Virginia Romo Illustration
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This is the blog where Virginia Romo posts her latest illustrations, projects and impressions.

In the meanwhile #5

Let's talk about animals.

I had a very difficult relationship with animals in general and with dogs in particular.

Always since I can remember was afraid of dogs -with no special reason, but I guess it is also the case of people with arachnophobia or who are afraid to fly - in a phobic way. I would run and scream in the presence of a dog, no matter how small or cute it was. This phobia extended to other animals in a softer version, because there are no goats or even cats who run and jump to you. The dog is the only animal, it seems to me, that looks for contact with us.

The phobia persisted even after we adopted a cat at home. Everything was fine only with our cat. The rest of animals: same problem as always.

It was only a couple of years ago that I understood that my fear was not only reducing my freedom but it was also dangerous. I would run away without looking where I was running to: a transited road, a gap, a wall... So I started a therapy: I began with the even more scared rabbits (yes, I had to start that small) of my dear friend frauknopp, went to a psychologist who would come with me to petting zoos at the beginning and then to the local animal shelter.

I had drawn something pro bono for them before and then, as I needed it, dared to ask if they could contribute somehow to my therapy. And they kindly agreed.

My first two "doctors" were two collie puppies, four weeks old. Increadibly cute but I needed still my time before I collected the courage to touch them. After that came Masha. She made me cry, not out of fear, but because it was so moving the first time that she, so kindly, came to me and just kissed my hand, as if she knew about my problem. And my last companion was a boxer (these were big words for me), who used to "work" as a therapist for disturbed dogs. Her name was Happy, and that was what she was. All of them were great and I will always remember them with thankful love. They gave me so much. I can enjoy so many simple things now that were impossible for me before.

I would go almost every week there for a winter time. Lena, the girl from the animal shelter who would take one hour of her time, to sit with me and the dogs in a conference room, was my angel during that time.

I have to say that if I had known before how easy the whole therapy would be, I would have done it earlier. In my head such a therapy was like a big monster, long in the time, painful, I thought I would cry an suffer a lot. Nothing of that. Nothing. No crying, no dramas. It was just a lot of small, mini-steps. Each of them just a little bit uncomfortable but makable that would open the door for another little step further. I guess I was very lucky with the people and animals I found in my way. Here goes my thousand thanks to all of them. But I also think that such things are just much much bigger in our heads than in reality.

So, if by any chance you are reading this and you suffer of any kind of phobia: Don't hesitate! Start a therapy. It is very probably going to be less terrible than any of your phobia attacks and those, you cannot avoid them forever. And a therapy will open the door to another, much better, life.