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Things I Can't Say Out Loud

Alliza Clark

Alliza Broadside (1).jpg


We’re made up of so many words. So many metaphors and sayings floating around our heads. We create wars and violence with them, but also art and music. We bend, break, create, mold, and love things with these words—so much heartbreak and joy from a single sentence. Language is filled with meaning and passion. It’s an immortal sun keeping us all alive.


I recently read George Orwell’s book, 1984. It was a story that involved the utter annihilation of language. The way we express ourselves, gone. The very thing that distinguishes us as humans. How can anyone love another if the idea and way to describe such a feeling are gone? We have thoughts because of language. We have knowledge because the words we create help express this knowledge. I would be nothing without language.


To me, this is the most important message of 1984. Without words, we can’t create change. We can’t usher in anything new or progress, unless these words exist for us. Limiting our knowledge and access to these words makes it impossible to express ourselves. We lose a part of ourselves. We become meaningless.


I would be nothing without language. The part of me that I love would be gone. My most significant power and love would not exist. Language is more than a way to communicate, it’s a way to survive the meaningless drab of our world. The lyrics we remember. The darkest nights make the brightest stars. Does it ever get lonely? And I’ve dreamt of you too. The poems we recite. The stories we read. Harry Potter. Dear Martin. Looking for Alaska. To Kill a Mockingbird. They are what keeps us going. They keep us together in a way nothing else can. If anything can create something new, it’s words. A power stronger than anything in this universe lies behind our use of language.

I would be nothing without my words. I would be nothing without a way to build these ideas I have in my mind. I can’t be silenced anymore. I can’t hide the things I’ve bottled up. I need my words. I need to be something.

I would be nothing without the thoughts I write on

this page that mean more than anything

I can say out loud. I would be nothing…

I don’t want to be nothing.

My Abyss

‘What’s wrong?’

Out of all the questions in the world, this is the hardest to answer. I get so consumed by sadness and I can’t put it into words. As a creative writing major, I have so many words taking up space in my mind, but none of them can help. How do you explain the pain you feel in your chest that’s unbearable? How do you explain how the little things can make you fall into darkness? If I say I’m sad it feels meaningless, like my little brother ate the last Oreo cookie. If I say I’m depressed it feels confined in a space that’s too small, and I need more than that to fill the space inside. If they had words that were so impactful and meant as much as the pain I would use them, but they don’t.

When people think of deep sadness, they think of depression. I often think about this word and its meaning, but it never seems to hold the pain that I feel. It’s the same effect as using cavern instead of Abyss. Both are dark and big, but Abyss is more chilling. More expressive. More meaningful. If I had a word like that to describe the bottled-up emotions inside me I would use it. I would describe the abyss in my soul. The bottomless ache that makes it hard to get up in the morning.

Even if I knew every word known to man, past and present, I still don’t believe it would be enough. I’m stuck in a space where the words I need don’t exist, and even if they did it wouldn’t make a difference. Giving a name to something so consuming doesn’t make it easier to bear. Just like depression and anxiety. Naming them just concretes their existence. It helps you know that other people feel the same, but it doesn’t make the pain any easier.

My Abyss. I picture an outline of a body and just darkness inside, swirling around trying to keep out the light. That’s how I picture myself when I am lost in the feeling that words can’t describe for me.

‘What’s wrong?’

Even if I could explain, you wouldn’t get it.

The Words That Define Me

The green lights must have hidden all the betrayal I felt. We laughed and played games. We listened to music and made jokes, but I was hiding my feelings once again. You looked me in the eyes and lied. I saw the photo on your screen and I was excited, but you hid it and acted as if I was crazy. I had been wanting you to be happy for so long, and when you finally were you hid it as if I shouldn’t know. You took the trust we had built and broke it over something that was supposed to be good. You made me feel insignificant. You made me feel crazy.


There’s a word for that. Gaslight.


The room changes and the red light splashes across my face. The bottles scattered around me seem meaningless. I want to drown the sudden hurt, but it doesn’t help. When I look at you it doesn’t feel the same. I’m lost in the questions. I trusted you, yet once again that wasn’t enough. You betrayed the trust I give out so rarely. The emptiness grows and I can’t even bring myself to feel sad.


