Posts Tagged ‘feelings about stuttering’
Stuttering requires a degree of fearlessness. In order to stutter openly, at some point, we have to lose the fear we have of being made fun of, or laughed at, or getting “the look.”
For most of us, letting go of that fear is hard to do. The fear of stuttering may indeed be more debilitating than the actual stuttering is.
I can well remember how worried I would always be of other people’s reactions if I stuttered. It goes back to childhood – of my father yelling at me when I stuttered, of the teacher who reprimanded me for stuttering, as if I was doing it purposely.
Those early experiences made the fear intensify. I feared the negative reactions more than the stuttering. The stuttering came and went. My perception that people thought there was something wrong with me stayed.
Fear drove me to hide my stuttering for a very long time. Even after “coming out” a few years ago, I still have moments where I try to hide it, or realize that I unintentionally hid it.
In one of the stuttering groups on Facebook, fear has been a recent topic. It never ceases to amaze me how many people are dealing with their “firsts” with stuttering. First time talking about stuttering openly, first time confronting emotions, namely fear.
These days, myself and other “stuttering veterans” are in a position to share our past experiences and hopefully help others with their first attempts at owning their feelings and fears.
It’s never easy. In fact, fear never really goes away, does it?
Episode 102 features Samantha Agan, who hails from the San Francisco Bay Area of California. Sam is originally from Philadelphia.
Sam is a full-time college student studying psychology and also works full-time as a care giver for the elderly. Sam is planning to pursue her Master’s degree in psychology, with a long-term career goal of forensic psychology.
Sam and I “met” on one of the online stuttering forums. She has been an active and positive contributor to the Stuttering Arena group on Facebook.
Listen in as we discuss all things stuttering – early speech therapy experiences, stuttering as a disability, self-esteem and confidence. Listen to the part where we talk about confidence and you’ll see where the title of this episode came from!
This was a great conversation. It was fun getting to know Samantha and getting to know the person behind our social media postings.
Be sure to leave comments for Samantha when you listen, or just let her know what a great job she did.
The podcast safe music used in this episode is credited to ccMixter.
My friend Burt from Belgium posed the question on one of the stuttering forums about how should one react when someone says our stuttering is cute. He wonders if people are just being nice by saying that.
Quite a few people weighed in with their comments and insights. Some say it’s never happened. Some say people refer to stuttering as cute when they don’t know what else to say. Some say they’ve heard stuttering said to be cute when the listener really feels sorry for the person stuttering.
One person indicated that she thinks that there are people out there that are genuinely attracted to flaws in people. I somewhat agree with that. I think when people let their true self shine – imperfections and all – they allow themselves to be vulnerable.
I am attracted to people who allow themselves to be vulnerable. To me, it signifies confidence. The person is confident enough to just be, and let the world see their true self.
I don’t ever recall anyone saying my stuttering is/was cute, but I do remember a friend commenting a few years ago that he found my stuttering was beautiful. I remember being so floored with that, as I’ve always hated my stutter. How could anyone possibly find it to be beautiful?
When he said that, it made me feel really good. I’ve never forgotten it either. Now, looking back (and it’s only been 4 or 5 years,) I think what may have been beautiful was the fact that I was being true to myself and stuttering openly and being vulnerable.
What do you think? Can stuttering be cute? Or attractive?
My friend asked me to raise this question on Facebook. Do people who stutter tend to stutter more when talking with people who talk very fast?
The question got a lot of responses. Many indicated that the pressure to speak faster increases anxiety, which then increases the stuttering.
Some said they know they can’t keep up, so they just don’t say anything, hoping the other person will notice eventually and invite them to respond.
Some said they speak even slower to encourage the fast talker to slow down.
Some said the pressure to keep up brings on more blocking.
I sometimes wonder where in the conversation it would work for me to jump in, as I worry I might block at that moment when I try to break into the conversation.
What do you think?
Episode 98 features Danielle W, who hails from the Bay area of California. Danielle is 17 years old and a senior in high school.
Danielle is currently applying to colleges, and hopes to double major in musical theater and either business or psychology.
As you will hear in our chat, Danielle is passionate about musical theater. We discuss how stuttering impacts Danielle when she performs, and what it’s been like for her on auditions.
Listen in as we also discuss family support, speech therapy and the need for a good sense of humor. Danielle is a fighter and doesn’t let her stuttering hold her back. “Just because someone hasn’t done it, doesn’t mean you can’t.”
Danielle is an inspiring young woman with a great attitude and outlook on life. It was such a honor to get to know her more. Danielle and I met at the FRIENDS conference last summer in Colorado.
Feel free to leave comments for Danielle in the comment section. Remember, feedback is a gift. Music used in this episode is credited to ccMixter.
What does the actual moment of stuttering feel like to you?
Yesterday in a training, we were talking about metaphors and the trainer was asking us to apply metaphors for things we were feeling.
We were then to dig deep to see if we could identify the feelings behind the metaphor we chose. No one volunteered, so I took a chance.
I shared that a common metaphor for me is that I often feel like I’ve fallen off a cliff and no one has even noticed. As this was a work training on change, everyone believed I was referring to a work situation. I was not. I was referring to how I sometimes feel when I get caught in a good stuttering block.
