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Ashleigh's Story

Savannah, GA USA

"How do you cope with life when, for the greater part of your existence, you’ve held in more secrets than you care to remember? How, when you’ve carried more pain than some people have seen their entire lives? I’m 24-years-old and I’m still trying to figure it all out and piece together the facets of life that I was required to obtain at 16, yet still searching for. On April 16, 2018, I decided to stop living in the shadows inch-by-inch. This is my light, my truth, my story.


Growing up, I knew something was different about my unequally-yoked family. There was something peculiar about the frosted-glass house I grew up in, where some areas had a clean shot to the public, but others were fogged away by deterioration and sneaky techniques. Philanthropic, avid church-going parents who set out to save the world through businesses and organizations to help raise children, that’s the glass-part. Infuriating, argue-riddled, emotionally unstable atmosphere that suffocated me until I didn’t want to breathe anymore, that’s the frosted part.


I delved into books for the better part of my childhood- it was an escape. My family always knew what to say to fillet my soul open. I’ll never be good enough to love because I don’t look the way that they have envisioned for me. No man will ever love me. I’m… too… fat. My father slurred these words from his mouth and the alcohol hit my nose. My mom co-signed. My brother tells me how revolting my body is. Flashbacks of being bullied, repressed memories from having my body taken advantage of heaved from deep within, as all of the pain I’ve ever restrained projected from within me. Tie all of this in with chronic illnesses, my life completely shattered.


During all of this, I wasn’t innocent. I became the bully, sought after relations I knew weren’t any good or appropriate for me, fought back in the wrong ways, pulled in on people who didn’t deserve me and pushed away people who maybe cared, desired acceptance in the wrong way. But, the part I regret most is staying silent when I should have been yelling. I would have these moments where I would try to send smoke signals, like wanting to be held, crying randomly, talking to someone. But, once they got too close, I clammed up and I shut down.

But, now, at 24 and countless therapists, hospital visits, journals and less than one month into unguarded healing, I have realized that, despite the odds, I am still here. I am still surviving. Through the emotional abuse, molestation, bullying, failures, embarrassments, I am still living.


Deciding to open up about this story of mine was a personal choice. Darkness can be imposed upon by a single flicker of light. Desperation can be expelled with only an ounce of hope. Self-loathing begins to disperse with self-love. The true key is forgiveness. No, there is no roadmap to healing and it does not dare to happen overnight. It is one of the most organic, raw, self-liberating processes you will ever endure.


I have realized that I have endured such great troubles to ensure the victories that are waiting. I have been placed under such extremities so that I have a message to share with others so that I can help real people with real problems and that is exactly what I do.


Using my platform as Miss Black Georgia US Ambassador is a conquer in its own, but standing dauntlessly on the platform of, 'Life; It Keeps Going,' is what drives me. Especially keeping the semicolon a part of my platform. It ensures me that I will never forget the reason and always stay true to who I am. Going around the state, talking about mental health and the importance of help, reminds me that this is what I needed growing up. I needed someone in my corner, so that’s all I can ever try to be for other people and that’s what makes it worth it.


Find a reason worth fighting for.


Do not give up. People want to help you, I want to help you. There are people rooting for you that you have not even met. Please, keep holding on. It sounds cliché, but it gets so much better. Trust me.


You are loved.


The Story Continues."

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