There’s a word for that. Apathetic.


I walk out and the light hits me. The sudden change makes me dizzy but I walk faster. Feeling you behind me trying to make small talk should hurt me. I should be yelling or crying because that would make sense. Instead, I walk faster. The quickness makes the feeling in my stomach sink lower. Our long conversations and year of friendship feel like nothing, but I can’t bring myself to feel anything about it. I want to let myself cry or throw something. I want to tell you how much it hurt, but instead, I step into my room and say goodnight. The lights are still off and I don’t have the energy to turn them on, so I crawl into bed and push the feelings down.


There’s a word for that. Suppress.


I feel these words. I see these words. I know these words. Yet, that’s all I know. I want to be angry and sad and jealous, but I don’t have the capacity for those words. I can only feel and experience so much at a time, and at this point, these are my words. The words that define me in this memory. In this moment. In this scene.


Gaslight. Apathetic. Suppress.


A manipulation. A  lack of feeling. A coping mechanism. These words fill me up and leave room for nothing else. These are the things that I experience or feel. The only parts I can experience and I can’t even find the words to explain these words. I can’t care enough to react to these words. That’s why I am these words.

No One Ever Stays

The bonds broke so suddenly.

They shattered and the vibration shook me awake.

The pieces on the ground reflect memories.

They look back at me good and bad,

Loneliness darkens the corners.


The siblings that weren’t linked through blood,

Broke my heart in ways I didn’t believe were possible.

Memories blurred behind questions.

Was it ever real?

Did they ever really care?

Was I a pawn in this game…?


The group that made it through high school,


A trust that was built through everything,

Tears, blood, and misery.

Torn so easily because of pride.

Shreds of the past peek through,

Showing only defiled images.

How could I let love slip from my grasp?

When did things start fall              




                                                            a  p  a  r  t?

A family connected by generational trauma.

Never truly together,

But hard to keep apart.

Slowly everyone fades out,

And alone I stand.

Broken and lonely.

Did anyone realize they left me?

Did they try to stay?

Did anyone even notice me,

Wanting to fade away like them?

I Am Nothing

There hasn’t been a day that has gone by without me thinking about who the hell I am. Instead of what gender is to me and what it shows, I want to talk about what it isn’t.


Gender isn’t my mom telling me to talk like a lady. It isn’t the absolute hold on my past that confuses my present. Gender isn’t something someone chooses for you. It’s a confusing and terrifying storm that everyone has to figure out.


The wind blows so damn loud in my head and I can’t make it stop. Who am I? Am I nothing but a blink in the Universe? Gender to me is a story. It’s more than pronouns and names. It defines who you are and who you want to be. I don’t know either of those things, so gender for me is hell.


I don’t know what it means to feel like a girl. Feel like a boy. Feel like anything. I’ve always imagined myself as this thing that takes up space and means nothing. How do you gender nothing? I want so badly to figure myself out. To proudly tell the class my story of gender. To confidently tell you who I am and why it means so damn much to me, but I haven’t experienced that.


My head is consumed by the storm we all have to face. I can’t see the light anymore. Only darkness surrounds me. Shoving everything I know so deep that I don’t have room to breathe. Is all this knowledge useless if I can’t use it to describe myself? What more do I need to learn so that I can breathe again?


The emptiness I feel when I think about who I am only grows. I can’t place myself in any more boxes when I don’t even believe the ones I’m in now. I have no more reasons. No more fight. No more words. I just want to be something.


But in the end, I am nothing.

You Will Notice Me

I used to think words could do anything. I used to think that if you could talk and write well enough people would see how good you were. I used to think a lot of things. The problem is, it doesn’t matter how poetic your writing is. It doesn’t matter if you are perfect for a position and what you write and say backs you up. No one cares about that. They care about who they know. They care about who they like more…


I wanted to believe that words meant something. That knowledge and experience mattered. I wanted to believe that someone, anyone, thought I was good enough. So many wants, that deep down, I knew words wouldn’t accomplish this for me.


