A couple weeks ago, I had the amazing privilege of attending the Younique Foundation Retreat.
The Younique Foundation is a non profit organization that has retreats for women who were sexually abused as a child. Their mission is to create a safe place for women to heal. Whether you are just beginning your journey, or you are a long ways on your journey, it doesn’t matter. They have activities that foster healing and dealing with the traumatic experience you may have felt as a child. Visit their website for more detailed information!
The way it works is you enter into your information and there is a random drawing of names for each week of the retreat. If your name is drawn, they contact you if you are available for a specific week and you get to choose whether or not you’d like to attend. If you choose to attend they assist you with the necessary information you’ll need to get there. If you choose not to attend that week, your name will go back in the pot and you could be chosen for another week. They cover the costs of everything besides traveling. It is located in Utah, so if you are out of state, you will need to book your own flights here and back. It is held in a cabin in the mountains, and a question I’ve been asked many times is, is it worth it?
YES. A THOUSAND TIMES YES. It is TOTALLY worth coming to Utah. I understand flights are not cheap and that many women have to find babysitting and that it’s practically a week off of work, but YOU are totally worth it. YOUR healing, YOUR life, YOUR sanity, YOU ARE TOTALLY WORTH IT. The women that did come from out of state gave it a resounding yes as well. They all agreed that it was totally worth flying to Utah for.
I’m kind of jumping ahead of myself and all over the place, so I’m going to try to explain this through my perspective and from those who attended with me, and whom I know have attended.
Let me start from the very, VERY beginning.
I began working with the products company Younique about a year ago. I worked for their Customer Service department. I actually joined because I loved the idea of the Younique Foundation. As soon as I was told about Derek and Melanie’s desires to help women who have been sexually abused, I was all in. I do want to note that the two companies are completely different. Younique Products is not a part of the Younique Foundation or vice versa. Yes, they were started by the same people, and yes, they share the same name, and yes, the Products company has made donations to the Foundation, but they are two completely different entities. They are like sister companies I guess? They’re from the same family and their purpose is the similar, but they are two totally different companies and missions. They both want to uplift and empower women but they do in very different ways. When I found out they were beginning the retreats I was a little hesitant to apply. I was honestly afraid. I had already worked with counselors. I’ve been to group therapy. I’ve got issues because of these traumas. I even do energy work. I’ve done so much I really actually felt guilty applying. But I did. I was comforted by a tight group of friends and I knew that when the time came to it, I could opt out if I wanted to.
A few months later, I was chosen for this February retreat. It was still a ways out, but I was excited that I got picked! Yay me!!
As the time grew closer and closer, I grew more and more afraid. I was telling people I was going to a retreat and when they asked what type of retreat, I didn’t specify. I just said a girls retreat in a cabin. Something like that. Then I realized that I was afraid of judgement. I was afraid of people judging me! I realized that I was keeping the topic taboo by not saying anything. So I finally decided to just tell people straight. I would tell them in a matter-of-fact manner and they were totally cool with it. They actually thought that I was brave and courageous for going and you know what.. I totally felt like it. So when the day came to go, I was so ready. Kind of.
I had an idea of what to expect. I knew that some of us would have shared rooms. I knew that we would be small group. I didn’t have to worry about food or transportation. I wouldn’t have service, so I didn’t even need to worry about anything else because I literally would have no way of communicating. (There is a phone up there for emergencies. They do have WiFi but… that was really ify. I mean, you’re in the mountains…) I went with an open heart and an open mind.
I was pretty amazed when I got there. I’ve been up that canyon many times, but to actually be in a private cabin up in that canyon was completely different! It was stunning! The staff was so kind and they really will get you anything that you need. (Or try their best, depending on the request. LOL.) And the women I got to know were amazing. Many of them had just begun their journey and had never told a single soul. Most of them didn’t even tell people where they were. They just said a “girls retreat” or a “work retreat” or something similar. I was so proud of them and their bravery. I was proud of their willingness to come and be pampered. (I think that’s hard for moms and women in general sometimes.) Some of them never told their spouses, or their spouses were the only ones that knew. And others, like me, had been through various counselors and programs and were very open about their trauma. And even though we were all in different parts of our journey, we were all there to do one thing… and that was to heal.
