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I Learned How to Find My Peace

Note: This story mentions self-harm/suicidal ideation. If you or someone you know is struggling, or in crisis, help is available. Call or text 988 to reach the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. Confidential chat is also available at 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

I’ve felt different my entire life, like I didn’t belong. Like I was never able to bond completely with anyone. I always felt alone and unloved. As a child, I was mentally, physically, and sexually abused by a family member from the ages of 9-17. I never told anyone. Not until I was in my late 20’s. I felt like I was always struggling in life. Like nothing I ever did was good enough. I could never put my finger on what was wrong with me. I thought about suicide a lot. I thought about revenge. I thought about running away. I thought about a lot of things but never DID anything. 

One day I heard about Saprea Retreat while reading comments in a Facebook support group for survivors of childhood sexual abuse. I checked it out and kept going back to Saprea’s website for days. Until I finally DID something and I filled out the application. Filling out the application was like no other experience I had ever had. I cried and was overcome with emotion when I filled it out. I was scared. For once in life I knew what I needed and what I wanted and I was so scared that they would refuse me. They didn’t. 

Leading up to the retreat was an emotional roller coaster. One day I was excited, the next I wasn’t sure I would show up. I showed up! That day in October was the first day of the rest of my life. That is the day I attended retreat. That is the day I met the most amazing people of my life. Was the first day I felt like I belonged somewhere. I felt loved. I felt heard. I felt understood. Most of all I felt hope. I finally started to feel like I could live a life and there would be meaning to it. I learned how to find my peace. 

One of my therapists at retreat helped me find the best gift I never knew I needed. She taught me to meditate or have mindful experiences. For the first time in my life I was able to quiet my brain of all the chatter and focus on the feeling of the cool grass under my naked toes, the wind blowing in my hair and the sound of a gentle ripple on the pond. She helped me discover what MY peace was. 

Now I’m home. I’ve completed my 12-week online course. I’m excited for my future. I actually see a future for myself. I feel empowered knowing that I am going to be okay. I’m not just going to survive, I am THRIVING. While at retreat I wanted to know what steps I needed to complete to be healed. Like there was a finish line. There is no finish line. I will always be a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. That will never change. But it no longer has a hold of me. I am in the driver seat. I have control of my life and I now have the tools to work through the hard times when I’m triggered

I’ve found my voice. No one can take that from me. I’ve made a goal for myself to not hide my story anymore. To be the change that this world needs because 1 in 4 must change! I want to empower people to get the help that they deserve because no one deserves to suffer silently anymore. I know that you, struggling in the dark all alone, you are strong, beautiful and enough. You just don’t see it yet. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. It will have been the best thing you’ve ever asked for in your life. You are worth it. 

-Tonya, Survivor