Make Room For The Stuttering

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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.

Both of these pieces resonate with me, as I did a speech on Being Memorable at the National Stuttering Association annual conference in D.C. in July and again for my 2014 ISAD contribution.

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?

mirrorWhat do you see when you look in the mirror? Do you see how great you are, or do you look for the things that need to be fixed?

Like many people, I often notice what’s wrong instead of what’s right. I lament over a new zit or a sudden sprung hair. I check to be sure my hair looks OK and look to see if I messed up my make up.

Rarely do I just look in the mirror and smile and say to myself, “you look great.” I have long struggled with thoughts that I’m not good enough and that often translates over to what I see when I look in the mirror.

I heard a powerful keynote speaker last month who reminded us that we need to like what we see when we look into that mirror. We need to tell ourselves that we like what we see and start our day off on a positive note.

That resonated with me, especially as I was working on a workshop about positive affirmations that friend Annie and I would present at a stuttering conference in early October.

Annie and I worked on our workshop for 6 weeks, trying out different affirmations that we would encourage people to use when looking in a mirror, both generally and about their stuttering as well. We caught ourselves saying things to ourselves and each other that were not affirming and found out how loud our inner critic’s voice can really be.

We did our mirror workshop on Saturday at the NSA regional conference in Anaheim. We were both a little nervous, worried that people wouldn’t get “into it” and that we were not well prepared enough.

We were prepared enough and people did get into it. We handed out small mirrors and asked people to look deep into their eyes while we took turns gently reading positive affirmations. We then invited people to come up and sit in front of a large mirror and say something aloud, affirming their self and their stuttering. Several people took the risk and we then shared out at the end how all of this felt.

It was a powerful workshop where we were present with each other. We ended by sharing this with the group, which everyone read aloud together.

I AM STRONG

I AM KIND

I AM BEAUTIFUL

I AM SMART

I AM IMPORTANT

I AM FEARLESS

I AM AMAZING

ISAD 2014This year’s International Stuttering Awareness Day (ISAD) online conference begins on October 1, 2014 and runs for three weeks through October 22, 2014.

Authors will present papers on a variety of topics relating to stuttering – attitudes and feelings, therapy techniques, research updates and personal experiences.

Presenters are a mix of people from the international stuttering community – people who stutter, family members of people who stutter, clinical therapists and scientific researchers. This is an exciting conference where different voices from all over the world are heard.

This will be a treasure trove of information on stuttering, and you will have the opportunity to interact with the contributors and ask questions of professionals in the field.

Plan to check out the conference and plan to learn a lot. Spread the word!

What do you think of this? Being around other people who stutter is like seeing a reflection of our self. We see ourselves in other people who stutter.

Maybe when you are around other people who stutter, you think to yourself, “oh, that’s how I sound.” Maybe you’re OK with that. Maybe you are not.

Maybe it makes us feel vulnerable when we’re around other people who stutter.

Other people may remind of us ourselves, both the parts we love and the parts we don’t love quite as much.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

 

 

How many times has this happened to you? You’re in a conversation with someone, either someone you know well or someone unfamiliar. You’re going along fine with what you are saying and then it hits – a big block.

You get stuck and nothing comes out. You feel helpless and the moment feels like an hour. Your mouth is open and nothing is happening. Or sound is coming out but not the word.

And then your listener tries to help and finishes the word or sentence for you. Maybe they even got it right.

Or maybe they get it wrong, and say something not even remotely close to what you were actually going to say.

How does this make you feel? What do you do?

When this has happened to me, sometimes I feel angry. Angry that the block has happened in the first place and that someone has seen what I look like when I get stuck. I imagine it looks awful, but I’m sure in reality it doesn’t.

I also might feel angry if the listener has finished my word and they guessed wrong. I do one of two things: finish what I was going to say anyway and move on, or move on and pretend like nothing happened.

I don’t like to do that – pretend nothing happened, because something did. I got stuck in a block and someone reacted to it.

I wish I had the guts to acknowledge my feelings when this happens but I often don’t. I don’t like to draw more attention to my stuttering.

What about you?

I wrote a post on Loss of Control five years ago! And it still rings true today. I want to share parts of that post in today’s blog post.

Probably one of the most helpless feelings a person can have is that feeling you get when you lose control when speaking. You probably know what I mean.

My stomach feels like its going to bottom out, my chest gets tight, and my heart starts to pound so hard it feels like everyone can hear it. And my face heats up, I feel a lump in my throat and then my eyes start to well up. If the feeling lasts longer than a few seconds, my eyes spill over.

I feel loss of control when I get embarrassed, because these reactions happen automatically and involuntarily. I also feel loss of control when I get angry, or sad. I always felt like I should be able to control my reactions to feelings. Almost all of the same physical reactions occur.

I used to feel I had some control over my stuttering. Fairly early, I began to know which words or sounds I might stutter on, and concentrated on switching words or doing the avoidance thing. That stopped working for me long ago.

I started feeling more in control when I dropped most of the covert stuttering and just let natural stuttering out. Since not fighting so hard to not stutter, I have felt pretty controlled with my easy, relaxed repetitions.

But sometimes my speech is messy. I can’t predict stuttering moments like I used to be able to, and I feel more tension and lack of control.

I often feel helpless, especially when around someone new or who is impatient.

Even though I tell myself I don’t care what others think, I still sometimes feel the sting of judgment and fear rejection.

What do you think? Do you feel out of control when you get really stuck in a stuttering moment? Does this feeling ever go away?


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© Pamela A Mertz and Make Room For The Stuttering, 2009 - 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Pamela A Mertz and Make Room For The Stuttering with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Same protection applies to the podcasts linked to this blog, "Women Who Stutter: Our Stories" and "He Stutters: She Asks Him." Please give credit to owner/author Pamela A Mertz 2014.
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