It is always darkest just before the Day dawneth.

Thomas Fuller

This saying has helped me through some very hard times when things felt so difficult and dark and I didn’t know if or when they were going to get better.

There is a part of this saying, though, that hasn’t been true in my life. This is because of what I have been through. There is another even darker part of the night that I think only those who have been homeless will know. It’s the moment at 2am, 3am, 4am when you are awake and it really hits home just how alone you are.

How do I describe that feeling to someone who hasn’t felt it? Almost 30 years later, I can remember that feeling right down in the deepest part of my heart. It is an agony that is indescribable.

It is brutal. The most brutal agony I’ve ever experienced

The aloneness. The worthlessness. The shame. It rips right to the core of your heart. It is a feeling that will stay with me for the rest of my life. It is seared right into the core of my being.

The anger and disappointment that raged inside me towards others. The anger that raged inside me towards myself. I felt very, very lost and alone.

I’m sure there are some of you reading this who know exactly what I’m talking about. You’re feeling this feeling just like I did. There are a few things I want to say to you.

I promise you that you are not alone!

I get it. I really do. The reality that my parents didn’t want me or give a shit about me was harsh.

When I was living in a housing project for homeless children near my high school, I was at a friend’s place after school with a few others. I went to the toilet and as I was walking back to the lounge room, I overheard one of the girls saying, with genuine sadness in her voice “I mean, if your parents don’t want you, who does?”

I knew they had been talking about me and were concerned about what was going on. I knew they weren’t being malicious. I knew it was said out of love and concern for me but those words cut deep. Really deep.

I want you to know that you do matter. You matter to me!

For years, I thought no-one would ever want me or love me because my family didn’t love or treat me the way they should have. It’s taken time but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve seen just how much I matter to others.

I’ve found people along my way who’ve been able to help put my broken bits back together. Some of these people have come and gone from my life; others have come, gone and then come back again and; others have been there throughout.

Each of them has shown me in their own way that I’m loved and wanted. That they love me and they want me in their lives.

Being rejected by your family or by anyone, for that matter, does make you feel like your life ended before it even began. It causes that agony I spoke of that you feel in every part of your body.

Sometimes the pain is so crippling you feel like you can’t function. You feel like you can’t keep going.

Please know you can! You are strong enough. You just have to get through the next minute. Then the next hour. Then today. Then tomorrow. Then the day after that. What worked really well for me was finding a way of thinking that kept me going.

My ‘go to’ thinking is usually something where I am giving someone the middle finger in my head ie ‘You told me I can’t. Watch this!’

That way of thinking has helped me me through so much. It really gave me strength to keep going knowing I was trying to prove someone wrong. If my way of thinking works for you, then please use it. It was also a good way to channel the anger I felt, and there was a lot of it.

I was angry at my parents. At my teachers. At my friends. At youth workers. I was angry at life. The hardest part, though, was the anger I felt towards myself.

That anger was the hardest to deal with. I ended up hating who I was. My thinking was ‘If only I was different, then maybe my family would love and want me.’

I look back now and wish I had used my anger better than I did.

I wish I hadn’t let it fester. Doing that only made me feel even more depressed and angry at myself, which made me feel even more hopeless and worthless and made the ‘darkest part of the night’ feeling even more brutal. It was a downward spiral.

There are ways you can use the anger you feel to help you get out of the situation you are in. I didn’t and I only made things harder for myself.

There were people back then who loved me and wanted to help me get out of the dark place I was in. I just couldn’t see it at the time because they weren’t the people I wanted to love and want me.

They weren’t my parents. They weren’t my siblings.

Looking back, I can definitely see I made things harder for myself by not accepting that these people cared and wanted to help me. I was so hard headed. I wanted what I wanted and I wouldn’t accept anything less.

I wish I had let those people in more because if I had, maybe I wouldn’t have felt those ‘darkest part of the night’ feelings for as long as I did. Maybe I wouldn’t have felt so alone for so long.

These people might not be who you want them to be but they care. They really do and they can and will help you, if you let them.

I want to say something to you from my heart. I truly hate that you are feeling this feeling. It absolutely breaks my heart. I wouldn’t wish the ‘Darkest Part of the Night’ feeling on my worst enemy and knowing there are people like yourselves out there who are feeling this way is hard for me to accept.

If how you are feeling is because of your parents, no-one can ever take away the pain of not having them, who are the ones who are supposed to care about you and be there for you, but knowing other people care will help with the feeling of being alone. These people aren’t the ones who are supposed to care for you but their help can change your life if you let them in and let them help.

Don’t do what I did. Please! I made things so much harder for myself than they needed to be.

On behalf of everyone who has ever felt the brutal ‘darkest part of the night’ feeling and has found a way out of the dark place, I want to say this;

We are here. You may not see us, but we are here and we care.

We believe in you. We want you to keep going. We know there is so much more to your life than what you are going through now.

We want you to know this isn’t an full stop. Where we were wasn’t a full stop for us. It isn’t for you, either.

We know you’re no different to us and you’re just as able to get out of the place you are right now as we were. If we did it, and we have, then you can, too.

We believe in you.

We might not be there in person but every single one of us is willing you on and we know you can do this.

You matter! Your life matters! The world really is a better place because you are in it.

All my love, Gretel. xx