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I can’t stop looking back, feeling sad about my life

The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:

I’m a female nurse in my 50s. I’m sending a letter because I want to tell you about my problem of always looking back.

Because of my husband’s relationship with another woman, I got divorced seven years ago, taking my three children with me as if I were being thrown out of the home. My children have grown up and now have their own families. I have four grandchildren. For certain reasons, I took care of my grandkids for a certain period of time.

My ex-husband barely paid attention to our family. But looking back now, I was well-off financially for about 20 years when I was a full-time homemaker. My former parents-in-law were both harsh, and they sided with my ex-husband when we were divorcing. But if I’d had a little more patience and pretended not to be aware of the relationship, there would have been no need to work this much now. People tell me I have the skills to live on my own. But when I’m on night duty with young coworkers, I feel sad that I’ve fallen in life.

I go to yoga class on my days off, so people may think my life is carefree. But I feel quite anxious as my chronic back pains have gotten worse. I want to ask you for some advice, as I cannot feel positive.

N, Osaka

Dear Ms. N:

You describe your life now as “fallen,” but from an objective viewpoint, I don’t see it that way at all. You were betrayed by your ex-husband and treated unreasonably. But you overcame it terrifically, didn’t you? You returned to work after a hiatus of nearly 20 years. You said you raised three children and until recently took care of your grandchildren as well. I think you’ve done really well.

You said you’re feeling down, but I think that’s because you unavoidably got worn out due to your hard work until now. When your health is not good, you’ll inevitably feel isolated or have a backward-looking attitude. So for now, I advise you to first rest mentally and physically as much as possible. I think it’s great that you go to yoga class. Why don’t you find other things you’d like to do as well, just following what you feel like doing, and apply yourself to those things little by little?

One thing I’m concerned about, however, is that you’re disrespectful toward work. Through your job, you’ve not only been able to be economically independent, you’ve also contributed to society. Working as a nurse must be tough both mentally and physically. But it’s a meaningful job. For your patients, and for your colleagues, too, I hope you’ll be proud of yourself for having been able to work as a nurse.

Masami Ohinata, university president

(from April 8, 2018, issue)Speech

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