Unfinished (Series)

Illustration by Alyssa Etoile.

Unfinished is an ongoing series that features incomplete work laced with unsorted feelings. Feel free to contribute by emailing info@ilymag.com with “Unfinished” on the subject line. Illustration courtesy of Alyssa Etoile.

March 07, 2017

Even though it was my fault, which of course it was, I still feel crushed by it all. Just because I set in motion the events that led to our end, it doesn’t mean I was ready for it. (Good god, I wasn’t ready.)

She was good-that’s why it’s all so hard, post-us. She listened, and took in secrets nobody else knew. I’ve always been better at listening than sharing, and that’s how I was with her–to begin with at least. But I then started sharing, and I couldn’t stop. It all came pouring out–every problem, every worry, every anxiety. It must’ve been so annoying to hear, yet she listened.

Now she’s gone, and that’s gone with her. I have great friends–I really do–but they haven’t had the chance to listen to me like she did, and I don’t know how to give them that chance. Somehow she got me to open my mouth, and now it’s been opened, I don’t know how to shut it. I’m filled with so many questions, so much guilt, so much worry. But there’s no one there anymore. She was that person. She was the only person.

I used her, selfishly, to help me with whatever was wrong, to be my life support, to be my blanket, to be what made it all okay. It was her, forever, always. And now, that door is closed.

It’s time to look forward. It’s time for me to open new doors. It’s time for me to look at my friends and give them the chance to listen. I can’t give my everything to one person–it’s too much and it’s too dangerous. If that person leaves, there will be nothing to hold me up. I need all the support I can find, from all different people. It’s just a matter of starting that conversation. I’ve got no idea how that’s going to go, but it has to be worth a try. Danny Sturgeon

March 02, 2017

I treasure my silence with you, but I hate your silence without me. There’s a significant difference between your silence when you’re present and your silence when you’re away–I hate it. It doesn’t feel good. Your silence speaks more than your words. It didn’t always, but it does now. When your words are unkept promises, your silence is the worst.

Your silence keeps me guessing whether you don’t know the answer or you don’t want me to know the answer.

Your silence doesn’t say you don’t have time. It says you won’t make time.

Your silence leads to your Twitter favorites, Instagram likes, and world record level leaps into conclusions.

Your silence is careless and selfish. You aren’t that. Your silence is, though.

Your silence is lazy and hurtful. You weren’t that. You might be, though.

Your silence wastes my time and hurts my pride, but none of this is even why I really hate your silence.

I really hate your silence because the first time I encountered it, you weren’t busy and your phone wasn’t dead. You weren’t sleeping or trying to figure out what to say back. You weren’t even being silent. You stopped choosing me. You were responding to someone else. –Rae Witte

October 19, 2016

“Can I ask you a real question?”

My friend always asks real questions, but it’s 10:48 PM on a Sunday in early July so I know it’s about to be some Take Care type of question.

“What’s it like to have a good guy around and all of a sudden start hearing from the one that got away?”

I damn near spit out my drink and immediately responded, “He’s not the one that got away. Girl, he’s the one that let me go.”

This is not the 1590s and my last name isn’t Capulet. Our parents had no involvement in our situation. As I went on to explain how I compartmentalize things and how grateful I was for what I had at the time, I came to the realization that I don’t really believe in the concept of “the one that got away.”

As 31-year-old woman residing in NYC, making a living writing–while having an unlimited data plan and a mom who opts to encourage me to focus on my career rather than giving her grand kids–the one that got away doesn’t make sense to me. Perhaps the one that ran away, the one I pushed away, or the one that I could not get away from fast enough exist, but I don’t have anyone or anything controlling my actions to where I spend even one minute fantasizing about the one that got away–especially if we are still in contact. If you text me or I text you, did you really go anywhere?

The one that let me go did go somewhere, but he’s always still there. A text or Instagram like keeps it that way. Is he mine? No. Am I his? No. Do I spend my days gazing at the stars wondering what could’ve been? No. If I wanted it back I’d say something. If he wanted it back, I believe he’d say something.

I’ve been criticized by someone for being very “black and white,” but I am and I like that about myself. (But still, fuck that guy.) I’m into yes or no and commitment and accountability. In addition to living a fairly unrestricted life, unless you disrespect a relationship and put someone in a position where they have to leave you, the one that got away really only exists if you long for someone you think is above you or someone you don’t think you’re good enough for.

It doesn’t matter what they do, decide, don’t do, or don’t respond to, when you define your self-worth and commit to yourself, it’s impossible to pine for someone that doesn’t love you as much as you love you. Letting you go will be their loss. Nothing anyone carelessly or selfishly puts you through will hurt forever, even leaving. –Rae Witte

September 12, 2016

Majority of the time someone finds out I’m a recent college graduate, they mention graduate school. Since before my senior year, I’d told myself I wasn’t going to grad school; it’s something I don’t want at the moment. People are pushing me in the direction of grad school and other career paths I don’t want. I’m constantly pulling myself away from people’s suggestions. I know people want what’s best for me, but it doesn’t align with what I want.