However, since it was change we were refferring to, I let the trainer dig deeper with me and allowed her to think it was a work issue. It could have been.
She asked how it feels when I fall off the cliff. I said it feels scary and helpless. She asked if there was anything that let me know I was about to fall of the cliff. I said anxiety usually triggered it.
She asked if I knew why I was falling. I said because I wasn’t in control. Everyone was believing this was a work situation. She asked what I could do to prevent the fall. I said I could talk to someone about how I feel before the anxiety tips me over the edge.
She asked what kept me from talking about the way I felt. I said it was fear of being laughed at. She asked who was my direct report. I told her the guys name – he was right in the room. She asked what could I do to feel comfortable talking with him.
I told her I felt comfortable talking with him – that wasn’t it. She kept pushing for me to dig. I didn’t want to admit I was talking about stuttering. She asked again what was I really afraid of, still thinking I was referring to work.
I finally surprised myself and said judgement. There, I had said it. I feel like I am falling off a cliff when blocking and I fear someone is negatively judging me.
But the metaphor surprisingly fit into a pretend work scenario too. I get anxious when I feel someone at work is judging me.
The trainer felt good that I had risked and shared and felt my colleagues had learned from my share. She encouraged us to dig deep when we are feeling the impact of change in our lives. And to use metaphors to help us dig deeper.
I thought long and hard after the training and was happy that I shared this metaphor that I often feel – even though I didn’t come out and directly say I was talking about stuttering. I didn’t have to – it still related to a general fear of judgement, which is a universal fear. We all want to be accepted and not seen as different from the norm.
What about you? How do you feel in the stuttering moment? Is there a metaphor you could use to describe that feeling?
I consider myself to be a fairly well adjusted, confident stutterer, after many years of hiding my stuttering, and denial that hiding it bothered me.
These days, I stutter openly and talk about my stuttering often. I understand the complexity and variability of stuttering. Many of my friends remark often how cool it is to see me so comfortable in my skin.
So why then do I still have moments when I get so frustrated? Yesterday, I was talking with a colleague, someone with whom I am now sharing an office. He knows I stutter – its not an issue.
When chatting with him, I was repeating more words than usual, and experienced more blocking. To the point that in one really good block, I broke eye contact, said “geez,” looked away and struggled mightily to get the word out.
Why does this still happen to a well adjusted, desensitized stutterer? Thoughts?
My friend Evan shared his thoughts without me even asking. We both shared almost identical stories today on our blogs. See Evans post on his blog “I Stutter, So What!”
I was asked this week during a meeting to introduce myself and tell my “story” to a new team I will be working with. The Director wanted to know our work and personal backgrounds, and essentially what makes us tick and our values.
I chose to include some discussion about my stuttering journey, as how I handle stuttering impacts just about everything I do.
Reflecting back on what I said in that discussion and some questions asked, here is my list of how you should care for and feed your stuttering.
1. If you stutter, stutter. Don’t just say you stutter and then not stutter – you don’t look credible then.
2. When talking about it, relax, maintain eye contact and smile. It really does engage listeners.
3. If someone asks a question, answer it honestly. I was asked, “I don’t know much about stuttering, can you tell me a little more about it?” Do that!
4. Voluntary stutter periodically, especially if you are having a really fluent day. Sounds counter-intuitive, but that’s part of caring for your stutter.
5. Be sure to feed your stuttering – don’t be afraid of blocks or signs of tension. If you have disclosed, it will be expected. Your stuttering will eat that up and relax.
6. Acknowledge feelings you have about stuttering. Know that shame and fear of judgement still creep in from time to time. That’s why it’s so important to care for your stuttering by being good to it and not hiding it.
7. Don’t spend precious time and energy trying not to stutter – it rarely works. It’s more efficient to just stutter and move forward.
8. Thank others who take an interest and ask questions.
9. Thank your stuttering when it has a particularly good day. Say, “Thank you stuttering!”
10. Share these care and feeding tips with others – people who stutter or not. It gives your stuttering more confidence.
Episode 90 features Briana Pipkin who was born and raised in Dallas, Texas. Briana is 21 years old and currently a senior at Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas. She is studying to become a speech language pathologist.
Briana decided to study speech language pathology after ruling out other career paths and remembering a positive experience she had as a child.
Listen in as we discuss stuttering choices, disclosure and fear of judgment.
We also discuss covert stuttering as it relates to choices and the responsibility of educating others so they know how to respond. We also talk about the rise of on-line stuttering forums and support groups.
Feel free to leave comments for either Briana or me in the below comment section.
The podcast safe music used in this episode is credited to ccMixter.
About a month ago, I attended a meeting of a new stuttering support group. A SLP friend, who also stutters, wanted some of the people he has been working with to see the power of support.
Steve asked me to come to the first meeting, to meet some people and to share. I felt a little awkward going, as I most likely won’t be able to attend again, as the schedule doesn’t work for me.
I shared parts of my story with the group and answered some questions.
At one point in the conversation, Steve asked me how I had reached the point where I am comfortable advertising and stuttering freely at work.
