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You Still Have Something Beautiful to Give (Even If You Feel Broken)

Learn a lesson from a beautiful song about Marilyn Monroe to help you cope with the times you feel broken.


A red rose on a piano keyboard. Your broken parts don't define you even if living with mental illness makes it feel that way. Learn a lesson from a beautiful song about Marilyn Monroe. | #bipolar #feelbroken #mentalillness #chronicillness
Image by FotoRieth from Pixabay

“Something second-hand and broken…”

Have you ever felt like those words describe you? Does it sometimes feel like you’re broken parts have become your entire identity?

If you’re living with chronic and/or mental illness, it’s easy to become fixated on the parts of you that don’t work correctly. You often feel broken. Yet, you are much more than that. The truth of that is wonderfully demonstrated in a song from a TV show. I share the song today because it’s one that reminds me that being broken isn’t the end.


Smash

Smash was an underappreciated TV show that aired for two-seasons. Revolving largely about around two competing actresses on Broadway, it was a fun, musical show that showed part of Broadway life.

There was a lot of excellent music on the show (and some real stinkers), but one song especially holds a significant place in my heart.

One arc of the show revolved around writing a musical about Marilyn Monroe. In researching the actress’s life, the writing team, played by Debra Messing and Christian Borle, wanted to bring to the story Marilyn’s love for her baby grand piano.

Bipolar Disorder Symptom Checklist

When Marilyn received the piano, a gift from her mother, it was in less than perfect shape but destined to become an important part of her story. So was born the song, Secondhand White Baby Grand, sung by the incredible Megan Hilty. You will find the song’s YouTube video at the bottom of this post.

Much of Marilyn’s brief life, she believed she was broken. In Smash, the baby grand becomes her symbol.

Marilyn didn’t always appreciate her “banged up” companion, her words from her posthumously published autobiography, My Story. In time, the piano’s value meant more and more to her. Eventually, she found it again at an auction. Being in a much better place financially, she restored it to its original glory.


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Value You

Most of us frequently undervalue ourselves. We feel broken and become fixated on our “banged up” parts, losing sight of what we still have to offer.

The song, Second Hand White Baby Grand, gives a glimpse into what might have passed through Marilyn’s mind as she thought about her beloved piano.

My favorite part of the song comes at the end. The lyrics read:


“That something secondhand and broken still can make a pretty sound
Don’t we all deserve a family room to live?
Oh, the words can’t stay unspoken until everyone has found
That Secondhand White Baby Grand that still has something beautiful to give”

From Smash, Second Hand White Baby Grand © 2013

Dried flowers on a piano. Your broken parts don't define you even if living with mental illness makes it feel that way. Learn a lesson from a beautiful song about Marilyn Monroe. | #bipolar #feelbroken #mentalillness #chronicillness
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We all feel broken sometimes. Feeling broken is part of life, or at least parts of us. Who of us didn’t feel broken at points in the chaos of our teen years. For those of you still in your teens, know that the chaos eventually subsides.

I feel broken every day. In addition to my body and brain fighting against me, many of the goals I reached for ended in epic failures. Businesses have come and gone, careers have begun and ended, and many relationships have crumbled.

Each defeat leaves you a little lower than the last one.

Even so, I refuse to give up. I may be bent and broken, but I’m still here.

If you feel that way, keep heart. There are things you can do to fight it when you feel broken.

A white baby grand piano. Your broken parts don't define you even if living with mental illness makes it feel that way. Learn a lesson from a beautiful song about Marilyn Monroe. | #bipolar #feelbroken #mentalillness #chronicillness
Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

When you feel broken

1. Focus on the positive

Imagine you own the baby grand piano mentioned in the song. What if it had a broken leg or a few broken keys? What would you think if the side was gouged or the paint peeling? Would you focus on the broken parts?

Or would you choose to remember it’s original glory? Would you be happy with the beautiful music the instrument could still produce? Would those small imperfections still matter?

Personally, I’ve always wanted a baby grand, and I would be thrilled to have one even if it was more than a little imperfect.

You are just a valuable. Even though there may be parts of you that aren’t up to snuff by the world’s standards you as a whole are priceless. Focus on the music that is still in you, whatever that might be.


Also read: Bipolar Disorder and the Destructive Trap of All-or-Nothing Thinking


2. Practice gratitude

Another way to come to terms with your broken parts is to practice gratitude. Thankfulness and chronic illness are not friendly companions. After many days, months, or years of coping with illness, it sometimes seems impossible to be grateful for anything.

Yet, there are always reasons to be grateful. Every morning you wake up, every time you see the sun, every good meal you eat – those are all good reasons to be grateful.

Learning to be grateful in your everyday life also helps you to cope with your broken parts. Rather than focus on the parts of you that aren’t perfect, you can learn to appreciate the parts that still work well.

Perhaps you’re a good listener, or you have an artistic skill like writing or painting. Maybe you’re exceptionally good as being empathetic to those around you. Those are your strengths, and the parts of you that are beautiful. Again, any broken parts do not limit lower the value of you as a whole.


Marilyn Monroe sitting on a black chair. Cover of her book, My Story.
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3. Refuse to give up

I love to read stories or watch videos about The Paralympic Games. The games celebrate those athletes with “broken” parts who refuse to let their condition limit them. Basketball, skiing, and tennis are just three of the many sports in the games.

As a side note, the next scheduled event is the 16th Summer Paralympic Games to be held in Tokyo, Japan between August 24 and September 5, 2021.

What’s so inspiring about the Paralympics is how it shines the light on athletes who have broken parts. Yet, despite how severe those broken or missing parts might be, the athletes refuse to give up. They’re intent on continuing to compete, to still be athletes, no matter how “banged up” their body might be. To me, that’s the epitome of tenacity.

Each of those athletes could sit at home and focus on their broken parts. They could endlessly mourn their missing limbs and refuse to look for the sun. It’s easy to feel broken.

Instead, as a group, they choose to forge ahead. They choose to prove how capable they are. Each athlete knows their value is not diminished by any damaged portion of their body.

That can be a hard concept to accept, but the same is true for each one of us. Even if our broken part is our brain, it doesn’t have to define us. We can find our own version of the Paralympic games to keep us going. We can accomplish valuable things, and those things are why we must never quit fighting.

A woman playing the piano in the fog among barren rocks. Your broken parts don't define you even if living with mental illness makes it feel that way. Learn a lesson from a beautiful song about Marilyn Monroe. | #bipolar #feelbroken #mentalillness #chronicillness
Image by Sarah Richter from Pixabay

Something beautiful to give

Living every day with a chronic illness makes it all too easy to focus on the times we feel broken. Every time you miss out on an activity, you can’t help but think of your broken parts.

Always remember, as we learned above, those broken parts don’t define you. You can choose what you will focus on. It’s up to you to decide what you will be.

Going back to our song from Smash, the last line of the song sums it all up perfectly.

“I still have something beautiful to give.”

From Smash, Second Hand White Baby Grand © 2013

You still have something beautiful to give as well. Do your best to show the world what that is.

Until next time… Keep fighting.



Flower petals and colored piano keys. Your broken parts don't define you even if living with mental illness makes it feel that way. Learn a lesson from a beautiful song about Marilyn Monroe. | #bipolar #feelbroken #mentalillness #chronicillness
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