Why is it taking so long to move on?

Send your own letter to [email protected] or fill out the form. And tonight if you can come! (Virtually.) There will be a student reader from 826 Boston.

I just read the question from the guy who got dumped after a 4 1/2-year relationship. My dumping came after a 30-year marriage. After a four-year separation, I'm closing in on a two-year divorce anniversary. And I just got a call from my ex wanting to gossip and "check in." I told him not to contact me except for things that involve our adult children. The mourning process – the loss of home, hearth, and family – left a huge gaping hole, and it has taken years to move on, slowly reinvent myself, and find joy in the present and embrace future possibilities, including navigating online dating sites.

I’m 63. I met this man when I was 23. Life threw some hideous curves. I still feel the loss and my heart goes pitty-pat when I come home and find a white business-size envelope in my mailbox, hoping it’s a letter from my ex professing his true feelings and regret. Except ... I'm dreaming. But why, with so much evidence to the contrary, do I continue to hope that a brick fell on his head and knocked some sense into it?

I hate the consequences of his decision to move out, and acknowledge we did not have a happy and loving marriage. We both grew up with alcoholism in our immediate families. Why is it taking so long to move on?

– Trying

"But why, with so much evidence to the contrary, do I continue to hope?"

Because focusing on what you had seems so much easier than the alternative. But I swear it isn't.

At this point, it's less about missing what you lost, and more about longing for the narrative you've created. You've invented a story where that brick falls (without injuring your ex), and he has a revelation. He becomes an ideal partner. He confesses his love by sending you an apology ... in a business envelope. I imagine it would be on very nice stationary. What a powerful brick!

But if this man were to come back (he won't), you'd have what you actually had, which was not very happy. Now it's about everything you said you're already doing – maintaining boundaries and learning to get excited about the future. If you're finding joy in any activity or person (friends included), do more of that. Maybe set a goal for one date (just one!) this summer, if it's safe.

It's difficult to move on when you think about the same thing in any empty moment. It's a conscious choice to shift gears. Every time you find yourself staring at the mail with a sigh, call someone else. Scroll through a dating app. Do an activity that makes you feel happy, without distraction. This takes active training. New habits, etc. Every day, it's a choice to wonder what you could find with someone else.

– Meredith

Readers? What do you think of this timeline? How do you move on?