Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Growing up Furry

This is the story of a 38 year old woman that is a proud "furry".

"Furry" refers to folks that express themselves by creating anthropomorphic animal character personas with human characteristics.

I was born in 1976 and lived my childhood through the Eighties. That said, you have to understand that the internet, although early message board systems were up in their most basic form, was not available to most people. We just didn't have it back then. You grew up with your neighborhood, your classmates, and your family as the only people to get in touch with and talk to about things.

I remember as early as I began to speak I would bark at people, or growl. When they would lean over me and say, 'What a pretty little girl', my response was 'I'm a dog!' When I was able to walk and play I quickly found that placing a crocheted "snake" my mother made in my pants made a fine tail. I would prance around for hours, pretending to be Scooby Doo at first, then just random creatures as I got older. My family was not supportive of any of this.

I do have family issues in general. For one, as soon as I reached what mom thought was "the right age", I was discouraged to stop "being a baby" and put away all my toys and fantasy dreams. Even as a small child I was scolded for telling people I was a dog because it embarrassed her.

My furry self retreated as a young adult growing into a woman. For one thing, my "playing" days were considered over by all the adults in my life. For the other, I was involved with growing up and boys (along with school and health problems, but that's another story). But I found out that who you are is not to be denied. At around age 16 or so, I started growing very fond of wolves, tigers and foxes. It always seems to start there for furries, and even though I loved all animals in general, I did the norm and focused on those. I gradually became obsessed with wolves - werewolves in particular. Looking back, I can see that the werewolf was a good avenue for me to fantasize about. I was controlled strictly everywhere, in school and at home.

I had absolutely no rest. At the bus stop, the two neighbor kids teased me. While riding the bus, I was pelted with rocks, weed-stickers and anything that was disgusting or could possibly hurt. During school, I was ignored whenever there were match-ups, and left every single time as the last one when there were choices to be made for any type of teams. When I came home, it wasn't any better. It was no surprise when I had a mental breakdown (I was bipolar and no one knew it until I got tested).

When I finally returned, school teachers and counselors blackly stereotyped me when we told the schools I had mental problems. My mother and stepfather just thought I was "faking" all my illnesses. The werewolf is ostracized by their fellow humans as well. I could relate to that. Also, the wolf is a pack animal, and creatures that run in packs have strong bonds with each other. I wanted this from my family and fellow classmates. I needed it; I  craved it. When I didn't get it, I turned to becoming a wolf myself. I played with the story, read a lot of literature, painted werewolves in art class. That sort of thing.

Then I heard from people that my single "friend" had ;always talked about me behind my back to gain status from others. See, they wouldn't speak with her since she was a nerd. Real nerds are not glamorous, as today's media interprets them. We are pariah, and many do not have friends. But if she told gossipy stories about me, they would pay her attention. This hurt deeply. I took a chicken's heart from the soup we were having for dinner one night and ate it in front of her.

Yes, I eat chicken hearts. More about that below.

That's when I realized that I had perhaps taken it a bit too far, seeing as she was wholly American and didn't get that sort of thing anyway. I had shocked her, certainly, but for what reason? I told my mother, very calmly, that there was talk about people saying I was a werewolf at school. I said that they might be contacted about it (I had a feel for the school system doing this to me by now) and that I had it under control. I was going to try and not be open about what I believed and wanted. All I wanted was something that wasn't possible - to be a furry half-human creature, loved by others of my pack and accepted. I didn't understand why or how humans could be so cruel to others. And I didn't know about furries. There was nowhere I could turn to see that there were others like me. The school did contact my mother, who in her turn didn't listen to me and went there for a conference. They called me in like an intervention with a slew of counselors and my art teacher lied in front of everyone. I think I know why she did it now; she wanted my mother to think things were serious and "fix" her "mentally unstable" child.

I like rare - even raw -- meat. I always did. When I was little my mother would let me eat some of the meatball mix when she made them. I always ask for "blood rare" (or "blue") meat when we go out, and I enjoy eating parts of creatures that Americans think are weird. I was raised fully Italian. Eating the giblets, like the heart and gizzard of a chicken, is not strange when viewed by another culture. And the fact that I liked my roast beef sandwiches bloody rare was translated into "she's eating raw meat". Everyone was predisposed to think this because I was "weird", I didn't do "normal" things, and anyway, I wanted to be a wolf! Of course I was fucked up!

But I wasn't.

Sadly, I allowed myself to be, once again, beaten down. And when the internet became huge, I went online and discovered I wasn't the only one that felt this way. I developed a fursona and kept things small, just drawing and writing a bit about her, through which I discovered an amazing fact.

She was the real me.

After many years I now have a wonderful and supportive husband. With his love it still took me six or so years before I opened up and began buying, making and wearing tails again. He doesn't understand, but he knows it makes me happy. We've been married nine years as of 2014 and I own several tails and sets of ears, as well as a necomimi (sic) set that I wear when the fancy strikes me. I dye my hair wild colors at my age and stand up straight when people get angry in public because I don't look "normal". I have started to realize that my happiness is just that - mine. It shouldn't affect you in a negative way. It should be the opposite! When you see someone so happy and being pleasant to you, you should react in the same way back. If you do not, then I wash my paws of you.

You dislike me because I'm different? Because you see only the negative aspect of furries? Every group, by the way, has its "crazies", the extremists. They don't make up 100% of the culture. Just because "that one" does this or that doesn't mean other furries do. I choose to be part of a group that is supportive of all its members. One that has hugs and pack acceptance. If you are judging me badly because you think being furry means something disgusting without really learning about us, or because I'm different, then you have a flaw that I don't care for.

You're too human.

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