Finding Ninee » Sharing our parenting and special needs stories with heart and humor.

6 Ways to Feel Less Broken in a Broken World

“I need to go to the doctor,” he said. We were heading home after a few hours at one of those indoor kid places filled with bounce houses, climbing structures, and dried turds at the bottom of a colorful ball pit.

I asked why, and wondered how quickly the germs he’d been playing with might have multiplied.

“Because,” he said, “My mouth is broken.”

I don’t remember the first time I felt broken, but a chunk of my heart cracked and fell off in the car that afternoon. Turned to dust near the brake pedal.

“What do you mean, Buddy?”

“Nobody understands me,” he said.

“I understand you,” I replied.

“You’re not everybody,” he said.

I told him that one day, sooner than he thinks, more people would understand him. I told him that we each have Big Hard Things.

Reminded him that Daddy is bad at driving. That I’m not good at geography and history.

Since then, he’s made huge strides in words and sounds but I still think about that day, and about each of the times I’ve felt broken.

In today’s world, and maybe, in any world (but way more in today’s, it seems), having part of our heart turn to dust near our feet seems to happen too often.

I should clarify – when writing about feeling broken, I don’t mean being actually broken. There are broken people among us but the thing about them is that they don’t feel broken. They feel entitled, justified, and like everybody else is to blame.

Our current president is a broken person. Secretary of Education? BROKEN (and stupid. and evil…). 

Brock Allen Turner, his father, and the judge that sent the message that being an athlete means you get away with being a criminal are broken.

The asshole who blew up himself and a bunch of kids at a concert this week. He’s broken, as are those who celebrate him.

I digress, but wanted to clarify that when I say “feeling broken,” I am not talking about sociopaths, or people who hate. (NOTE: I’m also not talking about depression or feeling suicidal – that’s the type of broken that Chris Cornell *RIP* and *SOB* felt. If you are feeling suicidal, PLEASE call this number NOW 1-800-273-8255)

My son is perfect as he is. Developmental Delays and All. Finding NineeOk. Thanks for that.

Anyway, I think about that day in the car often. Wonder whether I said everything that my little boy needed to hear.

Wonder whether I’ve told myself everything I need to hear when I’ve lost a friend, a job, a dream.

When I’m lost and not even sure why.

Are there things we’re supposed to do when we feel broken?

Are there things we’re supposed to say when our child feels broken?

Yes, and yes.

Because everybody feels broken, some of the time.

Whether it’s our mouths or our hearts, we worry that something inside of us isn’t working the way it should be.

Here are 6 things I tell myself, my friends, and my son when feeling broken.

Disclaimer – I’m not a doctor or licensed in any way. I am, however, kind of an expert on being too hard on myself and feeling broken at times.

6 Ways to Feel Less Broken in a Broken World

6 Ways to Feel Less Broken in a Broken World

  1. Allow yourself grief and outrage. Is any of what’s causing these feelings in your control? If not, write them on a piece of paper. Burn the paper if that helps.
    Know that you cannot and will never control anybody else’s behavior or actions.
    Think about what power you have to control your own behavior and actions.

  2. Think about your life at another age when you felt broken and that things may never improve. Note the things that did actually improve when you were paying the least attention to them.
    Tell yourself that you have no idea what’s around the corner.
    You will probably feel very differently in six months, a year, five years.
    You’ll feel differently than you do tonight. I promise.

  3. Remember those who suffer. Syrian refugees with nowhere to go.
    Your own city’s homeless population. If you’re able to, buy a toothbrush and some sunscreen and give it to somebody living on the streets. If you can’t afford to do that, talk to somebody on the streets. Realize that they have a story.
    Homelessness could happen to just about anybody. Connect. This helps to get you out of your head.

  4. Go outside. Close your eyes and listen to the sounds of the night. Wonder where the drivers of the cars you hear are going or coming from. Picture their lives, and those affected by their actions.
    This is one of my favorite things to do when I feel lost or alone. It reminds me that the world is so much bigger than the one I live inside my head.
    The cars going by may be coming from a birth. A funeral. The best night of their lives. The worst one.