Somehow, everyone’s dreams and aspiration for my future has motivated me to go after what I want. If I want something, I’m responsible for getting it. Anything worth having is worth fighting for. But these days, I’m fighting more than I’m used to. Sometimes it’s with other people’s expectations of me, but most of the time, it’s with myself, due to procrastination. My procrastination prohibits me from pursuing what I want.

About a week ago, an old professor of mine emailed me about a job opportunity. Instead of jumping on it immediately, I waited four days before sending an email. Was I not excited about the job? No, because every night I mentally added it to the list of many things I needed to do. Or, how I’ve been meaning to update my blog for months now, but have yet to do so. It’s not like I don’t have time, because I do. Everyday I find a number of jobs to apply to; if I apply to at least three then that’s considered a good day for me. I’m quite sure that for most people that’s the bare minimum.

I push myself to be as motivated as possible because everything I’m doing, or should be doing, is for me, and the life I want to live. Staying motivated is no easy feat. I’ve tried pushing myself by doing to-do lists. I’ve tried a reward system. I’ve even gone as far as using my friends’ and peers’ accomplishments as motivation, yet things still aren’t getting done. I usually procrastinate by sleeping. If I’m not sleeping, I’m scrolling through Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, and YouTube.

When I’m motivated I feel like I can take on the world. I feel productive, however this feeling doesn’t last for long. Before I know it, I’m back procrastinating. I’m sure there is an underlying issue of why it’s so easy for me to be pulled by procrastination than it is for me to be pushed by motivation. It could be self-doubt, anxiety, or being afraid of what the future holds. Whether I continue to be pulled by procrastination is on me. At some point, I’m going to be tired of missing opportunities due to my bad habit, but will it be too late?

Being pushed and pulled in two different directions is kind of like telling yourself one thing, but doing the opposite. I know I deserve more, but I have to want more. – Kenya Baker

June 16, 2016

As a millennial woman, a lot of us are stuck between wanting the love our grandparents had, and wanting a sense of independence. We don’t need any man to tell us what to do with our bodies or our hearts. All opinions and views are our own. Anything we want or need we can get without the help from a man.

When him and I first met, he’d make me feel like I was the most beautiful girl. I never had anyone but myself make me feel that way. I must admit, it felt nice to have someone else take the load of loving me off my back. But I soon began to lose myself, and fast.

Things changed so quickly, and I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t just go back to being the only one loving me, and not have him love me anymore. But, I wanted to breathe. I needed myself.

He didn’t know all of the issues I had faced before he entered my life. The broken relationships, the mistake of giving my heart to men who treated me like I was nothing. He was entering a tornado and had no idea, and I couldn’t tell him. I couldn’t let him know I had been taken advantage of at a young age. I couldn’t let him know I had been hit in the face by someone who was supposed to be a person that loved me. I couldn’t let him know that I still replay in my head the day when my dad kissed my forehead, before he left my mom. I couldn’t let anyone know that. I couldn’t even let myself know that.

It took us losing each other for me to finally let myself know that I’ve always kept a safety net. My safety net was pushing people away who I knew loved me. My safety net was looking for things to be mad at so that I could have a reason to fight. My safety net was never being satisfied with my body, constantly binge-eating, throwing up, and then working out. My safety net was writing how I felt about people instead of telling them.

Breaking out of a safety net could quite possibly be the hardest thing I’ve done. It’s taken me 24 years. Twenty-four long years of looking for myself through other people, through other things, through compliments. It’s taken me 24 years to realize the only safety net I need is me. I am home. I am my boyfriend, I am my girlfriend, and I am my past and my future. I can make things happen for myself. Not anyone else, but me. Everything that’s ever happened to me has helped quilt together a colorful net that I can lie on. Being your own support system isn’t a bad thing, in fact it’s liberating.Sierra Dennis.

May 19, 2016

With each year, I realize self-love is a journey. It’s an adventure that will always be in progress. I can’t help but reflect this month, my birthday month. I think of how far I’ve come and how far I need to go. Every so often, I get to a place where I feel good about myself but then something happens–Whether it be relationship woes or career struggles, something pops up and throws me off. I then ask myself whether I truly love myself, or if I even love myself at all, because I’ve ended up in a state of despondency.

I cry until I can’t cry no more then give myself a break–I rest. I detach in hopes of gaining a higher perspective. Meditation, prayer, focusing on breathing, turning to silence–anything to eliminate distraction from the outer world. Silence is underrated for many, but to me it’s the key. Stillness is what allows me to listen to myself. My intuition, my divination. Without allowing myself this nourishment or space, personal growth wouldn’t exist. I deserve another chance at loving someone and for that love to be reciprocated, another chance at being the career woman I dream of being, and another chance at living life to the fullest.

