Author: outsidersmonologues

Monologue #18 (2015)

Dear Diary,

You know those moments when you really need to talk to someone? You just truly, desperately need them?

I was heading back to my room trying to get in contact with a confidant. Just as I was walking through my door, a friend of mine was laying on the floor, staring at the colorful lights that they turned on in my room. I debated whether or not I should talk to them or let them know that I wasn’t in the right place to help anyone in that moment. I put the urge to get help aside so that I could be a supportive friend for them.

While we were talking, I tried really hard not to bring up anything that I was going through or even attempt to make this about me. The mention of sexual assault… I couldn’t help but think how I’m forced to get along with the man who assaulted me for two years. They were looking for words of wisdom, advice, something, but I honestly had no words.

The sad part is, after dealing with sexual assault, I still don’t know how to deal with male attention. If they treat me a certain way, then I fall head over heels for them all because “he enabled me to trust him”, “we watched movies and cuddled”, or “the look he gave me, he obviously adores me”.  I fall for just about anything. I don’t even know my self-worth.

The fact that I had a realistic suicide thought yesterday scares me. I looked at a knife and could see myself cutting my wrist. I didn’t even know I could have thoughts like that. I know I’m not alone, but who can really handle being there for me?

I was speaking to my counselor and she gave me a sentence that she wanted me to complete. “Not being okay is safe because…” Initially, I was thinking about it logically, and using reasoning in order to understand that statement just wasn’t working. I let go of common sense and that’s when it hit me. Not being okay is safe because I get attention. I have been independent doing things on my own for myself since I turned 16. I have been a caretaker, doing things for others for years. Not being okay was my way of being a care receiver without actually reaching out and depending on someone to help me. Sick people receive attention they need to get better not because they are dependent, but because they need help.

I am depressed. I hear trigger words and my mind grasps onto them and takes me down a never-ending hole to the point of potential self-inflicted harm. That is where the outsider’s mentality comes into play. Not saying others cast me out. I cast myself out because being the pariah is easier than being pushed out because people can’t handle my emotional state. I just don’t give them the chance to deal with me. I remain alone!


Monologue #17 (2015)

I feel super guilty for cheating on you. I can’t tell you why I did it. If I knew, I wouldn’t be so plagued with guilt. As much as I hated you throughout our relationship, I know that I loved you more than I’ve ever loved a person on this earth before.

We met almost exactly a year ago; it was the day before I left for spring break. You were LITERALLY the hottest guy I had ever seen in my life; I was hypnotized by you. I couldn’t stop talking about you that night to my friends. So, basically, I’ve thought about you everyday for a full calendar year.

I look back at last spring as the happiest time of my life. I loved my friends, I loved myself, and I loved you. All of those things have changed over the course of this year. I still love my friends, but it’s not like it was last spring. We used to be together all the time, but now we don’t live together and one of us is abroad. I absolutely hate myself. I think I look like garbage and as hard as I try to feel better about myself nothing works. I want to die. And we’re not together anymore (obviously). And honestly the worst thing about that is that it is literally my fault.

I wonder all the time if we would still be together if I hadn’t cheated on you. There is no way to ever find the answer to that question because I did cheat on you. This is literally the first time in my life where I’ve faced real and lasting consequences for my actions. Up until this point I did whatever I wanted and generally got away with it.

One of the hardest things I’ve come to realize over the course of this year is that you can’t undo something that’s been done no matter how badly you feel. X says I’m supposed to learn from my mistakes. The obvious lesson is: don’t cheat on your boyfriend. But there seems to be a larger lesson as well; I need to learn to think about the consequences of my actions in general. I need to learn that some decisions don’t affect only me. I didn’t know how badly this would hurt you, and to be honest I still don’t know how badly this hurt you. You won’t even talk to me.

Thank you for teaching me what it feels like to really love another human being. I believe one day I can feel that way again, but first, I have to learn to love myself, and who knows how long that will take.


Monologue #16 (2015)

“Sorry, I’ve got a ton of work.”

