So, I'm an aspiring furry and I want to make a head for my fursuit! But, my mom thinks that the furry fandom is sexual and keeps telling me to stop being one because its "GROSS!" and "bad." I keep trying to explain to her that the fandom isn't sexual and that we are actually donating to charities and stuff but she won't listen. What should I do?
Grazer (age 11)
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Both you and your mother are correct. The fandom can be a lot of good, clean fun, and yes, a lot of charity work has been done by furries. But your mother is also correct in that there is a lot of adult art in the fandom, and you need to be careful you don't associate with the wrong crowd. There are a lot of good furries, but there are also some very bad ones. You, being 11, can be an easy target for bad furries. Your mother is trying to protect you, which is not only her right but also her duty as a parent.
That said, your mother needs to not go the easy route of just saying, "No, you can't be a furry." This is what I call "lazy parenting." Also, it is ineffective. When a parent tells a kid, "You can't do that because I said so," the kid just wants to do the forbidden activity all the more and thinks the parent is not listening to them or sympathizing with them. This can create resentment, secretive behavior, and misbehavior on the part of the child.
What Mom needs to do is become more involved in your life. The two of you should explore furry together. First, understand that the furry fandom was created for adults, not children. The entire establishment of the furry fandom was meant to create anthro characters in adult situations (not just sex, but everything from scenes about violence to other mature situations and themes). But since it began, the fandom has evolved, too. It used to be mostly for people in their teens and twenties (and still largely is), but now more and more you see furries who are a lot older (I'm 55, for example) as well as kids as young as 10. The fandom needs to accommodate this changing membership, and in a lot of ways it does. For example, if you go to a furry convention, there will often be an art gallery. Most of the art is clean, but there is some mature art, which is kept in a separate section and only adults are allowed in. Also, minors such as yourself must be accompanied by a parent or guardian at any furcon, and panels and workshops that address adult topics are restricted to mature members.
You should not argue with Mom. Instead, explain why you are interested in furries. Have a discussion with her. Also, tell her you understand her concerns and tell her that she is right to be worried, and also you should thank her for caring! Then, invite her to explore furry with you. Tell her that she can freely monitor what you view on the computer and on your phone to make sure you don't see anything bad. Ask her for her help in navigating the online world. Ask her to watch the movies and TV shows you enjoy with you. Maybe, with enough communication, you can even ask her to take you to a furcon someday.
In short, don't argue with Mom. Communicate with her. Listen to her concerns and ask her to listen to your feelings as well.
It's my first time writing this letter to your website after I saw your ad on FurAffinity a couple of months ago while I was working at home for a company I don't want to name here.
The thing is I have two dilemmas which I'm dealing this moment. The first one is with the family in which my old brother (mid-30s) finally moved out to a new apartment and live there after we had to put up with so much toxicity for everything, even when I had that job the first 3 months of this year. It was so frustrating to live together when he judges from the food that my mom serves (who was a lawyer) to the dirt of this apartment. He pretends to be a rich, entitled dude but he goes to the fancy places (so he works as a sound engineer for live events for some artists) wanting to be part of that society. Also he's kinda narcissistic, specially with his previous ex-girlfriends. I tried to understand him about his past when he decided to go and live with his dad (a lawyer, too) after my mom divorced him; and then realize that the wasn't the ideal home to live, amid of the problems are having with the other family, including their finances. It was an everyday conversation with my mom when she mentions that part and that's why my brother has an inferiority complex due to these problems. But it was a relief to leave the nest and face the reality to live alone and not depending from my mother and I all the time. Leaving that aside, I doubt I could talk with him after he treated and scolded me so badly for being a shy guy and being dependent for my mom. But that's not the way to treat a person like that, even when I'm jobless/unemployed.
What should I do in this case? Should I ignore it or try to forgive him?
The second issue is more personal. As I'm introvert guy and a degree holder with a little experience in Film and Television, I always wanted to be a full-time content creator and live from it, even though I already tried to write posts on my blog and uploaded videos on my YouTube channel; besides of monetizing and earned a few cents. The problem with this one is I feel remorse of getting late to the party and the constant perfectionism of each content I'm creating. Besides that, I have a lot of insecurities and a lot of episodes of anxiety and depression ending to postpone the main project. I told my mom about how these creators earn money from it and I'm aware that it's not easy to get enough followers in order to monetize the content. And almost always get demotivated (mentally and creative) for this reason, until I wrote a script for a podcast I'm going to make this week. Being a loner has both advantages and disadvantages, so I tried to talk with other furs about the project and some of them was amazed and left some thumbs up, but they never asked me for a feedback or some moral support to keep going and staying afloat. And even I talked with some psychologists and some friends as well.
And I also want to learn to draw again and offer some commissions. So, I decided to undertake this path without leaving aside other projects that I have in mind, staring with the screenplays I'm writing. Do you know if there's a way to be more confident with the people I surrond it and myself? I want to overcome this weakness.
