By Liana Jacob
THIS SURVIVOR was engulfed in flames as a child that burnt over eighty percent of her body but beat the bullies who said she was ‘better off dead’ to win her soulmate and fulfil her dream of falling pregnant.
Stay-at-home wife, Harley Mallow (23), from North Carolina, USA, was only two-and-a-half years old when she was caught up in a horrifying fire, due to a washing machine’s faulty aluminium wiring in June 1997.
She was thrown out of the door of her room by her dad to escape the fire and her mother performed CPR on her until the medics arrived. She underwent over 20 surgeries to heal including skin grafts and plastic surgery.
From the age of 14, Harley was picked on at school about her appearance, which made her feel insecure and she refrained from wearing clothes that showed her legs, feet or arms, and has since met and fallen in love with her husband, Josh, in January 2015.
She is now four-months pregnant with their first child after getting married in October 2017.
“I never doubted Josh was meant for me. I knew not long after we started dating that he was the guy I wanted to be with for the rest of my life. He’s my soulmate and I wouldn’t want to do life with anyone else,” Harley said.
“What I struggled with when Josh came along was my feet. I didn’t like wearing any open toe shoes, but he helped me out with that and now that’s pretty much the only type of shoe I wear.
“In June 1997 when I was two-and-a-half-years-old, I was taking a nap in the back room and my little sister was asleep in the living room.
“My parents were outside with some friends. My oldest sister was just getting home from school when she saw the smoke and told a family friend.
“The family friend told my oldest sister, Michelle, to run and tell my parents as she ran in to get us but could only get to my little sister, Sierra, due to the smoke and fire blocking her from getting to me.
“My dad had to pour water on himself and knocked on the back door to get to me. He ended up throwing me out the door because the floors started to cave in.
“My mama gave me CPR until the medics arrived. I was sent to two different hospitals before I was airlifted to Shriners in Cincinnati, Ohio, where I spent at least three months, including my third birthday.
“I was burned over eighty percent of my body and have went through numerous surgeries. My dad survived with minimal scarring that you can no longer see.
“I battled with my physical appearance starting at the age of fourteen and was picked on all throughout school.
“I still am picked on through social media from time to time but now that I’ve accepted myself, I only let the negative feedback I get build me up.
“I hated everything about myself. I didn’t like wearing anything that showed my legs, feet, or arms, so I would tend to avoid any contact with people when I was out in public due to people staring at me.”
It wasn’t until she was in her early twenties, when she met her husband, that she decided to change her mindset and ignore the bullies.
“I was tired of being so depressed about everything. I would even physically harm myself when I was younger and really just wanted to die,” Harley said.
“People telling me that I was better off dead didn’t make my situation better. I had a lot of skin grafts done and some plastic surgery done.
“The physical part was rough, but the mental part was the worst. Every now and then I’ll have slip ups.
“But I’ve been put on antidepressants for that. But for the most part, I’m very happy today, my husband plays a huge part in that.
“We like to give all the credit to his best friend. He tagged Josh in a picture on Facebook and I added him because I thought he was cute.
“Then a few months later Josh ended up messaging me – the first time we actually hung out was when we went to The Barnum and Bailey circus and we pretty much hit it off and have been together ever since.
“When I found out I was pregnant, we were both honestly a little scared. We had just got married a month before we conceived.
Despite living her life hiding in the past, Harley is now more confident in her own skin. She now says she would never get rid of the scars that make her the person she is now.
“I would hope that by always showing my kids love that they will treat others with love and kindness and accept everyone who may be different than them,” Harley said
“I’m definitely a different person now; so much more happy and outgoing. Talking about my accident is so easy now.
“I’m not sure how life would be without my scars. I wouldn’t change anything as of now anyway. They make me the person I am today.
“Certain clothes don’t fit right due to lack of muscle tissue and one foot being burned so shoes don’t fit that great.
“I guess the toughest part is learning to deal with life and people making fun of me, which is something no one should have to get used to.
“The majority of the feedback I get is positive now, but I still have the negative comments, however, I just overlook them.
“My advice is to let the negative feedback be what builds you up. Don’t let them win, and never feed into it.
“React with kindness because they can’t feed off of that and as long as they can’t retaliate they won’t continue with it. You’re better than what people say, and life does get better.”
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