I Had to Stand Out in the Open and Stop Hiding

My abuser died in 2012, leading to a series of events that forced me to wake up to how I was living my life. I had shut down my abuse. Refused to acknowledge or speak about it. I was successful. I promised myself it would never impact my life. That I wouldn’t be a “statistic.” I hated the word survivor. I always wondered why people called themselves that. 

I survived but I didn’t live. 

In 2014, I began my healing journey. At the time, I didn’t realize how much of an impact my abuse had on my life. Why I worked so much. Why I found relationships and intimacy difficult. I had shut down myself. The real me. My soul. 

I engrossed myself in being well. As a coach and business owner and just someone who always believed in growth, I was always moving forward. I healed and I grew and I changed my life. I found myself.

But something, still, was missing. I was still protecting myself, my story, still not sharing it, still holding onto the shame that THIS HAD HAPPENED TO ME and that it had broken me, that it had cost me so much of my life. I wanted to be in control of the story, still. 

I didn’t identify with groups for survivors, I still didn’t speak about it, even though I had a public platform with my business and my blogs. 

Despite all the work I had done, there were still pieces missing, still brain fog, still disassociating, still uncomfortable with being known for that. 

Finding out about The Haven Retreat came at the right moment for me. I knew I had to do this, to work with people who specifically understood sexual abuse. I knew I had to stand out in the open with this and stop hiding, stop controlling who knew and how they knew. 

It was time to own my story so my story no longer owned me. And I’m happy to say that the things I learned at the retreat changed my life. What I learned about the brain and trauma allowed me to finally own that my abuse changed me, changed my life, changed my responses. 

I didn’t want that story. I didn’t want it to have power over my life. But ignoring it and denying it is what gave it power, not facing it. Facing it, understanding it, learning about it and standing in the presence of it – owning that part of me and my life – helped me heal more than I can say.

The people I met there will be life-long friends. Thank you for what you do. While I had done so much work, this retreat really helped me in ways I wasn’t expecting, it helped me put my puzzle together. 

I’m forever grateful.

-Tonya, Survivor