior go to, but what do you do there? Do you chat, play games, eat, out any other things? Do you need to rent a hotel unless you live near it? It makes me wonder what's so social about these events.
Thanks for reading!
-SkyePanther (age 15, Michigan)
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Welcome to the fandom, and I hope you have fun! You can visit any webpage of any furcon and learn about the activities offered, but to answer your questions here about what you can do, I can fill that information in for you.
At a typical furry convention, you will find:
And, yes, if you don’t live in the area, you’ll need a hotel room. If that’s too expensive, you’ll often see furries rooming with each other to cut costs.
Luckily for you, there are two furcons in your area: Great Lakes Furcon in Grand Rapids, and Motor City Furcon (formerly Furry Connection North) in Novi. Note that, as a minor, you will likely need to be accompanied by an adult if you attend a con.
Another option, besides furcons, is furmeets. These are smaller, local gatherings that last a few hours to a day. If you join Facebook or other social networks, you’ll likely find some furries to meet up with.
Hope that answers your questions!
I am currently a politics student with aspirations to enter the world of politics later on in life, either as a councilor or as a Member of Parliament. However, I am concerned that, as a politician, my private life would come under much scrutiny by the media, including my identification as a furry. Based on your doubtless rich experience and opinion, do you think that it would be wise for a furry like me, whom nobody outside of the furry community knows that I am, to go into politics?
Many Thanks and Kind Regards,
* * *
While I’m more familiar with politics in the U.S. than in Britain, it’s pretty much a cutthroat occupation, wherever in the world you may go. You can be assured that, should you run for public office, your private life will be scrutinized with a tweezer and microscope. And if any flaws—real or perceived—are discovered by an opponent, they will be used against you. It seems that these days more elections are won based on attacking one’s opponent, rather than running on one’s own merits.
Being a furry is not a flaw, of course, but you can imagine how it will go for you once someone discovers a site such as e621.net and calls you a furvert.
But, many people of various minorities have run for office, been attacked, and won. Public office used to be the domain solely of white, straight (or apparently straight) men. Britain has been a bit ahead of America in terms of accepting minorities into their government. In 1790, Robert Jenkinson (an Anglo-Indian) was elected to Parliament. And there have been quite a few minorities in Parliament since then.
It took longer for a gay man to be accepted in Parliament. Being gay in the UK was illegal until the Sexual Offenses Act of 1967, as you probably know (think of poor victims of this law, ranging from Oscar Wilde to Alan Turing). Since then, LGBT people have slowly been gaining ground and offices.
Now, if LGBT people—who were once considered deviants to a criminal degree—can gain acceptance, I believe a furry can, too (and more easily in Britain than in America, where half the population still thinks the Confederacy should have won). Really, it depends upon you and how willing you are to stick up for your furriness. You could, I suppose, hide or abandon that side of you in favor of your political career, or you could not hide it at all and assert your right to be who you are, including the best politician you can be.
There is some good news, too, concerning furries and acceptance. As with the LGBT community, there has been a slow turning around of public opinion about furries that is represented in articles such as this one from the Huffington Post.
I can’t make that decision for you about your career, but I would say that if you have a passion for public service and you abandoned it out of fear of your being a furry, then that would be quite a shame and a loss to your community. I, for one, would be very proud of you if you put aside your fears and won even a small, local election; that could be the start of an amazing future for you.
hello there sir I’m sorry to bother you and you must be busy but I have something that has been bothering me for some time is it ok that my sister hites me?
BunnBunn (age 13)
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I'm here for questions, hon. Why do you think your sister hates you?
* * *
sir please stop right there I don’t know why she does this but I don’t think she hates me I mean I love her so she must feel the same right?
* * *
Did I misread your letter? You typed "is it ok that my sister hites me?" I thought you meant hate. Did you mean bite? I honestly don't know.
* * *
I’m sorry for the confusion sir I’m going to try to be more clear from now on what I mean sir is that when ever she is angry or something she does thing such as punch, shove me and things like that
* * *
Ohhh, HITS you, ok. No, it is NOT okay that your sister punches and shoves you. Violence of any kind is never okay. Your sister needs to understand that this is not okay (she might not get that, right now).
Do your parents know she does this?
* * *
oh I’m so sorry I should have waited longer sorry to have interrupted you it wont happen again sorry and as for your question I don’t have any parents
* * *
I'm sorry to hear that. With whom do you live, dear?
* * *
it may seem a little odd but I live with my oldest sibling Lisa
* * *
Is she the one who punches you? How old is she?
* * *
Lisa is almost 30 and no sir April is she lives with Lisa as well
* * *
So, it is three sisters: you, April, and Lisa, and Lisa is the oldest and she is your guardian, correct? And April is the one who punches, correct?
