“WHAT IF IMAGINARY FRIENDS AREN’T IMAGINARY?” #WeirdDarkness
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IN THIS EPISODE: Most people had imaginary friends when they were younger. These “friends” were usually nice, funny, and even comforting. They took the form of animals, other humans, and sometimes larger-than-life characters that defy classification. And sometimes they were extremely creepy and downright scary, especially when examined in hindsight.
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Imaginary friends are, for many people, a childhood rite of passage, giving them their first true friends and confidantes. But be careful who you make friends with, for some creepy imaginary friends come back to you as an adult, if they were even friends in the first place. Though most people write off imaginary friends as simply products of over-active imaginations, the way some adults describe their past imaginary friends suggests something else may have been afoot. Imaginary friends, like many things for children, aren’t always as benign as you may assume they’d be. Whether their imaginary friend was a departed spirit or a malevolent entity from the unknown, listening to adults describe their imaginary friends is always entertaining and a little unnerving. In this episode of Weird Darkness I’ll be sharing some true stories from adults who go into detail about the creepy imaginary friends they had as kids. If you can relate, you may want to think back on how “imaginary” your friends really were.
I’m Darren Marlar and this is Weird Darkness.
Welcome, Weirdos – I’m Darren Marlar and this is Weird Darkness. Here you’ll find stories of the paranormal, supernatural, legends, lore, the strange and bizarre, crime, conspiracy, mysterious, macabre, unsolved and unexplained.
Coming up in this episode…
Most people had imaginary friends when they were younger. These “friends” were usually nice, funny, and even comforting. They took the form of animals, other humans, and sometimes larger-than-life characters that defy classification. And sometimes they were extremely creepy and downright scary, especially when examined in hindsight.
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Insisted Karen Be Treated Like A Real Person
“I was an imaginative kid & had several imaginary friends, but my first one was different then the rest. When I was two or three I had an imaginary friend named Karen. My whole family knew about her & I would insist she be treated like a real person, unlike my later fantasy folks. My mom would hear me carrying on whole conversations with her alone & was always a little curious where I had come up with the whole thing, it seemed more complex then toddler pretend. Like I genuinely thought she was a person & that people were being inconsiderate to her by not acknowledging her. Sometimes to humor me my parents would out of the blue be like ‘Well, hello Karen!’ & I’d glare replying ‘She’s not here right now.’
We ended up moving & once we did, Karen wasn’t mentioned anymore. Since I was young, I don’t remember too much, just a warm feeling like an old friend. My mom asked me about it when I got older, and told her I could confidently remember making up my other later imaginary friends (Howard the Duck & his girlfriend Chuck) but not Karen. She told me she always wondered if I was seeing something she wasn’t, but no harm ever came of it so she didn’t worry.
Well I’m in my 30’s now and was reading an article about a case that changed how soon you could report a missing person. As I read I realized it was sort of near where I used to live and the girl was named Karen. I didn’t think much of it, it was a city, crime happens. As I read further, I learned that Karen’s murderer had buried her body in the town I had lived. At that point, not expecting much but rather curious, I texted my mom for the address of our old house. As it turns out, Karen was murdered then buried about a mile & a half from our old home.
Now, I’m not saying that I’m 100% sure this Karen was my Karen, and the whole thing had happened a little over decade before my parents had even bought the house. My mom had never even heard of the case and it was would have long been out of the headlines. I still haven’t found a picture of the girl and sometimes wonder if I’d recognize her even though she died before I was even born. Regardless, the whole thing was a sad story and that young lady didn’t deserve such an awful end. If she was my Karen, it’s even sadder her spirit lingered and only had a toddler for a friend.”
Sarah May Not Have Been So Imaginary After All
“Not imaginary, per se. I used to break into houses as a little kid. I lived in a really run-down part of town with a huge amount of foreclosed and empty houses. So, I would pry off the window screens and if the windows were unlocked, I would crawl inside them. I was maybe like five or six.
Well, in one abandoned house there was always this young Hispanic girl hanging out in the upstairs bathroom. I would go up there, and she would talk to me and we’d play tag and hide-and-go seek and truth or dare. I’d always invite her home for dinner but she said she couldn’t leave because she had to wait for her mom to come home. I guess it made sense to me at the time, but when I think back, there was nothing in that house. Not even silverware in the kitchen drawers. The carpets were all mildewed and it was seriously empty. I don’t think she could have really been there.
