Alisa’s Story: Part I of II
There is no denying that motherhood is the hardest job on earth. Sometimes it isn’t until you become a mom (or dad) that you actually appreciate how hard it really is. I have always had a place in my heart for the moms who shoulder this responsibility alone, doing their best to love their child enough for two people. That place in my heart grew in Dr. Seuss-size proportions last year when I suddenly found myself experiencing single motherhood while still married. After being diagnosed with cancer, my husband’s eight long months of treatment and the months of recovery that followed meant he and our then one-year-old daughter were depending on me to keep the ship afloat. The year passed slowly, seemingly one long day blurring into another; never knowing whether I had brushed my teeth that morning or showered in the past three days. If you had pointed me in the direction of “up,” I would’ve gotten lost on my way there. Anytime I would start to feel sorry for myself, I would just as quickly remember that it was my husband who was doing the real suffering. And then I would think of my friend, Alisa. Her story would inspire me daily to push forward towards the goal, and rely on God for strength and to fulfill our needs. While I knew that this would be but a blip on our family timeline, Alisa has persevered for ten years raising her daughter on her own and against the odds as a young single mother—the “modern-day widow.”
Just 21, Alisa was enjoying all that college-life had to offer as a young adult and student, especially since recently breaking off a two-year relationship with her boyfriend after she learned he had begun to abuse drugs. One morning, “Jimmy” came through the window of her home and attacked Alisa in a drug-induced fit of rage. He strangled her until she nearly blacked out. She remembers being unable to breathe or speak but in her mind willing Jimmy to release her in the name of Jesus. At that very moment he let go of her neck and collapsed in her lap where she sat. Still in a state of shock, and struggling to catch her breath, she watched as Jimmy suddenly got up and walked into the kitchen. Alisa could hear him fumbling around in a drawer and then falling to the floor. She became concerned he may have “hurt himself” when he didn’t reappear after a few minutes and instead of running for her life, she went to the kitchen to check on him. A Psychotherapist would later explain Alisa’s behavior as consistent with “Stockholm syndrome” as she first sought to assure her attacker’s well-being rather than her own. Upon entering the kitchen, she found Jimmy sitting on the floor, holding a knife. To her surprise, he then came after her with it. As she turned to run, he caught her by the hair and threw her to the ground with such force she sustained whiplash from the attack. He held her down and proceeded to verbally abuse and sexually assault her. Alisa began to scream so hysterically that she doesn’t even remember it being her own voice. It was enough to scare Jimmy away as he took off up the stairs leaving Alisa lying on the floor, terrified and confused, but alive. Her first instinct was to call her sister, who then implored her to get out of the house. Alisa ran across the street to a convenience store where there just happened to be a police officer filling up his car.
Alisa filed a police report that day and Jimmy was brought in on charges of aggravated assault. Though estranged, Alisa found she was unable to free herself completely from Jimmy. While in prison, he began stalking her with phone calls and letters which continued after he had been released on bond. Struggling with her feelings for and her even greater fear of him, she remained mentally in his grips and agreed to meet with him on several occasions. Her psyche now resembling that of a “battered woman,” she feared that if she didn’t meet with him, he would hurt her again and somewhere in the back reaches of her mind was also a small glimmer of hope that things could just go back to the way they had once been. It was during that time that Alisa became pregnant. It was devastating news. She chose to keep this a secret from Jimmy and maintained the strength to pursue the charges against him. He was convicted of aggravated assault in the 2nd degree and being a sexual deviant. He was sentenced and served seven years in prison. During the course of the trial, Alisa bravely chose to keep her baby and raise her on her own. Though he is now free, Alisa says she no longer has any fear of Jimmy entering her life again.
Finishing her senior year of college with a newborn baby and working nights, Alisa became a very resourceful mother. She lived in the single-parent housing on campus. Her girlfriends scheduled their classes around hers so they could watch the baby while she was in class. Her admissions officer babysat at night while Alisa worked and paid her own way through college along with taking out school loans. Though she desired a stronger family support network, it was just not made available to her. With little to no help, she struggled through school and to this day.
After ten years, Alisa has become more financially stable as her career as a writer has blossomed. She has started to come into her own and through her journey she and her family have become stronger together. After battling post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety she is now living the happiest days of her life—just she and her daughter on their own. She sees God continually bringing people and situations into her life where she can share her story to help others who are struggling with their options concerning pregnancy and domestic violence. She hopes to one day see society care for its’ unwed mothers in the same way that God commanded that we take care of our widows—they are today’s single moms.
Read Part II of Alisa’s Story in a special Q&A to be posted on Tues., May 12th.
This post is part of a world wide blogging tribute to Moms led by TheBlogFrog.