* * *
yes sir that is correct
I have two other siblings Cody and Emily but they do not live here
I told her once but all that caused was a fight :(
* * *
Does it hurt you much when April hits you, or is more of a playful thing? Is she bruising you or worse?
* * *
sorry it took so long to get back to you this week has been eventful in a way, and I’d rather not say it so I’m just going to say its the last question on your list.
* * *
Okay, sorry for all the questions, but I had to understand what was going on. Again, I must say that it is not okay for people to hit one another, especially in one’s own family. I’m sorry that your sister Lisa has not done anything about this situation once you told her.
I can speculate as to why April acts out violently. Sometimes, when one’s life is in upheaval (loss of parents) and you live in a stressful situation (as I imagine this can be, and that Lisa is probably very stressed out trying to lead the family), people can act out their upset in a physical way. April is probably unhappy about what has happened and, even though it is NOT your fault, when the least little thing happens wrong, she might blame you or act out against you physically.
This is not excusing her behavior; I’m just offering a possible explanation for why this happens. I’m also thinking that Lisa is busy with work and other things and doesn’t have much time to spend with you and April. What April needs (and perhaps you, as well), is a mentor. That is, someone in her life who serves as a positive role model and who spends time with her doing all kinds of things—from fun stuff that she likes to do to helping her with homework.
There is an organization out there specifically designed to help young people like April and you. It’s called Big Brothers Big Sisters, and you can learn about it at http://www.bbbs.org/. At the top of the page, you can type in your zip code to find a local chapter. Contact them and find out about their programs. Talk to Lisa about this, too, and encourage her to contact the program, which is excellent.
I would bet you a kajillion dollars that if April gets a good mentor in her life, you will see an end to punching and shoving, and it will also help her in a lot of other aspects in her life. If you feel you could also benefit, ask the nice folks at BBBS what they can do for you.
Good Luck, BunnBunn. Feel free to write again.
I don't think anyone has asked you this before but I have a question about an identity that I've recently donned (its been a year) and I am probably the most passionate about, and I have a few identities that are different from your average cis-gendered north-American.
For example, I'm a furry, a therian, an animist, gender-queer, demisexual and probably the most controversial is identifying as a polyamorist, I understand that some people are a true monogamist, that there truly is only one person they've ever loved but most people are actually socially monogamous meaning they raise children with one person, and engage in sex with one person, and dedicate their whole lives to one person of choice at a time... or so we've been raised to believe, the reality is that people are naturally not monogamous, look at human tribes that live miles from civilization, what do their social groups look like? polygyny, one male having multiple females, look at groups of chimpanzees or gorillas they are polygynous as well, it doesn't make sense especially for a species who's history has been (and continues to be by all the never ending cheating) promiscuous, to be monogamous, how else does one male spread his genes? or how does a female ensure that her descendants aren't inbreeding?
Monogamous ways have only been around since agriculture has, how else would one determine what offspring inherits the farm? people make empty lies when they marry now, the divorce rate is FIFTY PERCENT! the evidence again and again shows that people aren't meant to be monogamous, and people who are supposedly dedicated can't keep their eyes or hands off another person, but even though cheating is 'shamed on' its accepted! even though marriage is sacred, you and your spouse having sex with another person is ok! when does the lying END?! I choose not to be sexual with people I am not in a relationship with, but I DO choose to be in multiple relationships, and I am hated for it, in Canada if you are 'caught' performing polygamous acts you and whomever else is being a part of or even witnessing you and your partners marrying whether religiously or not can be jailed for up to 5 years! I've never read about someone being caught in Canada, but in the states I think it was in the 50's a man was arrested for claiming 4 women to be his wife and getting their welfare money.
People are stereotyping polyamorists to be the same as polygamists and in societies eyes all polygamists are child rapists! They're all forcing their children to be married to old men and have orgies together! this is clearly not the case, but me and other people of the community are slapped with these claims anyways, that we can't decide, and that we need to find our 'one true love', love isn't black or white, it isn't a straight line, its colourful and fluid, how do I cope in a world that is obsessed with beautiful lies that will only end with pain, than being an adult and facing their feelings so that they can make the best outcome?
Make a long story short: I identify as non-monogamous, and I'm tired of being harassed for being honest than to be a liar wearing a mask.
Krazed Kaelan (age 19)
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Actually, Papabear has had questions about polygamy and polyamory before. Just type either of those words in the Search box on my home page, and you’ll get some letters on the subject.
My personal position on polyamory is that it can work, but only if all parties involved are not jealous types and are 100% in agreement about it.
Is polyamory natural? Or polygamy? For the benefit of my readers, let’s define a few terms here, quickly.
