Keeping Your Foot Down: A Conversation With Missi Manning
Breaking up is tough. Regardless of how things go down, and regardless of whether you’re friends or enemies, or somewhere in between, sh*t is hard. The process of pulling ourselves apart from one another is one of the more painful things we do as human beings. It is, perhaps, unlucky for us that we live in the 21st Century. In a world where your ex is just an Instagram away, and just a Facebook status out of reach, it can be tempting to make some inappropriate contact after a break.
We all know the story, you see that YouTube video that reminds you of him, or you hear the ringtone you used to have when you first started dating, and that nauseous feeling comes. Just one quick text about something trivial couldn’t hurt, just to see his name come up on your phone, just some indication he might still care or some way to feel those old feelings again. When we break up, the first few months are full of these moments. And it’s the worst!
We at Booty Jams Podcast have, time and again, seen ourselves slip into this sort of thinking. We’ve seen ourselves being drawn back into an already damaged relationship and wind up making the break up that much more painful. We wondered if there was anyone out there with an easy answer to this plight? We’ve wanted to know if anyone out there in the dating world had a secret weapon against those poorly advised late night texts, and especially those late night rendezvous that only make things more complicated? Well, the good news is we did find that someone. The bad news? It’s not as easy as we had hoped.
Recently we spoke with our friend Missi Manning who has taken a not-so-uncommon experience of a child of a single parent, and transformed it into a strength that has served her well as an adult. Seeing the unhealthy relationships her mother would put herself through affected how Missi was beginning to interpret the dating world.
“She tended to go for those terrible dudes, terrible dudes, and I remember the conversations I would have with her even as a preteen trying to give my mom this very serious love advice, ‘cause I never wanted to see anybody treat my mom that way. And I would see her go back to it constantly, and I could never wrap my head around it.”
As adults we can wrap our heads around it a bit more easily. The feelings of unity you share with someone can bring us to brilliant heights, so, it follows that the crash should be pretty spectacular. It’s no mystery why we would want to reengage with that old feeling, and try, like the broken people we feel we are, to crawl back to those heights by any means. How do we move past that need to crawl back? It’s perfectly fine to understand the process, and perhaps, what led to your current views, but we wanted a solution!
According to Missi, it takes doing something completely unnatural. We asked her about her approach.
“Like I mentioned before, just being raised by a single mom, which I know a lot of people have, [I’m encouraged by] just knowing it can be done. It sucks, I mean, sh*ts gonna suck, and like we talked about, it’s a lot easier, even if its just for a short time, to go back to that person that made you feel comfortable and safe when you were feeling vulnerable, but you just gotta stick with discomfort.”
When it comes to ‘sticking with discomfort,’ us millennials are poorly trained. With countless options to distract ourselves, the process of garnering enough self control to really stay with the feelings of discomfort is incredibly difficult. When we feel physical pain our very first response is some relief from said pain. There is no value in sitting with the pain of that sprained ankle, and we can find relief in aspirin. The equation is simple. Yet, with emotional pain the process is different. With emotional pain, the ‘sticking with it’ doesn’t necessarily mean self deprecating, but engaging in the active processing of those feelings. For Missi, unplugging from our 21st Century devices seems to be a winning strategy.
“I train Jujitsu. It’s just a really really great outlet for, not to get my aggression and anger out, its not like that, but its being around a group of really great people and moving and sweating. My teammates and my friends at the school are just like one big, dumb family, and we treat each other with a really great respect. So, it’s a really nice reminder that…that you have a community.”
As our conversation with Missi developed, we began to veer more and more towards talking about a break up like a death. The consoling nature of community, the seemingly permanent loss of comfort, it all fit the process of losing a loved one. It started to make sense to employ some of same tools as you would in the face of loss.
“If you legitimately go through the grieving process start to finish, you can replenish that energy that it took to power through that ‘sticking with the discomfort’ process, and when its time to work on a new relationship you have some fresh energy to work with. And most of the time pretty quick, you’ll figure out whether or not something new is worth that energy, ‘cause you really have to be feelin’ it to dip into that reserve you just established.”
The 7 classic steps to grieving really do apply to our post break mentality. Denial, guilt, anger, depression, the upturn, reconstruction, and acceptance all have a role to play when you have ended a relationship in which you were once invested. Yet, it is just before the upturn that we have our biggest struggle. Powering through this phase takes herculean efforts, but when you receive that text late at night, how do we convince ourselves not to respond? In Missi’s case, it’s a matter of seeing the full picture. Not simply seeing this moment, and this snapshot of herself, but zooming out to see the whole of her person, and how she wants to look back on this decision.
“I’ve been there before, and [I know what’s behind that text], and it’s a Pandora’s Box of things that would muddy the waters of my clear conscience. It’s less stressful, actually. I don’t have to worry about sh*t if I don’t open that box. In the long run it’s less stressful. And in that way it’s easier to push through ignoring that text or fighting through the discomfort than to give in. In the end it helps me sleep at night. This thing ended for a reason. And though it sucks, it always sucks, if a person broke up with me they don’t want to be with me. Everybody deserves to be loved exponentially, and it’s just a matter of not letting yourself be so readily available to open things back up again.
“The back and forth just prolongs the inevitable. I mean, we all know those on again, off again, we’re together, we’re not together things that just prolong something that needs to end. Just be consistent and stick with the discomfort. Just do work!”
For Missi, when she sees herself beginning to go back to something already broken, she thinks about her mom, and she sees the preteen girl who would never be like that. For a lot of us it’s hard to zoom out. It’s difficult to take a wide perspective of our situation, and see all the pieces that play a role in where we find ourselves. Yet, taking a considered approach, by seeking a community outside of a partnership, by viewing your break up as a process, and by being dedicated to the work at hand, you can develop a strong sense of confidence that no late night reconnect can offer. The trouble is that none of it is easy, but if we can power through, and do the work, the payoff will be worth it.
My sweetheart and I don’t pay much attention to roles in our marriage.February 15, 2016
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