My Friend Roger

I don’t usually feel very comfortable talking about my truly personal life on Not Shallow. Usually that’s because my personal life just isn’t that complicated or even interesting except to me and those directly involved in it. I don’t want to bore my 30 regular readers to tears. But this may help other people, so here goes.

To help me manage anxiety, I’ve invented an imaginary friend. His name is Roger. But how I refer to him in my head is My Gay Friend Roger.

I imagine my friend as being a compassionate but tell-it-like-it is person. Roger loves to brunch, loves to gab and is very sympathetic to my problems. My Gay Friend Roger always wants to have imaginary brunch with me, especially when it’s perfect weather – 75 degrees and sunny. Sometimes we sit inside but if we can get a spot on the patio (there is always a patio), we sit outside.

Roger knows every intimate detail of my life. In fact, my life is his life and he loves to talk about it. Endlessly. At first, I think this is great. But Roger doesn’t know when to quit. He never shuts up (he also never stops smoking). Once he starts in, well, the perfect day starts slipping by.

People stroll past our patio eating ice cream cones, walking their dogs, window shopping. People drive by in convertibles or ride by on bikes. And I start to watch them. I start to wish I was actually doing something instead of just sitting there, being forced to listen to Roger talk about “our” life while sitting in clouds of his cigarette smoke. I realize just how boring it is and I find an excuse to get up and… leave Roger sitting there.

You’d think that Roger and I wouldn’t be friends anymore. But somehow, we always manage to get together for brunch again. Except hopefully our meet-ups will get shorter and shorter.

What’s really going on here is that I’ve come up with Roger as a way to get me to stop worrying, particularly at night. I tend to be someone who can fall into bed exhausted after a full day only to wake up at 3 a.m. to start in on the worrying, which can last for two hours or more. It can get so bad I feel a panic coming on or make myself sick. Not cool.

In desperation I tried to think of something, some scenario, that would crystallize just how useless my anxiety is. I imagined sitting at a restaurant, listening to a conversation at the next table where one person was telling another exactly what was going on inside my head. What would I think of my thoughts if I were “overhearing” them in the voice of someone else? Then I took the next step and put myself at that table and put my thoughts into Roger’s mouth.

I imagined us locked there, caught in useless speculation, while a beautiful day went on all around us. At first it was kind of fun, because Roger is a funny guy, so in his voice, my worries are the stuff of sitcoms. But then, once he started repeating himself, I felt antsy to “get up from the table” and get on with things.  So I went on an imaginary walk down the street. I was looking at a book store, which led to me thinking about books, scenes from books and… I fell back asleep.

Thank you, Roger. Until we meet again.

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