zetasyanthis: (Default)
Starter PSA.  This is no longer my main platform for interaction with the furry community.  Please follow me on SoFurry if you want regular (non-journal) content.  (Journals are cross-posted here since I know not all of you have an account over there at this point.)

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I've had a rough couple months, and though I plan to journal about that at some stage, that's not the focus for today.  Today, I need to talk, vent, and (maybe) cry about what we do to ourselves in the name of normality.  I can't speak for everyone, but I'm going to try to frame out what I've done (to myself) and what it's cost.  I'm a little scared to find out how much it's hurt me, and even more scared about what I can and can't do to fix that, but I guess we'll see as this moves forward.  (Stream of consciousness writing, activate!)

I'm terrified of putting my pictures online.  I'm terrified of someone linking my real name to my furry identity (Zeta Syanthis).  I'm terrified of someone linking my furry identity to the secondary accounts I use for adult material.  I'm terrified of an employer finding those links and deciding that maybe I'm a liability rather than an asset and firing me or maybe just hiring the next engineer instead.  I'm scared that I don't know what my body is doing some days, and terrified that I'll never be able to be sexually happy, because my brain demands things I physically cannot do.  I'm terrified of society's judgment in all of this, and of the harm many would visit upon me simply for being something they choose to fear rather than understand.  I'm scared of the monsters in the dark, my own destructive kinks that even I don't understand or want, and some days I hate myself for them, because they're just as wrong as all the rest of me. 

Every day, I struggle with the judgment of other people, and even worse, with my own internal judgment of myself.  The cost of this on my own mental health is staggering.  "What if they don't think I'm working hard enough?", "What if they hate me for being who I am?", and "What if my parents fully disown me when I legally change my name?"  This is stuff that is utterly caustic, and has been a leaking vat of toxic waste in my heart for years now.  I'm working with a (fantastic) therapist on this, but it feels like a lot of this stuff is coming to a head recently, and I'm a bit overwhelmed.  (Background:  I've set a deadline for myself to finally start HRT by the end of October for my own sake, and it's forcing me to deal with some of these issues as intended.)

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So... let's talk about identity.  My name is Zeta.  It's what my friends call me, what Dakota calls me, and what I identify with in a way that "Mark" will never be.  The name itself was an outgrowth of a several things, and just like me, it changed from its initial forms to what it is today.  It's traveled the journey with me, and I can't just pick another one.  That's not how this works.  :P  However, it also has a problem...  It was originally intended as an internet pseudonym.  There's a lot of things associated with it that would instantly become more-or-less public due to Google if I were to change my name.  (Zeta Syanthis is crazy unique and 100% googleable!)

Even if I was okay with all that information becoming public (and I'm not sure that I am - some folks would really squick at the fact that my 'sona is a hermaphrodite), there's the consideration of my secondary furry identities.  Before I joined the fandom proper and actually started going to meets, I was a lurker for more than 12 years, and active in various role-play chats on and off during that time.  There are secondary accounts spread around various sites that aren't immediately linked back to this identity (I've been somewhat careful), but it's inevitable that there are enough that someone could find them if they were really looking.  (Given how trans folk are targeted online, I *have* to assume I may be at some point in the future.)

Now, though I have no adult art of Zeta right now even on those accounts, I'd really like to be able to get some of it and have it online.  I certainly have enough favorites that are viewable on those to be damning as is.  I really, really want to be free and open with my sexuality, but I work in very professional circles, and it might also mean I become unemployed (or even unemployable).  (On top of that, I really wish I could journal about some NSFW things that I am not handling all that well, and that just adds to the pressure.)

Basically, ideal me has my own name and identity, is proud of who and what I am, and secure in my own sexuality and kinks...  Easy, right?  (Cue alarmingly hysterical giggling and crying.)  I know it's going to be a hell of a fight to get there, so much so that I've been paralyzed into indecision for a while now.  Meanwhile, my anxiety has been skyrocketing, and I've been falling apart under the pressure.  That can't continue, and so I'm going to have to start working on this.  I'm working with a therapist, but I need all the support and advice you guys can muster to get through this.