1. Polygamy: one individual mating with two or more other individuals.
2. Polygyny: one male mating with two or more females.
3. Polyandry: one female mating with two or more males.
4. Polyamory: one person being in a loving relationship with two or more other people (does not necessarily involve sex).
Anthropologists, psychologists, and other scientists have studied polygyny in cultures pretty thoroughly over the years. In one recent study it appeared that about half of all people tend to favor polygamy (males slightly more than 50% and females slightly less), and the other half preferred being monogamous (this was in an anonymous survey, not something they declared publicly). That right there tells you that demanding all people be monogamous is imposing a social construct on half the population that they don’t want. Why does society do this, then?
If you ask Joe or Mary Public on an average American street, they would tell you that monogamy is more moral, approved by their religion, or just the right thing to do because it shows you love the other person faithfully. An evolutionist, on the other hand, would point out that there are certain advantages to being monogamous and certain advantages to being polygamous. This is why you see both models in the Natural Kingdom. Polygamy, as you noted, has the advantage that a male can spread its genetic code far more widely. But with monogamy, a family is formed to more closely protect the progeny, which gives them an advantage in surviving. These are both valid strategies and behavioral adaptations to help a species survive.
As humans went from a hunter-gatherer way of life to a domesticated one of raising crops and forming towns and cities, the monogamous model became the most practical. And, as any student of religion may know, many of the moral codes sent down by “God” actually were inspired by practicality (hence many of the food and farming codes set down in books such as Leviticus that don’t make much sense today).
Over time, such rules—including monogamous marriage—got set down in stone, passed along from generation to generation, until people no longer questioned it. It was God’s will. For a long time, marriages were arranged by families. People didn’t marry for love, they married for financial reasons, for reasons of power, for reasons of bringing two families or even nations together, etc. It’s not that people didn’t fall in love; they did, sometimes even with their spouses, but often with people outside the marriage. The king and queen would sleep in separate bedrooms, where they would lie down with their lovers. Likewise, social politics would often keep two people who loved each other apart (a la Romeo and Juliet). The ideas of romantic love really entered the human social consciousness in medieval time with literary works such as Tristan and Iseult.
So, now we have this paradigm that society accepts that what should happen is that two people (man and woman) fall romantically in love, get married, are monogamous, have children, get old and die together. That’s how the classic marriage vows are written, after all, and those who stray from it—whether that is gay marriage or polyamory or polygamy or whatever—are labeled outcasts, as you are.
Is it intrinsically wrong or immoral that you are polyamorous? No. You are suffering under the weight of an artificial social construct that is further imbedded in local and national laws. And, of course, anyone who believes that just because you are a polyamorist you are a child molester and indulge in orgies is flat-out wrong. That’s not even true with polygamists, let alone polyamorists. I suppose this weird notion came into the collective consciousness through dated cases of Mormons who married several women, sometimes very young women. I think a lot of Americans think about Mormons when the issue pops up (it’s no longer an accepted practice there, though the official position [as of 1890] is that monogamy is the norm, unless God asserts otherwise “to help establish the House of Israel,” which is how they justify early figures in the Bible having plural marriages).
So, what do you do as a polyamorist in a monogamous world? Unfortunately, Papabear can’t change the law for you (even thought that law is nonsensical and there’s really no reason for the State to get involved in people’s marriages), but I might point out that multiple marriages are legal in some countries—mostly in Africa, the Middle East, and some Asian nations. It is often accepted among Muslim and Hindu people and within indigenous cultures, such as the aborigines of Australia. I kind of doubt you’d be willing to move to one of these nations or convert to Islam, which allows polygyny but not polyandry, or Hinduism. Interestingly, Judaism also accepts multiple marriages in the Talmud (as I hinted earlier, people like Abraham and King Solomon had more than one spouse [Solomon had hundreds, the busy guy, and people said he was wise], though it is frowned upon these days). The Qur’an is the only holy text that specifically states it is okay to have more than one wife: “Marry woman of your choice in twos' threes' or fours' but if ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly, (with them), then only one.” [Al-Qur'an 4:3]
How to deal with this? Well, it might not be a huge comfort to you, but perhaps you can take courage in the fact that just because you aren’t accepted doesn’t mean you are wrong or a bad person. Society is often wrong (I give you 400 years of the accepted practice of slavery in America and the people who would tell you that was perfectly fine), and sometimes it amends those views. For example, in many U.S. states, it is now legal for gay or lesbian couples to marry.
You are a unique individual with a laundry list of traits that are generally regarded as “out there” by the mundane people of planet Earth. I should think, though, that as a furry you would find some acceptance within our sub-society of colorful misfits.
