Make Room For The Stuttering

Shame On Me!

Posted on: June 17, 2009

It creeps in unexpectedly. I know the tell-tale signs.  Flushed face, racing heart, averted eyes,  or some lame attempt at avoidance. Of all the feelings that can be associated with our stuttering, shame is the toughest. It speaks to how I feel about me, the person, not the stuttering, which is something that I do.

When I realize I am still dealing with the “S” word, I feel so hypocritical. Like, I have no right to write about acceptance when shame still affects me. I remember reading a piece by Bill Murphy on shame, where he reminds us of what shame is, and how openness about stuttering can reduce shame. I am very open about my stuttering, but still, shame creeps in, at those moments when I least expect it.

Murphy’s distinction between shame and guilt is worth sharing here: Guilt is associated with something you have done. Shame is related to the way you are. This means that you may feel guilt for something that you did or said. When you feel shame, its deeper. You feel something is wrong with you, that you are defective or flawed.

I still feel shame sometimes, (about stuttering, about past unspeakables) even though intellectually I know I shouldn’t. My head and my heart are not always aligned. So  those shameful moments, however fleeting, tell me there is still some healing to be done. For me, it means I have to talk about it with someone and write about it.

I felt shame this past week when I got stuck on something that I wanted to say at work. My face got red right away, and I tried to laugh if off, but inside I was feeling inadequate for not being able to say what I wanted when I wanted.

I felt shame when I talked on the phone the other day and had a long stick . The person on the other end asked if I was still there. Of course I was, I hadn’t hung up. I felt frustrated and remember saying to myself, “geez, I can’t believe this. What’s going on?”

I felt shame at the doctor’s office when a nurse asked me what hospital I had a lab done. I said “Sa-Sa-Samaritan”. The nurse looked at me and smiled and said “are you sure?” I was ashamed that I didn’t just tell her that I stuttered. That felt like one of those times that it was not the right place or time to do stuttering education or advocacy. You have to choose your moments. It’s tough when there are so many to choose from and you don’t pick at least one!

Instead, I feel the familiar shame creeping in, with its tell tale signs that yes, there is more work to be done. Yes, I am a work in progress. Yes, I am human and feel things that my head says I shouldn’t.

How does that saying go? Fool me once, shame on you! Fool me twice, shame on me!

I am only fooling myself when I am not honest about what I feel about stuttering and some of the other things. Shame on me for being lulled into a false sense of bliss. I have to be aware of my feelings, and really feel them, all of them – good and bad – and not allow myself to slip backwards into old patterns. That is not healthy. Shame on me!

Copyright © 2009

6 Responses to "Shame On Me!"

The feeling of shame never goes away. It is very much a part of the grab bag of human emotions. We may feel less shame or less moments of shame, but it never goes away. Also, your shame came up secondary to you exhibiting a new way of stuttering, the infamous block. This is new for you, there fore you are not yet desensitized to it and therefor felt shame. Sounds like you need to work on accepting this new way of stuttering in order for the shame to lessen. Take it from the Blocking Queen!


Wasn’t it Stuttering Diva we said Jamie? ;D

Great post! Even though you have done this amazing journey, and come a long way, as you have, the feelings will not go away and stay away forever. There will be moments, often or rare, that they will sneak up on you. Because there will be situations you wish you handled differently, or you meet people who are just not good. But life can not be perfect, you can not be perfect. We are human, we are meant to fail, do stupid things, and mess up. But we are also supposed to be forgiven… So stop beating yourself up about not being 100% perfect 100% of the time. Shame is a crappy feeling though, that no one should have to feel, ever. No one should feel that they are wrong. Shame for doing a bad thing is ok. But feeling there is something not right/fundamentally wrong with you, is just not a feeling people should have about themselves. We are who we are, some of it we made ourselves, but the foundation for who we are, we can not help or change.

Being your authentic self, warts and all, does not mean that shame will never creep in. This I have learned, but I am still surprised.
And I agree with Jamie – something a bit different is happening. I don’t remember the last time I got stuck on a word and couldn’t finish it, and wound up saying never mind.
I may have to do some voluntary sticking to get past this one.
I love the interaction – comments are often more provacative than the original thought.

I ditto all previous comments, shame will never go away becaus eI dont think we can be 100% comfortable with stuttering.

Stuttering is a part of us and without it who are we really? I dont really want to be completely over it, just comfortable with it enough to lead a more normal life.

So far you have gained so much and I am so proud of you Pam. Thanks a lot, as I am seeing my stuttering through very different eyes now and I know as long as I continue to interact with you and others I will be comfortable with being me, the Annetta that stutters.


THat is what it is all about – being comfortable with the Annetta that stutters. As I am comfortable with me – and I am also comfortable sharing the up and down moments. I used to pretend that they didn’t exist, had to taqke care of everything, everyone, never wanted to be vulnerable. I am learning that it is that very vulnerability that makes me who I am.

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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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