EDITOR’S NOTE: We are proud to welcome Chion Wolf, host of the Audacious radio show and podcast on Connecticut Public Radio as a regular contributor. A friend and supporter of this publication since its founding, Chion will be sharing her very human stories in our pages and on the web site. She was the co-host of the Connecticut Voice Honors last September as well. We look forward to being even more involved with her as we move forward. Chion is a two-time recipient of the Gracie Award, honoring programming created by women, for women and about women in all facets of media and entertainment. She is a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community, and her warmth, wit, and insights are both informative, and inspiring. We’ll be posting columns every month, and we’ll let Chion take it from here:
When people ask me what conversation sticks in my mind the most from Audacious, my public radio show, out of the 100-plus we’ve done, I always think of the same one. Here’s the mission of the show: To humanize the stereotyped, to understand the misunderstood. To get to a deeper level where all of humanity shares the same space, no matter how difficult, seemingly absurd, or uncommon the stories. Not all our episodes are about painful experiences, conditions, or professions, but many of them are. You may have a story yourself! Have you ever felt like your life blew up? Like you’re the only one in the world who’s gone through it? The conversation I always think of was with Gabby Myers of Elwood, Indiana.
In 2017, her nose was bitten off by a dog named Clyde. Clyde belonged to an old friend of Gabby’s. In fact, to Gabby, Clyde WAS a friend. That friend had just gotten a second dog named Cain. When Gabby was visiting them one night, Cain jumped up and licked her face. She thinks Clyde must’ve been trying to protect her. He jumped up and bit. It happened so fast.
As she starts telling me about the blood, her nose on the floor, the 911 call, she begins to cry. She remembers needing to make sure that nothing bad happened to Clyde. He didn’t mean it, she says. He had a bad day. We all have bad days. She tells me about the first time she saw her face in the hospital, with a hole in the middle of it. She talks about the cruel comments and fearful looks she gets from people when she’s in public. I sob with her. There’s a part in the interview where she says she wishes we could hug. I wish it, too. We cry some more. And, amazingly, we laugh a lot, too. Gabby is very funny. But the part of the interview that sticks in my head most is when I asked her: “If you could wave a magic wand and get your old face back, would you do it?” I could barely finish asking the question when she said, “No. No.” And honestly? In a flash, I thought, “Bullshit, Gabby. You’re just saying that because it’s the ‘right answer’. Look at all the pain you’ve experienced! Of course you’d want your nose back, are you kidding me?!” But after a thoughtful pause, she said with a low, resolute voice, “Because it’s not me anymore.”
This is the part where you may be reminded of a saying you’ve heard a thousand times: “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” She preferred this Gabby—the Gabby who suffered, who is still finding ways to rebuild. To love herself exactly as she is now—not in spite of what happened, but because of it. To not defer her grief, but to find beauty in it – especially in what feels like experiences that are not at all beautiful.
Have you ever noticed how, when you hear about people’s hardships, something happens to you? For a moment, you stop caring so much about your own sorrow, uncertainty, and challenges… And you really care about theirs. In an instant, you’re transported to the soft turf of their sidelines. Your arms are up, you root, you rally for them! Your cheers propel your feet onto their field! Like a grandparent, you love them for everything they’ve ever felt and will ever feel. As you put your arms around their anguish, their pain is exchanged for empowerment. And you both cash out. You lift each other to the goal. As Ram Dass said, “We are all just walking each other home”, and home is—of many things—these profound arenas of expansion. Whether you’re the listener or the speaker; subject or the facilitator; the injured or the advocate; this intent listening makes all listening sacred.
In this series for Connecticut Voice, I’ll be sharing reflections on my Audacious conversations. They’re all love stories, really: Love of exploration, love of pushing the limit. Love for self, and love for what the struggle has to offer us all. Love for the absurd illusion of separateness which is a function in—not a bug of—this human experience. Love for how we all overlap. I hope you see yourself in these stories, and tell yours one day. Then, we will be reminded of what it feels like to root each other on. And on, and on…