We, unhappily, often have to compromise ourselves as a matter of self-preservation in a neurotic and often psychotic society. You are a sane person in a madhouse, my furiend. My advice to you: don’t loudly espouse to the inmates that you are polyamorous. Keep your private life private, and open up only to those few whom you consider genuine friends and loving family. Until that day when life becomes a paradise of acceptance, that’s simply how reality is.
However! I would like to offer you something that might be of comfort. There’s one spiritual belief system I didn’t mention above: Wicca. Wiccans are not tied down by ridiculous, outdated notions of how people should love one another, and, therefore, polyamory is accepted. There is a ceremony practiced by many Wiccans called “handfasting” in which two people commit to one another in a loving way, and they can do so with more than one other person, if they choose.
As of around 2010, there are an estimated 135,000 Wiccans in the United States. So, if you don’t mind my being so bold, I would say you have a pre-made community for you right there to supplement your furry family.
While there are times you will be forced to wear a mask, communities such as furries and Wiccans can offer you a safe haven to be yourself.
I am currently going through an issue with unrequited friendship. This all began when I started watching an art streamer back in 2011. I gradually became a regular attendee of that person's streams, but I stopped attending in March of this year. The reason for that is because, for quite some time, I wanted to be friends with that person, since we both had a couple things in common.
4 years until now, I had not even gone close to being good friends with that person, and when I asked to add the latter on Skype, it was kindly refused, which I respected. The next few days, I apologized to the person for making him/her uncomfortable by asking to have them on Skype. One reply from that person had such hurtful words, words that gave out a very harsh truth. Within a few days, still upset, I stopped attending that art person's streams and I regrettably ended up unwatching that person on FA to avoid being reminded of the pain caused. What have I done to bring this upon me? If I made mistakes in the past, when attending the streams, couldn't they be easily fixed, along with me being fully and warmly forgiven? And from what has happened to me, what should I say to give that person peace of mind, even though we couldn't be friends?
Danny Prower (age 24)
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Sometimes in life we must learn to accept that some people do not wish to be friends with us. It could be for any number of reasons, and it would be too difficult for me to speculate accurately in this case.
After you asked the artist to Skype the first time, he “kindly” refused, as you said. The problem then became you couldn’t take “No” for an answer and, once again, asked him to Skype with you. While the artist probably acted too harshly here, it’s clear at this point you were annoying him (or her).
Asking the artist the second time was too forward on your part. This person, whoever he or she is, obviously is not looking for groupies (probably had some bad experiences with them in the past, and you’re probably reminding them of that), or, perhaps, even friends.
Now you want to ask this person yet again to be friends? Bad idea. REALLY bad idea. Don’t do it, OK?
You probably aren’t aware of this, but you are now entering the danger zone of becoming a drama queen, and that’s something few people really enjoy being around. Don’t take the rejection so personally, hon. I know, that’s hard to do, but the reality of it is probably that the artist really has no interest in making new friends and/or doesn’t think you have much in common and/or just feels you are going to bug him/her about art.
I’m not saying this is a good thing for the artist to do, and I am not justifying the artist’s actions. When it comes to a professional level (a level often not achieved by many furry artists, many of whom have a lot of talent but little business sense, in my experience), the proper way for this person to respond would be this (are you reading this, commissioning furry artists?):
“Thank you for your offer of friendship. I really appreciate that you enjoy my work! I would like to invite you to join my email list [insert link here] or follow me on Facebook [or some such social media site of choice], so that you can get the latest about where I will be to sign art and how you can get commissions done. Thanks again for being a fan!”
That’s how this artist should have approached it (unless, of course, she or he was truly interested in being friends; in which case, that would be a no-brainer as to how to proceed). In this way, the artist doesn't "reject" you, doesn't lose you as a possible customer, and yet doesn't get too friendly with you and keeps you at arm's reach.
As for you, you need to not take this personally. Imagine, for example, if you saw that J. K. Rowling was having an online chat, and you popped in and demanded to be her Skype buddy. Would you think it out of line if she told you “No, thank you”? Of course not. Same thing here. Now, this artist is no Rowling, but it’s still overly insistent of you to push a friendship like that.
Stop dwelling on this and learn to take “No” for an answer without being oversensitive about it. I’m sure there are plenty of other people out there who would be happy to be your friend, so why would you want to be friends with someone who doesn’t?
Friendly Bear Hugs,
The ultimate question to the whole email is, "How do I forgive myself? How do I improve myself for the future? Finding answers on my own is feeling overwhelming." I suppose my story is nothing new, but I'll just rehash it anyway.
My (now ex) boyfriend of 6 months dumped me. To me, it was all of a sudden.