I still believe words have power, but you have to get people to listen first. If you walk into a room full of people that don’t care about you or notice you then they won’t listen. They won’t let the words you are saying sink far enough down for them to matter. I don’t know why we as individuals settle for these people that don’t care enough, but we do. We surround ourselves with people that take our words for granted until we have no more. When words finally escape us and we have nothing left to give. That’s when they notice. When we have no love and support left to throw at them. That’s when they notice.


Stop waiting for them to notice.

Student Affairs

I walk behind Hanby Hall and take in the memories from summer. The sun causes sweat droplets to slowly form on my face. I remember the bright yellow butterfly that landed on me while I sat in the grass. They were such beautiful memories. Memories that I don’t call upon as often as I should. Those memories are hard to appreciate now. They’re clouded in a fog that I can’t explain. Well, I can explain it, but I still wonder how I let them take away the bright moments from before.

I walk behind Hanby Hall and it's so cloudy. The time of year in Ohio when everything is gray and wet. I see the ramp, the door, the offices, it’s all engraved into my memory now. I remember all the words I said there. All the words I held back. All the words I have yet to say and none of this keeps the ache of sadness at bay.

I stand in front of the ramp and remember all the freshman students. Shy and looking for answers about all the new things they’re facing. I remember helping them or wishing I had better answers to give. Their words were always quiet and uncertain. I think I’ll miss the questions. I’ll miss the moments when I could truly help them, but the sky is getting darker and I have to leave now.

I don’t think our words were ever going to be enough. They say if something is broken, fix it, apparently that doesn’t apply when it takes too much effort to fix. We carefully crafted a PowerPoint, documents, timelines, and photographs, using everything we’ve learned about language and wording to get our point across, and we still failed. We saw something that was falling apart and tried to give it love and nourishment to heal, and they didn’t think it was enough. Was it enough?

The ramp behind Hanby Hall has its own place in my brain. It’s etched in so I’ll remember that sometimes fighting doesn’t change things. They heard us say that things were crumbling, and they decided a bandaid was enough to fix it. They heard us say that we didn’t feel safe, and they said lock your doors. They heard us scream and cry because we have nothing left within us to help the people that matter most, and they said well I’m sorry to see you go. We gave emotions, tears, ideas, and time to people that couldn’t care less about anyone on this campus. We gave so much that it feels like the only thing left is to give up.

I formally resign from Reslife, but I will continue to be a resource to the people on this campus. I formally resign from putting up with Reslife’s disrespect, but I will continue to work toward a better future for our students. I formally resign from being on the front lines for people that don’t care about me, but I will continue to use my words to fight for everyone on this campus to have a safer tomorrow.


My resignation from Reslife is not the end. They will hear me, see me, and know me until the day I leave this campus. My words may be brushed off from the inside, but you can’t stop what you can’t control. I took the power they had over me back, and the fight is just now beginning.

Who Am I?

I’ve written since I learned what writing was. I’ve scribbled on pieces of paper and read them to my parents. I’ve always had this anger inside of me that can only be let loose through writing. A string of words that sit on a piece of paper to tell the story of my feelings at that moment. An array of words that could mean absolutely nothing to anyone but me. I know this is my passion and the only thing keeping me alive, but do I know who I am? Do I know who I am outside of these words, stories, and poems? Am I anything outside of them?


I found an old notebook while cleaning my room a few weeks ago, and it contained poetry from my middle school and early high school years. I read over it and couldn’t remember myself in the pieces. I read them and didn’t recognize who I was in the words. My words are always changing and shaping around the mental state I’m in while putting them together, but if they’re always changing does that mean I am?


I felt a sense of loss in the memories those words held, but some of the pieces showed me that I still know that young version of myself. I know the sadness, the anger, the grief. I know the emptiness that sinks into their stomach when they’re sad. I know them, and I know that I’ve changed. Parts of us are different, but parts are the same. I didn’t know who I was then either, and I don’t think I’ll ever have an answer. I don’t know who I am, but I know this is what I’m supposed to do.

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Alliza Clark is a triple major in Creative Writing, Psychology, and Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies. They enjoy writing poetry, fiction, and essays in their free time. They are also involved in multiple organizations on campus, including being the president of the English honorary society Sigma Tau Delta. Being such an active member of the Otterbein community was part of the inspiration for this project. With everything they are involved in, they still make time to do what they love like writing the pieces shown here.

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