Her name was Sarah. (I don’t think she ever told me her last name). She always wore these cut-off tank-top shirts (I really can’t remember what of, but I’m fairly certain they were graphic tees) and always these pastel-orange spandex shorts. She had a bobbed hair-cut where the hair was shorter in the back than the front. She was missing a couple of teeth in the front of her mouth. She was a little chubby, especially in the stomach.”
The Green Man
“I’m 20 and when I was a younger child, I did have an imaginary friend. It really scared my parents because his name was ‘the green man.’ He was overly tall, wore a doctor’s mask, and had blood all over his scrubs.
I went to a psychiatrist during my teen years and we kind of figured out that because of my grandparents failing health while I was young, I spent a lot of time in hospitals. My parents think that ‘the green man’ was a way for me to feel safe while I spent so much time alone in waiting rooms.
I actually saw him. I had tea parties with him and even set a place for him at the table. He would stand behind me a lot and have his hand on my shoulder.
My parents fought for a long time, telling me he wasn’t real. But they finally just conceded to the fact that their child was weird.
Tl;dr- I had an imaginary friend who was a creepy doctor with bloody scrubs. I’m normal.”
Tom Followed Him Everywhere
“As soon as I could start speaking, I had an imaginary friend. I called him ‘Tom.’ I would set places at the table for him, talk to him during long bus rides, ask his opinion about things, and basically treat him like an invisible brother even though I had three other siblings. I don’t remember any of this. My mum grew concerned that I wasn’t developing socially, so she took me to a child psychiatrist. This I remember. They asked me about Tom and why I saw him, if I saw anyone else in the same manner, and asked me to sort out some stuff with puzzles. I stopped talking to Tom after that.
Fast forward ten years. After her divorce, my mum gets really into spirituality. I thought it was a load of bollocks, until she played the recording of a particular psychic reading session with me. The psychic was new and really interested in me for some reason. She said she saw a young dark haired man ‘watching over me’. She asked if the name Tim meant anything. She asked if I was a Gemini. She asked if I had a large birthmark on my side. All this is correct.
The psychic inferred that Tom/Tim and I were twins in a past life. The birthmark I carry is apparently how he died, to come watch over me in this life. As a child, I could see him and interact with him, but I lost that gift as I was conditioned not to see him.
I’m skeptical of such claims, but hearing the psychic pinpoint such information made the hair rise on the back of my head. So, I guess if you’re there watching over me, thanks twin bro.”
Thoup, An Imaginary Friend Who Was Murdered
“My sister had an imaginary friend named ‘Thoup’ (yes, like “soup” with a lisp, which she did not have).
Thoup was a total bitch. She would go in my room and break my Lego forts and stuff.
One day when my sister was playing alone, I went up to her and told her that while she was playing I had gone into her room and killed Thoup.
She got very upset and no matter how much my mother tried to calm her down and tell her that Thoup was okay (‘see? There she is playing outside, why don’t you go see if she wants to play with you?’) my sister insisted that I had murdered her friend.
I got grounded for what I remember being a really long time for killing Thoup. I remember arguing to my mom that it was dumb because I hadn’t killed a real person.”
Charlie Was A Little Man Who Went Everywhere
“I had one when I was like four. He was Charlie. My parents always asked what he looked like, and I always said a little man. He went every where with me (single child at the time). It was to the point that I would cry if my mom sat on Charlie while we were eating lunch. When we moved away Charlie didn’t come with us.
My Mom asked where he was, and I told her that he was going to be a mannequin at Sears. Years later we found out that a little person had committed suicide in our house before we moved in…”
Olean the Raven
“I had an imaginary friend up until I was around 11 or 12, I think. (I’m 28 now, and I still miss her. 🙁 )
As a mostly-rational adult, it is hard for me to remember whether or not I actually saw her, or if she was just made up. But, I feel like I really saw her. On an eerie side note, I only had this imaginary friend when my family lived in this antebellum house on the Ohio River in Kentucky. Her name was Olean, and she was a GIGANTIC black raven. I can remember having conversations with her, and my mom has said in the past the I used to hold long talks with Olean in front of her. I was the first child for my parents, so I imagine they were just crossing fingers their next child wouldn’t turn out so odd!
