Make Room For The Stuttering

Honest, I Stutter

Posted on: April 29, 2009

I recently found myself defending the fact that I stutter. Honest!

It is a fact.  I was evaluated and diagnosed  as having a stutter,  I hear myself stutter, and other people identify my speech pattern as stuttering. Sometimes, though,someone with a more pronounced overt stutter gets a little ruffled and thinks mine is so mild in comparison that I shouldn’t identify myself as a stutterer.

I actually found myself getting defensive. I felt the need to convince him that I really do stutter. It brings me back to the time a couple of year ago when someone questioned why I was at a self help meeting for stuttering, because I obviously didn’t stutter. At the time, that person had made me feel as if I had crashed a party I wasn’t invited to.

That feeling of being caught between both worlds (fluent and stuttering) is very uncomfortable. I don’t stutter enough to “belong” with the severe overts who block a lot, and I stutter and repeat too much to pass myself off as fluent. I used to be able to do that when I just flat out avoided speaking situations.

So this guy who stutters doesn’t consider me to be a stutterer and takes offense when I identify as a stutterer because mine is not as “nasty sounding” as his.  Maybe he thinks I am a fraud. Maybe I am really impersonating being a stutterer?

My feeling is that this guy is struggling with his own stuttering issues and maybe has a problem with me having become so confident and comfortable in my skin and it shows. I have not always been like this. Just last night, at a speech I gave at Toastmasters, I told of being so afraid to be found out as a stutterer that I avoided most speaking situations. I was afraid of lots of things – mostly rejection.

My gut and heart tells me that’s what may be going on with this person, who said I don’t stutter, that I am “a fluent”. I am not a SLP nor any other kind of licensed health professional. But I am an expert in my own stuttering. Stuttering is variable, complex and situational. Its apples and oranges to two different people who stutter. It’s not a contest to see who stutters the nastiest. To me, its about how I present myself to the world. Do I communicate effectively? Do I get my point across? Do I engage and participate?

The answer, my friend, is Yes. I engage and participate with the world, sometimes while stuttering. We have to be honest with our selves first before we can be honest with the world.

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3 Responses to "Honest, I Stutter"

Pam, sorry for being so late with my comment (I hope it wil be some more comments later on). I really found myself in this blogpost. What you wrote applies very much to me: In my old self-help group, the more severe stutterers told me I should “not complain” and I would “be fluent”. So I felt a little bit out of place there. In the real world, I can be couvert and hide everything. But then I do not feel honest to myself, I cheat myself and other people. But when I say what i want, I probably stutter a lot more, and very often I feel guilt then. Not so easy and still a long way to go… sorry for the bad English, I’m German 😉

What bad English? Its great. I am glad you could relate. Its tough being covert, huh? It throws people off when you are fluent and then, “bam” stuttering makes an appearance. For such a long time, I didn’t get it – the variability. Sometimes I am so fluent, other times, not.
And I still struggle with listener reaction, even at this point in my life.

Being honest with the world and authentic with myself is extremely important, but it doesn’t always work out.

Really looking forwardto getting to know you some more.

[…] Make Room for the Stuttering post about prejudicial discimination within the stuttering population.  Those with a greater level of overt stuttering severity challenging the stuttering ’street-cred’ of those w/ less overt stuttering severity.  Such mindsets will not result in success, as it focuses on all things external and not self-improvement of the internal.  (Further, the recent study finding that stuttering’s impact on quality of live is independent of overt stuttering severity.) […]

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