My Imaginary Friend Was Violent

Did it make me a bad child?

Photo by Kelly-Ann Tan/Unsplash

Jade didn’t like people.

It didn’t matter if they were my friends or family. She didn’t discriminate in her hate.

See, Jade had a thing for weapons. Knives and bow and arrows were her favorite. She liked to stab people. She often went for the head or eyes, but it wasn’t uncommon to see her attack the chest or legs or hands.

Thank God Jade wasn’t real.

Did I hate my family, my friends? Of course not. But Jade took out my childhood frustrations in a way I couldn’t.

As a kid and up through high school, teachers often joked that I was a mute. Unless forced to, I didn’t speak. I could go entire school days without speaking a word other than “here” or “present.” I buried my head in books and made friends with the imaginary.

And among the imaginary, I found my own imaginary friend, Jade.

Photo by Aaron Burden/Unsplash

If I had to guess what spawned Jade, I’d put my bet on childhood loneliness.

I didn’t have many friends. My closest was in and out of the foster care system, so we didn’t see each other much except when her foster families let Mom bring me over for a visit.

I begged other kids to be my friend. I went to church and church camp, not because I believed in God but because in small southern towns the only real way to build relationships is in school, church, or the bar. The latter wasn’t exactly an option as a child.

But church didn’t gain me any friends. I felt just as isolated there as at school and eventually quit going.

I had myself, and myself only. I had a graveyard by my house I spent my days riding my bike in. I played with neighborhood stray cats.

I made up stories in my head, fantastical fantasies of foreign worlds and people. People who liked me, wanted to be around me, and cared about me like I cared about them. And among these creations, Jade spawned.

Photo by Claudia Soraya/Unsplash

Jade aged as I aged. Her hair, long and black, contrasted my natural blond. She had green eyes, like my green eyes, and skin a deathly pale bluish-white.

I am not sure why but her eyes were ringed in dark black paint, a warrior mask of some sort. Maybe it was because she was my warrior. My protector.

Jade fought off the school bullies when I couldn’t. She sat with me at lunch when I was alone.

On the playground, it was Jade who pushed me on the swings, Jade who went down the slides with me, and Jade who listened to my stories when none of my classmates cared to listen.

As a closeted transgender child, and later teenager, Jade had the courage to be who she wanted to be.

She could cut her hair short.

She could dress in goth, boyish clothing.

Jade had the confidence, the I-Do-What-I-Want attitude I so desperately desired in myself.

She wasn’t afraid like I was, and it was my fear that Jade twisted into violence.

Photo by Arun Kuchibhotla/Unsplash

In high school, I joined a small cluster of other outcasts. But it would be a lie to say I still didn’t have Jade with me.

I even told my friends about her. They found it cool in a way, despite how peculiar it must have been for a high schooler to still have their childhood imaginary friend.

It took time but Jade did eventually disappear.

I immortalized her in a mess of a book I tried to write as a freshman. She became, on paper, a sister of mine.

Still the rough, take-no-shit friend of my youth, this was my way of keeping her with me.

The character I shaped out of her had lost its taste for violence. I had friends now, people who gave a shit about me when the only one who did before was Jade.

Jade no longer had to hurt anyone. Her need to defend me was gone.

I could finally defend myself.

Photo by Annie Spratt/Unsplash

In the end, I owe a lot to Jade.

I used Jade to work through a whole host of emotions I didn’t understand.

After all, my childhood years weren’t the easiest. I don’t know many people whose childhood is.

We moved a lot. Dad was in and out of the picture. Money was a constant problem. My brother left to join the Army. My only stable friend ended up in state custody.

This imaginary violence acted out by Jade kept me from acting out any real-life violence and frustrations. I stayed the good, quiet, obedient child.

These intrusive, dark thoughts remained just that: thoughts.

Everything around me was out of my control and Jade had been the one thing I could control, even if I didn’t realize at the time that I controlled her.

Looking back, I know Jade’s violence didn’t stem from any real desire of mine to hurt anyone. Jade had been an embodiment of a voice I didn’t yet have.

I wasn’t a twisted, psychopathic child. Just a sad, lonely, and confused one.

In the end, I thank Jade.

Although imaginary, she was real enough to influence my life in a big way. Together, we learned self-resilience, independence, and backbone.

It's funny how the imaginary can impact your life hard.

Maybe that makes her not so imaginary after all.

Writer, poet, and photographer from Oklahoma. IG: @sixfeetrooted. Twitter: @cassiuscorbin.

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