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Alternative Reality. Wednesday April 19, 2017

Imaginary Friend.

My imaginary friend
has an imaginary friend
whose imaginary friend
isn't real.

That imaginary friend
has an imaginary friend
whose imaginary friend
is me.

Suzanne Elvidge 1997

"You realise, Mummy," said my elder daughter, in scathing tones, "there comes an age at which most people grow out of having imaginary friends. That age is about eight."

My second daughter would never say that; my second daughter understands.

It sometimes seems as if there are two definite sides of our family, with a deep chasm between us. On one side my husband and elder daughter, on the other side, my younger daughter and me. They are doers, achievers, organisers and "people-people". My second daughter and I are the dreamers.

It's rare we take time to talk. Even when my husband and number one are away sailing and it is just she and I alone, we don't talk much. We "hang out" together, which mostly means we are in our separate rooms, doing our own separate creative activities and each allowing the other space to do so. We have a lovely time together apart. But we don't tend to talk.

Last night, however, coming back from an Easter weekend at the coast, with just her and me and the guinea-pigs in the car, while Daddy and number one came on later with the trailer full of boats, we did talk.

She started by telling me about the detention she got (for not paying attention in class). She enjoyed it. "You have to sit in the English classroom so you're inside in the warm with no beef and banter (gossip and bitchiness) to deal with. And you can't look at anyone and you just sit there in silence for half an hour. It's lovely. I just go into a world inside my head. I wish I could have detention every day, but without having to get into trouble."

She paused. "Mummy, when you were my age, did you have worlds inside your head?"

Well, of course I did. Many creative people do. In my favourite world, I was a flying princess with lots of horses. I still have worlds inside my head, but now I write books about them. I still have the horses, though.

Our imaginary worlds are far more than daydreams. Our worlds are fully developed. They have their own immutable laws; they are populated and, while nominally under our control, they develop lives of their own.

I do not think these worlds are the property of writers only, but they are not given to everyone. If you have one (or many), please treasure it, spend time in it and tend to it.

The "real" world demands our attention of course: our bodies require housing and feeding; our relationships with "real" people require maintenance; but the worlds inside our heads are essential to our mental health. They are our solace and our escape.

And who is to say which is the real world and which imaginary?

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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Molly Wed, Apr 19th 2017 @ 3:44am

I would say, never judge one daughter over another, they are both gifts that you produced yourself and you brought them both into this world, whether they are like you or think like you is not an issue, you brought them here, so accept them for the individual people that they are.

Mary Wednesday Wed, Apr 19th 2017 @ 7:29am

Hello Molly. Ouch! My blog was never intended to show judgement of one daughter being "better" than the other. In fact, it originally ran to over 1000 words as I did a compare and contrast of their different strengths. They are just so different it never ceases to amaze me. Also, when I mention them here, it is so often my elder daughter who receives top billing. I thought I'd give my little one (who is now nearly as tall as I am) a bit of time. She has a hard time following the bright star that is her sister. Just yesterday in fact, we discovered that she has been struggling with a learning disability connected with her sight, so that reading, sequencing, spacial awareness and so on are all challenging for her. When we look at what she has achieved given this limitation, we are bowled over. The good news is that it can be put right: she just needs to learn to crawl. Crawling is essential for a baby's development and she never did; she was a bottom shuffler. As always, thank you for your comment, but it did sting a little. We're a thin-skinned lot, we writers, you know!

Molly Wed, Apr 19th 2017 @ 11:51pm

Apologies to you Mary, I was thinking it was fiction, when I read it, and it was certainly no dig at you. Moreso, I saw things in myself, as my sister and I are so different, so I guess it struck a chord and I really should be more careful with what I say.

Sally Wed, Apr 19th 2017 @ 6:47am

I love the poem. Not seen it before today. Whilst everyone is different, I do think there's a crossover. During my lifetime, I have gone from being a dreamer, to doer , and back again. Nowadays, I'd say I was a mixture of the two.
Your daughters sound very different, Mary, but I am sure you love and respect them each equally. Vive la différence! As the French say, difference is to be celebrated., It would be a poor world if we were all the same!

Mary Wednesday Wed, Apr 19th 2017 @ 7:29am

Indeed Sally; see my comment to Molly!

