I Thought Everyone but Me Deserved to Be Happy

For me, I felt so alone. Maybe I knew other people who had been abused, but I would tell myself that it wasn’t the same. They were better than me, they could talk about it better than I could, they could carry on better than I could. I think at some point I just accepted the fact that it would never be okay for me, but I could push it in the back closet of my mind and lock it away, so it wouldn’t interfere with anyone else’s needs, because everyone but me deserved to be happy, right?

I was filled with shame because I took what I went through and didn’t deal with it. I feel that because I pushed it away that it led me into other abusive relationships. I was in situations that triggered me and I chose to be around people who would abuse me. I carried it around, felt like I was wearing some sort of scarlet letter, but instead it said: “I’M A VICTIM”

I was very unsure of The Haven Retreat. Was this really going to help me? Maybe it was only for the better “victims.” When preparing to go it started to feel like the world was working against me, timing wasn’t making sense, I was feeling more anxious, and I kept telling myself I was doing so good that I didn’t even need to go to this retreat. Maybe someone else could use my place, someone that would benefit more than I could.

I am so grateful for the chance I had to go! The people there made me feel so important and so loved – something I hadn’t allowed myself to feel.

The retreat educated me on how my brain responds to trauma, how to help reframe my brain so that I can work on my healing journey. It also helped me learn about so many more things, things that I wouldn’t have even thought to try because I wouldn’t have connected them with being a survivor of childhood sexual trauma.

The hardest thing for me was admitting that what had happened to me was affecting me and recognizing that it affected me in many more ways than I wanted to accept. But you know what? I wasn’t alone.

I had other strong survivors surrounding me. I felt so understood and appreciated. I felt strong and powerful. I think the most important thing I learned after going to the retreat was that I have power and control in my life. I came home feeling hopeful, empowered, and strong.

What a change I have already seen in my life in the few short weeks since attending the retreat. I don’t think I could even put to words the gratitude I feel for being given this wonderful experience and all the wonderful tools that this experience helped me discover.

I am not a victim, I am a survivor. I am enough.

-Jessica, Survivor