Reclaiming Hope – The Haven Retreat

Reclaiming HopeThis past week, I was able to attend The Haven Retreat put on by the Younique Foundation for survivors of childhood sexual abuse.

I signed up a couple of months ago, but the last week leading up to it, I was really anxious, scared, and nervous. I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know the other women who would be there. I only knew I’d be there with other female childhood sexual abuse survivors.

The first day, we did Kintsugi, which is a powerful metaphor for victims of sexual abuse. It’s a Japanese art form. The idea is that from a broken life (the bowl), we can become stronger (the gold lacquer). We took a bowl and struck it hard with a hammer. It broke into several large pieces as well as some tiny shards. 2017-08-07-14-38-09.jpg

Taking special glue and mixing it with gold powder, we then put the pieces of the bowl back together again. It took patience, work to fit the pieces together, and many of the pieces no longer fit. In fact, my bowl even has a hole in it.

It made me think that perhaps, as I become stronger and make beauty out of my broken pieces, some old aspects–people, emotions, beliefs about myself–no longer belong in me, can no longer be part of my life. The gold replaces it, or rather new emotions and beliefs, new people, new knowledge and experiences can fill in the missing pieces and make me stronger and a better, more valuable person.

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We also participated in a drumming circle. I know, I know…sounds crazy. But it was fun. I mean, I was totally uncomfortable at first, all my introverted-ness showing. But the power from the collective group of 24 women was amazing to feel. Therapeutic in a way I can’t yet explain.

 

 

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Each woman also received a makeover and had a photoshoot. This was a first for me as well. It was fun, yet awkward, haha. 🙂 They’ll send us the official pictures in a few weeks.

 

I attended classes on overcoming shame, understanding forgiveness, restorative sleep, healthy body image, nature experience, and art journaling. We learned tools for grounding techniques and meditation. For me, because I’ve been through a pretty comprehensive group therapy prior to this and because of my own research, not a lot of the educational parts were new to me, but still an important refresher course.

We also participated in Muay Thai–an emotional experience to watch as women reclaimed their feeling of power after sexual abuse has made us feel so powerless (And a pretty legit workout!). We did yoga on two of the mornings, which no matter the shape of my body, always makes me feel strong as I hold those poses, and helps me calm my anxiety.

And the location and place we stayed were absolutely gorgeous.

We were taught important, eye-opening information about how our brains work; that even though we aren’t currently being sexually abused, our body and brain remembers, our soul remembers, which is why we can be triggered. Just because the abuse isn’t happening, doesn’t mean everything feels fine now. I loved realizing that sexual abuse survivors have normal responses to an abnormal experience.

The food was AMAZING. I noticed I felt so good physically, which is a good reminder that how we treat our body impacts how we feel. And when you’re dealing with hard emotional things, like trauma from sexual abuse, nutrition can make a huge difference in how you cope, and your mood.

Above all, meeting all these brave, strong, survivor women is the best. Realizing you’re not alone, making connections, finding strength to fight for healing, and creating a new group of friends who understand you better than others, is irreplaceable.

I am so grateful to the people who worked hard to start the Younique Foundation (watch a video about the Maxfields here: https://youtu.be/uX54nCUSv-w) and those therapists, chefs, case managers, and others who give so much more than time to help abuse survivors find healing and strength.

This was just a quick rundown of everything. Perhaps in the coming weeks and months I’ll share some things in more detail. As this past week settles, I’m understanding more about myself and my healing process. Perhaps even some new breakthroughs!

If you are a female (I hope there is something like this for males in the future!) survivor of childhood sexual abuse or know someone who is, please use this information and find out more about The Haven Retreat. (And it’s FREE. You just have to get there.) YouniqueFoundation.org has many resources for survivors on their website as well as ways you can help fund this cause.

You are not alone. There is hope. Healing will come. Reclaim your hope and power. You can choose boundaries. You get to decide the course of your life and who gets to be in it.

You have value. You have worth. You are strong, brave, and amazing.

More about The Haven Retreat.

 

 

You are Not Forgotten

I was listening to my scriptures this morning while getting ready for the day (basically the best way for me to get any scripture reading in…because kids and life) and a verse jumped out at me like it never has before, though I’ve read it or had lessons on it many times before.

The verse is 1 Nephi 21:15 (also found in Isaiah 49:15): “For can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee…”

First I thought about many recent tragic news stories where children had been forgotten-...yet will I not forget thee...-.png in cars, and how indeed, sometimes mothers/parents do forget their children because of one thing or another. (I am in no way judging these parents; I can only imagine the heartache and regret of such a tragedy.) Most often, however, a mother–especially one who is nursing a child–could never forget her child.

But the scripture says, “Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.” It is more likely that a mother would forget about her new infant than the Lord would forget about us.

I don’t get emotional often (because of abuse or personality, I don’t know which at this point), but this hit me hard.

In general, people often feel forgotten by our Heavenly Parents and Savior Jesus Christ. For survivors of sexual abuse, that feeling can be intensified, sometimes because we’ve shut off feeling anything as defense mechanism. The reality is that we are never forgotten by Them, even when it feels like we are.

And His love is boundless. No matter what we have done, mistakes we have made, or our lack of faith or hope, He still loves us. He still wants us. He still remembers us. The next verse says, “Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands…” He won’t forget us, he can’t. It’s permanent. We are permanent. His love for us is permanent.

We are in the process of stretching and growing, and that is painful. We get hurt by others and sometimes do the hurting. We may feel abandoned, alone, broken, like a lost cause, worthless, and forgotten, yet we are not.  We are in the constant thoughts and care of our Creator.

“…yet will I not forget thee…”

 

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A Little Friday Inspiration

I’m a little tapped out to think of really great posts because I’m in the midst of this really huge project (so, if there is something you’d like me to address, please let me know! *hint hint*).

Anyway, I saw this The Piano Guysgordon-b-hinckley
video, and I knew this was a perfect day to share it. Because no matter what has happened to you, where you are in your life right now, it’s going to be okay. For reals. Gordon B. Hinckley stated, “Keep trying. Be believing. Be happy. Don’t get discouraged. Things will work out.” (June 1995 Ensign)

So, click on this link and watch this video and remember it’s going to be okay. This Is Exactly What You Need to Hear Today – OKAY – ThePianoGuys