I'm sorry that this letter is so extensive or long, but I hope this will be helpful for me, Papabear.
Gabbo The Fox (Colombia, age 28)
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Your letter is a little difficult to decipher, I fear, probably because English is your second language, but I think I get your meaning. So, the questions seem to be, in summary: 1) How do I deal with my brother? and 2) How do I gain confidence to become a better podcaster and online personality?
Your brother is trying to be a big shot as a way to compensate for his own lack of self-confidence, which probably arose from growing up in a dysfunctional family. In my opinion, he's getting involved with a very shallow, money-grubbing crowd and will likely regret it, eventually. I would not recommend following his lead, and you don't have to accept his criticism of you or your life choices. Whenever he criticizes you, just smile and say, "Thank you for your advice. I will take it under consideration." Then, ignore him and do your own thing. He is a damaged person, and you would be wise not to worry about his opinions.
Your second question is slightly related to your first because one of the best things you can do to boost your self-confidence is avoid toxic people like your brother and surround yourself with supportive, loving people. This is not to say you only want to have "yes men" around you (people who just agree with everything you say to make you feel better), but you do want people who care about you and try to support what you are doing in life and career.
Another thing you should do, you are already doing: pursue your dream. In this case, you are seeking to develop audio and video content online using what you have learned from your film degree (and congrats to you for completing your degree!). Don't worry if you are struggling at first. Everyone struggles at first! You are finding out that doing stuff for a college class is very different from real-world experience. You are going to have some failures, but the thing is to learn from your failures, grow, and improve. You won't have an instantly huge audience. Audiences take time to build. Be patient and keep at it! If you can do what you love for a living, you will be truly blessed throughout your entire life!
Next, don't compare yourself to others. Everyone has different experiences in their career and life paths. Some will be more successful than you, but you are not competing with them. Work on being unique unto yourself, providing people with something that has your own spin, your own personality, your own content. Be an individual and focus on what you are doing now, in the present. If you work hard now and develop your skills, eventually there will be a payoff.
Learn what you are best at, where your strengths are, and develop those. Meanwhile, keep an eye open for opportunities. You never know when something might develop that will open doors for you and your career. Also, keep learning new things. The industry you are in is constantly changing and developing. If you can keep up with all these changes, you will be doing better than a lot of your peers.
The more you learn, the more skills you develop, and the better you get at your job, the more confidence you will get. One day, you will realize, "Damn! I really know what I'm talking about, and I'm good at it, too!" At that point, you will have arrived.
This is my first time sending this. But here's my question, it's been kinda bothering me. Is there a way to keep my mind off of negative thoughts from the past? The reason is have this question because I had times when I messed up in high school. Not paying attention, not doing my homework and all of that. And my father kept of telling me, "You're not going anywhere in life." if I kept on acting like school was nothing. Lucky for me, I actually graduated and I kinda expected for my father to congratulate me like how he did with my little brother, but he ignored me for the whole day. And it broke my heart seeing that all that I work hard for ... was just there for my father to ignore or seeing it as a joke. And it still bothers me till this day. Can you give me an advice?
* * *
Congratulations on completing high school. Good for you!
I have a feeling there is at least another letter or two in there about why your father treats you this way, but for now, I will just address the issue at hand. My bear gut tells me that all this stuff about not paying attention in school, not doing homework, etc., is probably related to stuff going on in the home. For example, if a kid or teen is having family trouble at home, or suffering from poverty and not getting enough to eat, or some such thing, it makes it difficult to concentrate at school. Or, it could be you have an attention deficit disorder or another mental or emotional issue that is hampering you. Or it could be that people have put you down so much that you didn't believe you were worth the trouble to do well in school and you self-sabotage.
Many things could be going on here, you see. I also suspect that you have trouble keeping your mind "off of negative thoughts from the past" because someone (guessing your father) keeps reminding you of his perceived shortcomings of you. Yet despite these handicaps, you still managed to get your diploma, and I think that shows you have a lot of character and proves your father wrong.
First thing's first. When your father tells you, "You're not going anywhere in life," don't believe him. Don't let this become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Going for my gut again, I'm guessing your father didn't get where HE wanted to go in life, and he is now projecting that negativity onto you.
Am I hitting any targets here?
If I am correct in any of this, the solution is to get your father out of your head and write your own story of success. Just because he doesn't believe in you doesn't mean you shouldn't. If it's worth anything, I'm proud of you for finishing high school and hope you continue your education (whether or not it is a formal education matters not at all). Now, doing this is tough, admittedly. That's because it is programmed in all of us to want our parents' approval. Many times, parents are kind and loving and give us what we desire, but sometimes there are bad parents who not only deprive us of this emotional need but actually damage us emotionally by attacking our sense of self-worth (this is usually because the parent is damaged themselves and passes that emotional disease on to the next generation).