He and I went out to lunch together 5 days a week. He regularly talked to me on the phone/Skype/text. He introduced me to his family and friends. He took interest in my life and future. He took me on adventures he knew I would enjoy. He tried making me happy when I was down.
But I think this is where I went wrong. I was down, anxious, or beating myself up too much. He once told me that he felt hurt when I didn't take his compliments. So I tried to improve on that. Yet he also mentioned he didn't want me to give up on finding internships/jobs so easily. He told me to stop being so hard on myself. Stop sweating the small stuff—people don't always know what they are saying. The list goes on.
I realize now I wasn't really making a conscious effort on improving myself in such areas. I'd even (probably in his eyes) spontaneously cry in situations that were just too overwhelming for me.
When he did break up with me, he said he felt like he would be taking care of me all the time. I never really understood the importance of having good self esteem in order to sustain a healthy relationship until now... I must have been stressing him out so much, not bringing him joy or making him feel good like I thought I was.
He knew how much I adored him, but he said he thinks I was only infatuated with him. He didn't think we were compatible. No amount of cuddles, hand made gifts, words of affirmation, me trying to counsel him through his (fewer) worries were going to make him love me. My issues were just to present, and must have been haunting him.
My friends and family tell me I just have to focus on myself now, take a break from dating, and move forward. They also tell me to stop blaming myself so much. But it's so hard to see how it isn't my fault.
So, as much as I don't want to hear it... I shouldn't try crawling back to him asking for a second chance. Although that's what I want to do more than anything in the world right now.
In the meantime, how do I actually improve myself for my future (with or without relationship)?
I've been reading things online... I don't know if this has been helping me or making me more confused. I feel like I'm guilty of exhibiting clingy behaviors... such as "Thinking about your mate, difficulty concentrating on other things. Remembering only their good qualities. Putting them on a pedestal: underestimating your talents and abilities and over estimating theirs. An anxious feeling that goes away only when you are in contact with them. Believing this is your only chance for love".
I've had one other relationship in the past (other than the primary one in question). I became very unhappy in that relationship, and felt these sorts of things, "Believing that even though you’re unhappy, you’d better not let go, as in: 'If he leaves me, he’ll turn into a great person—for someone else.' 'He can change.' 'All couples have problems—we’re not special in that regard.’”
And I remember being resentful because in that relationship, I felt like I was giving him all the love, and he was trying to love me back.
I feel like solutions online are just so vague and broad. I don't know where to start. Am I even supposed to be thinking about these things while I'm still hurting?
Thanks for all your time!
Renei (age 22)
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I'm sorry, hon, but could you be specific as to what your question is? Can you, in one sentence, ask me a concise question? Your letter just gives me a general feeling of your problem, and, as you said, I don't want to give you a vague answer.
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Thank you for taking the time to read. It's greatly appreciated!
I was hoping I could open with a general set of questions to be answered, but I'll try to make it more concise now. Maybe a good way to phrase my question would be, "I'm having trouble discerning what mistakes are mine to own, and what things that happened were outside my control."
I hope that offers a little bit of clarity.
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It’s pretty much impossible for me—without listening to both sides of the relationship and hearing hours of testimony—to determine whose mistakes were whose. I’m sure your former boyfriend would have a different take on things. The only reason to enumerate what went wrong on your part would be so that you could learn from your mistakes, if any. But it sounds to this ol’ bear’s ears like you already know what areas might need some improvement, especially in the self-esteem area (one symptom of low self-esteem is always looking for ways to blame yourself, which you have in spades).
The other problem you have is looking to others—specifically, boyfriends—to make you happy. One thing I’ve learned in my nearly 50 years here is that the only person who can make you happy is you. You do this by:
You are asking Papabear the wrong question, Renei. “I'm having trouble discerning what mistakes are mine to own, and what things that happened were outside my control” is a fruitless effort to assign blame, and that is an unhealthy pursuit. So is the question, “How do I forgive myself?” That also assumes blame. What you need to do, simply, is work on that low self-esteem, which, in turn, will alleviate any clingy behavior you might have (when we are confident of our own worth, we don’t feel like we have to define ourselves by the relationships we are in).
I hope that makes sense. Write again if it doesn’t and you need more input.
First off, I wanted to tell you that I really like your work, you're awesome for taking the time to talk to people who feel lost and trying to help them.
While I don't really feel lost, I'm here asking you for your opinion.
I'm living like the perfect life at the moment. I'm studying in a field that interests me (I'll be changing soon but more on that later) but lots of free time to enjoy other things, I live at my parents house to not be too much of a burden economically but I perfectly autonomous, I have a girlfriend that loves me (maybe too much but again more on that later) and I have lots of acquaintances and some close friends that I can talk to and who are willing to help me.