As far as the ‘standing right beside you’ stuff, I don’t think I ever did that. I can’t remember ever sitting a place at the table for Olean. I understood that she lived/ate somewhere else.
Regarding triggers, I don’t have any memories of anything that would lead to me having a big black bird for an imaginary friend.
TL;DR Yes, I had a big black bird for an imaginary friend.”
“Bra And Underpants” Girl
“When I was between three and six I had three imaginary friends, two who were the usual little kid stuff. They were invisible and and friendly and I only heard them in my head.
My third friend, she was not invisible, I could see her. I called her ‘Bra-and-underpants girl’ because that’s all she had on. I can still see her in my mind clear as day, she looked almost black and white, like black lacy underwear contrast with pale skin and what I always thought was dirt around her frazzled blonde hair. I can’t even wrap my head around how I had even been able to come up with a friend like that at three.
While my other two friends were nice, she wasn’t; she wasn’t mean, just really sad, constantly. If asked where she lived and she’d say ‘those woods’ (points to forest behind my house.) I’d tell her she could stay in my house but she’d just say ‘I can’t.’ It wasn’t a big deal when I stopped seeing her either. Do you think it was something more?”
More true stories of imaginary friends coming up, when Weird Darkness returns.
Michael, A Boy from the Beach
I met Michael on the beach in Pensacola, FL. I asked my mother if he could come home with us and she said he could. He rode next to me the entire way home and we talked in the back seat of the car. He was my imaginary friend from the time I was two until I started Kindergarten.
Michael was a kid, but was older than me, maybe six to eight but not older than 10. He had dark hair that was short. I think he wore red shorts. I remember that he came to me less frequently as I got older until he came to me one day to say goodbye completely. He said that he found his family and was going home.
I dreamed about him years later, playing on the beach in the sun, he turned and smiled and waved to me.
I don’t know how common it is for people to remember their imaginary friends this vividly, or to dream about them later in life. I saw a psychiatrist as a teen who assured me this experience was all very normal, still something seems off about it to me.”
She Lived There Before
“I had loads of imaginary friends when I was a kid, most of which were just personifications of my dolls and my favorite characters from books and TV, but I remember one with a completely unique personality from when I was about nine and living in Virginia. She was called Christine or something similar and as much as I can remember she lived in the house before we moved in, had long pigtails and was close to my age.
I didn’t think much of this until really recently when my parents and I were talking about when we used to live in that house. My mum told me that she used to hear footsteps and a child’s voice coming from the upstairs while I was at school, and my dad told me he once found an old photo of a little girl at the bottom of one of the closets while he was cleaning it. Unfortunately he couldn’t tell me if the girl had pigtails.”
He Was A Black Ball Of Energy
“When my sister and I were young, we both had imaginary friends but we could both sense hers. It was like a black ball of energy.
My sister claimed her imaginary friend told her its – her – name. We played with her outside, and my sister talked our mom into setting a place for her at the table a few times.
Eventually our parents were uncomfortable with how convinced we both were of this imaginary friend, and forbade all mention of her.
Some years later we learned there had been a small group of Native Americans living in that are who had been wiped out about a hundred years before. The name of the group was that which my sister’s imaginary friend had said was hers so long ago.”
Becky Said She Hated Her
“I had an imaginary friend when I was five or six. Her name was Becky Reeder, and she was maybe eight or nine, had curly brown hair, and was slightly pudgy. I had her as a friend for about three years. She and I would hang out in the downstairs of my house and color, play with dolls, and sometimes play outside. She would never come upstairs though and I never found out why. She would just go away when I went upstairs.
One night she invited me to a party, and I was excited because she said I could meet her family. She had a mom and dad, grandparents, an older sister, and an aunt. She told me that the party was by the water (like a 10 min drive from my house), and that it would be fun. I told her I couldn’t leave, and she said we could sneak out. I started out the door when my mom heard and came to investigate. She asked what I was doing and I told her that I was going with Becky to a party to meet her family. My mom told me I couldn’t go, and I threw a fit because I really wanted to go.