To get your father's voice out of your head, you need to recognize that he is not perfect and that there is a very real possibility (I feel, certainty) that he is incorrect about you. Once you acknowledge that, you can break free of that chain and begin to actualize yourself.
In addition, you need to begin supplanting negative thoughts about yourself and negative memories with good, positive thoughts about yourself. Take some time each and every day to look at yourself in the mirror and reflect (pun intended) on good things you have accomplished and good traits that you have. Do not be hesitant to congratulate yourself on something good you have done or some good quality that you have. Spend at least 10 minutes a day doing this; longer, if you can. The more you do this, the more you will crowd out negative brain waves running through your mind.
Live your life as you see fit and not with the goal of pleasing others. You are not placed on Earth to make your father happy. You are here to discover yourself and improve yourself. Whatever it is in your life that you find appealing and wish to pursue, regardless of what others think or demand, that is what you should do. And don't listen to people who say you can't do it. If you truly want it, then you should go for it. Even if you fail, keep trying. Failure is not the end; it is merely a chapter in learning.
I hope this helps. Good luck to you!
I have been in the furry fandom for about 6 or 7 years, give or take, and have been making fursuits for about two. i don't post about my fursuits to online forums, but I do distribute to friends and family. Recently, I came under some drama because of one.
I had made a black wolf suit a while ago and gave it to a friend, who sold it last year as they no longer wanted the suit or the character the suit was based of off. Recently, adult content featuring this suit has popped up, and most people don't care, but my friend group, and people who know me personally/know my friends and work, have been harassing me and the person who originally owned the suit.
I believe the person who owns the suit now converted it into a murrsuit, as I made repairs to the suit before it was sold because of a popped seam in the armpits, and on the neck of the head, and there weren't any naughty holes in it then.
I have tried to explain the situation to others, but I can't seem to get it through to them. Any advice?
* * *
I've come across many similar situations from my readers in my inbox. While the specifics are different, the results are the same. A furry gets accused of something they didn't do and no one will believe them when they deny it, even when they present evidence to the contrary.
When this happens, the letter writer always asks me for advice on what they can do to convince their friends and family they are innocent. Wrong question. You did nothing wrong. The real question is this: WHY don't they believe you? There could be a couple of reasons for this. Are you an untrustworthy person who has lied before? If so, like the boy who cried wolf, you are unlikely to be believed.
I don't think this is usually the case, however, with the people who write to me, including you. Far more likely is that these other people don't like who you are or don't agree with what you are doing. Therefore, when they find some "evidence" that justifies their point of view, they believe it and will not change their minds about it because it validates their opinions. This is the same reason we have Trump voters. Despite all the evidence to the contrary that he is a horrible person and an incompetent leader, people voted for him because he validates their worldview concerning white superiority and the fear of people who are different. In your case, the idea that you make murrsuits validates their worldview that all furries are perverts, so they stick with that interpretation.
Another possible reason is that they are looking for people to put down so that they feel superior themselves. This is the trolling syndrome and is also true of bullies. Many people who have low self-esteem become bullies or trolls and look for signs of weakness in others in their community. Whether or not that "weakness" is true or not, they will glom onto it and begin a campaign of trashing you so that they can say, "Hey, look, that person is a loser. They aren't like me. I'm awesome and superior to them." (They don't talk like that, but you get what I mean.)
So, my advice? Since you can't argue with stupid people and hateful people, all you can say is this: "Well, I have told you my side of the story, which is true. If you refuse to believe me, that's on you, not me." The burden is on them to fix the relationship, not you. The good news, if you want to put a positive spin on things, is that now you know which of your friends are derps and should be avoided.
Then look for better people to befriend. They are out there. I know a lot of them. Fortunately, sounds like not all of your friends believe this lie, so that's a great thing!
So, I showed my grandma a fursuit that I liked online, and said that it was cute, and I'd like to make one someday if I had the money to, because I love to build fursuits. She looked at me really concerned, and said, "Other than being a furry, what do you like to do? Are there any careers you'd like in the future?" I know it sounds harmless, but her tone and concern showed that she didn't like me being a furry at all. She's VERY religious and isn't very open-minded on most subjects. I love her, but I need some help. Do you have any advice?
Checkmate (age 11)
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Yes. Be happy that your nana isn't being crass about your furriness, but respect that she is not entirely comfortable with it. You are more than just a furry, so talk to her about all the other stuff in your life. She is concerned about your future, so talk to her about what you would like to do in your future and what you see yourself doing. Furry isn't everything. You can still share a lot with her about you and your family. Also, ask her about and talk about HER life. Show interest in her. She has been around a lot, so take advantage of her experiences and wisdom. Also, if you can, do things together and make new memories. Your gramma won't be around forever. Enjoy her presence in your life now.