Healing has been getting easier with time. With each lesson learned, I get wiser and smarter. I’m approaching my prime years in loving myself, but is this it? What is next for me? What is my next challenge? I’ve become accustomed to curve balls that toss me into the unknown. The unknown has now become an area I’m familiar with. A place I once labeled as frightening, now grants me freedom–the ability to control my own happiness.  –Maria Mora

May 13, 2016

I’ve been raised. There are no more lessons to be taught from the cusp of my mother’s hands. Fully grown now, I feel as if I know nothing at all. I’ve become unbalanced with my present when reflecting on the past. Days come across like moments and I still have no clear answer to the infinite question we all excessively ask: what am I doing here? There are things I’ve done that have filled me to the brim with regret–Seeping through my pores like soapsuds exiting a sponge.

Why can’t you just make up your mind? I ask myself daily. It’s a trick question of sorts; since I know there truly is no clear, concise answer. Yet, asking that very question makes me feel as if I have a chance to get today right, so like a daily multi-vitamin, I swallow the question whole and on schedule.  I’m constantly trying to beat the clock. Trying to find my path in life before an inner apocalypse claws at my feet.

During the moments when I’m selling art to the times when I’m trying to find my mind in the midst of an anxiety attack, my great grandmother is here.  She’s standing right behind me. I like to think she’s rubbing my shoulders, like she used to when I was a child yearning for Harry Potter novels and my dad’s affection–The same affection that drove away cross country in a black Volvo. Her spirit is warm; similar to the chicory coffee she served me as a child against the advice of “health officials.” I feel that she’s proud, which is why I breathe easy.

I’ve been raised. Childhood friends are raising their own offspring. Yet, I’m still searching for validity from myself. The importance of myself. The actual evidence that my existence on this planet has been beneficial to someone. Constantly unforeseen, even when I’m the tallest man in the room; I’m always digging my way out to being present. Still, sometimes it becomes too much, too much, too much… –Jacques Francois

May 10, 2016

I had a desk in an e-shopping cart for a week and a half. I’d refresh the page every so often, not to see if the price had been slashed, but to see if maybe this time I’d be sure.

I’d think, and think more: Can I afford it? Even if I can, should I be spending this much? Is it that much? Will I like it in person?

Lately when I stretch for certainty, doubts arise as if they’re jealous–and while the severity of each varies, they multiply.

This is the first time, since I can remember, that my only focus is myself: what do I love, what hurts me, what enlightens me, what brings me down…me.

I work from home, within white walls, by myself. There’s no one around to distract me of me, there’s no other world than my own to hide in, to explore in. The good is that I’m discovering myself. I’m following the dream after the dream. But (/and), the dream is developing as I venture through.  I’m keenly in tune with everything in my world, especially now that it’s just me–in turn, every move I make terrifies me. It’s as if I can feel everything to the 10th degree. I get scared of what I’ll do if I make the wrong move, if something goes wrong. What’s worse is that instead of jumping over each obstacle (that live only in my mind), is that I stand still imagining the next one.

I’ve always been one to overthink, but I can’t seem to stop at the sign that  reads: you can’t control this. And I know it to be true–I’m going through something with those closest to my heart that neither one of us can control. Maybe this is me trying to control everything else (?) Either way, I reached a point where I’m overthinking the overthinking.

Thinking why can’t I just buy this desk? made me ask my best friend, “why do you think I don’t do as much as I think?” “Because you spend too much energy in your mind. By the time you’re done thinking, you’ve talked yourself out of it,” he responded.

Here I am, in a new phase in my life where it’s finally about me, but it’s just me–And that’s on me.

(I bought the desk. It comes on the 13th.) Erika Ramirez

May 7, 2016

It’s amazing the things you think you know about yourself. As a young girl, I felt my potential to be dope was pretty high and I was sure that college was going to be the years that I set out to do it: be dope. But at every instance in my life that called for my attention to be better and do better, I inevitably was sidetracked by being enamored with a guy.

Being with a guy, any guy, does not make you dope. Being you to the best of your ability makes you dope. I just wish I had seen that in myself at the time, before completely changing the trajectory of my life over the idea of it.

These guys are regular now. Doing regular things, being regular people. When you’re not a regular girl, you don’t do regular boys. That’s a distraction: being regular.

I thought they were so extraordinary at the time. Every situation with one was a test of my will, drive, persistence, and endurance in this thing called life. The ambitions I had paled in comparison to being wanted, to being loved, to being desired. I wish I had known that being desired ain’t shit. Someone, many, will desire you. Be there. Show up and all the work is done. It was the one who didn’t quite see it that way, or see me, that made it a challenge which I took on.

You don’t have to make anyone see shit. Ever. Emiley Mallory

1 comment

  1. This series of “Unfinished” is truly great, the way you write, the clarity and bluntness of your thoughts are beautiful to me. I’m very happy to have find this blog. Thank you for sharing.

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