Magical Thinking

I grew up in a large home where everything was nothing like the real world. There was not a spot on the white rugs nor do I ever remember seeing a bug in the house. When I came home from school my room was cleaned, the bathroom scrubbed and everything in the house seemed to be in its right place. Everything was white except the art on the walls and outside the windows were beautiful oak trees, japanese gardens, a large pool and acres of landscaped grounds. It was a kind of veritable paradise that I grew up in, but as a child I was never able to see it for what it was. Instead I saw ghosts when I looked out the windows. I was afraid to walk down the long dark hallways at night and during the days I carried around a bundle of anxiety because I knew that I would get into trouble if I got a stain on the carpet or knocked anything out from its rightful place. My house was a kind of childhood prison- a prison that forced me to develop magical thinking in order to survive.

Growing up I do not remember my father being a happy man. He was always working and when home he was exhausted by the amount of time he had to spend at work. I remember him always being angry at someone and the someone was usually me. My father could not understand why his son would have deep conversations with his stuffed animals, spend hours in his room pretending to be a rock star while playing air guitar with a tennis racquet or run naked around the yard trying to catch the sun in the palm of my hands. I constructed forts in my room (which I refused to come out from), built a cockpit in my bathroom and pretended that the house was a ship and I was its pilot. I gave myself blow jobs using a hair dryer. When I was forced outside I would often avoid playing with other kids and spend hours pretending that I was flying around on a magic carpet through the landscaped back yard. As the years passed- my father became more concerned about the make-believe world that I seemed to be immersed in. He took me from one psychologist to another until a heavy-set therapist with a sculpted smile on his face told my father what he needed to hear. “It is a form of harmless denial, otherwise known as magical thinking,” the therapist told my father. “Your son is using magical thinking to deal with the stressors of childhood,” he said. My father was concerned that this behavior would follow me into adulthood. “If the defense mechanism survives beyond childhood it could become a serious problem, but I think your  son will out grow his magical thinking.” My dad took a relived deep breath but I think he knew then that something was seriously wrong.

My wife tells me that it is wrong that I spend so much time in the “make believe.” I often defend my magical thinking by telling her that there is no difference between the dream world and the real world. We are all playing a part and most of us just decide to play a similar part that everyone else plays. She is disturbed that I still often like to dress up in my Micheal Jackson and walk around downtown; that I like to spend my days pretending that I am someone else. She is not as concerned when I build forts in the back yard and pretend that I am camping out in the Himalayan mountains but it worries her that I still use my hair dryer for sexual gratification. “You are a grown man who acts like a seven years old child,” I often hear. She tells me that I am “escaping from my real world problems….. that I am not ready to accept the responsibilities of being an adult.” Maybe she is right, but all I can say in my defense is that I have been enjoying the fantastical pleasures of magical thinking since I was a child and it feels all right to me. My wife just shakes her head in frustration and walks away.