“I have knowledge, I have hope, I have faith, I have tools, I have power!”-Alison, Survivor-
The effects of sexual abuse in my life wax and wane like the stages of the moon. At times it’s a distant memory, a trial or a hardship in my past; other times it invades every cell and muscle of my body and brain, making it hard to breathe and think and function. Fight, flight and freeze with lots of numbing (think food and Netflix) become my days and nights. When “it” comes back I wonder what’s wrong with me, am I crazy? Am I not trying hard enough? Am I weak? Am I permanently, irretrievably damaged? I want to disappear, give up and be done with hurt and pain and heartache.
I found answers and healing in the beautiful, green mountains of Utah, at the Haven Retreat. I learned about the extraordinary wound of trauma – that trauma isn’t just a bad experience, it’s something that threatens us to the core and that human sexuality wounds are often the most devastating. I learned that violated trust confuses the brain and that unresolved trauma stays stuck in the body and cells; I learned that the “crazy” was just my brain doing its job under the extreme stress of being in trauma. I learned that just talking about it, won’t make it go away.
Most importantly, I learned there are answers, tools and techniques that will free my mind and body; that I am not crazy, lazy or inherently damaged! I learned that yoga and mindfulness reach into the brain and body and release the trauma held there; that Muay Thai (a form of kick boxing) gives my body a chance to respond and fight back, the chance it didn’t have when I was a little girl, too weak and scared and small to respond.
I have knowledge, I have hope, I have faith, I have tools, I have power! I can be like the mountains that protected us and grow strong and powerful from pressure and stress. I was surrounded by seven strong, beautiful women who understood and knew how I felt. We bonded in a way that is hard to describe. I am humbled and feel so blessed to have been educated, honored, nurtured and loved by my fellow survivors and by the staff at the Haven Retreat. Thank you to the Younique Foundation for understanding our needs and supporting survivors of sexual abuse. You have changed my life forever.