Menarche, a Poem

TW: Child Abuse, Period Shaming, Anxiety, Depression

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Dear all,

I haven’t disappeared off the face of the Earth. It’s just been hard lately to be motivated to write much. To be frank, I’ve been having a hard time managing my mental health. Chores and job applications are as much as I can do, if that. To my humble surprise, though, one of my poems was accepted by Ephemeral Elegies back in February and published yesterday!

Earlier this year, I stumbled upon confessional poetry: poetry that draw’s from a person’s experiences and introspection. Utilizing the first person narrative, confessional poetry often taps into and addresses negative emotions (fear, sadness, anger, etc) through examining past trauma.

My poem, “Menarche,” is not a happy poem, and I did not write it to garner pity. My story is just one of many, but in sharing my truth, I hope it’ll touch someone else who is also dealing with anxiety and depression, to validate their pain and make it less lonely.

The picture with this post is of my mom and me. It’s one of the few I have of me from around the ages of eleven to fifteen because my father burned them. Just writing that sentence brings up so many emotions and might provide more of a backdrop to my poem.

When I had my first period, it was as if my life had hit a turning point at home. Suddenly, I couldn’t do the things I used to in the name of religion, which I now know was just an excuse for manipulation and misogyny. My father would often remind me that I was “unclean” with every period that followed. I was eventually allowed to uncover my hair. Yet, as I continued to mature, so did his reactions and accusations. When it came time to actually leave him for good, he destroyed many papers and pictures. Many memories that now just exist in my mind.

Honestly, I still struggle every day with the fear and self-esteem issues I had growing up. Healing takes time, and that’s okay. It may even take a lifetime.

Thank you friends and fam for your unwavering support and understanding, and a HUGE thank you to Mark for supporting me through this slump even when I feel like I don’t deserve it.

~ Steph

Poem Link: https://ephemeralelegies.com/2022/04/18/untitled-by-stephanie-simpson/?fbclid=IwAR2_JlPsQoOKl5DlQKmhY6kSZQ4cvdeE7loeJadACg6LACDsfWlEifZPIDY

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