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So, let's talk about costs...

(I have to be real about this.  There are going to be costs here, and ones that I have to acknowledge and accept rather than just fear all the time.)

1. My Parents

I haven't talked to my parents in 3 months.  The last time we spoke over the phone was on Mother's day, and my mom said some very hurtful things to me.  Our relationship had been going downhill for a while despite my attempts to repair it, but I finally realized that the level of negativity coming back in every conversation (not just about furry / transgender issues) was actively harming me the more I exposed myself to it.  I (peaceably) broke contact for a while that day, which hurt a lot, but I think it's given me some space to heal... ... but...

I don't exactly want them out of my life, and they honestly haven't done anything so horrible as to be excluded from it.  They didn't take my coming out of the closet re: transgender very well, though, and have basically refused to acknowledge it.  My mom has explicitly told me that I am not to wear female clothing if I travel home for holidays, however, and she refuses to not use the term 'cross-dresser' at this point, which is not exactly helpful.  They are both older and fairly conservative, though.  I didn't realistically expect them to be happy or supportive about this day one and knew it'd take a while for them to come around.

That said, when (because if I'm honest, this isn't an if) I go for a name change, I think I'll lose them ... probably permanently.  Both are older, and I don't know that their health will last the years it'll take for them to come around, especially if I change my middle and last names (which I do not like) too. 

1b. My Brother

I've not written a lot about my brother here, but he could have his own series of journals.  Honestly, I could be doing better in supporting him, but I don't even know how at this point.  (He has some serious mental health issues that are not being treated right now as far as I know.)  Going to have to let this one lie until I figure out some of the other ones, I think.

1c. My Sisters

My sisters are both about 20 years older than I am.  They're very close to my mom, but really really understanding.  I'm not in regular communication with them like I should be, but I *think* they'll be supportive.  The close link to my mom may cause some issues though.

1d. Extended Family

I'm not very close to my extended family either right now, but that's due to some of the emotional shut-in-ness I've had over the past few years.  I think that if I reach out to some of them, I may get some support, but that's going to take a few years.  Some might be really upset that I hurt my parents with all this though, so I honestly don't know.

2. Employment / Co-workers

I'm still really shaken up by my first firing a few weeks ago.  That said, my new manager (as well as a few others in the management chain) are aware of my plans to transition, because I brought it up in the interviews.  (At the time, I wasn't sure I wanted the job, so I was pretty open/aggressive in my questioning of them too.)  My transitioning isn't a problem for them, and they've actually gone out of their way to be supportive, but we'll find out how well my co-workers handle it once they become aware.  Obviously, that could go just about any way, depending on their own viewpoints.  The good news is that I'm edging on desperately needed in my role right now, so my employment is reasonably secure regardless of much of anything else at the moment.

Back to the naming / Google issue.  Ideally, I would combine my multiple accounts (forcing the separation is both time-consuming and really reinforces my insecurities about it), but I'm not sure how to handle the fact that you could Google me and find adult material relatively easily.  (Requiring FA/SoFurry logins helps, but won't really stop anyone who's curious.)  Whether it's art of my 'sona (I already have one tasteful nude), favorites with kinks, or even a discussion of mental instability / sexuality like this post, it's a problem.  In theory, folks wouldn't really care, but I'm sure some will.  Any future employers doing background checks certainly will, and I have no idea what to do about that.

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Basically, I have a really fractured identity right now that's seriously messing me up, and I have *got* to start working on that.  Only problem is that I don't know what to do.  Name change is probably a year away at least, but that's the biggest hurdle as far as I am concerned right now.  I can't go on HRT and be "Mark", and I can't just change the name I've gone by for that many years.  What does do?
zetasyanthis: (Default)
This isn't the final entry in the touchy-feely saga, but it may be a holding point for now.  We'll get to why, and to what in a bit, but I just want to say thank you to anyone who played a part in this.  A lot of you may not think you did much of anything, but it turns out that simply being there can help more than you can know at times.  We've a couple of big news items to go through, so let's begin...

