No matter how deep, even love has limits
Q: My boyfriend of three years and I recently broke up. I'm young (but an adult) and I keep hearing, "There are other fish in the sea," but I can't seem to get over him. He was my first love and I hoped my only love. We had such great chemistry, and we balanced each other out.
He has depression and goes through these funks. He refuses to go to the doctor to get help. His depression is the reason we broke up.
I miss him, and I want to help him. We talk every couple of weeks, but he does not want to get back together because he needs to focus on himself. I think about him 24/7 and worry about him constantly. What do I need to do to stop thinking and worrying about him? I'm in school, work full time and have great friends and family. What else do I need?
A: Time and perspective, to start. Your breakup is recent, and recent breakups are painful, distracting and confounding almost as a rule, for first loves and all the subsequent ones that matter. It might also help to know that first loves may have cornered the poetry market, but they don't own significance.
It sounds as if you could also use a more realistic view of what you can and can't do to "help" someone troubled. Obviously, people have profound effects on each other, and a person like you can captivate, inspire, motivate, entertain, etc., someone like your boyfriend.
But you've been with him three years, and his answer to his depression is to refuse to deal with it: Please absorb this education in the limits of how much one person can do for another. And the limits of your "chemistry." And where this "only love" was really headed.
Un-dealt-with depression is part of his package deal, and it's going to remain so unless and until he's ready to change that.
Your grief will have to run its course, but you can help it along by realizing you accomplished all you could. He's focusing on himself; let him, please, and consider doing the same. Hold your imagined future, then, release.
Brimming with anger and no way to resolve it
Q: If you were severely screwed by someone with no way of making the situation "fair," and all you have is anger for life being unfair, how do you deal with that? Moving on makes me feel the situation went unresolved; however, there really is no way to resolve it, except ending up in jail for revenge.
A: The situation will stay unresolved — and that is a resolution. Please do yourself the monumental favor of accepting that, and stop trying to extract fairness from a world that never claimed to be — or had a history of being — fair.
You can't create justice without outside cooperation. But you can seek relief independently, in art, faith, therapy, fitness . . .
Or, generosity: Find a population that has gotten a worse deal than you have — homeless children? refugees? shelter animals? — and start serving them in the free time you'd otherwise spend stewing. You'll be doing others a favor, of course, but more so doing yourself one, by recasting your mistreatment as the seed of something great.