How to Feel Whole Again

I feel so broken inside. I’m so alone. Will I ever feel whole again? Some days are okay, and others are just … not. As single parents, we’re riding the roller coaster of parenting alone—without a seatmate, without someone who will squeeze your hand when you’re scared and remind you that you will survive. Solo parents carry broken dreams. Solo parents feel fragmented. Defeated. Broken. Overwhelmed. What we hoped for and imagined for our future has come crumbling down, and we’re standing in the rubble, not sure how to build ourselves back up—or if it’s even possible.

Can I feel whole again?

How can you move toward wholeness when all you see are shattered pieces of who you used to be? The idea of feeling whole again feels so out of reach. Will it ever go back to the life you used to live? It’s so easy to believe you’ll always feel defeated and broken.

Our friend and a frequent guest on the Solo Parent podcast, Dr. Chip Dodd, has over 30 years of experience in serving others as a counselor, mentor, speaker, and author of bestselling books. To him, “solo parent” is just a name for: What do you do when dreams get broken? What can you do when your heart gets pierced? And he believes, in spite of all that’s happened, you can recover your heart, return to your dreams, and allow your experiences to become part of your empowerment or victory story.

Defining Wholeness

Let’s start with this question: What is wholeness? Often when we at Solo Parent talk about wholeness, we focus on four separate quadrants: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. And these are indeed areas that are important to address while on your healing journey. You can’t be the parent you want to be and need to be unless you’re meeting your own needs in those four areas. It may feel selfish—after all, as parents, aren’t you supposed to put your children first? While it may seem like the sacrificial and “right” thing to put yourself last, it’s not going to set you or your children up for success if you—the one who is guiding them through life—are not in a healthy place. By fueling yourself up, you can be sure you’re being the best parent you can be. Your choices and actions directly affect your kids.

Health in those four quadrants is needed and valuable and a necessity for every solo parent. But today, try looking at wholeness in a different light. Chip Dodd says that “wholeness is when your head and your heart are connected, and you have the ability to tolerate vulnerability and trust that God is with you.” When regaining wholeness, you experience the recovery of your heart—either in ways you never had, or in ways that you regain. Wholeness comes as you develop the ability to stay present in the struggle. Wholeness is not perfection. It is not a shield; pain doesn’t stop. But when you are whole, that’s not a deterrence, because you’ve learned how to feel fully alive again, which is an incredible and life-giving gift. Chip recommends five steps on your pathway to feeling whole again, which we’ll cover below.

Share Time:

When was the last time you felt whole? It doesn’t mean that life was perfect or painless, but that your head and heart were connected and fully dependent on God.
Five Ways that Build Wholeness
  1. The first is to detach from control over your life and from what others think, while still remaining an emotional being. You don’t detach from emotions and sink into the world of not caring anymore. Instead, you decide to loosen your grip on trying to control everything, including your emotions, and you choose to not live your life to please other people. This may feel scary because the sense of control is what you’re used to, and it’s ok to feel scared. This is what detachment with emotion, not detachment from emotion, looks like.
  2. The second way to build wholeness is by developing a tolerance for vulnerability. This means you understand you could get wounded again, but you’re opening yourself up to the possibility of pain and connecting with it. For example, you may be wary of really opening up to someone about all the pain you’ve been through, and you’re afraid they’ll judge you or insert their (unwanted) opinion. But you decide to open up your heart anyway, little by little, in order to deepen your relationship with them. You’re also able to be vulnerable with trusted friends. You’ll find it gets easier the more you do it.
  3. Third, you need people in your world you can grieve with. These people are the ones you can talk freely and openly with about sorrow, bitterness, doubt, hating God or others, and other really difficult topics. You can talk without fear of being judged because it’s your home base, your safe place.
  4. Developing an invitational nature is the fourth way of building wholeness. As you grow in confidence on your healing journey, you invite people into your story. And, you become the inviter, saying to others, “I was you. I was in a ditch. Someone gave me a hand and now I’m doing the same for you.” It’s not out of pity or sympathy; it’s about empathy and a deep resounding and relating in your soul of “You’re not the only one. I’ve been there.” An invitational nature grows in you as your heart molds back together.
  5. The fifth is continuing to remain capable of catching yourself. Be willing to face the person in the mirror—in the times when it’s easy and you’re proud of yourself … and in the times where you realize your motives are off base, that you’re falling back into manipulation or control or a victim mentality. You need to be able to call yourself out and have friends in your life who will do the same.


This is not easy. As humans, our instinct is to shy away from pain—to deflect and hide and numb ourselves. To keep ourselves busy enough that we can’t feel the brokenness rattling around inside of us. Vulnerability and dependency are not something our society upholds as successful, and we tend to try and be self-sufficient, Instagram-worthy, strong, confident parents.

Several centuries ago in Japan, a technique for repairing broken ceramics emerged. It was called kintsugi (“golden seams”). Artisans used lacquer dusted (or mixed) with powdered gold, silver, or platinum to bind the pieces back together. This technique, also called kintsukuroi (“golden repair”), was widely embraced by artists, and it is still used today.

The philosophy behind kintsugi literally makes broken into beautiful. What was once broken is carefully taken and put back together with gold; in fact, the areas where there was once brokenness are now filled with light. The piece will never be the same again, and it will always bear proof of the damage done, but that actually makes it all the more beautiful.

You may feel like you’ve fallen and shattered. Maybe you feel discarded and unvalued. You might look around and think, “This can never be fixed.” As long as you have breath, God can always take your fractured pieces and bind them together into something that is unmistakably beautiful. It’s certainly not going to be easy. It’s going to feel painstakingly slow sometimes. You’re not going to look the same as before, but in time, you might realize that’s ok, and you can let your brokenness be illuminated.

Share Time:

When you think about being vulnerable with other people, pay attention to what goes through your mind and how your body reacts. Does your body tense up or do you feel relieved? Does your brain immediately go to protective mode?
Further Action Step
Think about your own personal situation. Solo parents come from so many varied backgrounds. Every story is different. In your heart of hearts, do you think that beauty can come from your pain and suffering? Are you willing to let go of control? If you struggle with vulnerability, spend some time pondering why and who you might feel comfortable opening up to.
Key Verse
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. – Romans 5:3-5