I've always had this bitter feeling between me and my parents. It's not hate or spite. It's just a unpleasant. I feel like it has to do with differences in political views. I hate this feeling. I feel unwanted in this world in I'm around my parents or any authority figure. The only people that make me feel whole and wanted are my friends. I love my friends, they make me feel wanted, like I deserve love. However, there's this fear in my head. I'm afraid of that bitter feeling and I'm afraid of that bitter feeling spreading. I mean, I've had friends with different political views but I never had any feeling of bitterness with those select friends. All of my friends, and I mean; ALL OF MY FRIENDS make me feel whole and wanted. What I'm afraid of is that the bitterness would spread in some friendships. I absolutely don't want that. I don't think I can bare such an oppressive feeling. I have a good feeling that it will NEVER happen. But I still fear it. So what do you think is the deal? Why is it that my parents and authority give me that bitter feeling? It confuses the hell out of me.
Maxi (age 18)
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It is quite natural for teenagers to resent, disagree with, and even sometimes hate their parents. I would, however, be hesitant to believe that you "always" felt that way. I'm sure that when you were a baby and little kid, you loved and looked up to your parents. As you got older and started to form your own opinions and worldview that didn't mesh with your parents' views--and, also, found them to be authority figures who restricted what you wanted to do (i.e., your "freedom")--you began to dislike their company. This pretty much always happens. My theory is that Mother Nature plans it this way because fledglings eventually have to leave the nest, and it is easier for parents to kick their kids out of the house (or to see them go on their own) during a stage in their lives when they become obnoxious, disrespectful, and petulant.
You see, Maxi, growing up comes in three phases: 1) infancy and childhood, when you depend on your parents as your sole source of nurturing and comfort and you believe they know everything and they are your world and you crave their attention and love; 2) puberty and the teen years, when you suddenly know everything, you're always right, and your parents become utter morons who should be put in an institution for the sake of public safety; 3) adulthood, when you realize that both you and your parents have good and bad points, know some things and not other things, and you are all basically good but flawed human beings. You are currently in Stage 2.
Stage 2 is also characterized by the forming of close bonds with your peers, who you feel more closely reflect who you are, what you think, and how you feel. All of you are in the phase when you resent your parents as authority figures, and this is often expanded to all authority figures (teachers, bosses, police officers, politicians, etc. etc.)
As your friendships progress, you will lose some friends along the way (they will move or you will stop sharing interests or you will find out they are jerks), but you will also form new friendships. Do not become distressed by this because this is also perfectly normal. Do not be upset if you become "bitter" about some of these lost friendships. That is also normal.
Do you see a theme here? The theme is: You are normal. Everyone goes through this to a greater or lesser degree. You are not suffering from any weird psychological or emotional disorder. You're fine.
Eventually, as you mature, in all likelihood you will realize you are not as smart and cool as you think you are and your parents aren't as despotic and mean as you think they are. I feel quite confident that you are not unwanted and that your parents actually love you quite a lot. Over time, you will also get better at forming true, lasting friendships and recognizing which people are just fair-weather friends or, perhaps, even users. You will form better friendships and your relationship with your family will get better (this, again, is a typical pattern but there are always exceptions, but I see nothing in your letter at this time to indicate it will progress otherwise).
I hope this makes you feel better, Maxi. You are just at the beginning of exploring deep, meaningful relationships because you yourself are becoming a more mature, complex, and interesting person. Roll with it.
First of all I'd like to thank you for being such a positive influence for so many people and the fandom. Many charge a ton of money to do less than half of what you do and whatever your reasons are, I feel you're being honest and sincere in your answers. You've been thanked by many, I know, but the fact that you do what you do, makes me feel grateful that you're here, and having something to be grateful alone makes me feel a little better.
Well, I'll try to get to the point. I was born in a very white trash, poor, religiously fanatic and very abusive family in a 3rd world country. So I guess it goes without saying that I have issues. Several traumas, depression, anxiety, ptsd, add, the list goes on.
I won't get further into that because that is another whole can of anaconda sized worms on it's own so I'll focus on what's bothering me right now.
Recently I've come to the realization that my self-hatred is enormous, way bigger than I thought it was and it probably has a bigger impact on me than any other factor. I've been trying to lessen it's effects with some simple practices and try to understand to what point it affects me.
Now, seemingly unrelated to that I've became very interested or maybe obsessed with My Little Pony FIM as of late. Specifically fanfiction. I was always a fan of the show but my interest in it had died so long ago I even stopped watching the show. I don't know why I started reading the fanfictions exactly, I think I frantically read all fancomics that I found and still wanted to consume more of that universe so I looked at fanfiction.
Here's where it gets weird. I absolutely hate reading. It's one of the things I hate the most in life and even to read a fiction book like Eragon took me a loooot of effort and will. Only book I think I wholeheartedly read without any struggle was The Hitchhiker's guide to the Galaxy, which remains in my concept one the best works of fiction/entertainment of all time.
