Wednesday, January 25, 2006

A confessor to my dreams, Casting ribbons round my feet

I invented my imaginary friend when I was twelve, which is terribly late. Of course, I was very conscious that this friend did not exist, but I wanted one. His name was Ambrose. I was a big girl by then so I rarely spoke out loud to him and certainly not anywhere someone might hear me. I did write to him though; all my diary entries through my teenage years begin Dear Ambrose.

Why Ambrose? Well I was interested in etymology, would have known the origins of the word and I was also fascinated by the idea of angels and things. I perhaps liked to think he was my Guardian Angel and not just someone I made up. But I did know I had made him up.

I was obviously lonely, but in a complicated way. Teenage girls both attracted and repelled me and whatever my reaction, I was very uncomfortable about the way I felt about them. I always had to pretend a lot. Not just about those feelings, but I had to pretend to care about this and not to care about that. I had to pretend to have a favourte Gallagher brother and an interest in clothes and cosmetics and not what my purpose on Earth was. And I could never do this thing where you mould yourself to the person you are talking to; most people get the same package from me, despite my best efforts.

In fact I was probably little different everyone else. I do possess my diaries from this period and come across as an obnoxious little shit. But I did have friends and was never bullied exactly. It was just that much of the time I wanted to be alone. Yet I not really truly alone, just unchallenged. Thus Ambrose.

Why was Ambrose male? I am afraid I had a low opinion of what girls could offer me. I could share a joke with Ambrose, having come to the conclusion that humour was an entirely masculine attribute. He would say what he meant and wouldn’t need any interpretation. Plus he was as baffled about feminine behaviour as I was. He wasn’t a fantasy boyfriend or anything like that.

He wasn’t passive though, not by any means. When I saw the otherwise dreadful Lord of the Rings; Two Towers I was struck by Gollum’s conversations with himself, or at least with Smeagal; the part of him that was still good, the part of him that was still a hobbit. That was Ambrose and I; whether the question was does God want me to do this? or should I still be friends with Isobel after what she said? Ambrose was generally more cynical than I was, and tried to persuade me to do the wrong thing. I generally won these arguments, funnily enough.

I don’t know whether it would be more disturbing to have been a teenager with an entirely passive and compliant imaginary friend who agreed with my every opinion than having one who I would fall out with.

However, I have to emphasise that I was in fairly reasonable mental health. I had spells of melancholy and anxiety, but there were no problem behaviours. Teenagers are not generally happy creatures; you have pressures equivalent to those of adult life but none of the choices and none of the rewards. You work very very hard and all you get is an empty grade. You have no confidence about anything, you think you are a total pervert who would be locked up if anyone saw inside your head, your body is doing disgusting things with or without your intercession. You have no perspective on anything and imagine that your life will be over if just one little petty thing goes wrong. It is not fun.

Mind you, I am not about to admit the last time I spoke to Ambrose.


Anonymous said...

I had an imaginary hero when I was a child and teenager: he was a sort of James Bondish character, I suppose, about a foot taller than me, terribly athletic and attractive to girls, and also academically brilliant. I don't know who he reminded me of, it certainly wasn't me. Oh, and he was an orphan, and was free to have the most amazing adventures. I ran a sort of serial about him in my head for years, and I, too, am not going to admit when it packed up.

I suspect loads of people do this, Goldfish, only most are secretly ashamed to admit it.

marmiteboy said...

I reckon we all hve an imaginary friend and he/she stays with us throughout our lives. This is our subconscious at work. I don't know about you but I often talk to my self to reassure myself about an event or chastise myself about something. We do the same when we are younger only we name the subconscious and manifest it as an immaginary friend. Mine was called Mr Crockett (those old enough will rememebr him as the mechanic from Candlewick Green), he always went before me in everything. If I had a drink or something to eat Mr Crockett had to have some too. He had to join in my games and come to the shops with us. I don't know when he disappeared but in my view he was replaced at some time with the subconscious.

Many people, Native Americans for instance believe in a spirit guide that looks after you throughout your life, is this not another manifestation of the immaginary friend?

Lady Bracknell said...

Lady Bracknell has never had an imaginary friend.

She has, however, been accused by the nice young man who put shelves up for her when she first moved in to Bracknell Towers of having an imaginary cat.

(This will have been during Fishbone's "hiding in the wardrobe when people visit" phase. A phase which, ten years on, she has yet to grow out of.)

The Goldfish said...

Thanks guys; I didn't imagine my experience was unique, but it is good to know I am far from alone.

Of course one wouldn't expect Lady Bracknell to have imaginary friends because (a) she is such a popular lady anyway and (b) she is, herself, a fictional character.

