Make Room For The Stuttering

I Wish I Stuttered

Posted on: March 30, 2009

I recently had a long conversation with one of my sisters, and among other things, we talked about stuttering. Now this is a rarity, because for many years, any mention of my stuttering was done in a cloak and dagger sort of way. Mysteriously whispered about, so my feelings would be spared.

My sister Kim and I sometimes have cautious discussions about stuttering. Cautious, because even though it is an “allowed topic” now, she will still tip-toe around it, to make sure I am really comfortable bringing it up. Once she’s sure though, whoosh, we’re talking about stuttering. It seems she always wanted to, even though no one else in the family ever wanted to talk about it. On the rare occasions it was mentioned, it was hush hush and a “we feel sorry for her” kind of thing. Kim says it would have been too awkward actually talking about stuttering, when the person stuttering seemed to pull it off a lot of the time that she didn’t stutter! (Say that three times fast!)

Kim told me that once she had been very angry with my mother’s husband Paul, when we were all gathered outside of a church the day of my sister Stacey’s wedding rehearsal. We all met in front of the church. When I got there, I said some sort of greeting to everyone, and Paul teasingly mimicked the way I said it. I remember it only vaguely. In those days, I didn’t say anything and kept the hurt to myself. Well, it seems Kim remembered it like it was yesterday.

Kim had overheard Paul’s remark, as did her son, Anthony. He had said to his mom, “why would Paul make fun of her like that? That’s terrible, and mean. He shouldn’t do that – she can’t help it.” (he was referring to my stuttering – wow – understanding as a kid).Kim told me she said something like she wanted to put Paul in his place, but didn’t, because she didn’t think I would want anyone calling any more attention to my stuttering.

I never knew that, until Kim shared it with me when we were just shooting the breeze and talking about stuff, and stuttering. That opened the door for us to talk about other stuttering related things. She told me there is a girl she works with who has a really severe stutter, and that some of the stroke patients she works with have sometimes stuttered. She told me she wished she could have asked me about stuttering and how it felt, so that she had a better sense of it when she meets others who stutter.

Having this conversation with my sister brought tears to my eyes. Just talking openly about it with a family member after so much silence was important, meaningful, had an impact. It has been one more step on my own acceptance journey, having a family member acknowledge that its OK and I’m OK.

We started talking about some of the doors that have opened up for me since I opened up about my stuttering and came out of the closet. I shared with Kim that I have loved traveling to conferences and talking and meeting with other people who stutter, and that stuttering has really allowed me to see the world in a whole new light. She jokingly said, “Boy, I wish I stuttered too”. She has no idea how good that was to hear.

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4 Responses to "I Wish I Stuttered"

I will give this another shot at posting…
A friend of mine who stutters often introduces me to others who stutter as, “This is Jill, she doesn’t stutter but she wishes she did!”
That was such a simple thought that your sister expressed… and though she was not being literal, it goes to show how far the two of you have come in speaking lightly of stuttering. The topic is up for grabs, she respects you and you respect her enough that such a comment can be made.
I can not get over how healthy your mentality is while coming out of the stuttering closet. Truly a role model for acknowledging the negative and moving on to a positive light.

It has truly been a journey. The healthy mentality is new, and I wish it was 100% of the time. But its ok when I slip back into a covert habit – it just reminds me that indeed I am human. As for being a role model – not sure, but thanks for that – I do feel I am helping others and myself by finally being honest.

Yup. =) To many people see Stuttering as a curse. It is what you make it. I personally would hate it if one day I wake up and didn’t stutter. It’s a huge part of who I am. In many good and bad ways.

So great that you and Kim are finally talking about this! I hope it will help bring you guys closer to each other. =)
Of course she wants to learn! Stuttering is cool as you know, and being a nurse, she will benefit greatly from knowing more about stuttering. She can be there for her patients in a whole different way.
I’m so happy for you that you’ve finally found a family member to talk to! I know that’s very important to you, and something you have missed greatly. Keep up the sister-talk!
Love you!

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