Imaginary Friends Pt. II All My Barbies

Barbie and Ken’s relationship played out a lot like my mother’s favorite soap opera, only ten times more dramatic because Ken always ended up without a limb or two after being caught shacking up  with one of Barbie’s attractive friends.  Sometimes Barbie would run him over with her pink convertible that was missing a wheel or there would be an all out domestic brawl.

It was during these theatrical hours long “play” sessions that I had no need for Memo, Tebo or Julie.  All My Children had become All My Barbies and make-up sex was a guarantee in these dramatizations at which point Ken would be granted his limbs back – You know, logistics and stuff.

When my third grade teacher suggested to my mother that I was probably too young to be watching Susan Lucci’s character, Erica Kane, strip down to her skivvies with just about every male character on the ABC soap opera, All My Children, she was probably right. Although, my mama wasn’t having it and I don’t blame her. Not only was another adult woman telling my mother that allowing me to watch such smut was bad parenting, these hour long episodes served as serious bonding time for her and I.  It continued to do so until I moved away to college in Los Angeles and just didn’t have the time nor the patience for daytime drama any longer.  Let’s just suffice it to say that my imagination had expanded from the dead returning from the grave and when you’re an eighteen year old female on your own in a big city, the distractions are endless, not to mention your own personal dramas.

My fanciful dreams of one day moving to New York City and landing myself a part on the show, specifically Erica Kane’s daughter, Bianca, were a distant memory by the time I trekked to the west coast. Memo, Tebo and Julie were, too.  I had the advantage of distance, over 1,600 miles of distance, in fact.  With that kind of space, one no longer needed imaginary friends and disproportionate, big-boobed, blonde pieces of flesh colored plastic to create it.

A Silent but Lethal Aggression


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Grief – here’s what I know about grief. She’s always uninvited when she arrives, rudely pounding upon the fragile doors of a weakened soul. She takes, with her, innocence, should there be any left from her previous visits. Robs would be a more accurate word – she robs you of any innocence that might be left, greedily devouring the purities of an inexperienced heart.

Grief is relentless, overbearing – a mostly silent but lethal aggression.  She leaves an impression with every visit so that the lesson you learned during her presence is relived time and time again, triggered by subtleties be it a song, a scent or a date on a calendar.  Sometimes, usually in her earlier visits, she obliterates you into a seemingly perpetual state of agonizing denial. If you’re lucky, this won’t last long because feeling out of control is enough but feeling out of control and unable to distinguish reality from its distant cousin, denial, is gut-wrenching.

Imaginary Friends

I had imaginary friends for years. Their names were Memo, pronounced MEEMO, with the long “E,” Tebo, rhyming with the latter and Julie, the most normal named non-existent friend of mine.

While driving around my hometown, I would often point out random vehicles, wave ecstatically and exclaim to my mother, “OH, there’s Julie!” Or while kneading play-doh between my little fingers at the dining room table, pretending to run a bakery, I would scold my invisible friend, Tebo for burning the cookies.

Tebo! I told you not to forget the cookies! Now what are we gonna do?”

Needless to say, I possessed a great imagination, however, the older I get, the more rumination I do, the more therapy sessions I partake in, it is becoming clearer to me that my three friends were more about an escape from my reality than they were a product of a typical child’s mind.

My mother worked hard for as far back as my mind was able to register the virtue of work and able to perceive time. Though I imagine the nights where I was left alone with my inattentive, older brother and equally as inattentive, alcoholic father seemed to last a lot longer than they actually did. I hated being left alone with them. It’s probably more accurate to state that the impression has lasted longer than the situation.

On many of these occasions, my brother, imaginary friends and I wound up at my grandparents’ home due to an exceptionally inebriated dad who was passed out on the brown, dingy couch spotted with erratic burns from a dropped cigarette or five. After countless attempts to wake him we would call grandma to come pick us up because we were too young to be left unsupervised or so that’s what adults like my father told us.  How’s that for an underdeveloped mind fuck? Besides, what if my dad was dead? In my naivete, I needed another adult to ensure it wasn’t the grim reaper but an excessive amount of booze causing our father to abandon his adult, fatherly duties.  On these late nights, my tired mother would fetch us from grandma and grandpa’s after long hours at work before heading home.

If my dad wasn’t working the following morning, a heated fight would inevitably ensue. In fact, the appetizing scent of bacon cooking in the kitchen would often waft into my slumber and trigger the anxiety, a feeling I was unable to identify at such a young age.  If the sound of shouting hadn’t rudely awakened me, the aroma of dead, fried pig that most associate with an enjoyable breakfast would inform me of an impending argument between mother and father.

Thankfully, inanimate objects, like pewter ashtrays, didn’t go flying across the room meeting the plaster walls with a heavy, sharp crash, sending gray, morbid plumes of cigarette ash into its damaging path every day. Fortunately, my mama and I would leave before it escalated to such levels because I couldn’t bear to see my mother’s pain nor be left alone in her hasty departures.

En route to grandma’s or my aunt’s, my mother and I would sometimes discuss our relationship woes with the men in our family. That was a normal Saturday for me. That was the familiar, what I could learn to count on, to expect.

Hey! There goes Julie!” I would wave at a random Pontiac, “She didn’t see me,” I would explain, disappointment drawn in a southward facing scowl across my little girl face.

The Residual Toxicity

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I shall only exert energy toward the people and things that reciprocate my effort. I no longer have the patience or the heart to be involved in one-sided relationships or activities that do not serve my soul.

I have wound up disappointed repeatedly, my heart seemingly left trampled and left on the back burner. I can only accept the blame for the redundant offenses as I have the control over whom and what I allow to infiltrate my space.

These are my affirmations to remove any residual toxicity.

A Doer in a Pond

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In an effort to preserve my sanity and to lessen the repeated blows of disappointment, I can no longer exert my energy toward the non-doers. I seek to find myself surrounded by the follow-throughers, the motivated and the motivators, the passionate soul shakers – the doers.  Too many talkers and not enough doers. Too many I wills and not enough I dids. Too many excuses and not enough justifiable.  Too much small talk and not enough depth. In gonna find the depth. I no longer can swim in the shallow waters full of fish whom only exist but do not live.

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