I really enjoyed the activities we participated in. I learned a lot about myself and my own personal journey. I actually thought I was “done”. But I realized that I will never truly be “done” because there isn’t a place I’m trying to get to. I’m just learning how to be me. I’m learning how to love me. I’m learning how to accept me and all that I was, all that I am, and all that I can be. There is no destination. And I’m totally ok with that. Each of the activities we did were optional as well. We didn’t have to join. We didn’t have to participate. We made that choice ourselves. And we all bonded in our own unique way.
If I could describe the retreat in one word, it would be haven. It is really safe place to just feel okay to be yourself and to be vulnerable. It really is a haven. It is a little oasis of love and healing and acceptance and just amazing support. I don’t want to go into the details of what I did because I don’t think that’s relevant. Yes, we did fun stuff. Yes, I had a great time. Yes, I would totally go again if I had the chance. But it was fun and great and awesome and everything because of the environment. Being tucked away in the mountains, not having to worry about everything else (even food), allowing myself to open up and to take a really good look at myself, and having a staff that was literally there to serve me, was what I needed, I guess what WE needed to heal. I saw a huge change in these women. Some of them still had to deal with difficult things at home and I just thought to myself holy crow I am surrounded by fierce warrior women. They did not let their trauma hold them back. Yes, it totally affects their lives, and they are still struggling, but they hold their heads up high and take on the world head first. They aren’t afraid to fight back. And their coming to the retreat wasn’t a sign of weakness that they “needed help”. Instead, it was an oasis for them to rejuvenate, renew, and see the world with new eyes.
I will touch on one activity. We did a photo shoot. I told myself that I was photogenic in January. I didn’t like taking pictures and I decided I was going to get rid of that limiting belief and create a new one. Well, unfortunately, I had a HUGE sty on my left eye and I didn’t get rid of it before my photo shoot. I was DEVASTATED. I was like great… now we’re going to have an ugly looking picture… But I did it anyways. And the women who were a part of this photo shoot were beyond phenomenal. The whole point was to see the beauty in each of us. They made me feel comfortable and confident in myself. I was so worried about this one little thing, and they totally squashed it in no time. And for the first time… the first time in my whole entire life, with a sty on my eye, I could see Heilala. I saw myself as I truly am and I was amazed. I was amazed at who I have become and also that these women could help us see. And just so you can see, here is a picture of the Polaroid she handed me:
And although I’ve got tons of make up on, a double chin, and I look whiter than I really am, that is a genuine smile. That look is a sincere face of joy. I had a few heart touching experience, experiences that I’m not sure how to explain, and even encounters with others on the other side, but this was by far the most joy-filled moment during this retreat. I was filled with joy because I felt like me. I felt beautiful. I felt #brave. And I am brave and beautiful. I am a survivor and I am totally going to own it.
Coming home wasn’t too hard. I missed my kids. I missed my man. I missed my bed. I missed my car. I missed my daily life. But I do admit that I missed the quiet serenity of the cabin. (And chef. I really, really, REALLY miss chef. Can you just come cook at my house???) I would love to live in the mountains and I think I will one day. And I want to be able to foster a haven in my home for my children. I know that if anything happened to any of them, I want to be the first one by their side to tell them that they will be alright. I totally believe in miracles and I know that God allowed me this opportunity to heal and to help others heal as well.
I also miss my girls. It is one thing to be a survivor, and another thing to know another survivor. But when you bond and create a sisterhood of survivors… nothing can create a bond quite like healing together can. I love and miss you all!
If you, or a woman you know, had been sexually abused as a child, I highly encourage you to apply. I know it’s scary to have to deal with this trauma. I know it hurts and that it could hurt having to deal with it, but if my word means anything to you, please take my word for it. You totally deserve it. If you have any questions, feel free to comment or send me an email.
You are totally loved.
You are completely wanted.
And you are definitely needed in this world today.
Always remember that.
And I love you.