The thing is: I don't enjoy life on Earth at all. Since I was able to I've always been consuming lots and lots of culture (books music videogames movies/shows comics and drawings). The "problem" with books, videogames etc. is that they depict amazing adventures in more or less fantastic universes full of interesting things to do, and now because I'm used to those stories I don't find any joy in life. On top of that I'm constantly thinking about all the problems going on in the world and in our society, making me miserable whenever I'm not occupied.
It's been 3 years now that the same thing is going on: I get really depressed, I plan my suicide, all the friends who hear about it tell me I shouldn't, I explain them why I want to, they get sad because of me, which makes me even more depressed making me unable to have enough strength in me to kill myself, I get used to the feeling making me able to go on but lose my best friends because they can't put up with a suicidal close friend (which I totally understand). After that I make some new friends ... and the cycle starts again...
The only things able to help me are videogames and music who help me don't think about it and drawing and reading poems that make me happy for a little while.
That's why I wanted to study in cinema, because making videos is a hobby not a passion like the 4 above, that way I could have a job I enjoy while not tainting my passions with the "work feeling.”
But now, I've hit like the 5th cycle, and I can't put up with anything anymore. I'm changing my studies to "Game Art," which involves lots of drawing hopefully making me able to bear life long enough so my girlfriend won't love me as much as she does atm, because I've talked to her about all that, and she said that if I do kill myself she'll follow me, and I don't want everyone to blame me for "taking" her life when I spent ALL my life trying to make everyone around me happy.
So yeah, I can't live like a normal human because I wish I were some kind of wolf with wings who's life would consist of exploring fantastic universes and battling with dragons or some other mystical creatures. I wouldn't care if I were to get killed/hurt like that, because it would be for something interesting. In real life you'll get killed because of sad and boring things (diseases, mad psychos, etc.), and while doing meaningless things (my ideal goal IRL would be to make people realize we have to act to make this world better, but I wasn't even able to make my friends do small changes in the way they act for objective goodness, imagine how that would go if I were to try on 7 billion strangers...).
I'm sorry this was really long, hopefully not too long and not too boring so you'll take some time to tell me how you feel about that. I'm not seeking for an answer on "how can I stay alive?" I just want to know what do you think of my way of thinking considering the life I have. Maybe you'll think I'm a spoiled brat that should enjoy life considering how easy I have it but hopefully you won't stop at that.
Thanks in advance Papabear!
Wirinel' DuSaule (age 18, France)
PS: Sorry if I made typos/mistakes. English's not my native language.
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Whenever I get a letter from a reader and it concerns suicide, that letter gets moved to the top of the pile. I will reply to your letter by tomorrow. In the meantime, please consider contacting one of the following hotlines to talk to a professional.
I think I see what your problem may be, so I will get to that soon.
Boite Postale 43,
Contact by: - Phone
Hotline: 01 46 21 46 46
Mon, Tues, Wed, Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sun: 15:00 - 23:00
Contact by: - Phone
Hotline: 01 45 39 40 00
Mon, Tues, Wed, Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sun: 00:00 - 23:00
E.P.E. idF. Fil Sante Jeunes
Contact by: - Phone - E-mail:
Hotline: 0800 235 236
Fédération S.O.S Amitié France
11, rue des Immeubles industriels
Contact by: - Phone
Hotline: (+33) (0)1 40 09 15 22
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It's very kind of you to put the letters about suicide on top of the pile!
And don't worry, I promised myself to not commit suicide too soon, I don't find joy in life but I'm trying my best to resist and first let my girlfriend pass her important exams.
Also I've already contacted my family doctor and a psychologist but they weren't able to help me. I've contacted you more because I'm curious of what you'll say considering you have a good experience with this kind of things than because I'm looking for a solution.
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There’s no such thing as committing suicide “too soon”; any time someone commits suicide is an inappropriate time. As someone who attempted the deed at your exact age, I can tell you if you go that far you will absolutely devastate everyone in your life who cares about you; suicide is the ultimate, supremely selfish act and is like giving a big middle finger to everyone you love. You say you spent all your life trying to make others happy, yet with one blow—killing yourself—you will erase any and all of that happiness you might have accomplished. The teen years are the most likely time that a suicide will occur, so it is a critical period in your life to get through. If you are entertaining the idea even in the slightest, please call one of those hotlines I gave you.
I’m sorry that the psychologist you spoke to did not help. Since I have your attention, I will try to help here.
What you are experiencing is classically defined in the German tongue as “Weltschmerz.” That is, becoming depressed because the real world doesn’t compare favorably to a hypothetical, idealized world you find in art and literary fiction and video games that you would prefer. A lot of people have this condition—probably a lot of furries, especially, because we like to imagine ourselves as anthros living in fantastical worlds. We look at ourselves in the mirror and wish we could have wings or snouts or fur or tails.
