Thursday, October 6, 2011

Some things we never outgrow...

Raise your hand if you had an imaginary friend growing up! I did, her name was Mary. To be honest I don't really remember *her,* I just have the memories that my family has provided me. Mary was my constant companion for awhile and it seemed any time there was trouble it was always Mary that was the instigator.

me and my brother David
Mother likes to tell the story of the time my family went camping. She was a little tired of all the trouble Mary created so she encouraged me to leave her at home. As we settled into our campground all seemed to be going well when suddenly I started screaming. My parents raced to my side, fearing the presence of some menacing creature such as a bear or snake. They were quickly relieved to discover that my screams were of delight not fear as I pointed and exclaimed, "look, there's Mary walking down the road. She must have followed us here!" Yes, Mary was quite the resourceful little girl. Imagine that.

Both of my children had imaginary friends. Ian's friend was named Bobby. Bobby wasn't much of a trouble maker but he did cause conflict between the two brothers. Andrew took great pleasure in accidentally sitting on Bobby, stealing his favorite toy, eating the last cookie, and generally being a pesty little brother while Ian and Bobby tried to have play time. Bobby didn't hang around too long. I think it was just too much work for Ian to try and keep the peace. Imagine that. 

Eventually Andrew came up with own little friend, though as usual, he took the concept of imaginary friend to a whole new level. Andrew's friend was named Plank and we could actually see him ... because he was ... a piece of wood! If I remember correctly Plank was one of those kids a parent would prefer their kid NOT hang out with. If there was trouble Plank was involved. Imagine that.

There are a lot of opinions and theories on whether or not the presence of imaginary friends is a good thing. I think the general consensus is that having one can be a perfectly normal part of a growing child's life, as long as they can eventually let go of the friendship and allow themselves to invest in real-body-and-breath friends.

I'm here today to argue this point. Not the part where it's normal for a child to develop a friendship with an imaginary companion, but the part where the relationship has to be replaced with real people. Ok, I just heard a collective gasp. I know you're all thinking "Sherri has finally lost it, she's talking crazy here." But, read on, hear me out, and then you can decide if it all makes sense or if the train has left the station and I'm on my way to the Cuckcoo's Nest.

I believe not only do we NOT have to leave behind our childhood imaginary friends but we should embrace them and make them an integral part of our adult lives. In fact, I think that having IFs (IF = imaginary friend, in case you didn't get it) can enhance our lives and strengthen the real life relationships we have. Friends are a great thing to have but because of their human nature, friends can also cause heartache, disappointment, and other negative emotions. IF's just accept you for who you are and never, ever throw you under the bus.

So, let's just say that it's ok for me to have a few IFs. If that's the case then let's see just who I have surrounded myself with.

First, there's Mary - she is the little-girl friend in my life. With Mary I can pretend to be young and carefree. With Mary there are no adult responsibilities. Together we can sneak and eat ice cream and candy any time of the day or night. We can giggle in the middle of the day for no apparent reason, stay up way past our bed time playing games and watching tv shows that no self-respecting adult woman would admit to watching.

Next is Cat Lady - she is my friend who thinks that a person can never have too many kitties. She loves looking at the 100s of photos I take of my cat and laughs and compliments each and every one. She plots with me on ways to acquire new cats. And while she is imaginary to the rest of the world she is very real to felines. I know this because I see it in Spunky's eyes as she stares intently into space in the middle of the night. She sees Cat Lady and purrs her approval.

Church Lady - she loves the Lord and together we can discuss the ways of God. Completely opposite of the Church Lady on SNL, my Church Lady is never judgmental when I express thoughts and ideas that appear different from that of the fundamental evangelical Christians that surround us here in the Bible Belt. She encourages me to focus not on their words but The Word and to be true to what I know is right. She claps during singing and gently teases me because I have no rhythm and absolutely cannot keep a beat. She also thinks it's perfectly acceptable to raise hands in worship, to use video, skits, etc during a sermon, and knows there's no one absolute way to "do" church. She encourages me to not be afraid to be myself and to not allow others to push me into conforming to their mold of being a Christian.
    Serendipity is my artsy-fartsy friend. She shares my love of all things crafty and creative. She encourages me to try something new, think outside the box, and create whatever makes me happy and not worry about what others will think. Serendipity loves color and textures and an array of mediums which she pushes me to experiment with and she never, never, never makes fun of the results. We work well together, bouncing ideas off each other and whenever I create something totally outlandish I can say "it was Serendipity" and she always takes the fall.

    And finally I have my friend Godiva. She lives on the wild side and is always trying to get me to follow along. She laughs at conformity, scoffs at tradition, and constantly pushes me to try something new. Godiva knows no fear and it's her life goal to help me learn to throw caution to the wind, to live life with intensity, and to have confidence in myself. She's my biggest cheerleader and ally.

    So, there you have it. Mary, Cat Lady, Church Lady, Serendipity, and Godiva - my BIFFs. (Best Imaginary Friends Forever in case you're not up on the lingo). They're always with me and never let me down. So, if you come across my path and think you see me talking to myself, I'm not. I'm conversing with one of my BIFFs, and sometimes it's not just one of the girls but two or three or maybe even all five of them. Fortunately we all get along, and generally like and respect each other which is totally a good thing 'cause having that many girls together in one's head could really be explosive.

    How about you, did you have an imaginary friend, or two, in your past? Wouldn't you really like to reconnect with them? I bet she (or he) is just sitting there in the cobwebs of your brain waiting for a call out. Go ahead, give it a try .... nobody needs to know, it can be your little secret with your very own BIFF. 


    1. Awesome! Your best yet honey. DF

    2. Love it! Don't usually have time to read your blogs during the day, but the picture was so cute, I just had to click on it!
      While I don't remember having any imaginary friends, I frequently talk to myself...thanks for giving me a perfectly logical explanation I can share with anyone brave enough to ask!

    3. Fantastic post! I will have to ponder on this one a bit to see who I typically surround myself with ;) I'm sure they are there fact one may be Miss Nas-caar...