  5. Go outside (yes, again). Look at the clouds, the stars. Wonder about other planets and other solar systems and think about the woman in another timezone on the other side of the planet who is feeding her baby, or sipping a cup of coffee.
    Maybe she just got good news. Maybe, she was just told she has weeks to live.
    Feel connected. Feel her.
    Feel your place, here.

  6. Play “Would you rather?” with a child. My son and I play “Would you rather,” and I’ve come to love this game above all others with him. The hilarity and insight I get from his answers always takes me out of myself, and him out of his.

Regarding number 6 – You play “Would you rather?” by asking whether the other person would rather x or y, and then ask “Why?” when they answer.

The other night, he asked whether I’d rather be a bald eagle or a fish. “Eagle,” I said. “Why?” he asked.

“Because I’d love to fly,” I said.

I asked him the same question. “Eagle,” he said.

“Why?” I asked. “Because bald eagles eat fish,” he said, and burst into giggles.

And just like that, I forgot I was feeling sad and broken in the first place. Life is good that way.


This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post. This week’s sentence is “I felt the most broken when…”
Feel free to talk about the moment you felt broken or modify the sentence to be “It broke me the day…”
As always, a loose interpretation is welcome. Talking about the time you broke you foot, or the neighborhood kid who didn’t ask you to sign her cast. Talk about your stupid refrigerator breaking and having to throw away a bunch of food. Talk about being broken.

6 ways to feel less broken in a broken world

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  • Linda Atwell - I am still feeling broken about this so-called idiot who is supposedly playing Pres. I think I’m going to try some of the things on your list to take my mind of our current political situation–which is not only scary, but it is also embarrassing. I don’t get it that some people think this man acts even remotely like a decent human being. I could go on..and on…and on, but I won’t. .

    BTW I remember when you wrote about Tucker thinking his mouth was broken. Him saying that hurt my heart too. I agree, we are all broken in some way(s). On a happy note, though, I LOVE Tucker’s sense of humor! I want to play that game with him. I’m sure he would CRACK ME UP! I’m so glad you are writing down all these things. They are going to be awesome to reread and treasure in the future….heck, they are wonderful right now. You are one lucky mama.May 26, 2017 – 1:45 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Yeah, I can’t even with the news most of the time. It’s just shocking and unbelievable. And SAD. I love Tucker’s sense of humor too and would love for you to play that game with him. I’ll warn you though – sometimes, it’s “would you rather be in burning lava for one minute or 30 seconds?” Um… Thanks, Linda! I agree with the lucky part 🙂May 26, 2017 – 2:50 pmReplyCancel

  • Emily - What amazes me most about how you describe that exchange with Tucker is that even though he said his mouth was broken because people couldn’t understand him, he expressed himself SO beautifully! And your reply reminded me of how the mom replied in the movie, “Wonder.” I’m not sure if the movie is going to be as good as the book, but they just released the movie trailer and I cried the entire way through that!! Anyway, I’m off topic a bit, but I love the tips you gave above! I play “would you rather” with Matthew all the time too, except he gives me choices like, “would you rather eat a cockroach or have hundreds of them crawl all over you?” Yeah – great choices – ugh!! But, still great game too.:)May 26, 2017 – 8:59 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Wonder is going to be a movie??? I listened to the audio book and adored it. Tucker listened to part of it with me as well. I wonder if the movie will be appropriate for kids (am excited anyway!!). LOL to eat a cockroach or have hundreds crawl on you. Gross!!! (and funny)May 26, 2017 – 2:53 pmReplyCancel

  • Echo - I love this and I especially love #4 and #5. Clouds and nature can be very theraputic.

    Aven has asked me before, if he is broken and I always say of course not, you just work differently from other people. “So I’m weird then?” he asks, and I always say, “Of course you’re weird, you’re my son, aren’t you?”.

