Thursday, April 5, 2012

The woman behind the picture - Part 8: Moka Allen

Finding My Inner Beauty

As a victim of a sex crime at a young age, I grew up hating myself. I thought I was useless, ugly, embarrassed and ashamed of myself. I thought everything that had happened was my fault. I remember when my parents had found out about the attack. The house was very somber and my parents didn’t say much. It was an event in our lives that nobody was prepared for. I sat on the couch watching Nickelodeon and crocheting a Tweety Bird rug. A detective showed up at my house later that night to interview me. I was terrified to sit in my own living room with this man and recall the events to him and to make matters worse he was such a jerk and very insensitive, again making me feel like everything was my fault. My parents were in complete denial and couldn’t sit in the room with us. I’m not even sure that they talked about it to each other. I realize now since I am a parent what they must’ve been feeling but at the time in my 11 yr old mind, blame needed to be placed, and I placed it on myself. The next several months consisted of court dates and interviews with very matter of fact men who scared me to death. The charges were dropped against the man that had done this to me, and I would spend years of my life now trapped in jail inside of my own body while he would walk away with not even a slap on the hand. I didn’t know at the time but I had quickly developed an eating disorder as a way to cope and try to control something in my life. I didn’t even know what an eating disorder was until a couple years later.

I switched schools and was bullied quite a bit. I’d come home sobbing and put towels over the mirrors in my bedroom and bathroom so I wouldn’t have to look at myself. My grades were failing and I couldn’t concentrate on anything except what I ate last and what I was going to eat and not eat. I would spend my time at school pinching myself and trying to figure out how long it would take me to lose the “fat” on my elbow. I learned that year what anorexia was and that I had it. “Ana” (anorexia) had become my only friend. She made me feel better about myself. This disease had become a person to me. I was quickly getting sicker and sicker and nobody seemed to notice. I started researching anorexia and discovered “pro ana” websites dedicated to promoting and supporting people with eating disorders. These websites talked about punishing yourselves for eating and suicide. So, I started cutting myself after I’d eat and the meals got fewer and fewer apart, the suicide attempts and cutting got more and more frequent, it obviously never worked. I remember one day while I was home by myself, I took a handful of Tylenol trying to overdose and walked to my favorite spot as child and lied down on the ground waiting to die. An hour later I sobbed wondering why it didn’t work staring at the sky pleading with God to let me die.

I somehow managed to survive middle school and my freshman year in high school things started to work themselves out. I was happy. I had a 4.0 GPA, I was a star volleyball player and cheerleader. I had a good group of friends, the teachers were great, I was dating junior and senior “popular” boys and I had put on a little weight. There was a place for me in high school and the past seemed to be the past. The summer before my sophomore year in high school my family moved to Utah and I was spending the summer still in Maryland with my friends. I became a victim for the second time of a sexual crime. I never reported it or told my family. I thought they’d hate me or be so ashamed. I was afraid I’d be abandoned. None of which is true, but the shame that a victim goes through is unreal. I come from an extremely loving family and my momma is my best friend, but hard topics weren’t talked about much in my family and were moved on from quickly. I went through anger, grief, denial and I didn’t reach acceptance for a long time. I held this inside and was a big secret literally eating every ounce of fat off of my body. I relapsed and went down hard. I started losing weight again, and trying to fit into a new high school in a small town was torture. I was completely invisible, except to the snake with blue eyes. He was the ultimate loser in a big truck, but he paid attention to me which was what I desperately needed at the time and something I would do anything for even if it would end up hurting me in the long run. He kept pressuring me to have sex with him and after some time of refusing he threatened to leave me. Well that abandoned feeling started to return and I gave in to pressure. I didn’t want to be alone and it turns out I wouldn’t be, because the first time we had sex I got pregnant. I was 15, pregnant, and the snake with blue eyes left me and I was now the laughing stock of the school in a small town. 

The same week that I found out I was pregnant my volleyball coach and biology teacher both pulled me into their office to confront me about my eating disorder. I completely shut down and was back in the denial phase all over again. Talk about self-hatred. I wanted to run away and never be found again. I explored adoption because that’s what I thought I was supposed to do and felt pressured to do because nobody was very supportive and it only seemed to cause tension in my house. So I decided I was going to keep her, which also caused problems in my house and other relationships.  No matter what I did nobody was happy. I was a failure. My life at home was chaotic, my OBGYN was not very kind and my family was mum or my brother was yelling at me about how selfish I was. I spent my time at home hiding in my room or working for my Dad, who at times had to defend me to some of his customers.

My labor and delivery was extremely hard and I was not given proper medical treatment. I was alone most of the time with my daughter in the hospital and it was an awkward situation that most people tried to avoid. I cried myself to sleep every night and questioned myself as to what the hell I was doing. I was at my rock bottom but finally ready to tackle the world as a 15 year old single mom. I had a reason to live, to fight. I wasn’t able to live for myself but this little girl loved me and needed me and would never hurt me or do me wrong. I didn’t want to fail her.

A few months later after I had lost 80 lbs, I went to my momma for help. I needed a therapist. So, I started going. I can’t say it did more good than harm but it was a step in the right direction. The suicide attempts were in the past but I was still anorexic and bulimic, and slowly starving myself to death. I often fought with my daughter’s birth dad, which usually ended up being quite violent, trying to create an ideal life which would never be. One night after a fight as I lay in my bed crying, feeling fat and out of control with no more stomach acid to throw up, I decided I needed to go running.

That night, a runner was born. The road quickly became a good listener and I was a religious about it. I still had anorexic tendencies but I began to eat to run. I couldn’t run fueled on diet pills, diuretics and laxatives. Although I wasn’t eating much it was certainly a start. All those long hours spent alone really forced me to get inside of my own head, to recall unwanted events in my life and sort them out, I would run to get the anger out, the sadness out,  and the demons inside of me that told me lies that I would never amount to anything.
I can’t tell you an exact moment that I found strength to overcome obstacles in my life or what caused me to fight; it’s been a long and ongoing process. I can’t tell you exactly what inner beauty is, since everybody’s definition is different, or that it’s something that I’ve got. But I absolutely am continuing in my quest to become more beautiful each day. I have come full circle in the past 3 years, I’m happy with a drive and passion for life. I welcome challenges now and never shy away easily. I am still a normal person and have dark moments in my life. I still tend to struggle with food and have plenty of moments doubting my self worth and wanting something that I don’t have, but the moments are fewer and farther between. I try not to let anyone control my life but myself, and I have found that I am much stronger than I ever thought I was. “You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.” ~Unknown

 Lots of terrible things happen to great people. It’s how you deal with those situations that define you as a person. I was given lemons and in time I made lemonade.


  1. I wept as I read your story. You are amazing and I would one day love to meet you. You are the true meaning of "Beauty" inside and out. Thank you so much for sharing. After reading your story all I could think of is, Heavenly Father sure must have great things planned for this wonderful lady!

  2. Amazing, honest, wonderful. Thank you for this share.

  3. Thanks girls. You're comments are great to hear since I was terrified to post this. Your kind words have made me cry and am very grateful for them.

  4. Moka,
    I am crying as I read this story. No-one should have to go through what you did --- you show amazing courage, over and over, to keep trying. I want to give you a hug and tell you that I am proud of you, keep on being strong, never give up!

  5. Thank you for being so vulnerable and honest.