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Unable to select annoted labels to move them - going bananas

Question asked by kweeeez on Dec 13, 2019
Latest reply on Jan 3, 2020 by kweeeez

I have ArcGIS Desktop 10.6.1. I've been happily editing away on this fairly large and complicated geologic map for several months when suddenly, yesterday, I ran into an obstacle that has put the project at a complete standstill: I'm no longer able to select annotated labels, but only for ONE feature set. It just so happens that this is the attitudes feature set with all of the strike and dip symbols, which is arguably THE most important part of a geologic map.

My annotations are stored in the map, and I am working in data view. When I click the "select elements" tool and then click on a label, the cursor hangs for several seconds and then changes to a "move" tool (looks like 2 crossed perpendicular arrows). Once this happens there is no way to select an annotated label, and there is no way to get the cursor to change back to the select arrow, it remains stuck as a move cursor. I can click on it again and again and nothing happens, it just stays as the move tool. I can change to other tools (zoom, pan, etc.) and they work fine, but the select tool does not. This includes the main select arrow, and the one in the Draw toolbar. If I right-click > properties and wait a seemingly extortionate number of seconds, it brings up a Picture Properties dialog, which is useless. 

When trying to select an annotated label from the geologic units feature set, the cursor hangs for a few seconds, turns to the move cursor, but clicking the label AGAIN and then waiting a few more seconds, will usually allow me to select, move, or right-click and edit the label properties. While this process is still laborious and long, it at least works. 

This began as an intermittent problem, and restarting the program does not help. Up until yesterday, restarting the entire workstation would fix it for a short time. Now, even restarting the machine doesn't help. I'm really at a loss here, the problem started suddenly and seemingly with no real cause. I initially thought it to be a memory issue and deleted several reference rasters, I have cleared the cache, I have hidden all annotation groups except for the one I am working on. Nothing seems to work. 

I have opened previous versions of the file, which actually included MORE labels on the problem feature set, and the problem does not occur! 

Anyone having this problem that might have a workaround? Getting desperate.