I digress. I started reading these fanfictions and having an amazing time, the first one I've read captivated me just like Hitchhiker's. I didn't focus on anything specific such as romance or sci-fi. They were just a few surprisingly well written stories in that universe by an author. The second author I found had good stories too but they were very focused on romance, comedy and a specific kind of drama I really spent hours thinking about. By that I mean that many time when I'm reading one of these stories, I stop reading them and begin to "spin off" from it and think on different things the characters in the story could have done and many times I stay hours in that state so much so the story in my head is now another one completely.
I told myself I was going to stop after that one story because It was consuming too much of time. I didn't, I kept getting back and finding more and more fanfictions to read. And usually feel bad all the time but recently I started to feel worst so I thought: "Either I read this fics to escape or they're what causing me to feel worst."
At first I thought it probably wasn't the latter, and I still don't think it is but something strange happened. I found some fics where I related to a character, usually a character who suffers from depression, has a lot of self hatred (not low self-esteem) and all that brings.
I've been to many lowest of lows and suicide is far from an alien thought to me to say the least. (Not only for emotional distress but physical pain as well, I've dealt with some hard stuff.)
But I've never contemplated self in reality of fantasy and I've never glamourized suicide outside of very very common "self sacrifice" fantasies.
So, at one time I read a comic when a character is feeling unworthy/guilty for depression reasons and the character doesn't do anything except think. But I go on one of my "spin offs" and put myself in his place and I start fantasizing about him/me piercing his/my shoulder and making a slice from it to my collar bone. It felt weird because I really, really, really wanted to feel the pain of doing that. I'm not a fan of pain, I'm averted by any sadist or masochistic thing or thought so this was really a first to me.
Then it happened one where I (the character), flew very very high up and just let go. And again, I really wanted to experience that, which is funny since I'm somewhat afraid of heights and it's not on my top 10 ways to suicide. (Don't have a list, just wanted to stress the feeling.)
And this keeps happening, I knew I hated myself but I never knew to what degree until this started to happen. I can't find why my subconscious want's to be punished so hard, why does it feel so guilty. I don't feel like I was or am a burden to anyone, I only sometimes feel a slight hint of guilt over decisions I've made in the past over something small and it goes away pretty fast. Do I consciously feel unworthy of love, affection, attention, existing? Very much, yes. But can that translate to fantasies of self harm when in reality I don't have the slightest wish to do so?
I know the source it's trauma but this is new to me and it feels like it's a big part of the whole picture. Am I not seeing something that's clearly there? If I'm just living "hidden" emotions through these characters, why are these emotions more hidden than the others? Should I stop reading fanfiction or at least avoid the ones with this theming?
These are a lot of questions, I don't expect you to answer all, if any of them. I hope I've at least expressed myself well enough to give you an idea of what I feel because my real question is:
What's your take on this?
Also I'd like to let you know that I'm planning or hurting or putting myself in danger in any way so please don't worry. I've been trying to be introspective with my feelings to see where they come from, the why and how and It's obviously not easy but with every realization I feel a little better, if not I feel like I've gained a key to unlock some other mystery in the future.
But every time I think I cannot be surprised anymore, well... So I don't know what to make of this, all I know is that I can't feel good fantasizing about hurting myself. If anything that is proof of my decaying state of mind and I'm looking for improvement not decay. Sorry for any confusing parts, I hope I've explained it at least well enough to not give you any headaches.
Thank you so much, Papabear. Hope you have an awesome holyday season and new year!
P.s. I still hate to read but I think I love to write. XD
Anonymous (age 27)
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Thank you for your letter. You raise a very interesting topic: the healing power of fiction and literature in general. It sounds as if you have had quite a difficult childhood, so I extend to you my sympathies. Almost without fail, people who suffer from low self-esteem, depression, and anxiety are this way because of external forces. That is, traumas you have experienced or feelings of being negatively judged originate from those whou surround you and do not spontaneously generate from within. The only reason you feel badly about yourself is that you have been the subject of physical, emotional, or psychological abuse or a combination of these.
Many people find comfort by escaping into fantasy worlds, or through other forms of art ranging from film to music to the visual arts. Fiction literature appears to be the remedy you have found for yourself. That is perfectly normal. In fact, there are studies that show that reading novels and stories can ease people's emotional and psychological issues. Indeed, it has also been shown that reading fiction can help us learn to improve social interactions and empathy with others. In the world of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic you have anthropomorphic unicorns, ponies, dragons etc., many of which have cheerful and spunky personalities, making friends and solving various problems and quests by working together. It's a very upbeat and optimistic cartoon, which is why it is so popular. Obviously, MLP represents a world that you find desirable, and reading MLP fan fiction and imagining yourself in that world is part of your self-therapy. You see, lacking a therapist in the real world, you have discovered your own treatment through this television show and its fanfic.
