shifting

here’s a new subject, after having been away from here for some time. i’ve not been in the mood for writing about vampires and donoring.

as some of you who know me already know, i am therian (i’ll find a few links about the concept soon). therian is short for therianthrope, i.e. an animal (greek: therios) in a human (greek: anthropos) body. most of the time i function as a normal human. but often i feel my other body, or at least i feel sensations which would correspond to my animal body. amongst therians we call that a phantom-shift, possibly in allusion to phantom-limbs experienced by amputees. every so often i experience a mental shift; i lose a large part of my capacity for human thoughts and feelings, which are replaced by the very different feelings and thoughts which belong to my theriotype (the type of animal i am). sometimes these are fleeting moments, sometimes they last longer; sometimes they are shallow and i might barely be aware of being shifted, at other times they’re so deep that hardly any vestiges of human-ness remain. the worst shifts i’ve experienced have left me incapable of any kind of human interaction – not even basic speech – for hours.

when reading this you might think that this sounds pretty cool. i and others like me get to experience what it’s like to be something other than human. we’re almost like were-wolves and other such shape-shifters. but it’s really not that fun. on one level it’s very frustrating; imagine waking up every day and finding yourself in the “wrong” body, imagine being able to feel your huge wings, to feel the wind playing in them, but still not being able to jump from the roof of a building. even walking upright on two legs can be terribly frustrating when your senses tell you that you ought to be sprinting on four legs.

it gets worse. shifts can be very pleasant and self-affirming experiences. but rather more often they hit you out of the blue, often in situations where you really don’t want to shift (in the middle of a conversation, while out doing the shopping…). they take you over completely, tear you out of whatever you were doing, throw you into this other world. very often you’ll need to excuse yourself, or you’ll upset the people you were with. there’s very few people outside of the therian community you can even talk to about it, let alone seek understanding from. yet you need those people, because shifting can be very demanding both emotionally and intellectually.

and i haven’t even talked about the physical effects. i’m not talking about physical shifts – pretty much all sane members of the community agree that they are impossible (we all dream about what if they actually were possible). but when i experience a phantom shift, my body tenses up; it tries to move and behave in a way to conform to how the mind it hosts believes it should. this happens even more strongly when phantom and mental shifts happen together. i get massively sore shoulders from trying to support my wings, my fingers curl into rigid claws which make it difficult to manipulate even simple objects (try typing with your fingers locked into claw-shape) which are painful on the joints and lead to cramps in the arms.

if i could be just human or just dragon it would certainly be easier. yet this is what i and most other therians have to deal with. sometimes it leads us to being a bit agressive about who and what we are when we’re questionned or the reality of our experience is put into doubt. because frankly it’s a pain in the ass. yet it is what i am, what we are. so we deal with it.

p.s. no, it’s not always as terrible as i describe. sometimes being therian is pretty awesome. but i’ve just come out of a very unpleasant mental and phantom shift, and that’s my current feelings.

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    • cheshirecatman
    • August 12th, 2009

    Being therian: an exercise in frustration.

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