“Some people survive and talk about it. Some people survive and go silent. Some people survive and create. Everyone deals with unimaginable pain in their own way, and everyone is entitled to that, without judgement. So the next time you look at someone’s life covetously, remember… you may not want to endure what they are enduring right now, at this moment, whilst they sit so quietly before you, looking like a calm ocean on a sunny day. Remember how vast the ocean’s boundaries are. Whilst somewhere the water is calm, in another place in the very same ocean, there is a colossal storm.” Nikita Gill
The storm is always in the heart. Sometimes it hurts so much and I think it will never end. Loneliness; not from being alone but from being outcasted. Yes, I am one tough woman, but I too have my moments of loneliness and abandonment. I yearn for something I cannot quite figure out. The loss of my loving Grandma maybe. The idea of loving parents quite possibly. The loss of a childhood most likely.
Two years ago today I boarded a plane into the unknown. I was in a loveless marriage and too afraid to be alone. I jumped at the chance to be a part of a retreat for adult survivors of child sexual abuse. I had no idea how much this would change my life. Although I am a people person I get a ton of anxiety meeting new people. I was on this journey to stay with a group of women I had never met. I had no idea the power behind being with other survivors.
When growing up I never imagined what I endured happened more often than not. I had no clue the statistics, and now that I do it is a mission to talk about my past freely no matter how difficult it is. The more we talk about it the more we take the shame and stigma away. You bet it is uncomfortable. You bet no one wants to have a discussion on it. But if not now when!? If we don’t talk about it it will never stop.
When I went to The Younique Foundation Retreat I didn’t really understand how the abuse changed me. I think differently, I react differently, and I dissociate often and easily. I have PTSD, I rarely sleep at night (this is when the abuse always happened), and I get weird over even hugging my own children (something I work on daily). I cry often and usually alone and mostly when I blog. I overthink EVERYTHING and I still struggle with the idea of anyone truly loving me.
This retreat was one big piece to fixing myself. I learnt that I am not alone, and sadly that too many children are abused and almost always by someone they know. For me it was my Step Dad. The man who adopted me and raised me as his own. He spoiled me and I thought I owed him for giving me this great life, but was it so great? Would I have been where I am today if my Mom and I stayed in the downtown East side of Vancouver? I will never know. What I do know is it was not my fault. I know now that NO is a complete sentence. I know my worth.
When I got home from this retreat I stood taller. I was ready to fully stand on my story and no longer in it. I was done being the victim and ready to be a change maker. When I talk about my past people always offer their apologies. I get it, its uncomfortable but what I really want is for you to listen and be a part of ending it. How can we end it? We talk about it, we spread awareness and we educate our children on what is right and wrong and to never ever be afraid to tell. My Mom was abusive and I was always so scared to tell her. This is why my abuse went on for more than a decade.
Going to this retreat gave me 7 lifelong friends. I actually have a bird tattooed on my arm for each one of them. Always together strong and united in ending childhood sexual abuse. Always together on living our life the best way we know how. We are bonded by our horrific pasts that only survivors can understand. We get it. As someone who has tired to commit suicide, who lived life not afraid to die, who hated herself; these other women get me. I am not judged. They also have no pity for me. Nothing but love.
So, two years later I bring up this experience in the hopes that someone comes across this at just the right time. That they will learn of this retreat when they need it most. That just maybe it saves a life. When I got home from this retreat I ended my marriage. I got my voice back and I learned how to use it. I look back at the growth in two years and it is my confidence that has grown the most. When I walked into this retreat I saw an ugly woman that did not deserve love. I now see my beauty and no longer compare myself to others. Although I have not found love from a partner I have learned to love myself. Now that is growth.
If you or someone you know has been sexually abused as a child and struggles with it please check out this link. Apply and go. All it costs is a flight and your time, yet the amount of therapy and experience you get in a jam packed 4 days; well you can’t put a price on that one bit.
I leave you with a few pictures from my experience. An experience I will never forget; one that forever changed my life for the better.