As those who have been reading this blog know, I've had a bit of a rough year.  What some of you may not know is exactly how stressful it was.  Between work stress, family stress, and especially mental gymnastics related to my transgender issues, I've only narrowly avoided a full nervous breakdown close to half-a-dozen times, something I do not care to repeat for quite a while.  Thankfully, this year is now past, and I am in a much better place than I have been, probably ever in my life.  This journal, and the ones that have come before, documents the path I have taken, and though it might ramble and get off track a bit at times, it only did so because my journey did so as well.

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On to the bombshells...

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Yesterday I came out as having transgender issues to my mom, and she accepted me for them.  That conversation was probably the single most dreaded collection of words I had ever imagined, and I had no idea how it was going to go.  Before this year, she'd never heard of furries, never imagined her son might be bisexual, and certainly hardly knew anything about transgender issues to begin with.  Hell, before the last 24 or so months, I hadn't sorted enough of this mess out to be able to talk about it in the first place, let alone have the words to explain it to someone for whom these words were almost alien concepts.  I've fought and dealt and hidden this for the best part of 14 years now, and to have it in the open and be able to be comfortable talking about it is nothing short of amazing.  Why did I tell her?...

... because she needed to know.  My mom and I had grown apart due to a trust breakdown, created by differing religious, political, and societal views.  None of them really matter in a healthy relationship, but when you have the triple furry/bi/trans bombs to drop, being on the opposite side of someone's conservative viewpoints makes it really hard to talk about.  And so the trust breakdown began.  Last year it came to a head a few times, with my passing on a *fully paid* trip to Italy and almost leaving early last Christmas.  Neither of those times were intended to shield me, but rather my mom from my own differences.  Somehow, though, we've worked past a few things this year, sometimes aided by the 1700 mile distance between us when we couldn't handle much more for a while.

For a long time, she had a view of me that was basically as I grew up, a view where I was essentially the golden kid in the family, never getting into trouble or straying too far from the path that was expected of me.  I have myself to blame on a lot of that, because I was never comfortable talking about it until now.  It's at this point I have to once again point at :icondakotawolf: as having helped, giving me guidance and support even yesterday, when I wasn't sure if I could do it.  I wish I'd been ready years ago, but sometimes things take a while, and this one certainly did.  I'm happy to say that my mom is okay with it, as long as I'm healthy and stable, and pending my making damned sure I have support if any when I need it.  Because of the awesomeness of every last one of you, and especially the aforementioned wolf-butt, I don't think she, or I have any need to worry on that front.  :)

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Now...  On to Dakotawolf!  This one's a bit of a story too, but it's certainly easier to tell than the one I already have.  A lot brighter and happier too.  ^^

I've known Dakota for a bit over a year at this point, originally meeting her through :icondopr5:.  We can't remember exactly which came first, whether it was a Tucson camping meet, or a group of us crashing at her place after trying to drive from Denver to Tucson in a single night (haha, bad idea!).  Whatever the case, she was awesome, is awesome, and apparently, stole my heart somewhere along the way.  :)

I'm not going to rehash all my prior journals, but I will make a note of how all this started here.  From my realization of loneliniess to searching out and finding new friends, this has been a transformative 18 months or so, and though Dakota wasn't the first I encountered, she never feared to ask me questions of myself.  Even when I was hella-uncomfortable, I encouraged her to do so, and she did.  Sometimes she didn't get an answer right away "It's complicated" being a favorite dodge/"I don't know yet" response of mine, but those questions (and those of others) did set the wheels turning on the journey I have now undertaken.  I didn't always have the words to put to my thoughts on a lot of this, in some cases simply not knowing the vocabulary that would allow myself to think along the right lines, but now I do.

