Overcoming Your Fantasy Friend
Updated: Aug 3
In the previous posts, I shared Rachel's story of heartbreak and more about her Fantasy Friend. We all have a Fantasy Friend we turn to that keeps us feeling safe, needed, loved, special, and important. Your Fantasy Friend can be any type of imagined companion or distraction in your life that you turn to and fantasize about when you are having a bad day, hurting, stressed, or struggling.
A woman is feeling inadequate among her skinny friends. She was recently rejected by a love interest, and she did not receive the work promotion and begins fantasizing about what she would look like five or ten pounds lighter, what she would wear, whom she would impress, and how powerful she would feel. At this point, she is not counting calories, skipping meals, or starving herself. She does not have an eating disorder and she is not addicted to weight-loss supplements or drugs, at least for now. However, the fantasy is a defense mechanism that begins to interfere with her daily life and if not addressed, will gradually become toxic and all-consuming.
Deep down she believes the lie that her worth is tied to her appearance. Her Fantasy Friend, a skinnier, prettier version of herself, provides her with a false sense of power and security where she is beautiful and important. She entertains these images rather than honestly facing her painful feelings of inadequacy or rejection.
When you feel hurt, rejected, abandoned, ashamed, anxious, jealous, inadequate, or like an imposter, your Fantasy Friend makes you feel better.
Your Fantasy Friend comforts you. Your Fantasy Friend calls out to you, woos you, and draws you into denying your current reality, that is, the painful situation or relationship you are currently in. You fantasize by indulging and entertaining thoughts, ideas, conversations, or imaginations that are not real, but they fuel your denial.
During therapy I take my clients through the following exercise. I invite you to join me as well. Use a blank piece of paper or your journal to answer the questions below.
1. What is the difficult situation, unmet desire, or painful relationship you are trying to avoid?
Things such as heartbreak, the loss of a dream or a loved one, or not getting that promotion or position. Maybe you were recently fired, got diagnosed with an illness, gone through a divorce, infidelity, or bad breakup. Perhaps you experience overwhelming stress, no work-life balance, or regret of a missed opportunity.
Describe the painful thing:__________________
2. What or who is your Fantasy Friend that you turn to for comfort?
Here are some examples of who your Fantasy Friend may be:
A thinner, skinnier version of you
A fancy new job, promotion, or position of power and influence
A person you desire to be in a relationship with, to pursue you, and pay attention to you
A perfectly decorated home in the best neighborhood that everyone envies and admires
Traveling to exotic places with no responsibilities or commitments
Children attending the top-rated schools and universities
Romanticizing a previous version of yourself where you had less stress, more energy, more success, more adventure, more rest, or more time
A larger audience: All the claps, follows, friends, and likes
Here are some examples of what your Fantasy Friend can look like:
Name who or what your Fantasy Friend is:___________________
Most of these things are not bad or wrong in and of themselves. The problem arises when you use them to repeatedly escape reality. The reality of your pain (i.e. insecurities, heartaches, rejections, limitations, and losses).
Although these things provide immediate relief, the problem arises when we turn to these coping companions regularly for comfort. Coping companions begin in your imagination. Way before you turn to them for comfort, you fantasize about them in your imagination. The object of your fantasy, is your Fantasy Friend.
3. What painful emotions is your Fantasy Friend helping you to avoid?
Emotions such as grief, sadness, anger, fear, shame, anxiety, or feelings of insecurity, inadequacy, heartbreak, loneliness, or rejection.
Name the emotions:___________________
What You Can Name, You Can Heal
What you can name, you can heal. Now that you have named your Fantasy Friend, healing can begin.
The truth is, it is never our feelings that cause our issues but the way we choose to avoid those feelings. One way we avoid our feelings is through the defense of fantasy. Fantasizing is escaping a painful reality by longing for and imagining a different set of circumstances or relationships.
Your Fantasy Friend has been around for a while, knows you well, and feels familiar. But when you are hurt, you must make the decision not to turn to your Fantasy Friend. Your Fantasy Friend is depriving you of your God-given imagination. Your Fantasy Friend blocks you from healing, hearing God’s voice, receiving truth, and experiencing real comfort.