As Spock once noted in the original Star Trek series, having is not always so pleasant as wanting. This was also pointed out to me in a forum led by Uncle Kage at MFF in which he talked about the consequences of what would happen if furries really were possible. The gist of his talk was that the physical and social aspects of being a true furry would likely be devastatingly disappointing. The same is true of your fantasy world. Fighting a dragon might seem glamorous, but you would likely be toasted or crushed or eaten alive, and that wouldn’t be too pleasant. If you were an anthro wolf, your anatomy would make it impossible to speak English (or any human tongue); and if you had wings they would likely be just for show, not functional, because having six limbs just doesn’t work anatomically, and even if it did it would be very hard for you to get off the ground.
Basically, you are desiring something that, even if it could become true, would likely not meet up with your high expectations.
Now let’s look at reality. You are, as they say, looking at the glass half empty. Yes, the world is troubled by disease, war, Rush Limbaugh, etc., but what about the amazing aspects of our real-life world? And I’m not just talking about the games and poetry into which you escape. Life is amazing! Nature is incredible! Quantum physics! Astronomy! The metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly! The mind-warping possibilities of alternate universes, other dimensions, dark matter worlds, instantaneous particle communications through entanglement, and, more humbly but still incredible, the advances in medical science—why, we are getting really close to healing paralysis, making the blind see, the deaf hear, and integrating human biology with nanotechnology. There are advances in communications and transportation and environmental technology that are showing great promise in resolving problems with pollution and human interactions. People are developing clothes that can make you invisible; physicists have figured out how to freeze light in time! We’re very very close to discovering extrasolar planets that include liquid water and life! AND, it now seems possible that warp drive is a feasible mode of propulsion to get us to those planets. You, my furiend, are living in what is possibly the most remarkable era of human history—EVER!
Open your eyes and see around you, really see, and you will discover a world that’s really not hum-drum at all.
And that’s why I would recommend to you that you do not pursue a career in Game Art. Why? Because then you would just be reinforcing your conviction that it is only the worlds of fantasy that have validity and excitement. You would be creating an infinite loop that would trap you into your current mind-set, which is depressing you and making you consider suicide.
Instead, explore the possibilities and wonder of the real world. For instance, if you have any aptitude in it, I would say you should look into astronomy. What’s going on in that field is truly mind-blowing. Or, closer to home, medical technology, or perhaps focus on the planet and the wonders of natural plant and animal life. I know that when I was a zoo docent, I was constantly amazed by what animals can do to survive and thrive in the wild.
My Papabear sense is telling me that you only find the real world dull and uninspiring because you haven’t made the effort to truly familiarize yourself with it. Therefore, that would be my recommendation. I know you said you weren’t looking for a solution, but I’m giving you one anyway.
So far, dear furiend, you have been a sleepwalker through a magnificent, lush jungle full of life and possibilities. But you have been walking only on a cleared, dirt path, unable to even touch the life around you. My wish for you is that you open your eyes, step off the path, and lose yourself in the forest.
* * *
I'm following up on my letter to you. What do you think of it?
* * *
First I want to say that I'm really sorry I wasn't able to answer your mail earlier. I fortunately could catch and read your mail on my phone about the day you sent it to me but, while it proved to be a good thing in the end (you'll see why later), I am terribly sorry for making you wait.
When I first read your mail, I felt like once again the person I tried to explain my problem too didn't fully understand (which would've been totally OK, by the way; I had to cut a bit "short" my first mail to not make it overwhelming, and if you don't know the full story it's not possible to fully understand), but 3 hours ago I talked again with my mom about the reasons I'm feeling down. I thought about what you said in your first answer to me while talking with her, and it really helped me. My decision is to now try to compensate my lack of knowledge in the scientific field (I studied engineering because I didn't--and still don't but I'm trying to work on that--feel like I would be able to remember all the things I needed for scientific studies) by going through "catch up" studies via the CNED (a French organization for at-home schooling. My goal is to develop skills in Math, Physics and what we call "Earth and :ife Science" in France htrough those studies to enter a school in the same field while developing my creativity in my spare time tjrough online tutorials to how to use 3D software and learn how to draw better.
One thing my mother helped me with is by making me remember how people like Stephen Hawking went through and are still going through huge difficutlies in life but still continue to help other people in their fields with their discoveries; it was to make me realize than I can get over my lack of long term memory (I tried multiple methods to help against that but I still can't live without technology keeping important information for me). Another thing she told me is to stop paying attention to the "crowd": a huge thing that makes me absolutely desperate is how I see that too many people keep believing (not talking about religious beliefs here) and doing objectively stupid things even if they have evidence that it would be far better to not do them/do them in another way. So I'll now try to stop looking at comments on YouTube and other social medias (or just post my opinion and don't care about the answers, that will be tough though...). Finally, she said that because I've always been moderate about the money I spend I should not hesitate to ask her and my dad to buy me things that would help me express myself (such as canvas, paint and graphic tablets).
