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Saprea > Survivor Stories > This is Who I Am. It’s Not Who I Was.


This is Who I Am. It’s Not Who I Was.


This is who I am. It’s not who I was. 

They say the first step in healing is the hardest. Mine began with a challenge, a song, and a video. A video telling my story for the first time ever so that someone else would have the ability to attend the Saprea Retreat, something I didn’t think I deserved. A video that I thought only a few would see. I couldn’t have anticipated what the ripple would be or how far it would spread. 

Six months later, I decided that I had ignored my calling to help people for my entire life. But I knew I couldn’t help others until I had faced the darkness that resided in me from a past I had spent a lifetime hiding from. I knew the only place I could start that part of my journey was in the same place that challenged me to do a video—Saprea. 

What I got there can’t be described in words. When you have spent a lifetime living with the darkness inside of you and it finally let’s go, you have a freedom like none you’ve ever experienced. I found that there. I had never been the little girl that danced in the rain. It wasn’t about remembering someone I had never been. It was about becoming her. 

The Saprea Retreat is where I found the part of me that had always been missing. I formed bonds that distance can not break. I learned to trust again. I learned new habits and skills that will allow me to go forward and be a beacon of hope for others. 

Today, I own my story. While I don’t wish what happened to me on anyone else and I will continue to raise awareness to fight this horrible reality, this is my story. It is who I am. It made me who I am. Someone else may have written the first chapter in my story, but it’s mine and I get to decide how it ends. At the Saprea Retreat, I realized for the first time ever that I kinda like this me. 

-Melissa, Survivor