Okay, so why the dreams or fantasies about dying in one way or another in various MLP scenarios you imagine for yourself? Obviously, you start off daydreaming about the MLP world and then your feelings of depression and anxiety intrude upon it. This is similar to when children have a dream that starts off happily but ends up with a monster suddenly appearing and attacking them. The monster could represent things such as fear about a bully at school, a homework assignment or test, or perhaps an upcoming visit to the doctor or tension in the family. So, here you are, in your case, having an escapist fantasy and then the black clouds in the back of your mind intrude upon it.
You also mention you are experiencing fears and guilt about hiding your emotions and feelings. It sounds like you are keeping something out of the letter, such as feeling ashamed of who you are, something you are keeping secret from your family? I can only speculate, but this could obviously be the monster intruding into your daydreams as well in the form of self-destruction. Furthermore, the fantasy of dying in an act of self-sacrifice is a call to get attention that you are a worthwhile person. Let me ask you this: in your daydreams of self-sacrifice, do you go out in a blaze of glory? An explosion or fireball? These are symbolic of trying to send a flare up into the sky to get attention when you feel stranded on a desert island of loneliness. (You can feel lonely in a room full of people, you know.) Complementary to this is the daydream of piercing or cutting yourself. This is a subconscious desire to feel something, to verify that you DO exist because you feel ignored. "Hello? Am I here? No one is acknowledging me! Do I even exist? If I cause myself pain, I will confirm that I do."
The solution to all this is to get your family to acknowledge that you are a worthwhile and valued member of the clan, but if they won't do that, then you need to find a family and friends that do. Family, in my opinion, is not necessarily your blood relatives (see Lilo and Stitch). Family are the people who love and support you for being you. In My Little Pony, the characters are not related but they are still family. For now, these fictional characters have become your surrogate family, but you would do well to find some people in real life who fulfill your needs as well as talking ponies and unicorns do.
In the meantime, you say that you don't like reading but you love writing. Writing is extremely therapeutic, too. I encourage you to write your own stories, working out your feelings as you do so.
Make sense? Write again and let me know.
Sorry I haven’t written in a while. I’ve just been very busy with woodwork and social stuff. However, recently I’ve been thinking about the sad and dark stuff that happened in 2020 and how so much I wasn’t expecting just how low the year could get.
I’ve been feeling down lately (though I stress I wanna live more than anything). The news and all the horrifying stories about COVID-19 and the horrific crimes committed by police (the fact I now cannot trust them with my life given my mild Autism and hearing about police murdering Aspies [people with Asperger's] is both depressing and disturbing), the numerous deaths of beloved figures from disease, the recent financial recession in my country. Not to mention the natural disasters that occurred earlier in the year and so many events I were looking forward to getting cancelled.
I’ve also suffered a relapse in depression. There are nights where it’s been so overwhelmingly miserable, I just want to cry myself to sleep. I struggle to smile and find the situation so hopeless, I can’t stop frowning. I just wanna smile again and feel hope and light, not this looming despair and darkness that leaves me paranoid of a horrible disease. It’s so scary and uncertain.
I’ve been feeling lonely lately. Trying to get out of the house to help my mother out with shopping and seeing a friend is to try and cheer myself up. It’s hard to feel hopeful when the news is destroying my faith in humanity and the global pandemic is killing so many people. I’m just so overwhelmed.
I also felt a sense of guilt from what happened with Etika. I wanted to help him because I could empathise with him and wanted to help him but when I heard he was blocking people trying to help him, I didn’t do anything because I loved his stuff and I wanted to not bother him. I was scared when I heard about his disappearance and was devastated when I heard the news of his suicide. I’m crying typing this because I feel so guilty I didn’t do anything even if doing something kind meant being blocked for trying to be a good person.
Also, one massive thing that traumatised me and made me feel terrified was my Mum’s so-called friend (I’m just gonna call him “J” even though he has the same name as my brother which I find insulting). I noticed early on in 2019 when J was emotionally abusive to my mum, gaslighting her and making her feel as if he was the only one who truly loved her(my separated father is 10-times the better partner than that bastard). He was also screaming at her at times. I could hear them through the paper thin walls. He threw things and was cruel to her. First time that happened my brother and I (and my dog Jake though neither of us got our shoes on and I couldn’t get my phone or wallet from upstairs) ran out while my Mum called the cops (this is before my trust in them was destroyed this year) and her bloody bruised face still haunts me. Second time it happened at night after he “apologised” to her and threatened to kill himself if she left, I couldn’t take it anymore and screamed at him to get out and stay out! I never once trusted him and my mum screamed at me that I should be glad dad and mum are in separate relationships. I don’t appreciate abuse. I always had a gut feeling not to trust him but I was nice to him anyway before the second time because I wanted to give him a second chance. He even gave me chew lollies but I suspect it was a bribe to shut me up and it didn’t work. I now associate the packet of lollies with that asshole. I hate them.
