adventures in self-care, vol 1.

Yesterday I took myself out on a date.

Nice Voice waltzed into the room out of nowhere, all dashing and electric.

“Darling!” She cried. “Put on something nice. I’m going to take you out for an afternoon on the town!”

When Nice Voice rolls into town, she’s pretty hard to resist. She’s just so… well, nice. She’s encouraging, she knows what I like, and she works around the other parts of my day to day life that I value. She always knows exactly what I need, and she doesn’t judge me for it.

As the cliche goes, she’s my own best friend.

Right in the middle of my Friday, in between my morning volunteer gig and my evening yoga class, I hopped on the bus, and whisked myself away to one of my favorite places.
I arrived at the cinema about forty minutes early. I didn’t want my popcorn to get entirely eaten before the movie even started, so I just sat in the lobby for a bit.

It was so comfortable. I scrunched myself deeper down into my soft hoodie like a little sleepy owl, and let myself close my eyes. Of course, the air smelled like popcorn. Popcorn is the best smell. Popcorn signals the beginning of an adventure. Popcorn means that I’m about to be taken away.

“Isn’t this nice?” sighed Nice Voice. “You should do this more often.”

Ten minutes went by, and I couldn’t contain myself anymore. I practically bounded up to the ticket/concession counter.

“Hi! Could I please have one ticket to Kong: Skull Island, one small popcorn, and one Cherry Coke?”

The theatre was completely empty. I was at a little, independent theatre, so there was no “20” to invade the stillness of the room. No Maria Menounos to take away from the quiet and the darkness. I cram popcorn into my face, I sip my sugary drink, I breathe in the emptiness. I love this. I love being alone in a movie theatre. I suck in all the joy floating through the air around me. For once, I am not impatient. I could be alone in this movie theatre, full of anticipation and soda, for the rest of time.

It was a really bad week. I didn’t fall or slip into the depression pit so much as I fucking flung myself back down there in a fury of self-hatred.

But I knew that all I had to do was make it to this exact moment on Friday. I got lucky. When the week started to veer off course into dark, treacherous territory, I held it together just long enough to concoct a plan.

It’s hard to visualize self-care from the bottom of the depression pit. At the lowest moments of my week, I didn’t think I deserved anything good to happen to me ever again. It was especially ludicrous to imagine that I might be the one to give myself the gift of a thing that makes me happy.

“Are you fucking kidding me?” Cruel Voice screamed in my face. “In what universe do you think you’ve done anything to earn the right to go to the movies on your own? You’re a failure, and failures don’t get treats. Idiot. Bitch. Disappointment.”

Her words re-opened the same old wounds as always, but I knew I could handle the abuse. I had already given Nice Voice the destruct codes for Cruel Voice on Monday. Before leaping down into the pit, I handed her a folder composed of showtimes and bus routes and other necessary logistical information that might have been too hard to obtain within the throes of self-hate.

“I’ll see you on the other side, ” I told her.

Nice Voice crashed through the door on Friday morning, squashing Cruel Voice against the wall with the door as she did so.

“Come on,” she whispered to me. “You’re okay. Let’s get out of here.”
A solo outing to see Kong: Skull Island turned out to be exactly what I needed. First of all, the movie was totally awesome. I got to look at Tom Hiddleston’s perfect face, listen to a kickass soundtrack of 70’s rock, and be completely awed by a solid new entry into one of my favorite film genres: The hubris of Man going toe to toe with a rampaging, giant animal-monster.

But more important than the movie itself was the reminder that I am capable of being nice to myself. Sure, I had to plan it out ahead of time. I had to wait for it. But it was entirely for me. Self-care shouldn’t be a luxury. I was lucky this week that I had the money and the time to take myself out for a movie and a popcorn. Some weeks that isn’t an option. Some weeks Nice Voice has to get a little more creative, and look up a recipe for how to make a microwaved peanut butter brownie in a mug using ingredients that are already in the pantry.

The ending of Kong: Skull Island is accompanied by the sound of Vera Lynn singing “We’ll Meet Again.” It goes,

We’ll meet again
Don’t know where
Don’t know when
But I know we’ll meet again some sunny day
Keep smiling through
Just like you always do
Till the blue skies drive the dark clouds far away

Nice Voice probably isn’t home to stay. She and I might be in for a lifetime of comings and goings. Sometimes I can’t force myself to get up and open the door, even though I know she’s waiting on the other side with popcorn and Cherry Coke and compassion. Sometimes, I fear, she gets tired too, and has to take a break from me to recharge her batteries.

But, so far, she’s never been gone for good. And she’s here right now, and she gives me hope. The sun was out and shining yesterday, and I am smiling, and monster movies are awesome, and I am not a failure.

We’ll meet again.

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