We settled on the couch after dinner with the intention to watch a Halloween movie. With Halloween only a few days away we thought it was a good idea to get into the spirit. We nestled on our loveseat with an extra cozy blanket and Winston (our little dog) curled up on the puffiest section. I suggested that we watch the movie with all the lights turned off – not that the Halloween movie we chose was super scary, but it would add to the overall movie-watching experience.
We were half way through the movie when Winston decided he was bored and wanted to play. We took turns tossing his toy and wrestling, meanwhile trying to keep up with the movie’s plot. Once he was done with playing, he settled back on the couch for just a few minutes before he was wandering the living room again, giving us the glare that if he spoke would say, “I’m bored. Let’s do something.” I replied to his concern with, “We’ll go for a walk after the movie.” he responded by walking to the front door and waiting patiently for the movie to conclude.
So late Saturday night we bundled up for another walk around the neighbourhood. It was a beautiful fall evening with a bright crescent moon overhead. Skeletons, ghosts, tombstones and spider webs spread over lawns and doorways brought our Halloween movie to life. Winston, not bothered by the spooky decorations seemed more concerned with socializing. Refusing to go back inside after the walk, he pulled his way to the neighbour’s house, wanting to visit like he did a few weeks ago. With much convincing, I was able to get him back inside our home. At the time I thought it was cute that he wanted to visit with our neighbours, but as I thought about it more I began to reflect.
Winston’s need for more than just a cozy Saturday night in perfectly resembles my current experience. I have felt this push and pull (‘Safety’ & ‘Openness’ as I labelled them in my last blog post) – a desire to be outgoing and social, mixed with a need to lay low and stick to a calming routine. While I want to hang out with friends on a Saturday night (as Winston did), there is a part of me that needs to protect my energy levels. Much of my energy is used up managing my stress-response – an internal system that is constantly alert and ready for action. It is exhausting but being able to articulate this has helped me to understand why I experience this push and pull. I know why I need a calming routine but I also promise to allow Winston’s pull to the neighbours’ house to be a reminder that life is good and meant to be enjoyed with friends.