The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:
I’m a woman in my 60s. I’ve been socially withdrawn for many years and seldom go out or have contact with other people. Recently, I began to want to make friends. Sadly, though, I can’t communicate with people well.
I was bullied when I was a primary school student. It didn’t stop and the experience made me mentally ill. After working for five years, I’ve lived a reclusive life while going to the hospital for treatment. I’ve lived alone since my parents died one after another by two years ago.
I’m cheerful and funny by nature. I probably was bullied because my personality made me stand out. But now that my illness has eased, I want to be my real self again and interact with other people.
However, I’m still distrustful of people and not good at speaking to others.
I can’t respond quickly when someone talks to me, which makes that person feel bad. This is probably because I’m unconsciously trying to find out whether the person will harm me.
I don’t want to feel sad again by being treated harshly by others. I want to live a calm life from now on.
E, Chiba Prefecture
Dear Ms. E:
You’ve lived a really hard life for many years. No wonder you are scared of interacting with other people. It’s also quite natural for you to be suspicious of people you have just met because you don’t want to be hurt any more.
You sent this letter to us. You wish to be your real self and interact with other people. You also want to make friends. This reminds me of a pupa that is about to hatch and grow wings after having not moved for several dozen years, making people believe that it’s already dead. Your parents in heaven are probably happy about your change.
You were bullied and have overcome your subsequent illness. You are probably a gentle, kind person. You are scared of having contact with others because you are sure about their feelings. You are worried about various matters, even ones that you actually don’t have to worry about. I think this trait is one of your talents.
I suggest you try to meet people who need your help. Some children or elderly people have problems and difficulties that they in vain want other people to notice. When you support these people, you will probably notice they support you, too. You can start building new relationships with people from that point.
Hazuki Saisho, writer