Some variation on this refrain is frequently heard at Davidson. We work hard, we play hard, and nobody gets hurt as long as we respect each other’s boundaries when it comes to allocating time for one or the other.

“Sorry, I’ve got a ton of work.”

At Davidson, this is the excuse-to-end-all-excuses, the nuclear deterrent form of ‘no,’ the sine qua non of Davidson studenthood. It’s ubiquitous, and its ubiquity makes it safe.

“Sorry, I’ve got a ton of work.”

It’s almost a comforting thing to say at this point. When I say it, I’m not the kid who can’t afford to go out for dinner, or to the movies, or to the bar, or to any place that costs money, really. I’m just another Davidson student. I’m hiding my parents’ income behind a mask, but they can’t know that; it’s a mask that’s indistinguishable from the face everyone here wears.

“Sorry, I’ve got a ton of work.”

That’s not all there is to the mask, of course. I augment it with how I dress, the parts of home life I choose to talk about, stuff like that. But it’s a big part of it, a convenient excuse to avoid spending money I don’t have.

“Sorry, I’ve got a ton of work.”

I don’t say it as much as I used to. Part of that is due to my dad being employed again after a year and a half looking for a job. Part of it is due to part-time jobs I picked up, which have enabled me to have a bit of extra cash to spend. But I think part of it is also that people just realized I was always saying no when they asked if I wanted to go out and gradually stopped asking as a result. I try not to think about that too much, which is surprisingly easy to do. You can even forget that you’re not part of their class. For a while, at least, and then you see some statistic like “55% of Davidson students don’t qualify for need-based aid,” and you think, “Holy shit, I’ll never be part of their class. So this is what being a minority feels like.”

“Sorry, I’ve got a ton of work.”

I dated a girl for a while whose family was pretty well off – not by Davidson standards, but they were pretty well off from my vantage point down here in the lower middle class. She knew what I could and couldn’t afford, and would sometimes offer to pay if we went out for dinner. I know she meant well, but damn, if that’s not the most emasculating thing to hear a woman say, I don’t know what is. And sometimes I’d let go of my ego and my ridiculously heteronormative masculine pretensions and let her pay. But other times:

“Sorry, I’ve got a ton of work.”

Monologue #14 (2015)

Seems like Ageism is increasing around here. There was a time when age was perceived as being associated with experience and other virtues: now I read teaching evaluations and public discourse of all kinds asserting that it’s challenging for older folks to relate to younger. Longevity in life’s work is not loyalty or institutional wisdom- let alone joy in work- but clogging the workforce. I hear faculty and administrative  stereotypes asserting that if someone challenges a new idea, it’s because they are old and reactionary- rather than engaging with the issues raised in the dialogue. This seems like an insidious ad hominem argument. I get particularly tired of intolerance or ill humor being associated with old white guys. If this keeps up I’m going to, “… go home, eat some fiber, take out my hearing aids, and yell at some kids to stay off my lawn.” [from an indictment of Bob Costas’ disses of snowboarding in Sports Illustrated]


Monologue #14 (2015)

Sometimes I think of it like a time when you overconfidently take that last step down the stairs. That your foot falls through the floor beneath you – ground that only moments before was a stable guarantee. For that speck of time your leg hurtles through the air, taking the contents of your stomach with it…before folding upon itself making contact. Crumpling on the concrete.

The fall of my sophomore year, I slumped. Slump doesn’t seem to feel like an adequate term to describe how I caught myself in a lie, how I could no longer recognize myself by the way I felt. Sometimes I still place myself on that bathroom floor – where I held those 34 chalk white ovals in my hand, thinking I made it up. That I was being dramatic and did it to garner attention.

Except for that the lie I told myself, that it was not a problem, that it wasn’t a big enough deal – was the same lie I told my therapist, my parents, and my friends. I’ve never admitted that it happened. I denied that it was wrong… Because I never actually followed through…right?

Until I denied the lie enough for it to become true.

