1. To give a false appearance of; feign: "You had to pretend conformity while privately pursuing high and dangerous nonconformism" (Anthony Burgess).
2. To claim or allege insincerely or falsely; profess: doesn't pretend to be an expert.
3. To represent fictitiously in play; make believe: pretended they were on a cruise.
4. To take upon oneself; venture: I cannot pretend to say that you are wrong.
1. To feign an action or character, as in play.
2. To put forward a claim.
3. To make pretensions: pretends to gourmet tastes.
Imitation; make-believe: pretend money; pretend pearls.
[Middle English pretenden, from Old French pretendre, from Latin praetendere : prae-, pre- + tendere, to extend; see ten- in Indo-European roots.]
As a shy and lonely, bookish only child (that sounds like something from Dickens, doesn't it?!), my imagination developed pretty well.
To fill the void around me - no friends outside of school, little family, my parents almost never "entertained", so we spent weekends, half-terms and holidays pretty much just the three of us - I invented whole universes, other realities, in which my life was drastically different and, at least in my imagination, undoubtedly better.
To be honest, I've never really outgrown the habit, and to be even more honest, these imaginary "elsewheres" are really what's allowed me to survive the last few years. I spend so much time physically alone - I work mainly from home, the girls are at school all day, four days a week, and spend time with D at weekends - that I need the "company" my fantasy lives give me. I have whole conversations, imagine whole, complex scenarios (scenarii?). Really, these imaginary worlds are amazingly realistic, fleshed out, detailed.
When I finally manage to get myself to bed, I fall asleep half-way through a favourite "episode" from "my life" (because yes, of course, I have favourite parts of this imaginary life and I choose to relive them whenever I can). These imaginary lives aren't necessarily all happy, all shiny. Bad things happen. But - and this is the big difference with my "real" reality - when the bad stuff happens, I'm surrounded by love and support and arms to hold me and wipe the tears. There are ups and downs, and sometimes the downs are really downs, but there's always someone there - physically there, not Facebook-y there, or Twitter-y there, or e-mail-y there - to pull me through, give me the strength to carry on.
I don't really believe I'm as insane as this must make me sound. I mean, I'm perfectly aware of what's real and what's not. I have no illusions that the people (sometimes famous people, or characters from films or TV series who happen to play the right role) who inhabit these fantasies will actually play any part in my life. It's just a means of escaping the "real" reality I'm struggling so mightily with. It's just a way of getting to sleep, even if I can only seem to manage to sleep in 2-hour chunks right now. It's what helps me get through the rest of the day.
But I'm also aware that I'm getting to a point where my pretend lives (because there are many variants to my fantasies, and I chop and change between them as my fancy takes me) are actually more important to me than my real life. I long for the moment when I can lie down in my bed, turn out the light and forget about the crap-fest around me and fall headlong back into a world where everything ultimately works out. Where I am loved by a man I love, where wrongs are righted and dreams come true.
I guess 42 is pretty old to be playing make-believe. But I thought I'd have my life worked out by now, too. It's just that it didn't happen that way. And now, all I have left of my dreams is what's in my head.