In my answer, I mentioned that sometimes it bothers me when people tell me, “Oh, you are such an inspiration.” I feel embarrassed by that, and even a bit annoyed. Sometimes, I don’t want to be singled out like that and told that I am inspiring.
To me, I am doing exactly what everyone else is doing – talking. I don’t want a big deal made out of what everyone does everyday.
I was quite surprised when one woman, Francis, who had previously said very little, said, “Excuse me, but what if you are? Who are you to determine that? To people who stutter, you are an inspiration. You can’t control how people think of you.”
That was a moment! She was looking a little teary eyed as she said it. I didn’t know what to say, so I just said thank you. And she smiled and said, “I wish I could be as confident as you.”
There was another SLP in the group and she commented that she also agreed with Francis. She too said she thought I was inspiring for people who stutter.
I have thought about that exchange for a couple of weeks. It reminds me of a similar comment another friend shared with me some time ago. Lisa mentioned that she hates it when anyone calls her inspiring for just doing what she has to do and living life.
Interesting food for thought. What do you think? Has anyone ever referred to you as inspirational when you don’t feel you are?
This is an interesting story that brings up the issues of shame regarding stuttering.
Stutterer and country singer Tim Poe auditioned for the reality TV show “America’s Got Talent” in Texas this past week. Before performing his song, his pre-interview showed him stuttering. So what, you might say.
Mr. Poe is a military veteran who claims he was injured in combat in Afghanistan and suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI.) He claims the stuttering is a result of the TBI.
Within 24 hours of his television audition, the media reported that Mr. Poe lied about being injured and that his stuttering was not the result of an injury, which would have made it neurogenic stuttering. It appears that Mr. Poe has indeed been a life-long stutterer and was so embarrassed that he felt he need to create an elaborate lie about his circumstances.
A lie that illustrates the shame of stuttering and a lie that illustrates disrespect to military veterans who have indeed been gravely injured.
I have heard of people who stutter who make up other reasons to explain stuttering, so they don’t have to admit or acknowledge the stuttering. People have coughed, cleared their throat, said they swallowed wrong, pretend to word switch.
Some people are so embarrassed and ashamed of their stuttering that they will do anything to hide it.
This example is extreme. What do you think?
There was some discussion on one of the stuttering email groups about this young man’s choice to deliver a rap for his graduation speech.
A comment laments the fact that this kid, Colin, might give the impression to those that don’t stutter that he had no choice but to use a “trick” to deliver his graduation speech.
I applaud Colin’s very choice to take a risk and be innovative. It shows me that he did not let his stutter prevent him from participating in his graduation ceremony.
Saying it. Trying to say it.
Not to answer to logic, but leaving our very lives open to how we have to hear ourselves say what we mean.
The first part of this poem could have been written about stuttering. That’s not why a fellow Toastmaster chose to share this at our meeting. She was no doubt relating to how we communicate and choose our words, as that is a focus in Toastmasters.
But I heard struggle, vulnerability, and guilt. I wasn’t just listening, I was relating and processing, on a deep, personal level.
Maybe other Toastmasters heard the same, for of course it’s not only stutterers who struggle with saying what they want to say.
As a person who stutters, those simple words – “Saying It” – struck such a chord with me. Sometimes we can’t say it, or don’t say it, or change what we were going to say.
We are afraid of what the struggle will look like as we try to say it, and how we, and our listeners, have to hear ourselves say what we mean. I know I have been afraid to just “say it.” I worry about what others will think, still.
And there are times when I really don’t like having to hear myself say what I mean.
What about you? What do you think?
Do you ever blame yourself for stuttering? Why do you suppose that is? Is it because of how other people react to us?
My stuttering is very variable. Sometimes my stuttering is hardly noticeable, other times it seems I stutter or block on every other word. I have had people comment to me something like, “do you know just now you didn’t stutter at all? How come you can’t do that all the time?”
I can’t do that all the time because it takes too much energy and time to think about breathing and light contact when I am ready to speak. I just speak, like everyone else. And sometimes my words don’t come out smoothly or at all for a moment (or few.)
What about stutterers who stutter severely – with struggle behavior and blocking on every word, all of the time? What do you think listeners think when listening? “Damn, they’re just lazy. If they worked on their speech, they wouldn’t sound like that.”
Does a listener listening to stuttering think we can turn it off and on with ease? Or does the listener think we could if we tried harder. You know, tried our “speech tools” or our “targets.” Practiced more, focused more, concentrated on being fluent.
A friend shared recently that he blames himself for stuttering. “Why?” I naturally asked. “People look at me and judge me and think I’m messed up because I stutter.” (he actually used a stronger word than “messed up”)
He thinks he could have, or should have, done something about “it” – and because he didn’t or couldn’t, it’s his fault that he stutters. He’s to blame!
He said, “people don’t look at people in a wheelchair and think if they tried harder, they could walk. But they do think that about stuttering – if I went to therapy, I wouldn’t stutter like this. It’s my fault. I blame myself for stuttering.”
Should we blame our selves for stuttering? Should blame even enter into conversations about stuttering?
What do you think?