My mom picked me up and went to take me to bed, but I couldn’t stop crying so she brought me into her room to sleep in her bed. A while later I calmed down and was just laying there watching the ceiling when I heard the noise by the bedroom door. Becky was upstairs, and she was standing there. I waved at her and whispered ‘I’m sorry.’ Becky said ‘I hate you’, and walked out of the room.
I never saw her again after that. I’ve tried Googling deaths in that area or asking around, but nobody knows anything, so it was interesting. I talked to my mom about it when I was older, and she said she was very alarmed because I was so adamant to go to this party, even though it wasn’t real.”
They Vanished When The Dog Arrived
“I remember that I was always excited and would rush to get to bed, something that a kid never does. I would ask to go to bed early so I could see them. My bedroom was set out in a sort of U-shape. My bed was in the middle and everything was set around facing me. I didn’t have a TV in my room and only had the basics. I remember laying in bed, it being pitch black with only some light coming in from my curtains when two kids would come out – I don’t know where from. They seemed to step out of the darkness and would sit on my bed and talk to me about my day, calling me a ‘silly billy.’ My dog Sophie would often come rushing into my room to jump on the bed. I would calm her down, kissing and petting her but upon looking up, the girls were always gone.
I think my room was being decorated with new wallpaper and I stayed in my parents’ bed for a few nights. They put me to bed with some warm milk, cookies and a Disney film on their tv. The two girls would come out from my room and sit on my parents’ bed and watch the film with me. I remember grabbing some cookies and my glass of milk and offering it to them and one of them looking really happy, shocked and the older girl shaking her head saying ‘we can’t.’
They both had white nightdresses on and their hair was in a bun. They never had any shoes on and they would come and see me almost every night up until I was seven. I honestly can’t remember their names, this was over 20 years ago. They always seemed terrified when my dog would run into their rooms and vanish.
My mum later found out that 15 years before, two young girls got attacked by a neighbor’s dog in our yard and died.”
His Name Was “Tim” And He Lived In The Basement
“At four my parents divorced. My dad, with not many resources, moved into the attic of this comically pink house in the bad side of town. One day he hung a tire swing from a tree in the back yard. I had a lot of fun with that, and I remember this guy living in the basement of the house would hold conversations with me out of the basement window while I played. His name was Tim, he had a yellow jacket and a bright pink helmet every time I saw him, which was every time I went outside.
Once in a while he would ask me to climb in the window but I always said ‘I don’t think so Tim!’ because I thought it was funny that he’d act really angry and mad. I asked my dad recently about Tim, and he said that nobody lived in the basement and it was used for storage. I don’t know if Tim was real or not, but I’m glad I didn’t go into the basement.”
An Imaginary Evil Twin Named June
“I had an imaginary evil twin named June who lived in the attic. Whenever I did anything wrong I blamed her, so my parents would make ‘her’ write apology letters. I’m right-handed, so I used my left hand to write them, thinking this would fool them.
Twenty years later, I’m playing poker and a dude at the table called me June. I honestly did a double take until I realized he just had forgotten my actual name.”
How Did He Come Up With These Backstories?
From an anonymous Redditor:
“I didn’t have any siblings, so I was often lonely at home, especially before I started going to school. I had imaginary friends though. Dozens of them. Most of them were pigs from the planet Zion (my parents are atheists, they have no idea where I came up with this). Off the top of my head I remember Good Piggy, Naughty Piggy, and Peter, but Peter wasn’t around much because he always had to go to church (again, no idea where these ideas came from- not my parents). There was also a pink bird named Sweety.
I knew they weren’t actually real, but at the same time, I couldn’t ‘control’ them… They did whatever they wanted. Especially Naughty Piggy. Once I started going to school and making real friends, they slowly stopped coming by. I assume they all went back to live on Zion.”
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Now that we’re coming out of the dark, I’ll leave you with a little light… Proverbs 18:2 = “A fool finds no pleasure in understanding, but delights in airing his own opinions.”
And a final thought… “Your time is limited. Don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” – Steve Jobs
I’m Darren Marlar. Thanks for joining me in the Weird Darkness.