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do not make promises that you do not intend to keep

by elysian

At four years old, I held so much hope for this world. I believed in magic, in happy endings, and in true love. I believed I was a princess and I couldn’t wait for the day I would meet a handsome stranger who would turn into my prince. I would look into the mirror and love my reflection. I felt safe and didn’t worry about anything other than what I would be eating for dinner.

When I was 8, I was still naive, and I still searched for the best in humankind. I began to question my worth at this point, wondering why no one liked me and why every girl felt the need to call me mean names. My mother promised me that they were just jealous, but for the first time in my life, I wasn’t sure I believed her. I despised my braces and glasses and hated that my body was changing. I began to look in the mirror and pick apart every little thing I saw, and turn it into something negative. I began to worry what others thought of me, especially boys.

Then I turned 13, and as if I thought things couldn’t get more confusing, it seemed to just get worse. I sought attention and validation from boys and when I continued to get rejected I coped by starving and cutting myself. I listened to depressing music, pulled away from my friends and family, and even contemplated suicide for a few days. I felt worthless and unloved and I prayed for someone to save me. And when my best friend finally did I thought that it couldn’t get worse than that.

But now I’m 17, and I fell in love, fell out of love, and lost myself. I don’t recognize myself when I look in the mirror, trust very few, and spend my days sleeping and hiding from the world. I suffer from depression and anxiety and I constantly feel trapped inside myself. I feel like there’s nothing I can do to find someone to love me, I do not feel worthy of love. I am so tired. I’ve lost so many friends, including friends that helped me out of dark times before. I drink and smoke almost every weekend, I’m failing at school, and I have no clue what I’m doing with my life. All due to promises being broken. This one promised forever, gave me six months. That one promised me friendship, left me for money. Another one promised me happiness and gave up when things got complicated. Do not, I repeat and plead, do not make promises that you don’t intend to keep. I will break. I am a brick fortress labeled “fragile, handle with care” and I don’t know how I can continue to be disappointed. I care too deeply and trust too easily.

Maybe one day I will learn when I get older.

{excerpt from a novel I'll never write #10}

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1012 Reviews

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Reviews: 1012

Sun Apr 29, 2018 2:40 am
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alliyah wrote a review...

Hey elysian,

here as promised, though a bit late! :) So, let's get to the review!

Before I dig into the review, I'm going to recommend you put a higher rating on this piece because of the mention of drinking, smoking, and cutting which are mature themes even if not described in depth.

I understood this to be a reflection of what a person had learned in their life from the scope of their self-worth, trust and reliance in others, and how others had hurt them. They started as what they think was a naive child, very trusting of others and with the highest hopes for relationships. Then as they got older they started to question their body and self-worth as well as what others were thinking of them. Then they fell into some depression as things got worse and worse and began a downward spiral, starving and cutting themselves. And as we get to their 17th year of life, they seem to define their worth by the lack of success in their relationships and the promises that haven't been kept to them.

I think I mentioned this in my last review, but making a poem specific by adding concrete moments and descriptions makes a piece come alive, so that rather than just being words on a screen they are words that express truth and humanity and emotion in people and events. Let's look at a few places where you could insert a bit of specificity:

Your first stanza or paragraph needs a specific encounter with reality (not to say it needs to be autobiographical) but all the moments you describe are a bit too generic - I would advise giving a specific description of what a "prince" is to this four year old (ie. blonde hair?, twinkling eyes, impeccable manners?) or give a specific physical detail of what she loves in the mirror. This will add some imagery and depth to that portion.

Stanza 2 has a few specific moments like the mother's promise and the braces, but you could still add a bit of specificity to the mirror reflection, and maybe even dig deeper into what she was worried others would think about her. Because in my experience, most of the time people aren't worried that others are simply thinking of them, but they have a specific fear about what they might think in mind - like maybe they think I'm nerdy, or overweight, or annoying, or immature etc. Try to pin down some specificity in the emotion here, to tell a deeper story.

Stanza three and four do a much better job of pinning down the specifics in the emotions, they really came through clearly here. Like in these sentences: "I feel like there’s nothing I can do to find someone to love me, I do not feel worthy of love. I am so tired" -- very clear.

I'll make a quick note that I was confused about interpreting what this line meant, "And when my best friend finally did I thought that it couldn’t get worse than that." -- Why did she think it was bad that their friend saved them?

Stanza four had some very poignant emotional moments, "I care too deeply and trust too easily" and also " I fell in love, fell out of love, and lost myself"

Other Suggestions

Figurative Language and Metaphors
In the last review I mentioned working on metaphors a bit. In this one, again I think you could have a bit more figurative language to hype up the poetry factor. I did like the paradox of the fragile fortress you had in stanza four though. Either of the descriptions on their own, could be a bit cliche, but meshing fragile and "brick fortress" together was sort ironic in a way that I thought worked. Would love to see more of this worked throughout the piece.

I thought the formatting of this poem made a lot of sense, the transitions of age were easy to follow and made it easy to see the emotional progression of the character. I would have liked if there were a few more threads of continuity throughout the piece. For instance, you use the mirror description in the first two stanzas and stanza 4, but drop it in stanza 3, I would like to see it picked up again in a new way so that the poem feels more cohesive. The reflections on relationships continued throughout the poem and that was a nice bit of cohesiveness to follow through the piece so that the different emotions didn't seem like a random basket or collection of thoughts, but a more organized reflection.

I'll also note that emotionally the character doesn't quite make a linear arc of development, but goes back and forth. For instance Stanza 1) Trusting, Stanza 2) Questioning People's Intentions, Stanza 3) Desperate to trust others 4) Super desperate to trust others - Do you see how stanza two doesn't quite belong in that line of development?