I told myself that my problems are nothing compared to others. I have not been a victim of abuse, I come from a loving and supportive upbringing. I go to college. I have no disability, and I’ve been privileged to live a life made available through access to money. What right do I have to feel anxious, depressed or out of control? You are fine, I told myself, between the strokes of brushing my hair, you’re making up this bullshit for the attention.

The days I spent denying I needed help are among the ones I have the most difficulty remembering. I ran through the hours on autopilot, physically present in class without writing a single word on the page, too preoccupied by what every other person in the room was thinking of me. Unable to hold a conversation, my mind so weighted down by the thoughts undermining my existence. But still I lied. Kept pretending I was the same, happy girl, forcing the smile on my lips that felt more and more like the wax lips won at a carnival. Brittle and jarring.

Even when I upended the prescription bottle into my hand, I still operated on the system of deny deny deny. I sat there, feeling disconnected with my own body – as the sweat on my hands caused the pills to stick. I only stared.

Two days later, I called the counseling center and immediately hung up. I wasn’t really depressed was I? I needed to be that happy person my parents and friends believed I was. I was fine, I lied. I didn’t need their help. Depressed people don’t go to class, party on weekends and have a group of friends. That wasn’t me – I was ok.

It took the help of a courageous friend to encourage me to attend counseling. Still there, I lied. Fortunate for me I was no longer the only judge – I finally got help.

Lying to yourself is a dangerous step. I was so afraid of myself that I bore a strong face until it was my own downfall. It still haunts me how I denied it. How my first instinct is to undermine rather than accept.

Depression doesn’t always look like the greyscale pictures you see. I took every step I could to seem joyful, while my guts rapidly decayed. It’s often the people that show it least who need the help the most.

Monologue #13 (2015)

People have always told me that I am “good at languages.”

I speak English, conversational Spanish and French, I can read Italian and Portuguese, I’ve taken lessons in Xhosa (Kosa) and Afrikaans, even Latin. I can talk to a lot of people.

Despite these years of studying the ways humans communicate, I can’t tell people who I am.

I speak Straight, too. Not fluently—I don’t think I ever convinced anyone of that—but enough. I know about two-point conversions. I can tell you specifically what attracts me to women (I’m an “ass-man” if I have to choose.)

I’ve always known that Straight wasn’t my native tongue…Sometimes I catch myself saying “When I am married, my wife…” or “If I had a girlfriend…” when these things fail to fully express my hopes for relationships.

Once, a student in class thought a boy carrying an orchid flower represented “latent homosexuality.” And I realized that this language had failed me. I could only speak its symbols and signs, signifiers and structures to a certain extent, a limit that was beginning to feel unbearably insufficient.

When I started exploring my sexuality aloud, I thought I would easily find the words. I thought there was a dictionary, a grammar workbook where I could do practice exercises, elocution lessons where some teacher would shape my mouth around the words I needed to tell people who I was.

No such luck. Every word that I found seemed perfect and I was quick to apply it. The first times I told people I was “bisexual,” I felt like I had it. Eventually it lost its shimmer. The joke I had heard about bisexuality replaced it’s self-identifying potential: something they invented in the 80s to sell hair products. I don’t buy hair products. I don’t fluctuate between two distinct poles of attraction. I’m not even that sexual. I started to hate the word “come out” too. What was I supposed to have come out of? The darkness? The woodwork? The closet I suppose…but I haven’t had one of those since high school.

The best option, without boring people by actually explaining the complex, unique way my sexuality works in my mind, my heart, and my body, is to say I am “not straight.” All I am is not a native-speaker of Straight.

I guess what’s left is to start from scratch. Write a new language in the dust. Someday I’ll write a dictionary so people can understand.

Me-sexual: this person who falls for individual men and women

who loves the world despite its suckiness,

who has beautiful eyes and cheek bones,

who makes me laugh until my diaphragm breaks,

who laugh at my jokes, obviously,

who can gently pull me out of dark places and call me on my shit simultaneously,

who falls to their knees in prayerful awe and weep at injustice,

who doesn’t have it all together,

who loves television and yoga,

and hates  slam-poems and restaurants with TVs,

and I guess, who has a nice ass.

