I feel bad about troubling my parents over my pain

The Japan News

Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m a 17-year-old girl with a chronic illness. I had surgery a few years ago and still occasionally feel pain due to the operation. My parents lift heavy items for me and drive me to school when the pain is bad.

When these things began to happen frequently, I started to feel as though they resented me and were thinking, “What, again?” or “You’re not really feeling pain” or “You just want to be pampered.”

Because of these feelings, I’ve increasingly forced myself to live with the discomfort.

As only I can understand my own physical distress, it’s perhaps inevitable for others to think in such a way. But honestly speaking, it’s really tough for me.

Am I inconveniencing my parents when I seek their help by telling them I feel pain? I don’t know what to do. Do you have any advice?

— B, Kanagawa Prefecture

Dear Ms. B:

Your letter doesn’t say whether your parents actually told you that they feel inconvenienced. You think nobody understands your pain better than your parents. However, deep inside, you suspect that they think you’re being pampered.

This is a very natural sentiment. I’ve heard from children with chronic illnesses, and their parents, separately. The children were looking for ways to become independent as much as possible, without help from their parents. Conversely, the parents felt they needed to be with their children as much as possible.

When youngsters don’t want to trouble their parents, yet parents feel it is entirely natural to be troubled by their offspring, it speaks to the depth of the warm feelings on both sides.

In Japan, we’re raised to not trouble others, and many people find it difficult to ask for help. I believe you know this has given rise to many unfortunate incidents.

Regardless of whether people are ill, we all inconvenience each other all the time. Even people who don’t think they are troubling others are actually doing so without realizing it.

One day, you’ll have to help somebody. It might even be tomorrow. Are you ready for that?

— Hazuki Saisho, writer