Sunday, August 7, 2011


When I was a little girl, I had a dozen imaginary children and some imaginary friends.

My 'Rella has begun to have imaginary friends. One of our rec therapists thought that 'Rella was hearing voices and she quit before I could fire her. (I did talk to two professionals in our lives about the imaginary friends, both familiar with development, who said that the imaginary friends are not 'voices' but are signs of developmental progress and a really good thing.)

Lately, an imaginary friend named "Susan" has been showing up. "Susan" makes 'Rella say and do mean things. My observation is that 'Rella is dealing with negative feelings in a bigger, broader way and "Susan" helps her do that.

It's a good thing, right?

"Susan" has begun to show up at times that are not good for me. This week, she joined us while we were grocery shopping, for example.

My 'Rella has been incredibly dysregulated this week and "Susan" has been an unwelcome visitor quite a bit. 'Rella is itchy and scratching, too, with some stubborn eczema causing physical discomfort.

Is she sick? Is she dealing with hormonal changes? Does she have pain that she doesn't recognize in a way to tell me about (sinus pressure, for example)? I don't know.

There are days when she can kick "Susan" to the curb, and days when "Susan" won't leave.

"Susan" is self-awareness for my girl; she's aware that she's upset, angry, dysregulated.

The days when she can kick "Susan" to the curb allow my 'Rella some experience self-regulating.

The days when "Susan" won't leave are challenging for the whole family. Those are days when I wish I had a doctorate in developmental psychology. Those days are trying for all of us. They keep me looking for a physical cause (did she eat some gluten or dairy? is she sick?) and at the same time, keep me hopping in terms of how to interact with this dysregulated child in a way that will allow her to kick "Susan" to the curb.

I think it's time to do some reading about imaginary friends.

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