Content note: Religious, physical, and arguably sexual abuse, as well as non-graphic discussion of sexuality which may be TMI for some.
This is what I was taught, growing up in the Mormon church:
Your body is the temple of God, and it belongs to him. Your "sacred parts" were given to you so that you can create new bodies for God's spirit children, and to form bonds in a marriage relationship between husband and wife. You are not allowed to use them for any other purpose. You may not have those feelings in any other situation.
Beyond that, I was taught covertly and overtly that the rest of my body belongs to God and/or to the people around me. The Word of Wisdom, the Mormon dietary code which forbids coffee and tea, was imposed on me whether I wanted it or not. My parents of origin got mad at me for trying to refuse physical affection, when it was forced on me by them or church members. And one leader I had in Boy Scouts forced himself on me, roughing up my shoulders for what seemed like a whole minute after I told him I'd just had a tetanus shot, and telling me I was a "wuss" and that I needed to "beef up!"
Beyond that, there was an expectation that I make myself bodily available for any meeting, calling, or requirement my family or church imposed on me. I was guilted for staying home sick from church, and even guilted myself for it because deep down I knew that I wanted to stay home. I was asked to help tear down a home that had been damaged in Hurricane Katrina, and was given no facial protection in rooms filled with dust and mold spores. I understood that I could get violently sick or physically harmed on a two-year proselyting mission, but that it was my responsibility to go anyway, because God owned my life and he demanded this tithe of my time.
People in "the world" think they own their bodies and lives, I was taught, but those are Satan's lies. A life lived for yourself is shallow and meaningless, filled with cheap pleasures and devoid of the love of marriage and family relationships. Only through marrying in God's temple can those relationships continue beyond the grave. Everyone needs to be taught this, and anything that could interfere with the eternal family needs to be destroyed.
Including my awful, unworthy "habit" of masturbation, and my "addiction" to "pornography." Which is what they called looking up PG-rated furry art, with scandalous things like bare shoulders in it.
This is how I feel about myself, deep down, even today. If I am ever in a situation where I'm having sexual feelings, especially when there's the possibility of having them with someone else, I panic and either freeze up or try to escape. On two separate occasions I've bailed when people I was attracted to tried to initiate sexual encounters. When I'm alone, the easiest way to get through it is just to give in, but I try to do so as quickly as possible so I can get back to pretending I'm not the kind of person who actually wants to.
It's not "just" sex, either, as though a need at the core of my being to be intimate with someone who loves and appreciates me is a hobby I could set aside. It's everything. Going around town today, I felt like I do not belong here and any second now someone's going to call me out on that fact. It wasn't as bad as it was before antidepressants, and I did just have a depressive episode yesterday which kind of weakened me. But I live in what feels like the most whitebread American suburb ever, and every day I set foot outside the park that surrounds where I live I'm reminded that people move here to get away from people like me.
(Of course, when I go to the city it's like being hit with a wall of NOISE. Hyperacusis FTW.)
I don't know how to change the way I feel about myself. Sometimes I don't feel this way, and I have more energy and can forget that I'm not supposed to exist. But everything crashes down whenever I'm triggered, or when I encounter a situation where I'm reminded that my "sacred parts" still exist. Suddenly I am a horrible, selfish person, who's trying to take from God and from other people what is rightfully theirs.
Reading about Bitcoin, it occurred to me that these people are in many ways the same as the ones who started the financial crisis. Their lives are devoted to making value from nothing, which is really taking value from the rest of society without giving back anything in return. They're "cheating the system," so to speak.
I keep thinking about how I should be focused on doing the same, because that's what so much of the advice I get says. You do what you have to do, they say, in order to make a living. But realizing that this is what they're doing -- and that the system I'm cheating has women, minors, otherkin, and people of colour in it, and they are the ones who will be hurt the most by my cheating -- gives me pause.
I think I want to make sure that I'm giving fair value to them. Not to an employer; international capitalism can kiss my tailfeathers. Not to a deity; Inari asks only that I be myself. To the people (human and nonhuman alike) and environments which are affected by my attempts at making money, "making a living," or simply surviving, none of which are the same thing.
I feel like I do my best work -- and therefore maximize my chances of doing all the above -- if I act as though there's no consideration besides making things that ought to exist, for people who ought to have them. I feel like this isn't the only reason Apple is taking over, but it's one of the big ones, that they're so idealistic about who will be using their products and what they'll be doing with them.
This is what I tried to explain to my family of origin, years ago, when I said why I wanted to work on the Internet doing things that I cared about instead of frantically applying for jobs, any jobs. And though I ended up writing for a content farm, I feel like I mostly preserved my integrity, by writing about things I felt people ought to know. Even though I now disagree with much of what I wrote, and even though I sometimes wrote paid advertorials for big companies, and even though ads for people I disagreed with often appeared next to my writing, I tried my best to at least be entertaining. To make the world at least a little better and more humane for my having been in it.
Not because of a corporate mandate, or a divine imperative in the traditional sense, but because that's the kind of person I am.
Inari, to me, is all-encompassing love. She hears everyone's prayers which are directed to her, and even many that aren't, like in my case. If she can't answer them all, or answer them all in the way that we'd want her to, she at least does what she can. Not because anyone's making her, but because that's the kind of person she is.
For me as Taryn, as one of Inari's tails / foxes / selves / avatars, being like her isn't an act of self-sacrifice, but one of self-actualization. And if my idealism led me to be blind to how my efforts were just enriching people who didn't deserve it, that doesn't mean there's anything wrong with being idealistic so much as being too credulous, of people who don't deserve it. And putting abstract principles, like "the truthfulness of the Gospel" or "the Free Software movement," over everyone and everything else, including the people that they are supposed to help.
The fact that I was betrayed isn't my fault, and it isn't a flaw with the entire world that makes the whole thing irredeemable. It's because I was raised to lack a self, and to find it only in being subsumed in rich people's interests. Whether they run Google, Red Hat, the Mozilla Corporation, or the Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The answer isn't to become completely selfish and self-serving, as though it were possible for me (or Rei or Claire) to shut off my empathy.
The answer is to make better friends, and call better people my family.
The answer is to get excited about things I like, and not things others tell me to get excited about.
The answer is to trust myself to do what's right, what comes naturally from being passionate about people and things that I love, while listening to them and empathizing with them and respecting them for who and what they are. Instead of constantly having to check my passion with concerns imposed on me by self-serving, powerful people, about money or others' ideals. Which isn't to say those will never come up, but that insofar as is possible I should be living my life, with the people I care about, instead of living the life global capitalism and its religious and pseudo-religious leaders want me to live.
I am, was, and will be a part of a goddess of wealth and abundance. I want everyone to have what they need and long for, and even some of their frivolous wants. And while I've learned that I have to start with myself, I can't end there. I can't even get started at all if I know in advance that I'll be ending there.
EDIT: And while I tie this into my otherkin identity, I don't feel that I'm unique in being like this.