|My Chronicle Article, April 11, 2013|
Aside from reading The Chronicle every Thursday (I love it), once upon a time I happened to interview there. As I neared the end of a stay-at-home stint with my daughter, The Chronicle happened to advertise for a writing position. Loving writing, and loving The Chronicle, I threw my hat in the ring. Soon after, I learned I was a finalist.
The interview process was unlike any other I've been through. It was intense, but also an accurate reflection, I believe, of The Chronicle's standards for high quality. As a finalist, I was fortunate to meet Mark Frost, passionate founder and editor of the paper, and Cathy DeDe, The Chronicle's energetic and talented managing editor. As I listened to Mark and Cathy during the interview (as best I could anyway-- it was during the peak of my hearing troubles), I remember thinking regardless of the outcome, applying had been worth it. Mark Frost told me face-to-face I was a good writer, and it meant the world to me.
Say what you want about Mr. Frost's opinions-- Lord knows I've shaken my head in disagreement with much of his political commentary. Regardless, he's an incredible entrepreneur, a compelling entertainer, and in meeting him, I learned of the tremendous responsibility he sees in sharing his love for our community with others. So, I'm a fan. And when someone you admire commends you... well, it's awesome. The Chronicle interview was a real highlight for me.
Yesterday, I had my chance to write for The Chronicle.
As you probably know, I didn't end up getting the staff writer job, but since then, I've run into Chronicle staff, providing brief updates of my professional circumstances, as well as where I'm at in my hearing journey. In January, Mark questioned if I'd be willing to share my hearing story.
The opportunity to write for Northern NY's leading paper had come like so much else that appears in my life: In time. With patience. And I acknowledge, at the moment that proved most appropriate for me.
|The second page. Nice to have my family included!|
It was exciting, of course-- a chance to share my story with a larger audience because selfishly, each time I share, I receive comments and feedback, usually in the form of support. Having gone 22 years keeping my hearing loss struggles to myself, I can't justifiably explain how healing it is to continuously peel back the shameful layers I've gripped tightly for so long. Time and again, I go through the motions of feeling compelled to share, worrying what people will think, hesitating, sharing anyway, and letting out a big sigh of relief when it's over and people identify and/or offer support. Each time, the message becomes more believable: Pam, you're okay.
On Monday I received an email from The Chronicle. In addition to the article, they wanted accompanying photos-- not just of me, but also specifically my cochlear implant processor. Yes, the robotic part of me. The hearing aid-like device hooked behind my ear, attached to a wire connecting to a nipple-resembling magnetized circle, all carefully hidden under my long, wavy hair.
Oh. You want a picture THAT?
I admitted I didn't have any photos showing my processor, nor have I ever presented such images to my blog audience. To get the photo, Cathy Dede would have to take it .
When we met, she must have sensed my hesitation because she assured me I could back out if I wanted to. But you know what?
Screw it. It was time.
Ironically, even though I write about my implant, appearance-wise, I've continued my efforts to keep my invisible disability just that: INVISIBLE. I've continued to ensure I reveal my truth on my own terms, as opposed to someone else making assumptions of my capabilities because they've caught a peek at my processor. I still worry how other people might view me. I still want to carefully control my first impression with others. No doubt, revealing my processor- FOR ME- was a vulnerable experience.
But as the photo evidence shows, I took a deep breath, pushed aside my hair, and revealed. Peeling off another layer, that processor photo was an important milestone in my healing journey. Thank you, Chronicle, for facilitating it.
Because once again, I shared. Once again, I'm okay.