While I still feel down (and I thing that something that'll stay a long time for the better as much as for the worse), I at least feel like I have a goal in my life, things to do and wake up for besides just living to not make my girlfriend and family sad.
I have something to tell you about your answer, though, about the fantasy thing. It's really not helping at all to tell people like me (or at least me) that if our fantasy were to realise it wouldn't be as good as we think because of real world laws. It was a bit cliche and mostly there to explain my point of view but heck if I were to be a goddamn wolf with wings I'd live my fantasy to the fullest and speak English and fly! That's the point of fantasy, to get rid of what's making real life boring, and while I still desperately need to live in a fantasy world to be truly happy, my goal here is to make real life less boring, interesting enough so that I can keep on staying alive for a long enough time to feel like my life on earth was spent well.
If you didn't answer me, my talk with my mother would've been far less productive, and sending you those mails was a relief (I try to not talk to my surroundings about my problems except when absolutely needed). I'd like to thank you. Not as far as from the bottom of my heart because in a way you're making me live while I kind of don't want to, but you tried to and did help me.
Because I can't help you in another way than with money and because I don't really feel like wearing your design, would you mind giving me a PayPal link or something I'd be able to give you a donation trough? I like to help people who helped me, most of the time they're artists but being that much kind deserves some sort of reward (a medal would be cool but I don't have that kind of power hehe).
Thanks again Papabear,
* * *
Thank you for your reply, and I am very happy that you had such a great talk with your mother and that she and your father are supportive. That's wonderful! I'm also relieved that you have--I hope!--put aside any ideas of suicide. It sounds like you're a tad resentful of me for "making" you live, but I can live with that. If it took making you hate me in order to convince you of the folly of suicide, I would have done my best to make you despise me.
I think you're right that there was a little miscommunication here and, perhaps, I didn't get exactly what you were saying. It sounded to my ears that, in the original letter, you wanted to die and hoped that would somehow achieve your dreams of going to your fantasy life and living as a winged wolf. This is why I tried to bring you down to reality because I feel that if I encouraged you in your fantasy life it would encourage you to kill yourself.
I wish to make clear that I have no objections to mental play and an interior fantasy life. After all, I have one as well in which I exist as a bear. And if you wish to fantasize about being a flying wolf, that's fine--as long as you acknowledge it as a fantasy only.
The other thing I wish to clarify is that I may have overemphasized science too much in my reply as a way to see that the universe is not dull. There's a lot to be said for the arts, as well--the celebration of beauty and truth through painting, music, writing, and other arts. You can find a lot of joy in these things, as well.
Now, about your struggles with memory. There are actually things you can do to improve your long-term memory, including exercise, meditation, and getting a good night's sleep. In this fascinating article, there are some unexpected tricks you can practice, too. In addition to the suggestions you see there, I would also recommend you do puzzle games (anything from jigsaw puzzles and scrabble to math games), and do things such as learn a new language or study how to play an instrument. Your brain is like your muscles: if you don't exercise, your muscles turn to flab; likewise, if you don't exercise your brain, it turns to mush (this is why watching a lot of TV is really bad for your brain). Here is a CNN article about apps you can get for brain training, too, if you're interested. You've learned English very well; and if you can do that (which involves long-term memory), I am confident you can improve your memory in other areas, too.
I am not telling you to give up your fantasy life (I should have been more clear on that). I think, though, thanks to your talk with your mother (and with me?), that you are on a path toward balance. Balance science and fantasy, the real world and the imaginary, and I think you will be happier. These two sides are not opposites; rather, they complement each other.
I have another suggestion for you: some of the greatest science fiction writers of the Golden Age were also scientists. If you have never done so before, pick up some books by Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, and Robert A. Heinlein, for example. I think they might inspire you.
Thank you for offering to send me a donation, but I must decline. Because I'm not a professional in this field, I don't feel right taking money for offering advice (that's different from selling a shirt or a mug). If you wish to repay me, please tell other people about this column if you feel it truly helped, and thanks for your kind words.
A note on comments: Comments on letters to Papabear are welcome, especially those that offer extra helpful advice and add something to the conversation that is of use to the letter writer and those reading this column. Also welcome are constructive criticisms and opposing views. What is NOT welcome are hateful, hurtful comments, flaming, and trolling. Such comments will be deleted from this site. Thank you.