Make Room For The Stuttering

On Fitting In

Posted on: March 4, 2009

I have done some reading and reflecting on acceptance, which is ultimately what we all want and strive for. A recent post by another blogger talks about the difference between accepting ourselves – stuttering and all – and being accepted for who we are – stuttering and all.

That has been one of my biggest struggles -truly accepting all of me. I have never truly felt I fit anywhere. I have always found myself trying to re-make myself into the image I thought others wanted me to be. First it was my father. He saw me as flawed and was embarrassed by me. Not just the stuttering, but other things. I was sensitive, shy and awkward. I was self-conscious about the stuttering, and because it was not talked about, I felt very alone.

I remember wanting what the things other kids had, so I could fit in. Not unlike most kids. But I didn’t want to just “fit in”, I wanted to blend in, so I wouldn’t stick out. It was not to be. With six kids, my mom had no interest in keeping up with fashion, nor did she have the emotional stength or desire to be concerned if her kid was a social misfit. I horribly remember awful blue shoes and thrift store dungarees. And I was not blessed with good looks as a child, which really made everything worse. I tried and failed to blend in with the other kids.

In high school, I continued to try and make myself like the other girls. I saved every penny I had to buy monogrammed sweaters and the “it” pocketbook all the other girls had. But it didn’t work. The “in crowd” never really accepted me. Neither did the other crowd. I was miserable and retreated into books and trying to keep things together at home as things fell apart there as well. I remember lying about my parents, and even who I was sometimes, in an effort to create an image of myself that I thought others would like. I fantasized about being born into the wrong person , and that I was really smart, pretty, social and could talk beautifully.

It was hard work pretending to be someone else. Around people at college, I tried to re-make myself into someone who partied, drank too much and hung out with a rough crowd. I hated it, but thought it was the way to fit in and make friends.

In the workplace, hiding my stuttering became a full time job. I tried to fit in with the fluent world, and was never comfortable. I never dared to reveal my true self, out of desperate fear that I would be rejected and abandoned. The one guy I really ever loved did not know that, as I was afraid to tell him, and afraid of being hurt. I played it safe, and fell into a relationship that never felt right, because I was afraid of being alone and hurt.

Fast forward, twenty years later. I still feel I haven’t found the right fit for me. I am who I am. I write better than I talk, I get embarrassed easily, and sometimes I still try to pass myself off as a non-stutterer. I don’t practice what I preach. I don’t always walk the walk. I still struggle with my demons. I come from a dysfunctional, abusive background, and to this day, I try to keep some of that buried. I am definitely on a journey and I don’t know where I will quite end up . But I trust that I am on the right path. I am letting stuff out, and letting stuff in, that I never have before.

I used to be afraid of my stuttering, emotional self. I am finally trying to make friends with myself, and find my fit.

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© Pamela A Mertz and Make Room For The Stuttering, 2009 - 2022. 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 2022.
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