LP Wed, Apr 19th 2017 @ 7:24am

Hi Mary,
I always saw myself as more of a dreamer. I used to daydream as a child, but I dont think it was about imaginary worlds.
It sounds wonderfully creative to imagine whole worlds. Even my dreams are very literally about my real life!
I am the opposite, I bring myself back to the present which is invariably better than my world of worries.
Thank you for a new perspective Mary.
It's a beautiful morning in London, good wishes to you and all. LPxx

Mary Wednesday Wed, Apr 19th 2017 @ 7:56am

Oh dear, my reply came out as a comment below.... see the next but one!

Orangeblossom Wed, Apr 19th 2017 @ 7:48am

Hi Mary, the idea of your daughter and you co-existing in your separate rooms in a companionable silence, I found intriguing. Please may I befriend you on Moodscope or Facebook. We seem to share some common characteristics. I write poems but so do lots of people. I write to make sense of my world. Sometimes it is baffling & leaves me discombobulated. A very onamataepic word.

Mary Wednesday Wed, Apr 19th 2017 @ 8:01am

Disconbobulated is a wonderful word indeed. Of course you may befriend me on FB (I have quite a few of you there). Please be warned however, that as my posts are public, I don't tend to put much personal stuff up. But it does give one the the chance to PM, of course. I met my wonderful friend Raz that way! If you email Caroline ( she will give you my details.

Orangeblossom Thu, Apr 20th 2017 @ 8:14am

Thanks Mary I shall do this fairly soon. & perhaps you can be my buddy on Moodscope as well? Would Caroline be able to give me your contact details for both. Love

Mary Wednesday Wed, Apr 19th 2017 @ 7:55am

Hello LP, it's a beautiful day in Cambridgeshire too, although we had a slight frost and I was a bit worried about the guinea-pigs who were moved outside only last week. They seemed fine this morning, though.
I am so sorry your non-real world is full of monsters instead of friendly gryphons and flying horses. You might trying inventing such a world and exploring it. The nice thing about an imaginary world is that you can populate it with things you like - certainly not repair bills and tax demands. Just a warning - don't try to put things in like winning the lottery. That is real life and brings with it a whole new set of problems. An imaginary world has its own set of rules which are not those of this reality.

Gillian Wed, Apr 19th 2017 @ 9:07am

I've always had a vivid imaginary world and I'm in my 50s now. Sometimes I probably spend too much time there. My daughter is a world -builder - but she externalises it more. She has a couple of friends that act it out with her and she writes and draws about it. But for me - it's always been very private and only exists in my head. It does feel quite real though - and has had strong continuity over the decades. I used to often worry about how much time it took up - but now I understand that I need it to deal with this other world (which is also in Cambs - funnily enough!).

Mary Wednesday Wed, Apr 19th 2017 @ 8:37pm

Your private world is obviously a very personal and secret indulgence/therapy. I am now imagining a wonderful secret forest, accessed only by something like the cave (originally neanderthal grave in the book) in Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar children... which reminds me that I'm only a third of the way through that and I really must read it to the end...

Mj Wed, Apr 19th 2017 @ 5:33pm

Your best writing ever Mary!! You make me want to go now to write fiction. I usually write opinion or science or even policy. People voted for Trump over here. I need an escape! Thanks. I'll start with a poem or a short little story. XXX

Mary Wednesday Wed, Apr 19th 2017 @ 8:38pm

Ah - you are very kind MJ. Different blogs appeal to different people. I am glad this one speaks to you.

Lexi Wed, Apr 19th 2017 @ 7:26pm

Hi Mary - I love this blog. Imagination, meditation, quiet time, self reflection, day dreaming - I do it all. Even my young daughter requests alone time/quiet time to be alone just with herself and her thoughts. I believe it recharges our batteries and when we get really quiet and start listening to those voices that our best ideas come through. xo Lexi

Mary Wednesday Wed, Apr 19th 2017 @ 8:41pm

Absolutely, Lexi. Some of us need this quiet reflective time more than others. When my husband lived on his own as a bachelor, he was proud to say that, in 12 years, he only spent one weekend on his own. The very idea of spending every weekend in the company of other people fills me with cold horror! I need my alone time. So does my daughter. (In fact, big one needs it too - but is more likely to come out of that alone time in need of a big hug rather than refreshed)

Nicco Sun, Apr 23rd 2017 @ 2:36pm

You have a very wise daughter indeed, Mary!

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