Both times, he destroyed something in the house (the car park door on the 2nd time) and made my mum cry. I hate myself for being so scared. I hate that man for what he did and it took every bit of willpower not to attack him the second time he attacked my mum. He’s also taller than my mum and me so he’s intimidating. He’s a monster. A cruel, manipulative and evil sack of shit who I hope I NEVER see his face again.
By the way, I should clarify despite my sadness at my parents separating, they’re still good parents who care about me and my siblings.
The 2010s were honestly some of the darkest and lowest points in my life. I was seriously hoping 2020 would actually improve things but it just got worse. I really wanna hope 2021 is slightly better but I have no idea. I wanna be a parent before I’m 30 but I’m worried if I’ll be a good parent given that I remember a social class from primary school when we were given a younger student from another class to help as a “parent” and I wasn’t there for them so they were given to someone else and the kid told me to my face I wasn’t there for them and were disappointed in me. I know it was just a school Project but it haunted me ever since and makes me scared I’ll be a bad parent for real. After some horrible abuse I went through from that shithead, I realised how important my family mean to me. I really wanna be a good loving attentive father one day.
I guess my questions are this: is there any hope for the future and how can I be a better person? Also, hope your leg’s okay, Papa Bear. I was rather worried when I heard the news from you. Stay safe, mate.
From a concerned and unhappy canine.
Sam the Dog
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Wow, there is a lot going on in this letter. There are at least four questions here: 1) Given the current state of the world, how can I be optimistic and hopeful about the future? 2) How do I deal with my mom and her abusive boyfriend? 3) Should I be a parent soon? 4) How do I deal with my feelings of guilt regarding Etika? (Please note in future that you are only supposed to ask one question per letter, but I know that writing this down is a catharsis for you, so it's okay this one time.
Let's start with the second one first. Domestic abuse is a serious business. Your mother's boyfriend is emotionally abusive and, it sounds like, even physically so. There is not too much you can do until your mother recognizes this, and there are many psychological reasons too complicated to go into here as to why she might be so reticent to change her life. I'm not sure what Australian police are like, but if you do not trust them to help with domestic abuse problems, I would recommend you contact Lifeline Australia (https://www.lifeline.org.au/), which offers services concerning suicide, domestic abuse, and other crisis support services. Start with them.
Next: Etika. What happened to Etika is not your fault. Could you have done more? Sure, you could have tried to talk to him more or recommend help for him, but ultimately his choices were his own. You do not own other people's fates; you only own your own fate.
Should you try and be a parent before you are 30? Ideally, in my opinion, no one should try to be a parent until they have their shit together, but if I could somehow enforce that, Homo sapiens would become extinct in a couple of generations. Almost no one has their shit completely together, so the second option would be to have your shit mostly together, meaning you had enough income and could provide a stable environment to nurture a child into adulthood. Do not become a parent for your own selfish reasons (I cannot count how many times I have heard people say, "I want a baby so I have someone to love me" or "I want a baby so I have someone to take care of me in my old age" or "I want a baby so that I can have someone to carry on my legacy.") All of these reasons are wrong reasons for bringing a human being into the world. So, ask yourself: "WHY do I want to bring a child into this crazy world?"
Lastly, the BIG question: How can one be optimistic about the future in such a grim year? To get a grip on this, one must accept that life goes in cycles. There are good periods in history and bad ones; economic good times and depressions; periods of political stability and periods of unrest. I sympathize with your unease in this Time of Trump, which is simply horrible. I am very nervous that our American republic is being destroyed and we are regressing into a past when racism ran rampant and when destroying the environment was the status quo. Right now, it is about 50/50 as to which path we will follow in November, and it is truly disturbing how many Americans still support Trump and his evil reign of hatred and racism. Let us hope that voters will turn things around, but if not, and we get four years (or more) of Trump, even then there is still hope because, as noted, eventually evil is overthrown and things improve. The only question is whether that happens sooner or later. Of course, you are in Australia, which is a stable, fairly socialist country (compared to the US), so you should be okay, especially since Australia is doing better handling the COVID-19 pandemic than many countries (South Australia is considered one of the safest places on Earth regarding the coronavirus). I think you will be okay. Hang in there.
Looking worldwide rather than just in Australia, yes, there has been a definite swing toward right-wing regimes in recent years. Countries including the USA, Brazil, the UK, Hungary, Poland, and Austria have growing right-wing movements. This is the result of a couple of things, including reactionary movements against immigration and the success of liberal legislation giving rise to counter-legislation. Basically, white, conservative Christians fearing they are losing power to brown-skinned people who follow other faiths or who are liberal socialists. So, we get a political phenomenon based on changing world demographics. As with any active system, there is turbulence during a transition from one equilibrium to the next. Things will settle down eventually, but it could take decades.
