Make Room For The Stuttering

My Stupid Mouth Stutters

Posted on: September 8, 2009

I recently listened to John Mayer’s song  “My Stupid Mouth” and enjoyed it. I liked the rhythm and the beat, so actually listened more than once. Then I was intrigued and looked at the lyrics. It is not about stuttering, but deals with some of the very same thoughts and feelings. Here are a few lines of the song:

Oh, the way she feels about me has changed
Thanks for playing, try again.
How could I forget?
Mama said “think before speaking”
No filter in my head
Oh, what’s a boy to do
I guess he better find one

I’m never speaking up again
It only hurts me
I’d rather be a mystery
Than she desert me

Oh I’m never speaking up again
Starting now… Starting now

One more thing
Why is it my fault?
So maybe I try too hard
But it’s all because of this desire
I just wanna be liked
I just wanna be funny
Looks like the jokes on me
So call me captain backfire

I’m never speaking up again
it only hurts me
I’d rather be a mystery
than she desert me

This song closely parallels what a person who stutters might think when they are trying to make conversation or small talk. In the song, Mayers speaks to his girlfriend, and what he says comes out wrong and backfires on him. He says that he is never going to speak again. How many of us have ever thought that? Or actually did that? (I remember reading about James Earl Jones stuttering as a child. I went and heard him perform last year, where he talked about feeling so self-conscious about his stutter that he went intentionally mute for eight years as a child. Hard to believe, as he has gone on to be one of the most recognizable voices on stage, movies and television.)

Having what you want to say backfire sounds familiar. How many times have you tried to say something and had it come out all wrong because of stuttering, or worse yet, switching words? I used to switch words to try not to stutter, but then what came out, often made no sense at all. When that happened, I would feel really ashamed and scurry to the background yet again, to remain on the fringes of conversation, feeling like a fool, thinking that I wouldn’t speak again. Hearing this song made me revisit this – how stuttering can have the same effect.

In the song, Mayer’s mother says “Think before you speak”, like somehow that will magically cause our brain and mouth to connect at exactly the right time and have the perfect thing come out of our mouth. But that doesn’t happen all of the time, and it is easy to be left feeling, “OMG, that’s it, I am never going to speak again.” That’s why those of us who stutter really dislike when people say things like, “slow down”, “think before you speak” and “take a deep breath.”

Mayer also says that he just wants to be funny, and liked, and (I will add) belong. Thats what it comes down to at the end of the day. We want to be funny, liked and feel we belong. We don’t want our mouth betraying us, making us feel we don’t want to speak again.

Yeah, sometimes my brain signals get crossed up and I want to take back what comes out of my mouth. But once it’s out there, it is too late. So when we fall, we have to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, take a sip of water and keep talking.

What do you think?  Has this ever happened? What do you do when your mouth betrays you?

Here’s a link to the song if you want to hear it. My Stupid Mouth, by John Mayers






1 Response to "My Stupid Mouth Stutters"

This is a good one Pam and yes, I have felt like that many times. Not speaking makes me feel like I am going to bust with unexpressed thoughts; so I soon risk speaking again and now you can’t shut me up/ Amazing how that happens when you accept your stutter.

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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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