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Weird setback almost 6 months after breakup--sorry for the length

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I'm not sure what to make of this. I want to just write it off as every situation and every individual being different, but I felt the need to sound off to somebody. I left my ex-boyfriend almost six months ago because our relationship started to turn toxic after a couple of years. We were together for 5 1/4 years and I really tried to make it work, despite it becoming increasingly clear that he was to blame for most of our problems (I do mean that, I'm not just making a blanket statement, but that's a whole other can of worms). When 2012 started, a series of events made it clear that we were not going to last the year, with the most disturbing sign being that I developed an intense crush on a classmate at school (I'm 33 and finishing my second college career). I didn't act on the crush and did my best to re-direct that energy back into my failing relationship. This guy was not the reason for the breakup, just a symptom of the toxicity of the relationship. Anyway, in July, when my father offered me help in escaping my living situation and bad relationship, I decided that I'd had more than enough and I went ahead and left my boyfriend to start fresh. For the three weeks between that and the start of a new semester, I did plenty of grieving, and when school first started, I made sure to take care of myself and just enjoy my newly calm life.


Then, I entered a phase of euphoria over being single again, living on my own, and once again crushing on my classmate. The crush of course went nowhere, but I felt like it was really helping me stay happy and optimistic and to just have fun with life. Overall, I'd say that I've really been enjoying approaching dating very differently from the way I used to, not taking romance very seriously, and the sheer freedom of being single. I feel no pressure to meet a husband and I've never really wanted children, so I look forward to spending a while just dating for fun (haven't been able to make the most of this yet due to illness and lots of homework). Every so often, I'll hear from my ex in the form of an email. His letters are basically him sharing his musings over the various creative endeavors he's working on, as well as updates on how his ailing parents are doing. He hasn't mentioned our relationship in a long time. I never initiate contact except for one time when I sent him a very brief email to tell him that an acquaintance of ours had passed away. Separately from these letters he sends, I occasionally have a brief "flare-up" in which I miss the good things about our relationship and the traits about him that made him a good friend and boyfriend until he started going bad. I just dismiss these episodes as part of the healing process. I know I'm not over him and won't be for a while, but I don't worry about it because most days I'm having a whale of a time just enjoying life.


Well, the setback I mention came this weekend. I fell into a terrible funk as the weekend started and then what really did me in was hearing a new song online that inexplicably reminded me of the ex. I started to cry and even as I continued with my errands and homework throughout the weekend, I still moped and thought of the song. I wasn't even lamenting the good old days, I was just somehow associating the song with him and missing his friendship without any temporal context.


This started again Sunday morning and it bothered the heck out of me, and then lo and behold, I received a depressing email from him telling me about a sudden rash of things going wrong in his life. I feel badly for him, but a lot of it is, to be quite honest, his own darn fault. I'm not foolish enough to try to help him other than to provide an ear to vent to (I figure that's passive enough, even if it momentarily stresses me). Even if we didn't have any bad history between us, I CAN'T help him because I lack time and resources. He has to tough this out, tap into his network for help, learn a lesson, and hopefully grow from it. I can only offer sympathy.


Now, after such a long narrative, come the thoughts that got me out of bed, crying, at 2 am to post this. I feel somewhat detached from our past as lovers/wannabe spouses and really think I just want to be sympathetic as a friend. I can actually see friendship in the future as not being an impossibility. So why could I be sobbing over us? I can't even cry over what we had, all I can see is the future. Am I plain crazy? Gone too long without properly grieving the breakup? Am I too eager to move forward? I'm not ready to forgive and forget, but holding a grudge is going to wear thin and use up some of the energy that I'm putting into enjoying life. I don't believe in putting strict timetables on any kind of grief, but should I trust my instinct to start letting go of some of my hurt and anger? I almost fear asking these questions in a public forum because I'm afraid of getting dismissive black-or-white answers. I see the world in technicolor and like to seek advice from people who do so as well, but I really only have one friend who is both close enough and experienced enough to talk to about this. What do the masses on ENotAlone think? Thanks so much for reading such a long post.

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