Monologue #12 (2015)

I’m your friend. The “COOL” black girl. We will dance on Friday and Saturday but it won’t ever really go further. You will say “hay gurl” on mwf and give the universal head nod on a Tuesday Thursday but that’s really the extent of our daytime interactions.

You try to keep up with me at f when it’s clear I don’t think you’re ready for this jelly

In return I will shuffle and slide around when there’s a live band hoping we’re both too drunk to notice I don’t know a goddamn thing about swing dancing.

You like me because I’m not one of the neck rolling loud talking too activisty ones, right? I don’t wear any sorority colors but instead I’m one of the few in an eating house, so its good, right?

Never been invited to a formal

Never been invited to sit with your friends at lunch

Never taken home

Never had to wallow in the awkwardness of seeing you in commons the next day

But, we cool. Nothing more nothing less. Maybe I’m lucky because I have never had a drunken hookup or been talked about on yik yak. Maybe my automatic friendzone – never a forerunner for the big things like cooler paintings or handcuff parties – is really just a blessing.

I’m still the “COOL” black girl. Too dark to be used sexually, considered romantically or publicly, yet too distinct to be mistaken for that other straight haired brunette or blond. I stand on my own. Which means I go home alone. We are truly living in year of our lord 2015 where basic white chicks stay winning. It’s almost like they automatically are considered hot and available.

The irony is I’m not really wanted in either space- too wild and outgoing for the few black guys but too different for the majority of white dudes. I do everything they do and probably look 10 times better doing it but I’m still your average 21 year old virgin after four years of dancing on tables, ripping shots and knowing most of the Taylor swift lyrics.

As spring approaches, I’ll scramble to find a boy that is a friend for formal and maybe reactivate my tinder if things get too desperate. I’ve spent too many springs waiting for an invite, waiting for a text back, waiting for anything more than a head nod.


Monologue #11 (2015)

Failing is not something I really do.

In fact, there are only a handful of times where I can really say that I have failed at something in my life.

I was a great child.

I didn’t whine or make many messes.

My mother often tells me that she doesn’t know what she would’ve done had I not been born and that I am the perfect child.

I excel in everything that I do—

Like literally.

I have attended not one, but two top ranking institutions of higher education.

My GPA kicks your GPA’s ass.

Speaking of asses, I have a very nice one.

I am in a monogamous relationship with a handsome and driven black man.

And when you’re a black woman in America, let me tell you—that is not failure.

That is success, my friends.

I lead and people listen because they know I do not fail.

I have lots of friends, who often tell me about how much I do not fail.

They remark on how perfect I am.

The way I look.



Down to the way I organize my pocket book planner in which I sort the events and tasks in my life at which I do not fail.

But I will say that the most defining moment in my life is when I made the biggest failure to date—

I failed to end my own life.

It was December of 2012.

Yours truly gathered and consumed lethal concoction, deciding it was time I spare the world my existence.

It would be a seamless venture.

My roommate would find me, call the ER and I’d be on my way out this bitch we call reality.

Well, I was wrong.

I was awoken to an IV in my arm and a clipboard hovering over my head.

I raged at nurses and doctors for saving my life.

Hippocratic oath my ass!

I was trying to commit suicide here and these professionals on their high horses caused me to fail.

Afterwards I was committed to a psychiatric ward, legally obliged by a 48 hour hold.

The first words I said when released from restraints was that—

“Things like this don’t happen to people like me”

You know people who don’t fail.

During this time I was neighbors with real failures.

Like the schizophrenic mother on the verge of losing custody of her kids,

Or the bipolar drug addict,

The type of people that always fucking losing in monopoly,

Sure they were failures, but I still needed people to play board games with in the rec room.

Yet after what felt like the longest week of my life,

I was eventually released.

And before you know it,

I was back on my shit.

Not failing at everything— and boy, was I relieved.

I vowed to move beyond this failure and get back to what I did best

Not failing.

And this brings me back to where I am now.

So to be straight with you—

I’m not going to give you some sappy-ass concluding remark as to how I realized that it is okay to fail.