Dakota, like myself, has had a pretty rough year at times.  (Quick note: I mention these things only to set context.  Dakota may or may not speak to them on her own if and when she's ready to do so.)  From a breakup that threatened to turn nasty (confined living conditions can be a pressure cooker >.<), to losing a job and being unable to fully support herself, and finally, to almost moving back to family in California earlier this year, it's been fairly brutal for her as well.  I'm sad to say that I wasn't able to be there for all of it, but I did manage to be there for some of it, including the Tuesday before her move-out deadline, when a few friends came together to wish her farewell.  I drove up from Tucson that night after work, booking it up and back to say goodbye, and feeling a bit awkward the entire time for a reason I couldn't quite put my finger on.  On the way home, it hit me like a ton of bricks, almost forcing me to pull of the highway.  I cared for her, and a hell of a lot more than I'd admitted that night, to either myself, or to her.  As I drove home that night, I knew I had lost someone truly special, and I wasn't sure what the hell to do.  Thoughts raced of making it to FC early next year and trying to build up something, but I made it home, sort of collapsing under the weight of emotional exhaustion.

From that day on, I resolved to be a better friend, one who would be there when she needed me.  I knew she didn't need any more pressure at the time, so I just tried to be present, a supporting force to catch her a bit when she stumbled.  And stumble she did, more than a few times before the year was out...  Stress led to pain and urgent care visits, luckily resulting in nothing major in the end, but life never quite let up.  Even when I finally admitted to having feelings for her, it was tough, her job and financial stresses bringing her to the brink of tears more often than not.  And though I live in Tucson, I'm still lucky enough to have a job where I can drop things once in a while and make the run up.  During those trips, and that support, I realized something I'd known all along.

Though the support was helpful, she *was* strong enough to do it on her own.  She doesn't realize it all the time, but she is.  There's a reason I fell in love with you, :icondakotawolf:.  You're amazing, and just thinking about you can make me cry for joy.
zetasyanthis: (Default)
This is going to be a somewhat-sequel to my previous 'Touchy-feely' journal from way back in November, which can be read here: https://www.furaffinity.net/journal/4068006/. ; I'm not sure exactly where it's going to go, but it's important for me to write it out, as I need some help.  It may not make a lot of sense at first, but bear with me if you can, as I could use some wisdom just now.

This story, such as it is, will mention a few individuals anonymously.  The point of mentioning them is not to single them out, or blame them for anything, but rather, to thank them for things that I doubt they understood the importance of at the time.  Their small, caring actions fundamentally changed both myself and the way I look at the world in a way that's going to take quite some effort to describe.  Unfortunately, there are a few complications whenever something like that happens, and this story is no exception.  Let's begin, shall we?

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I am a furry.  Silly statement, I know, on a website such as this, but it means a bit more to me than people realize.  (It perhaps matters more than it should, but that's not the ground we're going to tread tonight.)  To clarify, that doesn't make me an otherkin, therian, were, or anything else of the sort.  I'm just a human with a stranger side than most, and a healthy respect for legends and the power they command.

Unlike most furs I've met, I didn't self-identify as a furry for a very long time, though in hindsight I can say that I've been a furry since I was old enough to get on the internet, starting at about 13 years old.  That age is known for a few things, and I was no exception.  I found a few sites and ended up hooked quite deeply into the adult side of the fandom, choosing a female persona in my online interactions from day one.  I didn't know why, but somehow it just felt right.  Years passed, and as I mentally fought with my religious upbringing, I turned away and back several times.  As time passed, my 'sona also changed, from mostly human, to naga, and then finally, to the bi-gender dragoness I've now settled on.  It's taken years for me to come to terms with this, and most of my progress on that front has resulted very directly from discovering other people like myself, in terms of not just furry, but also not-quite-standard gender identity and sexuality.  I still might be the strangest person in the room, but I'm among others who are okay with that, and that means the entire world to me.  Specifically, you guys reading this mean the world to me.  You are kinder, more thoughtful, and all have your own little twist that makes life a bit more interesting!

Back to the subject at hand...

