That Time I Went to the Movies Alone

You would think that sitting by myself in a movie theater would stir up a message maybe about self care, independence and the important of knowing one’s self, right? Not so. Although I could write about those three takeaways I can write about three other ones that I actually and unconventionally found.
  1. A broken heart for mental illnesses.
  2. Thankfulness for donated blankets.
  3. A friend who was also alone.

Disclaimer: I’ve noticed that I always go into deep thinking mode upon entering movie theaters. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s because I hardly ever just sit and “do nothing” for an extended period of time. My mind is a racing machine all hours of the day so it became reflection time as I found my solo seat, pressed the button to kick my feet up (it’s a theater full of reclining seats – yes, it’s the best thing ever) and practically tucked myself in.

I’ll back up now. Since Thanksgiving break, my siblings + Matey (hey girl!) have been talking about Split (movie about a man with dissociative identity disorder aka multiple personality disorder) nonstop. We’re a psychological thriller fam so we’ve been very impatiently awaiting the day it would be released.

My dilemma: none of my friends at school have the same taste in movies as me. I despise rom coms (or any coms) in an environment full of Nicholas Sparks’ biggest fans. Nothing against Mr. Sparks or my friends but I asked around for someone to see Split with me for dayyys and they all said no because it looked too scary. So I went alone!

Well, kind of. I was set on going alone until my sister told me she did once and it was the loneliest she had ever felt ever. But when my roommates asked me to see a movie with them on Split’s opening night, I pulled up the movie times and saw that their movie choice was just minutes apart from mine! So I packed up my student ID (yayaya for student discount nights!), wallet, blanket (a necessity!) and a three ingredient peanut butter cookie. We went our separate ways after purchasing our tickets and the rest is history.

Increased passion for mental health: I didn’t go into this movie thinking that it would 103% mirror the reality of mental illnesses. It’s a movie theater and people go to these places for entertainment. But then again, I couldn’t help myself from feeling annoyed/sad as the audience around me occasionally laughed at this man’s behaviors due to his illness. All I could do was remind myself that a) it’s a movie and he’s an actor but b) they most likely have not been exposed to life threatening mental health experiences like I have.

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This past summer, I interned at an eating disorder treatment and research center; a center that is leading the world in a treatment approach that integrates neurobiological research. It is not my intention to educate you on the severity of eating disorders (even though this was one of my responsibilities over the summer) but in case you were not aware, eating disorders have the highest mortality rate out of all mental illnesses. I didn’t have one on one interactions with clients beyond saying hi and smiling as we passed in the hallway. But when I was immersed in tasks to communicate on behalf of The Center, I was told a fair amount of (all HIPAA compliant) stories and unintentionally encountered people in distress who I just cannot forget.

The movie was good, it really was, so please see it! But I left conflicted and heart broken for every individual who has a mental illness as well as their friends and family who are trying to help them become well. I’m not certain my career will take me into the mental health field but I am grateful for my experiences and appreciative for this movie that reiterated my stance on these very real, sensitive and serious illnesses.

Thankfulness for donated blankets: My mad dash out the door to try and not miss too many previews included me grabbing the closest blanket I could find in my room. I have a collection because COZY CURSE. My sister’s boyfriend coined this term because he says, “if any McNamara kid sees a blanket, you guys immediately flock to it”. Yup. That’s accurate.

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I was maybe 24 minutes into Split when I realized which blanket I had taken. It was my purple flowery tie one that was given to me by my nurse at a children’s hospital on Easter 2013 . I remember her handing it to me as I was recovering from surgery and thinking ‘I’m not the type of kid who is supposed to receive this’. Especially as I was on an oncology floor (only available bed in the hospital) with children who practically lived there year-round versus my one week stay. I’ll save that story of heart brokenness for another day.

I’m not sharing this for pity whatsoever. I’m sharing this because I’m sure you have made a blanket for someone or have at least heard of service projects like these. So I would like to thank you so very much! I have absolutely no clue who made it but appreciate their thoughtful gesture to add joy into what should be a joyous holiday. It may not bring back the best of memories but its association with acts of kindness and my current health makes me smile 🙂

Friend who was also alone: My movie got out about twenty minutes before the one my roommates were seeing so I took a seat at a table in the lobby. Moments later, my friend walked by! I haven’t see him since Valentine’s Day last year (no no, not a date. He is a seminarian aka studying to become a priest aka celibate for life) so it was SO good to catch up and SUCH a sweet surprise.

I looked around and asked who he came with and told me that he sees movies alone all theee time. He also left his phone at the seminary because he was enjoying time between himself and Star Wars.

Is seeing movies with friends inferior to seeing movies by yourself? Not at all. Is carrying your phone inferior to leaving it at home in a drawer like my grandma has done for the past seven years? Of course not. But through our conversation and his choices, I noted that he is not attached to this world and treasures sweet slow purposeful time. That quality of life is one that saints embrace; one that we are all meant for!

So my words of wisdom to you are to go see a movie by yourself! If you’re anything like me, you’ll leave with a lotonthemind. But it’s a good lotonthemind. Very very very good!

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