Make Room For The Stuttering

Duplicity

Posted on: March 15, 2009

I know some people who are so covert that no one knows they stutter. They don’t tell people in their world that they attend support group or are associated in any way with people who stutter. One person I know tells people she is taking a class, rather than admit that she goes to a self-help group. It is too much of a stigma for her.

That was me for a long time, and still is sometimes. That is hard for me to admit, but sometimes I am not open with my stuttering. And I find myself really kicking myself when I do that, because I feel like a hypocrite.

When I first discovered the self-help stuttering community, I felt caught between two worlds. I didn’t stutter enough sometimes, so I felt I didn’t connect with the really overt stutterers, and I stuttered too obviously sometimes to try and blow it off.

As much as I feel I have been open and honest with myself and others, there are times when I don’t disclose that I stutter. This happens most for me in the workplace. Communication is so inherent, and so taken for granted, that it is definitely noticed when you have a little blip on the radar. I think it is fear and shame that still keeps me from being honest about this part of me.

I still remember how horrifying it was to be fired from a long -term position because of stuttering. Part of me remains fearful that I could be hurt again by the large number of people who really don’t get stuttering. I know I can minimize this by being open and seizing those moments to educate and raise awareness, but sometimes the workplace is just not the right place to do that.

I remember recently at a work event – a strategic planning meeting – I said hello to an administrator. His last name begins with “L” – lets say Leland. It came out, “Good evening, Mr. Le-Leland”. He replied, “Oh, so now my name is Le-Leland”. Certainly not one of those heart-stopping moments, but he noticed and remarked about it. Enough to make me feel self-conscious and uncomfortable.

So, sometimes I feel I am leading two lives. One that is open and honest, authentic and real. And one that just can’t shake that feeling that the world at large still finds stuttering unacceptable. I know this leads back to my father’s early criticism and disapproval. I am an adult now. But those feelings still loom and are very real. When someone criticizes me, I feel like I did when I was 5 years old and my dad was screaming at me to shut up if I couldn’t speak right. I felt I had failed.

I really want my two worlds to become one, and find that balance. I am going to keep trying.

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1 Response to "Duplicity"

[…] how it feels to be out of balance and feel like I lead two lives. It was in the post called Duplicity. I ended that post with this line: I really want my two worlds to become one, and find that […]

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© Pamela A Mertz and Make Room For The Stuttering, 2009 - 2017. 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 2017.