Make Room For The Stuttering

Tear Off The Labels

Posted on: July 22, 2009

Last night at support group, we had a lively discussion about stuttering, shame, and acceptance. People are on very different stages of their journey. Some of the newer and younger members talked about their feelings  that stuttering puts them at a social disadvantage, and that stuttering is socially unacceptable. Interesting, in that some people feel that this perception will never change, and that the fluent world will always have the upper hand. That a stutterer should try everything he or she can do to hide the stuttering, to lessen the shame.

I don’t believe that at all. I believe quite the opposite to be true. I think we need to stutter openly in front of others to show we are accepting of stuttering. That will translate into, “I’m OK, you be OK.”. What the fluent world becomes conflicted with is our own mixed messages. We want to be treated with respect, be heard and listened to, yet we also try to hide that which we need to self-advocate for. We really need to raise our voices and give ourselves permission to be heard, as is.

We need to tear off our labels and  free ourselves. If we think we are different and accorded different reactions by the larger population, then that is exactly what is going to happen. Surely, you have heard of the self-fulfilling prophesy. I remember back in elementary school, we had this fund-raising program where we had to bring in soup can labels. I remember trying to tear the labels off the soup cans – some were stuck on their good and had to be soaked in a little water. But once the labels were off, all of the soup cans looked the same and were at a level playing field. No one kind of soup was better than any other. All the cans looked the same.

We could do the same thing with our stuttering selves. Tear off the self-imposed labels we put there: inferior, inadequate, at a disadvantage, shameful. We project these labels onto others. If we are confident and self-aware and proud, that will project to our listeners. Our listeners will then follow suit. If we don’t make a big deal of it, then neither will they.

Someone mentioned it is a way of taking back the power. We should never put ourselves in a position to give that power away. That is far easier said than done. I am sure we are all guilty of that. I will be the first to raise my hand. We dictate how the fluent world reacts and engages with us. Imagine freedom from labels. Children will grow up not knowing shame, and will be healthy and strong communicators. Which we all yearn to be.

What will you do with your labels?

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1 Response to "Tear Off The Labels"

Thanks for your post.

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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.