Hiding in the wardrobe was another childhood behaviour of mine, but that's perhaps for another day... Only lasted about five years in my case though.

Anonymous said...

My name is Thom Poole and I currently work for a UK TV Production company called Electric Sky Productions.

We are developing a film with C4 about adults with imaginary friends. I have read testimonials from adults whose imaginary friend has remained with them into maturity, or indeed appear intermittently throughout their adult life. Sometimes they have appeared later in life for the very first time. We would very much like to talk to anyone with a similar experience. Please contact .

All correspondence at this stage will kept completely confidential and dealt with in the utmost discretion.

Any help you could give would be gratefully received.

Kind regards,


Anonymous said...


I am currently working for Vice magazine in the UK. We are a style and culture magazine and we are currently looking for people with imaginary friends for a feature in an future issue.

It would be great to talk to anybody with that has an imaginary friend or has had one at some point and still believes.

Any responses would be great,



cody k said...

My name is Cody, I’m sixteen and I have three imaginary friends Reggy Mumble and Twitch. Having three can be a big pain some times but I don’t mind it. I have twitch who is a happy go luck kind of guy and all ways puts a smile in my face. (some times not at the right moment) he make me laugh out loud and people around are either creped out by it or think I’m crazy. and he’s a grate talker and always helps and give me advice with every thing. Then there is mumble and he is shy and doesn’t say much be always listens to me and is there when I need him. And then there is Reggy and misunderstood punk teen who always starts fights with me and makes fun of me. But on the up side he sticks up for me and helps me put up with people that wanna pick on me or tease me because I’m different. The only scary thing about Reggy is he’s homicidal and some times try’s to get me to kill other people or even my self. I make drawing of my friends and I’m going to post some on the internet and make cartoons out of them. But that wont be for a while. I also have names and personalities for my designee making organs like my stomach and heart and brain and there names are Splitz Spook and Larry. My brain Splitz, well she is a hipper active Attention Deficit little girl. She always has too much going on and cant focus on any one thing for more then half and hour (max) but she’s the only brain I have so what can you do? Then there is spook his a timid and nervous guy and has always been that way. he has some problems with paranoia. Then you have Larry or Loony Larry as we call him he’s mentally insane the reason I say he’s insane is because when I think with my heart I have a complete lake or reason and foresight. (the very definition of INSANE!) he keep making be either dangerously hipper active and angry or suicidal. (I had to lock him up.) I just let him out of the mentally institution in my mind. He’s doing good so far but I think that’s because of the medication I’m on “Abilify” I’m writeing a book about my friends and my life.
Well that’s all I have to say I think.
If you ever wanna contact me please write to me at thanks for reading.

Anonymous said...

(This seems to be a very old blog entry, but I'm compelled to put in my own two cents anyway.)

I'm fourteen years old, and I never had imaginary friends as a child. I don't think that it was the case I wasn't imaginative; I was a creative little spitfire, always drawing and thinking of things, and I've only developed 'imaginary friends' in recent years - this past year, to be exact.

I'm a writer by nature. I love coming up with plots and symbols and what to foreshadow - when I started up, back when I was ten or eleven, my only downfall was that I couldn't seem to get a grasp on how to make a character from scratch. Of course, I immediately went to fanfiction - writing a story about something already made, like Harry Potter. I started off on 'anime,' and I've since transitioned into video games: the Final Fantasy series. I fell head over heels for this video game, so to speak. The characters were very real to me, and I literally bawled my eyes out when a very kind character died. When writing, I eventually found it easier to find the characters, have them visit me, pretend that they were sitting next to me. I'm able to talk through what I'm trying to get through from there, and, like this entry said, being a teenager is rather difficult at times. Overemotional, hormonal, even ashamed of being just at that age around adults. When I feel down, I often find myself imagining a character named Aeris hugging me and talking out my feelings with me so I can get a handle on myself again, the hero ruffling my hair and having a conversation, the villain quietly making me stand up on my own two feet.

I think marmiteboy was right on the mark. I changed my subconscious into pretend characters that help me get a bit of a better handle on my thoughts. I've found that this may be a healthy way to really understand yourself better. (Plus, the villain of the game is quite nice to me. He is rather pretty, anyhow.)

Anonymous said...

I am 34 years old and I have an imaginary friend. I know at least 3 others who are also adults with imaginary friends. I am otherwise average. I also have imaginary enemies. My "friends" keep me sane after the "enemies" attack me verbally. I used to think I was the only one with imaginary friends, so I am glad to see there are quite a few. I will tell anyone anything they want to know about my friends and enemies. My roommate also has these. We'd like help in learning how to fight these enemies. The best we can do is punish and torture and kill them, but more arrive all the time. They're very abusive and we'd like to get rid of them. My email is