Your Fantasy Friend offers a quick, temporary fix. Your fantasy friend leaves you vulnerable to shame, to believing lies, and engaging in addictive behavior, because you are living in an illusion and clinging to your fantasy instead of clinging to the truth.
Rather than end our suffering by running toward the truth, we run toward our Fantasy Friend, our coping companions.
Your Fantasy Friend is an invisible imposter that invades your thought life and taints your pure imagination in order to sabotage your dreams and heart’s desires. Your Fantasy Friend will twist the truth to make it look like the object of your fantasy will satisfy you and take away your pain.
Fantasy is a distortion of the truth. The truth is conformity to reality, and fantasy is conformity to denial.
Make a choice to no longer turn to your Fantasy Friend for comfort. Take a stand for truth and face your hurt by inviting God into your pain and asking him to speak to you his words and to reveal his vision for your life. Eventually, your Fantasy Friend will no longer hold you captive and keep you stuck in a continual cycle of suffering, repeating the same unhealthy behaviors over and over again. Begin to say no to your Fantasy Friend and yes to God, yes to truth, and yes to freedom.
A Prayer For You
I invite you to say the following to prayer:
"Jesus, when I feel hurt, I turn to my Fantasy Friend of _________ for comfort. Forgive me for taking control of my pain by turning to things outside of myself to make me feel better. I desire you to be my comforter and my very present help in time of need. I ask you to help give me the strength to face my pain. I choose to feel my feelings instead of fear my feelings when I encounter something difficult and painful. Help me to live in the present moment, the here and now, instead of clinging to past hurts and fear of future pain. I will to cling to you instead of my Fantasy Friend.
My Fantasy Friend is easier to imagine and engage with. I no longer want to entertain the voice, images, and temporary relief of my Fantasy Friend. I want it to stop being my source of comfort and identity. I choose now to allow your voice, desires, and images to fill my heart and mind. Create within me a pure desire and imagination.
I am your child and you created me with purpose. I play an irreplaceable role in the lives of others because I am unique and special all on my own. I no longer want my source of worth and value to come from my performance, reputation, and appearance. I repent for allowing my jealousy, envy, and pride to be a driving force in my life. When things are hard or scary, when I have bad day, when I'm feeling hurt and alone, I choose to be courageous and deal with my pain instead of avoid it so I can be healed. Help me to accept the truth even when I'm afraid. I want the truth to set me free. Your redemptive power makes all things new and good. Thank you for being my Best Friend, My Constant Companion, and for never leaving me or forsaking me. In Jesus's name, Amen."
Then, ask Jesus: What do you want to give me in place of my Fantasy Friend?
Write down what you feel Him saying or showing you because...
Your Fantasy Friend is stealing from you the very thing Jesus has for you.
What Jesus desires to give you will satisfy the deep longings of your soul that your Fantasy Friend is trying to fulfill. There are passions, heart's desires, and dreams within you waiting to be discovered. There is hidden hurt waiting to be healed. There are deep truths waiting to bring you freedom. There is sadness waiting to be turned to joy. There is pain waiting to become your purpose. There are promises waiting to be fulfilled. There is a greater intimacy Jesus is waiting to have with you.
Overcoming your Fantasy Friend is not a one-time thing. Becoming aware of our patterns does not mean they will automatically disappear. It is as process and series of daily decisions. The healing process is not easy or pain-free; it is hard, but it's the right kind of hard.
We cannot change our painful circumstances, but we can learn to identify the lies we tell ourselves, the ways we live in denial, how we avoid our pain, and the ways we fantasize. Give yourself grace and compassion. When your Fantasy Friend calls to you, draws you in, and woos you, say, "No, I am choosing to walk away and not engage with you right now" and "Today, I am choosing to face my fears and deal with my pain." As you continually say no, your Fantasy Friend will no longer have a hold on your heart, consume your thoughts, and run your life.
**The content for this blog post has been taken from chapter 5 (What Feeds a Cuckoo? Lies we Believe and Defenses We Use) of Andrea’s book, The Cuckoo Syndrome: The Secret to Breaking Free from Unhealthy Relationships, Toxic Thinking, and Self-Sabotaging Behavior
The photo accompanying this article was sourced from istock and is in the public domain.