“I am not a stranger to the dark
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”
-From The Greatest Showman, “This is Me” by Justin Paul and Benj Pasek
If you haven’t seen The Greatest Showman, the story of PT Barnum, see it immediately. It is an incredibly moving account of a visionary who saw no greater art than to make people smile. The lyrics quoted above are from one of its most moving songs, “This is Me”. You might have seen it performed at this year’s Oscars. Below is the link to when Keala Settle sang it for the first time for the key producers and writers of the movie. The energy in the room is literally electric.
This song stirs great emotions, most of which revolve around the hurts inflicted from the past and the scars one wears from those events. It invokes every instance of feeling shunned by others for a myriad of reasons. Maybe the time you weren’t invited to party it seemed like everyone else was going to. Or the time your personality didn’t quite fit the guest list. Or the times you felt isolated because no one understood your story or what you were searching for. Maybe you hung in a crowd where you felt you had to downplay important pieces of yourself to seem “normal” to everyone else. That becomes the worst sacrifice because you watch as pieces of the real you fade away. That’s when the pain is greatest, and you seek ways to numb it away. Those things become your addictions. And the larger the hole to fill, the greater the needed sedation.
My own scars run deep and they come in a variety of forms. One scar is that of being a daughter whose mother tried her best, but could not give even a small amount of the love that her child so desperately needed; that hole was filled with insults. Those insults, which I believe were passed on by my own ancestors directly to her, hurt me so much more given my constitution of high sensitivity, clearly noticeable from the age of 4. Another scar is of a teenage girl who was repeatedly discarded by the boys she loved because of complete lack of sexual experience; piety drilled in to her from a young age to pave the way to heaven. Another scar shows all the dreams that were promised to be a reality when not even one of them truly had a chance to come true; false promises which I spent half a lifetime pursuing.
But then you decide to leave all that behind and proudly become who you are, scars and all.
Because I know what mental illness looks like and I have felt the pain of years of emotional abuse, I am empathetic and listen. Because I had been shunned for years with the desire to give love wholeheartedly, I am fully appreciative of all the love in my life. Because I was broken, I am drawn most to broken people. Because of so many dreams lost, I am focused on making my residual dreams a reality. I am the quintessential onion, with many layers to be peeled back. Because of my high sensitivity, I will feel all your anger and sadness, but it helps me to be there for you sooner while others take longer to notice. Most notably, I am thoughtful and will listen intently to your story and relate in the best way that I know how. And lastly, because I have forever been saved by humor, I am intent on bringing smiles to those around me as often as I can.
We are our scars. Wear them proudly and be who you were meant to be.