I tend to stutter the same way on the same words all the time. Even when I try to focus and use a technique or slow down, there are just certain words that come out the same way, every time.
Communication is one of those words. I don’t stutter on the first “c” in the word. No, I block and stutter on the second “c” sound – right in the middle of the word. It usually takes the form of three or four repetitions on the “ca” sound. Communi-ca-ca-ca-ca-tion. I am very aware of when I am in the stuttering moment with this word, as it’s a word I have to say a lot in the presentations I deliver to high school students.
I talk to them about career planning and the essential skills needed to be college and career ready, with good communication being one of those essential skills.
I am not ashamed that I stutter and I am of the belief that good communication is so much more than perfect fluency. But for some reason, when I block and stutter on key words, the same way, every time, I feel quite vulnerable and exposed. Perhaps it’s because this mostly happens when I am speaking to young people.
It’s important to me to be a good role model when I am speaking to people, especially young people. I maintain eye contact when I’m blocking and when I complete the word, I usually smile and just keep moving forward. I like to think that communicating in my own style, with confidence, is good role modeling for young people.
I want them to see that moving through vulnerability can yield good results.
A good friend of mine suggested I do a little dance when I say “communi-ca-ca-ca-ca-tion.” To the beat of the “ca-ca-ca-ca.” I think it would be a good ice breaker when I am giving a presentation on stuttering, but maybe not so much when I am talking career preparation to high school students. They might think I’m nuts and call the security officer.
What about you? Do you have words that you stutter the same way every time? How does it make you feel?
Someone wrote this on one of the stuttering email groups I participate in. It really resonated with me.
“The pain of stuttering is not in speech interruptions as that just takes an extra moment… And the speaker sometimes doesn’t even know it’s happening. What’s painful is feeling different and feeling that the difference is unacceptable to you and to the world….”
How many of us can relate to this? How many of us have had a stuttering moment happen and we felt so embarrassed that we felt different? That stuttering was unacceptable?
I first experienced the pain of stuttering as a young child. I don’t remember what stuttering was really like for me at 5 years old, but I do remember the pain I felt when it seemed that my father was ashamed of me. He would yell at me when I stuttered and make me feel as though I was doing something bad.
As an adult, I stutter pretty openly and confidently but sometimes I still experience the pain and shame of stuttering. And I believe some of that rises up from those early painful memories.
I feel the pain of stuttering when I get stuck and someone laughs at me. Or looks at me quizzically, asking if I’ve forgotten my name or where I work. I am sure everyone who stutters has experienced that and probably more than once.
I feel the pain of stuttering when I feel I’m being judged by someone in authority. That makes me feel inadequate, thankfully only momentarily, but inadequate nonetheless.
I feel the pain of stuttering when I explain myself to put a listener at ease. Sometimes it’s painful because there’s times I just don’t feel like explaining.
I feel the pain of stuttering when I want to chime in with a joke and I stutter on the punchline and people give me “the look.”
There has been more and more awareness of stuttering in the media, especially over the last year. But I’m not convinced that the world is ready for stuttering yet. It’s still not acceptable.
What do you think?
Episode 131 features Vanna Nicks, who hails from Piedmont, California. Vanna is a busy mother of two and also works full-time as a speech pathologist in a trauma center at an acute hospital in Oakland.
Vanna always wanted to be a SLP but didn’t have the confidence. She moved to Washington DC and found Vivian Sisskin’s avoidance reduction therapy group. There, she found the self-confidence to go back to school to become a SLP.
Vanna learned through avoidance reduction that she had the right to speak whenever she wanted and that she became more fluent when she stuttered openly. She learned to be truly honest with her self and others.
Listen in as we discuss advertising, workplace stuttering, being approachable, developing rich relationships and so much more.
The podcast safe music clip used in today’s episode is credited to ccMixter.
Producer note: As I played back this episode, there are parts where it sounds like I spoke over Vanna. I certainly didn’t mean to and I don’t remember doing that when we spoke. I wondered (aloud) if it was an audio glitch that I don’t know how to correct. Maybe – maybe not. Either way, enjoy the episode. :)
There’s been a couple of good pieces by women recently related to being honest with our speech and our stuttering. I posted Erin Schick’s brilliant poem, Honest Speech, last month.
And today, Katherine Preston has a great piece, Speaking Honestly, published in The Huffington Post.
Both authors are women who stutter and speak to the importance of being authentic with our stuttering. Erin talks about speaking fluently when she stutters and Katherine talks about liking being remembered for her stuttering.
Stuttering is a part of me. For years, I tried to hide it, push it away, deny it. I was ashamed of being associated with stuttering, for I had been conditioned to believe that stuttering was bad and that I deserved the sometimes negative reactions I received from society.
But something changed. I stopped trying to hide it, I began stuttering openly and honestly, I talked about stuttering and began to accept that some people were going to associate me with stuttering. And, THAT’S OK. It’s a part of me. It’s who I am. It’s good to be remembered in today’s world. I rather like having people remember my name.
Just yesterday I was at a school doing some presentations and someone came up to me and said, “I remember you. I took an excellent bullying class from you several years ago and you talked about stuttering. And you came to our school and did a talk on stuttering. It’s so good to see you again. You’re a great speaker.”
That made me feel good, and proud and happy that she remembered me.
Being honest with our speech and with ourselves is so much easier than hiding and pretending to be someone we’re not. I’m sure happy I just let my stuttering hang out these days.
Buzzfeed has a great article called “25 Things All People Who Stutter Will Understand.” It’s surprisingly spot-on and doesn’t make fun of, or demean, people who stutter.
Enjoy! Can you relate to any of them?
No words needed for this. Utterly powerful. Thank you, Erin.
Episode 130 features Debbie Rasaki, who hails from London, England, UK. Debbie works as a nursery nurse in a day care setting and aspires to be a Social Worker.
Listen in as we discuss how stammering (as it is known in the UK) made Debbie a quiet person who lacked courage. She feels her “real self” is bubbly and animated, but her stammering caused her to hide the real Debbie.
Debbie shares her experiences with both – giving us a good overview of how she benefited from participating in the intensive speech management program and opening up from her private self for the documentary.
This was a great conversation, full of honesty and insight and a reminder to dream big. Feel free to leave comments or ask questions in the comment section, for feedback is a gift.
The podcast safe music clip used in today’s episode is credited to ccMixter.
You can see Debbie in the below video, if you missed it on You Tube or in a previous post I shared.