Anybody Try Imaginary Parents?

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Dana1010

Policy Enforcement
I just started an experiment in self re-parenting, a form of therapy I admittedly don't know much about--this is just my own experiment. I have chosen two imaginary parents, a mother and a father. They are actually modeled after actual people--one I've met, the other I haven't, just someone I feel a connection to. In idle hours like between work periods, after meditating and especially when I've just woken up, I will attempt to regress in my mind back to a child state and imagine scenarios with my new parents. I take myself through the fantasies and try to really be there, feel the feelings, etc. For instance, I might wonder, "How would it be to go to a restaurant with new loving parents?" and I'll take myself through that scenario. Instead of an angry, argumentative father annoyed by me being a kid and wanting attention, I have my new father who calmly and happily looks at the menu and asks, "What does princess want?" "I want pancakes, daddy," I say. And then he kisses me on the cheek and says, "Tell the waitress what you would like to eat, princess."

It felt slightly ridiculous at first, like what entitles me to this treatment? It was strange and foreign to have these people being nice to me for no reason. I just kept expecting them to rip it out from under me at any moment; a little voice said, "Don't get used to it." But I kept trying to stop fighting it, to let it sink in, to take it for granted. As I dropped the defenses and let myself feel the love, my body started to shake involuntarily--a clear sign I had hit on a trauma point.

My daydreaming skills are well honed from my days when that was my only life as an isolated child/teen, so I'm pretty good with casting and directing pretend lives. I've just been at this for a couple of days, so it's too soon to gauge its efficacy, but I think I am feeling a bit calmer. Does anyone have similar experiences to share? You are welcome to copy my methods, try for yourself, and report back on your results.
 
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scout86

MyPTSD Pro
My therapist actually suggested something like this. He said that we can "Avail ourselves of resources we weren't actually born with." He asked what I thought it would have been like to have had a sister? An older sister? (He actually decided I should have 2. We made them a marine biologist and an astronaut. LOL) I went on to imagine what it would have been like to have had a different mother. Or the same mother in different circumstances. I came up with a couple of alternative universes that I rather liked.

I think his point was to consider what I might have learned in different circumstances that would have been useful. It DID, eventually, help me see that there really WERE problems and that they had very real effects. It was an interesting thought experiment and kind of fun. Every now and then, when I have to deal with one of my more dysfunctional family members, I stop and ask myself what their behavior would mean, coming from someone else. I generally realize that their behavior WOULDN'T be coming from that "someone else" because "someone else" is sane and the family member in question maybe not quite there.
 

Dana1010

Policy Enforcement
I think his point was to consider what I might have learned in different circumstances that would have been useful.
Yeah, it's helping me see my biological parents as just two individuals that I wound up with through a twisted lottery--not these all powerful, God like deciders of my fate, worth, etc. Suppose I had been switched at birth. Suppose they had died in an accident the day after I was born, and I had to be put up for adoption. If my adoptive parents were sane, loving, supportive people, my entire experience of life would be drastically different. I'd be a different person today--different name, different outlook, location, likely profession and educational background. It feels good to put them in their place. They were never really important.
 

Lucycat

Sponsor
I have a Make-believe Mum. She is a real person who lives the other side of the world. When the going gets tough I phone or Skype her just to make that contact and reinforce the attachment. She, of course knows nothing of this. When I call I certainly don't tell her my woes, we simply have a chat and it fills up my tank until the next time. There is a photo of her prominently positioned in my living room.

It was all at the suggestion of T who realised before I did that I have no attachment with or support from my real mother. I have used my pretend mother in therapy sessions with me considering how the child me would have felt with the protection of this wonderful lady.
 

Spiderallis

MyPTSD Pro
That sounds like fun, probably healing and helpful too, but really fun. I read something about a therapist that begins 'inner child' type work by having a doll representative help get things started. I guess it depends which perspective is easier to see, tending to the doll would be from the other side. I've just got an imaginary sibling like @scout86 , but I was afraid to tell my T about the little brother that doesn't really exist. He just stops by sometimes. Thus far the few mental health professionals that know about him have all understood that it's just how portions of my brain work through things. The process goes easier if I create synthetic empathy and validation through an imaginary brother.
 

ihateusernames

MyPTSD Pro
I had a sort of "imaginary friend" from 7 or 8 until, well, until a little while after I met my husband. (I am such a ditz. I never make these connections until the moment I put it out there. Duh, of course, he replaced the imaginary friend.)

Thinking about it, I guess that did serve the same sort of purpose as going back and re-experiencing things with imaginary parents. Like @Spiderallis is talking about as far as I'm interpreting her; it was somebody I created to provide unconditional love and acceptance and all because it wasn't coming from anywhere else.

I don't tell anybody about that. I never have until now. It's interesting to hear from other people who did this. And makes me even more intrigued by your idea, @Dana1010 .
 

melbatoast

New Here
@Dana1010 good for you for harnessing the power of dissociation as a hard-earned skill and having the courage to experiment like this.

I have trouble reining in my imagination and accepting nurturing from even imaginary parental or designated nurturing figures outside of myself. It always seems to bring up bad memories, remind me of loss or what I didn't have, what a parent should never be. Sometimes I will pick up on that critical voice and realize I'm abusing myself in the same way my parents did. This happens in my 'safe place' imaginings too, like I'm at the beach and relaxing and then suddenly a shark!

For the imaginary parent I will envision my future ideal self as my internal parent that is mothering me and modeling self-care, acceptance and love for the needy younger and traumatized parts of me. I can know with certainty that I will always be there for me and the image becomes a goal for how I want to be :D

My solution for safe place has been to keep the locus of my fantasy inside my body and think of being warm and fuzzy and held but not imagining a person or a place. I will heat a hot water bottle and put on fuzzy socks or a soft sweater and make sure I am clean and dry and just feeling as good as I can physically.
 

Dana1010

Policy Enforcement
Sometimes I will pick up on that critical voice and realize I'm abusing myself in the same way my parents did. This happens in my 'safe place' imaginings too, like I'm at the beach and relaxing and then suddenly a shark!
Exactly. Being raised in a loveless home, I glommed onto being "good enough" as my life jacket. It was something concrete that I could hold onto in that wilderness. So as I try to suspend disbelief and just be there with my imaginary parents, the feeling of love will begin to pry its way in, and the alarm will sound: "What did I do to deserve this? I'm not _____, I don't _____, and I haven't even ____. What makes me think I'm good enough for this?" So trying to separate love from being "good enough" is very foreign territory to me.
 
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