When I arrived at The Haven Retreat I was suffering from massive anxiety to the point of panic attacks. I was terrified that at any moment they were going to pull me aside and tell me I was too broken to fix. I was positive that even though all the other women with their beautiful tattered souls were worth saving and would find the tools they needed to heal that they would see me and think, “No, she’s too far gone.” I had been telling myself all the right things but my brain wasn’t listening.

The support and love I felt from the staff and the other women at retreat was amazing and as I lay in the sunshine and felt the peace that exists at retreat I realized I won’t be fixed quickly. Over 30 years of carrying the pain and trauma will not be fixed in days, but the retreat gave me hope and the tools to believe. There’s was this incredible moment I realized I’m not fixed, but I am fixable and that means more.

Each of us has our own journey and own path and if we try to compare our healing to someone else it’ll feel wrong because we each handle our stress and pain differently. Some become beautiful strong women who hold the pain inside, some may be wonderfully outgoing and friendly who take care of others to hide from their own pain, some can’t sit in a room with the door closed because it feels like the oxygen is leaving and they shake and cry, some, like me, may be all of the above and more.

Yet each one of us, with the right tools, will learn to heal, will learn they are perfect in their imperfections and will learn they are fixable. We are the survivors and we can reclaim our hope and our belief in ourselves. Never give up.

-Shawna, Survivor

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