The Ending
The ending felt like a bit of sigh at the end. The fact that it just had "maybe" and then there wasn't a clear description of character growth, revelation, or coming to terms with their identity and self-worth made the end remark seem a bit hope-less. This isn't necessarily a negative thing, but does set a certain tone within the piece. The poem felt a bit emotionally one-noted compared to some of your other pieces. Like the entire piece was getting deeper into despair, without any thread of hope. As a stand-alone piece, I would say it does not make a reader feel good to read it. But I am assuming that within the scope of your novel that following this piece would eventually be some aspect of character growth that would redeem the feelings here. [This isn't to say that every poem has to be happy-go-lucky (my poetry certainly isn't!) but that I would hope that there's some emotional layering or variance before or after this piece, so that it doesn't feel too heavy for a reader to get through].

Overall again, this is an interesting piece - the title "don't make promises you don't intend to keep" fit really well with the fourth stanza, but was a bit disconnected from the rest of the stanzas, which had no mention of promises. Overall I think continuity could be worked on quite a bit. Work on stream lining the piece - pick and choose which emotions and issues you want to focus on and then make each and every paragraph deal with those issues and emotions so that it feels like a whole story, rather than scattered thoughts. It's an ambitious piece, because there are so many emotions that a person has growing up dealing with self-worth, relationships, promises, self-image, trust, etc. but you can't possibly tackle it all in one poem, so picking what to focus on is the difficult part.

You have a great poetic voice though, it comes across as honest and vulnerable so I'd be curious how you can continue to develop this piece working on some heightened theme and coninutity work and also maybe boosting the specificity and figurative language aspects.

Best of luck as you continue to write!

And again as a disclaimer - my thoughts on this poem were largely positive - I just focus mostly on areas of improvement in my reviews, because I find that's most helpful for editing and forward-writing purposes.

Let me know if you had any questions!



elysian says...

thank you so much! I will definitely be going back through this and making edits you suggested :-)

alliyah says...

You are welcome! Thanks for the comment back!

When you next section comes out, feel free to request another review if you'd like! :)

elysian says...

definitely! I love how in depth you go with your reviews, it helps a lot.

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841 Reviews

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Sun Apr 29, 2018 2:25 am
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Radrook wrote a review...

Radrook here a once again to offer some suggestions.
Apologies if i offend. It isn’t my intention.
Please feel full free to cast aside all things you deem not helpful.
But if you do be sure its true by being extra careful.

That having been said:

Thanks for sharing this essay about how you realized that living involves disappointments and that the world isn't as perfect as you first imagined. The sincerity and emotion that you feel come through loud and clear and made me feel deep empathy for your suffering.

I identify with your story very well since I also tend to be very trusting and the results always seem to get kicked in the teeth by the people involved. Never seem to learn since I keep making the same mistake. Not as frequently, but the tendency is strong to be trusting and that tendency will obviously stay with me until the end. I guess some of us are just predisposed to think or feel in certain ways and being too trusting is just one of them. Others are predisposed to be distrustful, cruel, lacking empathy and a host of other vile tendencies. That can lead them to prison, broken marriages, and a general inability to get along with other humans.

But you at least have identified the problem at an early age and that gives you the advantage of gradually working on it until it finally doesn't cause so much stress. Thanks for sharing. Look forward reading more of your work.

Few Suggestions

When I was 8 [eight]
at this point [....that point....]
Then I turned 13, [thirteen] get rejected[,]
....friend finally did[,]
But now I’m 17, [seventeen]

elysian says...

thank you very much <3

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Wed Apr 25, 2018 5:34 am
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Clairia wrote a review...

hi i'm londone and i--omg this is beautiful hold up

lol is it ok that i'm crying

i'm just going to review this now at 1:30 in the morning

First of all

OH MY GOD LIKE I SO RELATE except I'm not as old as you but that's alright. You've taken such a rarely discussed topic (just growing up in general, a REAL EXPERIENCE) and turned it into something that is just beautiful. That's the only word my mind can fully process right now--beautiful. So truthful and breathtakingly real. This story following your life truly touched me in the most deep yet most light and (once again) beautiful way. Your way with words truly amazes me. You've created a short summary of your breakthrough of the idea that the world is filled with only peace and happiness and that every princess will get her prince. That breakthrough is important. Not all of us go through it--hell, I'll still hold on sometimes, but it's important.
In addition to that, you also addressed your struggles. That's a difficult thing to do as a writer. I still fear of opening up through my craft. You've admitted to the mistakes you've made and you seem to want to grow from them. That's yet another inspiring thing from this piece.
There is so much I love about this. I'd really love to have a conversation with you someday. This took my breath away.

Thank you for this, and goodnight.


elysian says...

is it okay that I'm crying?? It's always my goal for my writing to relate to people on a personal level and help people going through the same things to realize it does get better and that if I can survive it, they can too. It means so much to me that it spoke to you that way, and yes, we should have a conversation soon. <3

thank you <3

Clairia says...

<3 you truly made my day 1 million times better

elysian says...

same to you! :-)

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325 Reviews

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Sun Apr 22, 2018 11:16 pm
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tigeraye says...

You said this was an excerpt from a novel, but listed it under poetry. THEREFORE, I am unsure of how to review this.

elysian says...

It's because it's supposed to have a deeper meaning and it's going to be made into a poetry book. It's not actually an excerpt from a novel lol

Love is all we have, the only way that each can help the other.
— Euripides