Make Room For The Stuttering

The Thrill of the Chase

Posted on: May 29, 2009

So I finally get it. Three years after coming out of the covert closet, I finally get what the chase has been all about. I’ve talked about it, I’ve lived it, I’ve modeled it, and I’ve shared the message with other people. But I never really internalized it for just me. Until now.

I have been on a chase, a hunt, for a long time. Not a treasure hunt, not a scavenger hunt, although it has certainly felt like that at times. All this time, its been freedom that I have been chasing, not fluency. I had not been running away, but actually running towards freedom. All this time. And I am just now really getting it. So there is something to all this journaling and writing. It is free-ing.

That’s why I have been so uncomfortable in the speech therapy program I have been attending for about three years. I have posted about some of this before. I don’t even like the name of the program, and have suggested that they consider changing it.

I began to feel uncomfortable wrapping my brain around fluency targets. I was uncomfortable introducing myself at every group meeting with “Hello, my name is and my target tonight is.” If I didn’t do it, someone always asked what my target was. I didn’t like that.  It felt like I was in a foreign country, and I didn’t know the language. I don’t like conformity. I did speak up about that at the group once, as hard as it was to express a contrary view. I was rather proud of myself!

My world has been expanding. I have been letting people in. I have let myself out. My world view has changed and I have been been so open to many new things and ideas.  Open seems like such a little word for what I have really become. I wrote previously about the experience of being “Broken Open” (see the book by Elizabeth Lesser). I have walked through some of the pain, limping sometimes, but have emerged strong and intact. And my mind is now open to this freedom.

I recently listened to Greg’s tiger analogy and have been reading the book Waking the Tiger, by Peter A. Levine. (Interestingly, I started reading this book before I had heard Greg’s tiger analogy -so I was obviously already on my way to this awakening).

Some people that stutter are chasing fluency. I have met them and talked with them. They believe that stuttering is bad and needs to be eliminated from their lives. I disagree with that, and I am comfortable saying it. It has indeed been freedom I have wanted all this time.

Not freedom from stuttering – not freedom even from some of the pain and trauma I have experienced. Because, indeed, there has been pain. But freedom to just be me. And to just be.

I loved the movie “The Wizard of Oz”, and that line that Dorothy says as she walks fearfully through the forest. She says, “Lions and Tigers and Bears, OH MY.”

OH, MY, the tiger is not such a bad thing – maybe it has been pushing me towards freedom. It has certainly helped to awaken me to all that is available in this big world of ours.

Copyright © 2009

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9 Responses to "The Thrill of the Chase"

Great post, Pam. Proactively taking the personal freedom to choose one’s attitude and life perspective. And for us, it’s morphing our Ti-Ger that has robbed our quality of life into our beloved pet and life companion. 🙂

I beleive I have been chasing fluency all this time and so this post is a real eye opener. This is now having me focus more on just being. I stutter so what, this is me, If I had suceeded at eliminating stuttering, then who would I be? Certainly not me.

Great post and thanks for the eye opener.

All the best.

Pam-
This is a great post for speech pathologists as well as people who stutter. Do you still attend the speech therapy group and if yes, why? Lori

Hey everybody,

Thanks for the feedback. This was an important realization for me, and maybe for others too.

Lori –
I have attended this program for 3 years. It starts up again this week, and I will not be attending. I am going to give myself a break, take a step back, and take a look at how I do without it. I don’t think I need individual therapy, but I really love the group aspect of this program.

I enjoy hanging out with other people who stutter and getting into some good discussions about stuttering experiences. That part I will miss very much, so much that I probabl will go back for just the group part, and not the therapy process.

Its a school program, so the SLP students need us to get thier clinical hours, and I totally support that, because I think I teach them a great deal about the emotional aspect of stuttering. But, for now, I am not going to attend. I will probably go into withdrawal. 🙂

Hi Pam

I met you briefly at last year’s NSA conference. I attended your workshop and we both participated in the Toastmasters demo. Looking forward to seeing you in Phoenix.

I gather that you were in fluency shaping therapy? I did the Hollins therapy a number of years ago and it didn’t really go much for it. I lost my fluency rapidly after leaving the program. I am currently in stuttering modification/avoidance reduction therapy, which has been much more effective for me. The goal of the therapy is not to be fluent per se, but to have forward moving, non-struggled speech.

In fluency shaping, if you are not “fluent” you have somehow failed, but in stuttering modification therapy, as long as you don’t struggle or use a “trick” it is considered to be a success. One of the key concepts is “you don’t have a choice as to if you stutter, but you do have a choice as to how you stutter”.

I know many people have benefitted from fluency shaping and one of the characteristics of stuttering is that different approaches work for different people. But I agree that striving for fluency all the time is going to be frustrating and eventually tiresome.

btw – Great Blog, really good stuff here.

See you in Phoenix

Matt

Hey Matt,

Thanks for the great feedback. Yeah, its been fluency shaping I have been involved in. I had a hard time with it from the start. Never was able to process “working on targets”. I think my internal fight with really wanting acceptance is what stood in my way.

I did some stuttering modification – really the only thing that has worked with me is volitional stuttering. That gives me the greatest degree of control. And of course slowing my rate down, but good Toastmasters should do that anyway, whether we stutter or not.

I remember you from the demo meeting. It was fun. I have told Jeff I will help out if he still needs people. I am doing another workshop this year, co-facilitating with a SLP, on a different topic.

Let’s be sure we say hello again this year. As for this blog, it is incredibly healing for me to be this honest, and know that it may be helping others as well. I would like to hear about your Hollins exp too. One other person I know has told me some of his exp with it.

Hi Pam

I told Jeff that I would help him with the Toastmasters demo also, so I’ll see you there.

Regarding Hollins – I went through the three week intensive. At the end of the three weeks I was more or less fluent. However, the fluency rapidly broke down after I left. Within a week, I was back to my old patterns. One of the issues when I am “fluent” (for whatever reason), is that I am always waiting for the other shoe to drop. – How long will this last? and that creates anxiety in and of itself.

I’ve looked into all kinds of things to “treat” my stuttering. A number of years ago, I was doing Neuro-lingistic Programming (NLP). The first time I went to a session, I came out pefectly fluent which lasted for three days.

So I am tired of chasing fluency. I have opted for a combination of voluntary stuttering and stuttering modification so that my speech is forward moving and struggle free most of the time.

Matt

Thank you for this post. It made me cry for a whole jumble of reasons, which I appreciate tonight! Mostly, your post led me to reflect on how much healthier and happier I am socially now that I am stuttering openly. I certainly chased “fluency” for a long time and I suppose a part of me still recently believed that I had abandoned that goal and settled for the next best thing. Thank you for helping me realize that in fact, stuttering openly turned out to be the strategy that worked best to attain the fundamental goal of my long chase, and that the goal ran much deeper than the sounds of words. “Fluency” was a red herring; it was just the image that I had mistakenly associated with peace.

I’m very glad I found your blog and the community in general. Take care.

Great realization Pam! I’m so happy for you!! LOVE the “freedom to just be me”. We love you for being you! Who would you be if you weren’t yourself? You’re right, you’re being open and letting people in. I’m so thankful for being one of them…
You finally listened to Greg’s Ti-Ger analogy, great!! It’s spot on right? Love it! ;o)

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