I continue to avoid failure like the plague,

Even just thinking about makes me itch.

Yet every once in a while, when I reflect on my second chance at life

I wonder:

If failing means living, then what is success?


Monologue #10 (2015)

I felt like an outsider when I arrived at Davidson merely because I am a woman. The college had begun making a significant effort to hire women, and I was one among an early cohort of new female faculty. Before accepting the job, someone I knew in town told me that ugly rumors were being circulated about me. I was astonished and consulted friends about whether I should take the position. (They recommended I not accept the job.) Instead, I decided the college needed me and needed women.

When I arrived in August, I knew nothing about the many orientation meetings required of new faculty; instead, I spent those first few days before classes began getting settled. My worried department chair learned of my absences and confronted me, asking why I avoided those required meetings. I told him I had no knowledge of them. Within a few days, I realized that someone was taking all my campus mail. (We had open cubby holes then, rather than private mail boxes.) Weeks later, I learned that the person who had been spreading lies about me weeks earlier was the same person who was taking my mail. This man in my department had just retired and was upset that a woman was taking his place and would be teaching “his courses.” He wanted to be sure I failed. Never had I experienced such gender discrimination. My department chair learned of the situation and threatened this man, knowing I could have sued the college for his actions. Instead of doing that, this made me more determined than ever that I would prove myself and do everything in my power to make Davidson an institution that would welcome and celebrate women, both students and faculty. I think I have done so.

Some Davidson women faculty still find it difficult to have their voices heard, and the College should do more to support women’s issues and events such as Women’s History Month (this is celebrated on campuses nationwide). A couple years ago, the female faculty who were seeking approval for a new Gender and Sexuality Studies department encountered more serious questioning about its rigor, direction, and importance than was true of another department seeking approval at the same time.

Certainly, however, the situation for women faculty (and students) is far better at Davidson than it was when I arrived. I, for one, no longer feel like an outsider.

Monologue #9 (2015)

I’ve gotten really good at hiding it even though I talked last year about talking about it.  I stuck my fingers down my throat today, but I can’t even puke right.  I guess you could say I’m not better.

I guess it helps when you don’t look sick anymore.

I guess it helps when everyone’s too busy to notice, too afraid to broach the subject.

I guess it helps when most of the girls around me can look at me and say “I’m glad I’m not out of control, I’m glad I don’t have to look like that.”

You should be glad.  You should embrace the ease of the place your brain is in now.  You should love that place, because wherever the fuck I am.  Well.  It hurts more than starving ever did.

I don’t feel comfortable in my body.  That hurts.  It means that everything that touches me, everything that makes me feel my body, every piece of it that I touch, every article of clothing—it puts me on the edge.  Not on edge.  But on the edge.  Because when you don’t feel comfortable in a situation, or even worse, when that situation makes you actively upset you remove yourself from it.

I guess they call that suicide.

Did you know that no one at Davidson has ever committed suicide (what a beautiful word)?  Did you also know that there’s almost no openings in the counseling center?  I don’t know what that means, but it means something right?

I don’t want to frighten anyone.  I’m not going anywhere no matter how much I want to.  There is still a small and timid whisper in the throes of my loathing and anger that reminds me there is no freedom from my body.  Body and me are one.

I think maybe if I could numb myself to the sensations of my body, I might feel better.  I could ignore what it was making me feel and just be in it.

I guess they call that recovery.  Normalcy?

Only it shouldn’t be normal for people to just be inured to their bodies, we should feel lovely in them.  I say I want to be skinny, but that’s the coward’s way out.  I could do it, if I really tried again, but the tethers holding me back are stronger now. When I say I want to be skinny,  what I mean is I want to feel lovely.

I guess I just want to feel comfortable.  Again.  And the only way I know how to do that is to be skinny, but the only way I know how to do that makes me sick and trying to do some of what I used to makes me overcompensate in other ways and…

It’s a constant conversation, but one that has to happen just within me and myself so often.  No one else knows what to say, how to say it, or even that it’s happening.  It’s a constant battle.  And I’m exhausted.