Before I begin, I would like to clarify that I don't typically like the use of labels, especially when discussing something that seems to vary as per individual experience such as therianthropy. I will, however use labeling here for the sole purpose of trying to convey my thoughts in somewhat of a universal fashion.
I have been a wolf suntherian for as long as I can remember, even though it took me 12 years to discover what I was and another 10 years or so to actually define being a wolf therian. My earliest memories are of wandering around in the wild, the forest and the bank of a river with a certain curiosity that felt non-human in nature. I've always loved chewing stuff up, rolling in grass or mud, running, playing outside in the sun or pouring rain. Since I can remember, I have had a shyness/distrust towards humans, only letting my guard down to a few select ones after approaching them with extreme caution. Growing up, I always knew that I was different from my peers but I could never quite put my finger on what made me so different. I looked the same as them, was surrounded by the same type of environment most of the time, influenced by the same sources often, yet, there was a stark difference between us. I knew that I didn't feel as comfortable around humans as I did animals and that I far preferred to be alone in the wilderness than in a typical human social setting.
Going into my teenage years, I came to the realization that I was a wolf and I'll elaborate on how I came to this conclusion a bit more here than I did in my journal. I was in 7th grade, middle school, having a rough time coping with everyday life and my social environment. Every minute of every day that I was not alone in the wild felt to me like I was trapped or being held captive in a hostile environment. I spent many of my waking hours in fight or flight mode, always anxious, always ready to snarl and fight to defend myself. It was around this time that I began reading immensely to escape from reality. I got pretty heavy into ancient mythology, science and physics and biology. Any book I could find on those topics was opened inside my textbooks and I was often lost in a story or a theory or thinking about how things worked. My favorite escape from reality, however, came in the form of reading about wildlife that suffered dramatically due to human impact and how such wildlife was still able to adapt and survive despite human development. When I first started reading about wolves and their behaviors, history, the theories of how they befriended early humans, I got a strange feeling of pride that I can only compare to someone reading about one's family history or some such. The more I learned and explored into the world of wolves the more I began to realize similarities between wolves and myself. At this point, had that point in my life been in modern times, I would have probably googled "I feel like a wolf" or something similar but the internet was still in it's infancy to a large extent and there were no therian communities to turn to.
I began daydreaming heavily about being a wolf, to the point where I could sort of lost all concept of reality and picture myself as a wolf, running through the grass, through the woods. It became so real to me that I could "feel" mud on my paws and I could feel my ears move on top of my head when I was lost in this alternate reality inside my mind. Today, I would consider these early sensory phenomenon to be the beginning of phantom shifting. Back then I didn't know what to make of it other than a feeling of euphoria because it just felt so much like what I should be feeling and not what I was feeling (if that makes any sense). Being the stubborn and strong willed animal that I am, I couldn't accept not acting on my impulse to do what a wolf would do so I began reading books about wilderness survival and would often go "camping" on the weekends with little more than some form of blade and a source of fire. The allure of feeling the woods beneath my bare feet would teach me many lessons, including the very important fact that, while I knew I felt like a wolf, I still had a human body
When I got my first dog I was extremely excited because, while she was not a wolf, she seemed to be a bridge between the human and canine world. I spent a lot of time with her and learned much about why I had some of the reactions that I did to certain things. Not only did she teach me so much about how to canine but we developed an unbreakable bond with each other to the point where I felt that she was the only living thing that I could trust. The more I plunged into feeling like a wolf, the more I withdrew from society and the more trouble it caused me but, at the same time, the less I cared about what trouble arose.
Let me stop here and reflect on a few things regarding how I feel they pertain to therianthropy.
1. My first indicator that something was different about me was a pretty stark difference between the traits, behaviors, emotions, reactions of myself and my peers.
2. When I began educating myself about my theriotype animal, it felt almost as if I was studying my own heritage or something. The feeling of pride and understanding seemed to resonate with me on a level that it shouldn't have if I were "typical" or "normal"
3. I found that animal reactions, instincts, traits, behaviors made much more sense to me than did human ones.
4. I had experienced some sensations of phantom shifting while daydreaming about being my theriotype animal.
5. I found it easier to bond with and relate to canines than humans
Now while I'm not, in any way, attempting to establish guidelines for being therian. If one were to notice similar aspects as those aforementioned, I believe that therianthropy should at least be considered on the path of self-exploration, even if one were to only exhibit two or three aspects of themselves that could indicate therianthropy. Moving forward in my personal experience, I found that I eventually developed an urge to forge bonds with humans as well. The first real friends that I ever made were in high school, it took some time before I trusted them completely but once I did I quickly developed an urge to provide for and protect them where it was needed. I would say that this turned into more than just friendship because I stood with them, without regard for myself, through good times and through the worst days anyone could imagine. While I don't necessarily know if this could be considered a pack mentality or not, it gave me a great deal of comfort and pride to think of it as such. Despite having a few very close friends, I still had the urge to find a different type of relationship and this urge was about to become overpowering and, strangely enough, would lead me to disconnect with my theriotype and teach me a very hard lesson.
I won't go into great detail about the first girl I was involved with in a relationship because it's not really relevant to therianthropy but.will say that I had some very intense feelings for her that wound up not being quite mutual and it ended in heartbreak for me. The depression and dissatisfaction with myself that I experienced following this lead me to want a "normal" life even though I had come to the conclusion long ago that I was anything but "normal". I did the best I could to ignore my canine impulses, cover up all of my traits, repress all of my urges to act like a wolf or anything other than a "typical" human. I basically lied to myself every day about who and what I was in an attempt to be accepted for something that I was not. This constant battle and inner turmoil turned me into one of the most miserable and hateful individuals that one might imagine. In the end, I did manage to somewhat force a disconnect which lead me to feeling empty and hollow inside, like I was no longer anything but a shell of a being with no purpose, no defenition, nobody surrounded me anymore because I had turnedinto something that was not me. It wasn't long before the void that I had created within became filled with darkness. Pain, sorrow, fear and endless doubt and hopelessness became my life. With nothing positive left to carry on for I came to a crossroads. I could put an end to it all or embrace who and what I knew, deep inside, I still was. Well, I'm still here and I'm still a wolf.
In closing, I don't attribute the hardships I have endured to being therian but I do attribute some of my ability to adapt and overcome them to it. I see therianthropy as a phenomenon that is as beautiful as it is perplexing. I don't consider myself ane less of a human because I am a therian, nor do I consider myself and less of a wolf because I exist as a human in a human society. The human side of me is intellectual and has great capacity but it is weak in several aspects. The wolf side of me is powerful and driven by instinct, yet it lacks the ability to manuver through complex human social situations and it's guard is always up to the point of keeping me somewhat paranoid. Each side of me is flanked by the other and both human and wolf work as a very close team to the same goals. I believe that from years of this, my human side has become more canine in nature and I believe that my wolf side has adapted to existing in a human world to some extent. I'm very proud of who and what I am, I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.
A few final words for anyone who reads this... Be proud of yourself, never stop learning about who and what you are. I can't explain why we are the way we are but I do know that we are something very unique and that in itself is a wonderful thing...