This Is Who I Am | Ali Part 1

Note to Reader

This is a twelve month project which aims to bring to light the individual pain experienced by young women and to show how their unique stories make them who they are. We ask you to feel with an open heart and respect their stories.


I was born in Tallahassee, Fl. I live in Ocala, Fl, now and I’m twenty-eight years old. I have two children; one is four and one is fifteen months. And I’m cooking another one!

I had a good childhood. My parents were together all the time. We moved a lot so that was hard, but it made me really close with my mom and my sisters. There are always wounds and childhood wounds, but my mom let me be me. She let us explore and grow. We grew up in a Christian household but not a very constricting one. We learned all different worldviews and we each made our own decision towards the end. We were pushed to be our own woman, all four of us. I’m really thankful for that. My dad was in love with my mom, so I got to watch that as I grew up. And he was in love with us and a hard worker. So my childhood was good. I had a happy childhood. A loud one but a good one.

I am a stay-at-home mom and I work with youth in my church. I always knew I’d be a mom and I always knew I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. But I think my dream was to be in missions, like international missions for the church. I wanted to work in Saudi Arabia with women. So I have a very cushy life now compared to what I dreamed, obviously. I have AC and regular medical care, so I’m pretty lucky. I don’t think it’s what I imagined. I had romanticized this peace core life that I had made for myself. Change the world kind of thing. But I’m kind of realizing now that my chance to do that is in my children and my high-schoolers that I’m with at the church every Sunday. So I’m not in the trenches but that’s what I wanted to do. I am in the trenches in a different way, but they are much more comfortable trenches now.

Nothing is more painful than spiritual, emotional, or mental pain.

There are so many different kinds of pain. Normally when people say pain, I think of the time I broke my collarbone. It hurts still to this day. So when I think physical pain, I think my body in shock and in pain. But nothing is more painful than spiritual, emotional, or mental pain. I think though the pain that comes to mind when I think of pain would have to be the time I was raped. And then right after that would be when I lost my dad. And then after that would be the diagnosis with Moseley. But definitely in that order. I think there is a lot of hope with my dad, there is a lot of hope with Moseley, but when I was raped, there wasn’t any hope for me.

I was twelve and we lived in this town in Mississippi. Myself, my mom and my sisters were in this play. And I went outside for a second. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time and I was a little girl. I was scared and I didn’t know what to do. I think he just took advantage. And he knew it. The man that did it to me, I had seen him around. I didn’t know him. But I can tell you what he looks like to this day but that’s about it.

It took me a long time; I couldn’t tell anyone till I was about eighteen. So I dealt with the anger and the fear and the trust issues. The only person I really could trust was my dad. I don’t think he knew before he died. He knew that there was something wrong and he put me in counseling, but I don’t think he knew why. He did know that he was the only one who could really make me feel safe. When he was around, when he was home, I was safe. So when he died, that shook me. I had to come to the realization that the reason I don’t feel safe isn’t because that my dad died, it’s the fact that I had been dealing with something that I had been shoving down since I was little. So I was finally able to tell my mom, I was finally able to get help, because I was so ashamed. I grew up so ashamed.

I grew up so ashamed.

Growing up in a Christian household, you hear, “Don’t have sex before you’re married.” And you can never get that back. So constantly you get this idea that you’re a dirty shoe. There’s no way you can come back from being a dirty shoe. I was a dirty shoe.

To my mom, my sisters, and my dad, I wasn’t a dirty shoe. I was safe in my home because he was there. But after my dad died, I would cling to other men to try to feel safe again. I would cling to my boyfriends because I felt safe when I was having sex, when there was intimacy; that ten, fifteen seconds that you get of safety. And what did it matter? I was a dirty shoe, so I couldn’t get any dirtier. I had to come to that realization that I’m not a dirty shoe. I’m not even a shoe. I’m a beautiful person who is loved. And letting go of that pain was excruciating and painful, and being free of that pain was painful in itself.

I think it’s hard for me to say how it effected me because I don’t know what it would have been like if it hadn’t happened. So it’s a part of who I am, it’s a part of what my story is, so I think that I’m a lot more afraid. I get afraid a lot. There are times that I just realize I’m terrified. So I think that if it hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t be so fearful. I think fear is a good thing, it’s good to have some fear, but a lot of the way I’ve gone through my life has been in fear. I’ve been afraid to pursue dreams, I’ve been afraid to branch out, because of what’s happened to me.

There are times that I just realize I’m terrified.

I think the incident really did shake and affect my relationships and how I interact with people. Especially my marriage. I didn’t know that the rape would affect my marriage the way that it did. Just the physical aspect of my marriage. My husband will walk home and I’ll jump out of my skin. And when he’s not there sometimes I get nervous. And I’ve had to come to the realization that there is nothing to be nervous about. There is nothing to worry about. So getting over my fear is definitely something I still struggle with.

 
 

To read part two of Ali's story, click here.