    You gotta give them fuel and give them fire, so they can get what they desire!May 26, 2017 – 11:26 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Yes yes yes to “You gotta give them fuel and give them fire, so they can get what they desire!” LOVE. I also love your answer of that of course he’s weird because he’s your son. Awesome!May 26, 2017 – 2:54 pmReplyCancel

  • Lisa @TheGoldenSpoons - Great advice! I do think that everyone is broken in some way – at least a little. I have a draft to link up with this but it one of those things we wrote about last week that we an’t actually write about. Sigh. Anyway, I like what you did with this. 🙂May 26, 2017 – 1:06 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - OOH I hope you can find a way to write what you want without talking about what you don’t want to! And yeah, I think we’re all a little broken. And also all amazing.May 26, 2017 – 2:55 pmReplyCancel

  • Just J - This was an awesome post full of wisdom and good suggestions for dealing with the times we feel broken. I like that you clarified that some people truly are broken… damaged, sometimes beyond repair I think, and some people have broken spirits, but for most of us being broken has a lot to do with our perspective and approach to life. We are stronger than we think, and although at times it might feel like life is going to break us, in my experience it hasn’t yet and I doubt now that it ever will. Parts of us might be worn or broken, but we are survivors and we will find ways to carry on.May 26, 2017 – 8:28 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thanks, J! I agree that for most of us, broken is our perspective and that we are so much stronger than we realize. Here’s to finding ways to carrying on and living this life in the best ways possible.May 28, 2017 – 11:25 amReplyCancel

  • Kerry - He thought his mouth was broken because people didn’t understand him. Awww.

    I often will go outside and sit and listen. I think about the moon that is in the sky and the same moon someone is seeing on the other side of the world. That fact simply blows my mind and helps to heal the parts of me that feel broken and cracking.

    This stuff with 45 is sad and all the violence lately is disturbing. You must be horribly broken in spirit and soul and mind to act so badly as he does and as that new guy down there who attacked the reporter and then there was the attack by the Russian guys at the embassy. Targeting a concert full of girls and people on a train. All done by broken people.

    I do love the fun you and Tucker are always having. Bald eagle or fish. I would want to fly too. Haha on the answer Tucker gave. Smart kid you have there. Such a logical answer. Feels like a rock/paper/scissors kind of an answer he came to there.May 28, 2017 – 2:36 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I know – the broken mouth statement was hard. Poor kiddo. Thinking about somebody else looking at the same moon from a different area, a different life, a different everything is so humbling and refreshing, isn’t it? Such a good reminder that we’re all not alone, connected in ways unknown.
      And yeah, 45. Some days, I just cant read any more about what he’s done. It’s disgusting. He’s disgusting. Sigh.
      LOL to Tucker’s answer to the bald eagle/fish. It really is a rock/paper/scissors answer. 🙂May 28, 2017 – 7:22 pmReplyCancel

  • Kenya G. Johnson - Love the conclusion! Giggles heal! #5 – just looking at the sky day or night is a thing that I love to do. Love it even more above the clouds in an airplane. It’s something about looking at something that seems endless that helps to clear my thoughts. And I do often wonder if someone is looking at the exact thing I’m looking at, where they are and what they are feeling too.May 30, 2017 – 7:26 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Giggles heal for the win! And yeah, looking at the sky or just outside is so huge for me to clear my thoughts or even just take them away from my me-brain, as is wondering where planes and people are going. Thanks!May 30, 2017 – 11:00 pmReplyCancel

  • My Inner Chick - Love Love Love Love this, dear.
    You continually choke me up, make me FEEL something. Deep. Inside.
    Your words soak thru me.
    Seriously. I would not lie.
    PS. we are ALL broken to an extent…
    the question is…How do we mend ourselves back together?
    Recently I heard a quote, which I loved.
    “I am broken and devastated…But I am not destroyed.

    xxxx from MN.June 4, 2017 – 12:14 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - We mend through connections, and love unseen, I think. We mend by sharing stories and remember we’re not destroyed. I love that quote, too. So much. I so hope we meet in real one day…June 4, 2017 – 11:40 pmReplyCancel

  • Allison G smith - Fabulous post!!!!! I really needed to read this this morning. I’ve been feeling very broken. When I get home I’m going to play with Cammy, I know he’ll make me smile.June 15, 2017 – 8:13 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I’m sorry you’re feeling broken. Tell me you’re smiling now, or, if not, call me. Please?June 15, 2017 – 11:08 pmReplyCancel

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