You can't take on the world by yourself. But I do like the saying, "Think globally, act locally." If you wish to do something, get involved in local political, social, and environmental groups, and see if you can lend them a hand. That will ease your sense of being powerless because you will be doing something constructive.
Good Luck to You! Take Care! Bear Hugs!
My parents have been fighting a lot lately, and I fear that they no longer love each other. Whenever I go to visit them, it seems they cannot get along with each other. My younger brother and sister ignore the fighting, but I know deep down that they are saddened by this and I do not know what to do. So I am writing to you for advice as to what to do about this.
Anonymous (age 21)
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Instead of speculating about what is going on between your parents, you should talk to them. Ask them what is going on. You and your siblings and your parents should have an honest family meeting and communicate with one another. You are 21 years old, so they can't pull the "you're too young to understand" excuse for not talking to you. Their relationship affects you and your siblings, so you have a right to know. Once you know what is going on, only then can you truly make a decision as to a course of action.
Since I was about 7 years old, I've felt like I wasn't a girl. When I tried talking to my dad about it, he told me not to listen to how I feel. At first, I thought I wanted to be a boy, but 3 years ago I discovered the term non-binary and only came out about a month ago. I only told my mom and best friend, and while my best friend has been super supportive, my mom seems a bit uncomfortable. I told her she could continue to call me "she" and her "daughter" to make her more comfortable, but it doesn't feel right. I want her to call me "they," but I don't want her to feel weird. Me and her have always loved drag queens, and she has always told me if I ever turned out to be gay she would be supportive, so it confuses me a bit to know she's uncomfortable with me being non-binary. Do you have any idea why she might feel this way and what I could do to make her feel better?
Hijinkx the Cataroo (13)
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First of all, your father's advice to not listen to how you feel is absolutely THE WORST advice he could possibly give you. So, do not listen to him on this point. As for your mother, at least she is trying to be sympathetic to you. I think she is uncomfortable about the non-binary term because she doesn't really understand what that is. She can comprehend homosexuality, but, let's face it, lately, there has been a lot of research and terms being flung around by the scientific and LGBTQI+ community that can be very confusing to most people. This page https://www.healthline.com/health/different-types-of-sexuality lists 46 terms that describe sexuality, gender, and orientation, for example, and there are actually even more than that.
What's going on here is that science, in recognizing that human sexuality and gender are very complex, is attempting to define all the various possibilities. Many people find this helpful because there is a sense of relief when one feels that one's personal feelings have been validated scientifically. But for those who are just plain-old heterosexual, white bread, and socially "normal," it can muddle the issue more than it clarifies it. I mean, throw around terms like cisgender, skoliosexual, demisexual, etc., and you are gonna get a blank stare. So many definitions can give one a headache and make one just want to tune it all out.
But just as this terminology can take some time and study to comprehend, so is your own sexuality coming into definition. At 13, you are still undergoing many changes, and you are still figuring things out. You are making a lot of progress and you definitely have resolved the fact that you don't feel like a girl even though that is what you are genetically. But now you are working toward what exactly that means and what variations of that apply to you, as well as how are you going to deal with it. This is an extremely personal voyage that only you can travel, although it helps when you have support from family and friends, people who can hold your hand.
What I am saying is this: Do not rush too quickly into defining yourself. You are only 13, and you are going to be developing physically, mentally, and emotionally for years to come still. And, just as you should not push yourself to the finish line too quickly (the finish line will just move farther ahead anyway), you should not push your parents too hard, either. Do not insist on them using the "they" pronoun yet. To them, you are their daughter, and that is a lot of responsibility in and of itself. Let them call you by whatever they are comfortable with. It is not an important issue right now. What is important is that you continue to explore your own feelings (and ignore parents who say ignore your feelings). This is not to say don't talk to your parents! TALK to them. But don't insist on anything. Just be honest about how you feel and don't put a label on it. Labels can be limiting anyway. If your mother can deal with this best by just thinking of you as being gay, then let her for now, even if she is not being accurate. If your father can't grasp your complex identity just yet, then let him just think of you as his daughter.
While this is all very much about you, it is also about your parents and their feelings. Try to be as sympathetic to what they are going through as you would like them to be about what you are going through. Do you understand? This is a process that will take many years. Do not expect instant results or instant sympathy and understanding. Take your time and be patient with them. And count yourself lucky that at least your parents are there for you, even though they are struggling to understand you.
And remember: we are more than just our sexuality and gender. We are complex beings of mind, spirit, and body. Your sexuality and gender are just one aspect of a complex human being--do not neglect the other aspects of yourself while you evolve as a person, and do not keep your parents from appreciating those other aspects as they strive to raise their child. Let them into your life without being insistent on what is just one part of you. Don't hide it, but don't bludgeon them with it, if you get my drift.
Let me know if you have any further questions.
Big Bear Hugs,
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