When the Weight Is Lifted

Shaylie, a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, who attended The Haven Retreat

There’s a lot of guilt and shame that go along with abuse, and over the years, I’d grown used to feeling that way. I truly thought that’s who I was, and I let that belief dictate how I lived my life.

At The Haven Retreat, I saw myself clearly for the first time in a very long time. Where I was used to seeing someone shameful, I saw someone beautiful. I saw that I was strong for surviving, despite the trials that had come my way. I realized that maybe I did have something to offer to those around me. I saw that I had worth, and it was absolutely liberating.

I don’t think I’d really understood the weight I carried on my shoulders until that weight was lifted. I cried tears of relief to be able to love myself and to not be ashamed of it. I felt free, and I felt happy to be me.

Somehow, in the course of only four days, The Haven Retreat gave me real happiness—with where I’m at, where I’m going, and especially with who I am. Although complete healing can be a long journey, I’ve learned that it’s okay to be a work in progress. And I think it’s especially okay to love yourself, unapologetically, the whole way through.

-Shaylie, Survivor