Thanks for joining me!
I’m Gretel. This isn’t my real name but my story is very real and I want to share it in the hope that it might help someone.
A bit about me – I am in my 40’s, I have 2 children and I run my own business.
I’m also an ex street kid.
I haven’t talked very much about my childhood and the fact that I was homeless, in the legal definition of the word, for many years. So, why am I telling my story now?
There are a few things that have made me want to open up but the main reason is simple: if there is someone out there who feels there isn’t a way out of their current situation, I want to show them there is.
I’m proof there is hope for everyone.
I never thought I would be able to live the life I am now. I’m the happiest, most content and at peace I’ve ever been. My life is far from perfect. I still have good and bad days and it’s taken me a very long time to get to this point, but I’m here. Me – just an ordinary person, not some superwoman.
So how did I get here? I believe it’s because of certain choices I have made over the years, and this is why I want to share my story.
Like me, you will make mistakes along the way. However, there are crucial decisions you can make today that will set you on a path to a better tomorrow.
When I was homeless, heroin and speed were the drugs of choice, and these aren’t drugs you can take for an extended period of time. Both of them can, and quite likely will, kill you.
I recently heard a statistic saying that 60-70% of a certain group of my peers who were also homeless back when I was have died. Hearing it rocked me to my core and I cried for days afterwards. I will talk about that in a later blog, but one of the best decisions I made from the start was to stay away from drugs and crime, and I believe this decision is a major factor in why I’m still here today.
I purposely avoided areas, as much as possible, where drugs and crime were known to be an issue because I didn’t want to go down that road. Too many others who were homeless around the time I was made a different decision and tragically, they are no longer with us.
The people close to me today have known the basic facts of my early life and what I went through, but for the most part, I haven’t told people very much about what I went through back then and how I turned my life around. The truth is that, for the most part, I’ve hidden my story.
I haven’t done so because I’mm ashamed of it. I’ve hidden it is because I have never wanted to be seen as a broken, messed up human being – as a victim. I am not a pity case. I have never wanted to be known as Gretel, the messed-up ex-street kid. Instead, I have wanted people to get to know and accept me as the person I am today.
I accepted and made peace with what happened to me when I was a child many years ago, because the reality was I couldn’t change any of it. I was just determined to not let it rule my life.
I knew I had to make the best of a bad situation or it would rule me. I had to somehow find a way to pick myself up, dust myself off and keep moving forward.
I know from experience how this is much easier said than done, but it is possible. Today, I’m ridiculously proud of my past and the decisions I’ve made because they’re the reasons I’m where – and who – I am today.
In fact, I love who I am today. I am immensely proud I’m not the messed-up human being I once was. I am proud I’ve been able to overcome so much.
I still have baggage and issues but that baggage isn’t who I am. What happened to me isn’t who I am. I am not what I went through. I am not what was done to me.
I’m so much more than that. I’m so much more than the abuse and neglect. So much more than someone who was basically unwanted, unloved, lost and very, very alone.
Today, I still have moments when I struggle because the feelings I felt back then rear their ugly heads but I am able to manage those moments. More than anything though, I have this amazing feeling of pride in how far I’ve come and what I’ve achieved when the odds really were stacked against me.
It’s because of this that I love who I am today so much.
There were times I did try taking my own life back then. When that happened, I felt if I was dead then everyone’s lives would be so much better.
The reality was that was never true and it never will be. I have always been so much more than what I was told I was, even though I couldn’t always see it.
I said earlier that I have never wanted to be defined by what happened to me. There is, however, one thing that I’m proud to be defined by and that’s my defiance. The funny thing is it was this same defiance my family told me was one of things that made me such a horrible person.
I believe I am where I am today because I didn’t just accept what my family were saying.
Hearing over and over and over that I was nothing, that I was worthless etc messed me up for a long time but there was always this little part of me that thought “Really?! I don’t think so!” That was my defiant streak and I am so proud I have that.
When I was told I would never do anything with my life or I was never going to amount to anything I thought “Really?! You just watch me then!”
I will be really honest with you. I love nothing more than giving people the middle finger when they say I can’t do something or they refuse to see me for who I really am.
I was always told that because I was defiant and fought back, I was a horrible person. The thing is, they thing my family said made me such a bad person has turned out to be one of my greatest assets.
My ability to fight back and not give up is my greatest strength, not my greatest weakness.
If you are in a situation where you don’t think you will ever get out of the dark place. you are in, you can. Making smart choices now will guarantee that for you. It worked for me, you and I are no different. If I can get out of where I was, you can get out of where you are, too.
What was ahead for me when I came out of that dark place has been wonderful and it will be just as wonderful for you, too. Please trust me when I say that!
Thank you for joining me on this journey. There are so many things I want to share with you, as someone who has been in the darkest of dark places and has found a way out.
Please bear with me though. There might be times where I don’t post or reply to comments or contact that is made through the blog site or Facebook page straight away.
Sometimes I will need time to process things that might come up for me as I talk about this. I also have to work and look after my kids etc.
Please know if you comment or contact me, I will get back to you ASAP and that I am not ignoring you if I take a bit of time to respond.
I look forward to seeing where this road takes us.
All my love, Gretel. xx