Day 37 With Dora

Well, I’ve done something that backfired a little. Something we probably all know we shouldn’t do. I compared myself to others. I compared my disability to others’. What is wrong with me? 😞

I started at the service dogs info session. Is my depression and anxiety worse than hers? Do I deserve a service dog as much as he does? Am I faking it? (Yes. After firmly establishing that I have had depression every day of my life since early childhood- I was actively suicidal for 6 months at age 9- I still asked that question.) Should I just suck it up and forget this whole thing? (Again. This is also a dumb question. Sure, I have lived in much, much darker stages. Yes, this is a fairly bright season of life, but even now, I’m still strangled by fear and doubt and… 😑)

I shouldn’t have done it. I shouldn’t have tried to measure my paralysis and fear and breakdowns and everything against other people’s issues. I knew better, but I still did it.

And today, I was watching a YouTube video, and someone mentioned “fake service dogs.” For context, I want to make a few things clear:

  1. This person has a traditional disability, one that has used service dogs for many years.
  2. They have been respectful, assertive, and polite in all their videos that I have watched. They honestly seem to want to make the world better by sharing their experience with others and answering questions.
  3. They never ever said what they meant by this term (i.e. that my disability isn’t real because it’s invisible). I’m only reacting because I’m insecure.
  4. They also have acknowledged invisible disabilities in a different video. There is no evidence that they do not believe in mine.
  5. Some people buy vests and put them on their untrained pets. There are fake service dogs out there.

So… I guess you could say that I was set off by their comment, exploding because I’m so scared of people telling me that I’m exaggerating my struggles that my defenses are being triggered by indirect criticism, without any verification steps to determine if it even was criticism.

I’m insecure, so I panic. I’m overwhelmed, so I lash out. 

I feel awful, like I’m screaming inside. 

It’s paint. Just paint. But if you see blood instead, you understand the feeling and intensity of it.


And now, she’s pawing at my hands, trying to convince me to play with her. I suppose I’ll let her win. I need it, after all.

Good girl, Dora. Good girl.


“Subtle Scars”

This is my first watercolor painting. I was trying to learn about how these paints differ from acrylics, how wet they should be, what strokes look like, etc. It’s certainly nothing to write home about, but today, I thought it would be worth making a folder of these, to watch my progress.

I actually believe that I can improve at a new skill, and I am at peace about not being good at it on my first try. This is such amazing progress for me!

It wasn’t that long ago that I was too scared to try things because I thought I would fail, that people would judge me, that I would lose the approval of others, etc. I’ve come so far, and I’m proud of myself. 😊

Anyway, I don’t usually title any of my art, but I named this one “Subtle Scars,” because the tree looks like it’s been struck by lightning. There’s usually a wounded section on the trunk, a large portion that dies because of the current, and then that section eventually falls off. The rest of the tree is often healthy, continuing to grow and thrive long after it has been damaged in the storm. So, that’s what I see on the empty area in the center: the missing branches and the resilient tree carrying on.

Painting My Distress

Sometimes, I paint through an issue. I focus on a feeling, a situation, an experience, and I try to capture it. This usually results in a semi-abstract, semi-representational image that connects with me in the desired way.

Right now, however, I am wrestling with postmodernism… Or at least, with the bipartisan Facebook rage fights currently underway on several topics in my social circle. “I’m right. You’re wrong. I get to call names and make insults because my position is obviously the best. I say that I care about respecting people’s rights, but I really, really don’t care about yours- because you disagree with me.” Both sides are doing this to each other, and I just… I just can’t take it any more.

No. Until you all learn to talk like respectful people who realize that everyone has feelings and worth, even those people who vehemently disagree with you, until then, I’m out.

I’m not on either side, so I feel the hatred, pain, and fear oozing off of both sides, without gaining the support of either. No one has my back, and it’s just…

Gah! I need to read more dictionaries to find the words to describe this horrid little emotion.

Anyway, I’m painting it.

This is an old therapy canvas- used for temporary expressions and self exploration. It’s been painted over several times, as I move past my last issue.

End of day one. Here are my handprints, rough and frantic, as I try to cling to something solid. Over top, there are two diametrically opposed viewpoints on a topic, colliding in the center as they call each other names, pull hair, and push one another down onto the playground gravel.

End of day two. Now, there is more chaos involved- perhaps the spiral is a metanarrative, or maybe a charismatic speaker. The dots and dashes are colors that were missing visually, and don’t mean much. I notice that there is more order in this addition than there was before, but it was just how I felt; it’s not a statement or anything.