I’ve been contemplating how to say this and what to write. so here goes:

I filled out an application to The Haven Retreat, used a lot of courage, stared fear in the eyes, and changed my life forever. When this whole thing started, I was already running on little-to-no sleep between the worry, sleepless nights, anxiety, thoughts, and fears racing in and out of my mind. I was already on the plane, so it wasn’t like there was a chance to turn around now. I was determined at this point—terrified to death—but determined, nonetheless.

When the plane wheels hit that runway, I panicked. It suddenly became real, and the emotions hit me like a freight train. It suddenly got very hot on the plane and I became nauseous (as if traveling doesn’t make me nauseous enough as it is). I walked off of the airplane and took a very deep breath and said to myself “You can do this! You got this, girl!” I was petrified of what the next 4 days would hold.

I was going to be in a place where I had never been and surrounded by people that I had never met. I didn’t want to do it. Plain and simple. But I pushed on. I figured that, if nothing else, I could just go ahead and get it over with and go back home. What I learned was not only a surprise to me but a true gift and a blessing.

I came not knowing a soul there and terrified of everything. And I left with a huge family of strong, courageous, wonderful sisters that I felt like I had known my whole life! I lost so much as a child; we all did. And now I gained so much. I was nestled in this gorgeous place where I was around so many strangers and in a strange place, but I had never felt more safe and cared for.

Going to this retreat was the best decision I’ve ever made in my life! It was the hardest, bravest, toughest, most rewarding, empowering, uplifting, validating thing I’ve ever done in my life! To the people who work for The Younique Foundation and made this amazing retreat come to life for all of us who attended, I want to say, on behalf of me and all of my new sisters…THANK YOU!

Thank you for keeping us on the same level as you and not treating us as if we were these broken, fragile pieces of glass. Thank you for not giving us pity or making us feel as if we were any less worthy than you. Thank you for giving us your time, care, genuine love, and affection. Anyone can offer a beautiful place to stay and amenities; but it takes someone with a special heart and lots of love to give to make sure that everyone involved feels welcomed, cared about and SAFE!

-Allyson, Survivor

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