LeighAnn Vaughan first came to The Haven in 2005 for Shadow Play with Linda Nicholls. She describes it as a ‘life-altering’ experience. Mostly, she realized in those few days a potential for connection and relationship she had never thought possible. From then on, she says, there was no turning back.
However, it was not until 2009 that it became financially possible for LeighAnn to do more programs at The Haven. With her primary relationship disintegrating and with a young son to look after, she was determined not to repeat the same familiar patterns in her life. She applied for and received bursaries to do Come Alive and Living Alive Phase I. As a result, she says, she has been able to integrate a huge amount of learning into her life, to her own benefit and in her relationships, especially with her son.
She has worked out practical, creative ways to help her son through difficult times. Together they are learning about it being OK to feel sad or angry, for example, without having to get rid of or change anything, and how they can remain connected to each other in these experiences.
The very process of applying for a bursary was an important experience for LeighAnn. She had become very isolated in her relationships and in her community. Reaching out for help was a risk and took courage – in her past, asking for things had been dangerous. When Rose Hunter, The Haven’s Bursary Fund Manager, contacted her to say she was delighted to offer a bursary, LeighAnn says it was like someone reaching out a hand to her when there didn’t seem to be other hands to hold. To her it was a message that it was OK and safe for her to tell her story and express her life.
Today LeighAnn remains committed to herself and her son, working with her ex-partner on joint custody, and beginning to find new connections in a community where she had previously felt isolated and alone. “The Haven taught me it was safe for me to reach out to connect,” she says. “I was touched back every time I found enough courage to reach out. This was the beacon of light The Haven shone through the darkness that surrounded my life. I cannot overstate the importance of this support in my life.”