Dear Annie: I am an older gay man. The bullying started when I was young. The boys in the neighborhood didn’t want me around because I was lousy at sports. The girls didn’t want any boys around while they were playing. When I started school, it wasn’t any different. Bullying increased with junior high, and high school was the worst.

To cope, I avoided socializing with people. I didn’t attend any high school functions. Consequently, I never really learned how to be around people. Later, I would usually say or do something that was frowned upon. That just made me isolate myself more. I started drinking as a coping mechanism, but of course, that was no help. My lowered inhibitions made me do stupid things, which again would alienate people, so I avoided outside contacts even more. I would drink alone, which led to legal problems. Eventually, I lost the privilege to drive. Living in a city with no public transportation means I am isolated again. That isolation also meant that I put on a lot of weight. After seeing how I looked, I lost even more confidence. I’m still obese, but it’s not as bad as it once was.

I watched my siblings as they dated, fell in love and married. The kids and grandkids followed. I watched the kids come in and happily relay the news of their days to their parents, whether it was hitting a home run in the game or some kid getting sick at school.

I wish I had lived a different life. I never had the chance to meet and share anything with anyone. At times, I considered suicide but rejected that idea right away. I sometimes hope for a fatal disease — something natural that would end my life. So, now I just wait. Sorry this is so long. I actually feel

better now.

 — Just Existing

Dear Just Existing: Today is a new beginning. You took the time to write to me, and you’ve acknowledged that by expressing your feelings and experiences you “actually feel better.” I have great hope for you. It is time for you to find a wise and compassionate therapist with your best interests at heart. Once you find the right therapist, and stop drinking alone, there is a good chance that someone will fall in love with you — starting with yourself.

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