Since my last post, I've had a bit of a hard time dealing with some things on the emotional front.  My barriers have been crashing down right, left, and center, and leaving me quite exposed to a lot of feelings that I'd sealed off without ever meaning to.  Can you imagine what finally recognizing affection means to someone?  How about how confused they are when they find themselves physically attracted as well?  It sounds crazy, but I somehow lost this a long time ago, and have only rediscovered it in the last two years or so.  It's come crashing in, shaking apart many assumptions I'd made about myself...  (Can you believe I thought I was straight as an arrow until two years ago, even while having a herm 'sona?  WTF, past self, wtf?)

You guys helped with that, and I'm very grateful, as I really did need that part of myself to be a healthy whole.  All the little playing, teasing, etc, helped break through walls that all the gunpowder on the planet could never have hoped to breach.  It's also left me in a very serious bind.

Imagine, for a moment, that you wake up for the first time in your 26 years and discover that you've been missing something all your life.  Imagine having drifted away from family for various reasons, and somehow never having had much beyond fairly good friends in the meantime.  Add to that never trusting anyone enough to tell them your secret, that you are a fur, and of the type that the stereotypes warn about.  Imagine that somehow converging into a mental place where *it never even occurred* to you to date, or seek out a serious relationship with someone else.  Imagine thinking that you were strong enough to handle everything on your own, and then imagine those illusions shattering like a fortress constructed entirely of glass.  This is my problem.

In all 'normal' respects, I appear perfectly fine, my life in general being considerably less complicated than for most.  However, this recent internal turmoil has damned near brought me to my knees a few times in the last year.  A few months back, a friend of mine simply held me for a few minutes, snugging up and giving me a hug.  She didn't know it, and I was so surprised that I didn't realize it at first, but it was the first time ever in my life that a friend had done that.  It shattered me.  I had no benchmark, no yardstick for that level of geniune affection, and I broke down crying.  It was the second of three 'happiest moments of my life' that seem to be coming at an alarming rate as of late.  In answer to the obvious questions, nothing 'untoward' happened.  It was a simple hug, letting me know that she cared, and even that nearly broke me.  Weeks later, as my mind caught up with that simple act, I realized for the first time in my life that I was deeply lonely.  Not only lonely, but that I had been for a long time, and had never known.  That realization hit me like a cannonball to the gut, and I was still trying to handle that when...

...a few friends, and even a few strangers have recently complimented my appearance or made advances towards me.  Holy crap, batman.  What does do?  Brain what now... *faceplant*.  I'm blushing even as I write this damned text.  I was, and am utterly flattered by those remarks, and in most cases was far too embarrassed to return them, even though I felt the same.  This sounds crazy, but I've never had that happen before either, and I sure as hell don't know how to deal with it.  Physically, I am a 26 year old virgin, but mentally, I've been involved in the adult side of the fandom for the better part of 13 years, RP scene included.  One side of my brain turns into a gibbering idiot, and the other... well, let's just say my fursona is a hermaphrodite for a reason.  That side would like nothing more than to... *clears throat*  Back to the subject...  (To note, I am genuinely gender-confused, and that seems to be the happy medium as far as I'm concerned.  I don't consider myself fully trans-gendered, but I certainly fall into that spectrum somewhere...  That's a big part of the reason this has taken so long and been so difficult.  >.<)

I'm just very confused...  I don't know what to do, and I've been afraid to even write this for fear of scaring friends off.  There are way too many furs out there who write journals similar to this, tending towards the emotional vampirism state in the process.  I'm not that, and will never be.  I just need some help...  I need someone, someones, or even everyone, to talk to about some of this stuff, and I need some feedback (preferably not of the "you're fucking nuts" variety, though that may also be fair :P).  I know I don't always come off as touchy-feely, either, but I could really use a hug as of late.  :s

This is probably the single hardest thing I've ever written, and every word of it is true.  I'm writing this, not to just vent and be all 'woe is me', but in the hopes that at least one of you will have some idea of how to help.  I sure as hell don't know what the hell to do...

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Zeta Syanthis

June 2017

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