The Broken Places

Erika Petrelli
Erika Petrelli

I’ve come to understand something in the last few months that is in direct opposition to everything I’ve decided that I “knew” for as many years as I can remember. This realization is both shockingly simple and impossibly hard.

It’s this:

The very thing(s) I’ve been trying to hide from you (the world) because they are the thing(s) that make me flawed and broken, the thing(s) which I feared were the ugly parts, the weak parts, the imperfect parts—certainly the stuff that I imagined that the rest of you had all tied up and figured out, the stuff that surely none of the rest of you struggled with or tried to hide—well, those are actually the truest parts of me...and actually probably, and ironically, the parts that would make you go “ohhhhh…… thank God.  You, too?”

And until I fully own those parts, and give those parts grace and space, then I’m not living anything close to an authentic life.

There are a few tricky bits to this. 

One is that it’s been easy for me to claim that I’ve already been doing that very thing—showing up in my brokenness.  But the real truth is that I’ve been doing it in a very curated way. In a way where I decided which broken places were acceptable to share. This one, but oh- not that one.

The other is that I’ve long decided that I if I show you the fully broken parts, then the fully “sparkly” parts are somehow less true, or less authentic. But the real truth is that I can be both broken and sparkly. I can be strong and need support at the same time. I can hold pain and joy side by side. I don’t have to be either, or.   I can be both, and.

So I am going to be both, and.

I came across this image by way of inspirational powerhouse Glennon Doyle, from Scott Stabile and Decade2Doodles:

We don’t know anything, most of the time.  And we don’t know everything, ever. That’s true for everyone in our lives….   And it’s true for ourselves, too. There is always more going on within us than we are able to recognize, acknowledge, or honor. So today I honor my broken places, along with all the other parts of me.

And I honor those parts in you, too.

How can you embrace all of the parts of you today, including (and especially) the broken places?  


September is National Recovery Month, in recognition of mental and substance use disorders and in support and celebration of those on the path of recovery. For more information, visit

This week in September is also Suicide Prevention Week. The Suicide Prevention Lifeline is always available. Call 1-800-273-8255 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for free and confidential support.


Erika Petrelli

By Erika Petrelli

Erika Petrelli is the Senior Vice President of Leadership Development (and self-declared Minister of Mischief) for The Leadership Program, a New York City-based organization. With a Masters degree in Secondary Education, Erika has been in the field of teaching and training for decades, and has been with The Leadership Program since 1999. There she has the opportunity to nurture the individual leadership spirit in both students and adults across the country, through training, coaching, keynotes, and writing. The legacy Erika strives daily to create is to be the runway upon which others take flight. If you enjoy these blogs, you should check out her interactive journal, On Wings & Whimsy: Finding the Extraordinary Within the Ordinary, now available for sale on Amazon. While her work takes her all around the country, Erika calls Indiana home.