Loving More Fully Is the Key to Becoming Who We Most Want to Be

There are things I learned that I do not want to know. I have biases and prejudices (as do we all), but I don’t wish to retain them. I have failed to appreciate things that bring joy to the people I love. This is not who I aspire to be. I have long sought to be more patient and tolerant. More importantly, I seek to be more loving and supportive.

I spoke with my son recently about how it’s not really about what you do; it’s about who you are. That’s any easy thing to say and a difficult thing to live. I believe that one can live artistically and that in so doing, one creates the greatest expression of all – a life.

I have always been a bit envious of people who love their pets. I never got that. I learned that animals are to be eaten (sorry to those of you who just cringed). I learned that cats and dogs are a nuisance and a chore.

My children had cats growing up. I dislike cats.

Animals and children truly are the best judge of character. They’re intuitive and they know how you feel about them. The cats always knew I disliked them and so they would do their best to be underfoot when I walked by, or to scratch at the door and then refuse to go out when I’d open it.

I have been ambivalent toward dogs. I know other people receive unconditional love from them. I just don’t get that. The problem is…my wife loves dogs.

And that’s the point – the problem is not that my wife loves dogs. The problem is that I have failed to support something she loves and this is unacceptable to me. That is not the man I aspire to be. It was selfish of me to resent something that brought her joy. Instead of being happy for her I was endlessly put out by the nuisance I saw the dog as being.

It’s easy to find the faults in things we resent. It’s effortless to maintain a limited view of things we don’t appreciate. Shit, we do this with people – how much easier then to do it with politics or religion or addiction or the needs of those that differ from our own?

I thought that being tolerant was enough. The truth is I failed at that. My wife thought I would come to love a dog because I am a loving person. I was neither open nor receptive to that possibility and so I did not get it, no matter how many times the shaggy thing tried to get my approval, attention, or care.

I just saw it as me and the dog disliking one another (which is stupid all by itself). I didn’t get that I was actively failing my wife and seeing that in retrospect f@cking wrecks me.

And so I am pleading with my wife to please go get a dog. Please go do the thing that will bring you joy and provide you comfort. Please do things that make you happy and know that I will support them even if I do not in any way relate to them. This is an epiphany. This is a lesson I could have learned long ago and I am truly sorry that I failed to embrace it, much less learn it.

I love my wife and I am just wise enough to know when I have been a damned fool. I desperately want to buy a purse for carrying a lap dog. I want to buy expensive pet products and know a dog groomer on a first name basis. I promise to be kind and patient with an animal that I cannot eat because more than anything in this world:

I love you.


Jim LaPierre

About Jim LaPierre

Jim LaPierre LCSW CCS is the Executive Director of Higher Ground Services in Brewer, Maine. He is a Recovery Ally, mental health therapist and addictions counselor. He specializes in facilitating recovery (whether from addiction, trauma, depression, anxiety, or past abuse) overcome obstacles, and improve their quality of life. Jim is the cofounder of Sobernow.com an online addiction recovery program that is affordable and provides complete anonymity