Call Me Stephanie

By: Ayiana Uhde

Hi my name is Ayiana
Once upon a time,
I was a young girl
Seeing the world through rose colored glasses
my mother sobbed to herself at the kitchen table
Wondering why
Crying tears that would not relinquish 
depressed feelings
controlled thoughts
Her confidence was stolen 
By a man she loved
And as she cried
She’d continually ask

My father would stand 
Eyes like sand
And watch with disgust and anger

Subtle hints
The way his eyes stared at the television
Body tense
While she ate herself to sleep

The way his eyes took roundtrips 
At every sip 
Of her Diet Pepsi can
And onto the looks of other women, other shady tricks

The way his veins emerged 
And voice trembled the walls
Roaring at the sight
Of her worrisome face in the pitch black of night
Only illuminated by the blue screen
That shed light on the lies he thought he put to bed 
I moved away

I left my old home and my mother locked away
Depression creeped, healing, the biggest feat.
Yet the split did not resonate
A step . . . mother or whatever was introduced
A new face so soon
So what kind of love is really true?

All these thoughts are new
I spoke loud! I spoke true!
My feelings, not so few
Enough to brew up his hatred 
He looks towards me.
A gaze stuck on my skin like slimy grease and sin
“Okay, Stephanie”

Left alone to cry my tears 
When no one was watching.
to show my weakness was no option.
A competition I won so often.
Yet lost inside, clouded, covered, feeling . . . like nothing

I wrapped my head around for answers
my testimony explained
Detailed and thoughtful
Forgiveness and fault already placed
Yet he boggled with my “mess”
And called excuse 
“You’re just like your mom”
My response and . . . cut in
“Okay Stephanie”

The grease ate at me
Burned through my tissues and stank
Smothered me in my dreams
With pillows of doubt and worry
I could no longer sleep 
Or breathe
But I could eat
“Are you really eating this late, no wonder you’ve gained weight”
My response and . . .
“Okay Stephanie”

Walking on eggshells,
I hid my snacks
Times now be few
don’t want to seem fat
I couldn’t skip dinners so I portioned less
He would say to grab more food, 
I decline
And he says YES
More food on my plate
He acts like it’s a good thing 
so it must be
he insists, I go to grab seconds
And he seems pleasantly dismissed

Something like his 
Fists hits me hard and tackles down my defense 
You eat like a linebacker
You want to lose fat, then eat less
My response
But you give me all this food!
And it tastes so good!
“Okay, Stephanie”
Never compliment the cook.

I cry myself to sleep
Nobody checking in to see
My image, my portrait,
I’m drowning in the deep
Sands that cover his eyes
Years and years of layering grime 
Flinching and shedding with each of his lies
It soaks up inside and I fill with it
I try to dream 
All I see is pain
My head throbs and my body aches
I resist the urges 
To just get up and leave

I’m sure of his thoughts
“I don’t love her
I hate her”
I’m sure of his ever revolving words despite
Never having heard, the truth

For myself I was searching
Inevitably I looked


I don’t love my reflection
I hate my curves
I don’t love my face
I hate the way it relates
I don’t love my personality
I hate my need for community
I don’t love me
I hate me
because being me, causes storming conflicts 
That tear through him like untamed waves at sea

Quit being your mom, but . . .

I look like Stephanie.
I talk like Stephanie.
I love. I love like Stephanie.

Hi my name is Stephanie

Once upon a time was the old me
Since I found that being me isn’t a sin or any sort of conflicting sea
It’s just me. Flesh and body. Call me Stephanie. 

I never gave in
To the depression I was cornered in.
You couldn’t kill me.
Call me Stephanie.

I looked in the mirror and loved myself again. 
When all I had to do was let you leave. 
Call me Stephanie. 

I laughed again without hating the sound. 

I smiled again without forcing it out. 

I talked about my passion without any doubt. 

I told my mom I loved her. 

I cried. She cried. We both let it out.