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Why This Song From 'The Greatest Showman' Is on My Chronic Illness Soundtrack

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One of last winter’s greatest hits, “The Greatest Showman,” quickly became a soundtrack in my car as I drove from doctor to doctor. As I was listening to the soundtrack for the thousandth time, I was suddenly struck by the word’s of “This Is Me” – a song set with a tone of courage, speaking truth to whomever we are, whatever disability we may have, whatever limitation may come upon us, will not and does not define us.

People who live with chronic illness, or in my case, Lyme disease, naturally are often ripped of a tremendous amount of self-confidence before, during and after diagnosis. Between the extreme fatigue, depression, anxiety, isolation, and mere treatment we are under, “This Is Me” speaks so clearly to our aching souls. We are no strangers to the dark…The disappointment from friends and family members, damaging words, empty actions, and doctors’ flippant disregard train us to “hide away, they say, ’cause we don’t want your broken parts. I’ve learned to be ashamed of all my scars, run away, they say, no one’ll love you as you are.”

Listening to the first stanza of this song, I nearly had to take a break from the tears streaming down my face…the flashbacks so real, these exact words have pierced my own heart time and again. “But I won’t let them break me into dust, I know there’s a place for us, for we are glorious.” What if we took the power to not let anyone break us, to be stronger than any inclination for our weathered souls to seek the dark? How are we going to personally let others see who we truly are, beyond our limitations, disability, or differences? This is a song setting the stage to inwardly learn how to love ourselves, so the negative projection someone may put on you will never stick. You will never again be broken into dust.

“When the sharpest words wanna cut me down, I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out, I am brave, I am bruised, I am who I’m meant to be, this is me. Look out ‘cause here I come and I’m marching on the beat I drum. I’m not scared to be seen, I make no apologies, this is me.”

This is the well polished, well seasoned, well-loved anthem we all should have inside our hearts singing time and again. We don’t deny words have the effect to cut us down, or even that bruises and scars don’t exist in our present and past reality, but after much time in the dark, after we see the light and know our voice – watch out my friends. I believe there is nothing more beautiful in this world than someone who walks into life with confidence, where you can see it in their smile, and in their speech.

Has our own voice been cultivated enough to confidently share our story, no matter the bumps, bruises or scars? Because we have seen a lot, doesn’t mean that moving past the gnarring pain of the words others attach to us indicates it never happened. Strength in your story, strength is simply admitting bruises and scars, this is me – do you notice when we embrace our own self-worth we have the undeniable ability to help others, to not be scared to be seen, or make apologies, they too have a story, and a journey to becoming the beauty of the embodiment of “This Is Me.”

Fighter. Warrior. Survivor. Conqueror. Whatever is your word, as you strive for remission, a cure, or just a day with a little less pain, we have a deeper opportunity to cultivate awareness, because of what we have seen, experienced, lived, and felt. Knowing our illness’ effect relationships, we may not have the same friendships we had pre-diagnosis or pre-symptomatic, but no matter what “I deserve your love, ‘cause there’s nothing I’m not worthy of.”

As we emerge from the light, we acknowledge and see the bruises and scars we have hid for so long. Others notice, stare, make insulting comments, but there is a place for us at the head table because we are glorious, we are us, fully, deeply, authentically. When you have listened out “This Is Me” dream with me no matter your current state, you have “A Million Dreams” for the world we are going to make.

Image provided by “The Greatest Showman” Facebook page

Originally published: May 23, 2018
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