Make Room For The Stuttering

I’m Sorry (for Stuttering)

Posted on: October 9, 2009

Do we really do that? Apologize for stuttering?

Ramma and I talked last night and he told me that he had a couple of very tough speech days. I asked him what it was that frustrated him. Ramma said that while talking to an important authority figure, he had one of the longest blocks he has ever had. He was unable to get past an “m” and blocked on “mmmmmmmmmmmmm” for what seemed an eternity. His listener was patient, and eventually supplied the word. It was the correct word. Within the context of the scientific conversation, the listener was able to correctly guess what Ramma was trying to say.

Ramma went on to tell me that he then said “sorry” to his listener. I asked why he felt the need to apologize for his stuttering. Ramma  said he wasn’t really apologizing for stuttering, but for the inconvenience he had subjected the listener to. I asked him what he meant. He explained that there may be a cultural difference in how the word “sorry” is used here in America and in other countries.

In America, the act of apologizing is encouraged (certainly not always done!) when someone has done something wrong that may offend another. Saying “I am sorry” is a way to express regret for the decision or behavior. In other countries, saying “I’m sorry” means roughly the same as  “pardon me for holding you up.”  It is more like an acknowledgement, rather an apology.

I can remember apologizing for stuttering, and then feeling awful for doing that. At our school Open House last year, I remember chatting with the grandmother of a student. We were  making small talk while she waited for her grand-daughter to finish up a demonstration. While chatting, she asked me where I went to college. I attempted to say “Keuka College”, but couldn’t get past the “K”. It was coming out like, “Ka-ka-ka-ka . . . . . . . .”

She was being patient, and finally guessed  (wrongly), “Cayuga College.” I agreed with her, even though it was NOT the college I had attended. I then remember saying, ‘sorry about that.” I was indeed referring to my stuttering. She didn’t know I stutter. I didn’t disclose it. It didn’t feel right to do that.

After we parted, I felt so awful for apologizing. I knew I shouldn’t have, but something inside me felt guilty for subjecting her to that. I felt because she was at an open house at a high school, she certainly wasn’t expecting anyone to talk like that.

I remember talking about that at my next self-help support group meeting. Saying out loud that I had felt the need to apologize for my stuttering and how unhappy that made me feel. We should not apologize for who we are. We are all unique and different for a reason.

I think Ramma and I both experienced the same instinctual reaction to apologize, but with the apology having different meanings in different contexts. I stand firm in the belief that we should not apologize for stuttering, BUT I can understand where it comes from. Maybe from a place deep in our core that just wants to be loved and accepted for who we are.

Has this happened to you? Have you found yourself apologizing for a stuttering moment? One thing -we shouldn’t beat ourselves up over it. Our feelings, whatever they are and however they come out, are legitimate.

11 Responses to "I’m Sorry (for Stuttering)"

I apologise all the time ,even this morning when i had to ring the hospital ,and blocked on my post code ,i stopped said sorry and tried again ,,and it was for my stuttering ,but makes me feel better by saying sorry although i know i shouldn’t have to. i even do it with my partner and he provides the word for me .maybe its something i should work on !!!!

Excellent Topic! I have done that so many times and still do upon occasion. Sorry for making you wait; sorry for making you have to listen to me; sorry for stuttering and everything else I have done to make you uncomfortable. Saying I’m sorry is just so automatic at times I don’t even realize i am doing it. Something to look at, analyze, and possibly change.

Thanks Pam!

Interesting Topic!!! I have never apologized for my stuttering. Rather I would say, I have never had that thought to apologize for my stuttering. I don’t know why. Because, that is what makes Ridwan! 🙂

I had many experiences were people used to ask me like “Do you stutter?” “Why do you take such a long time to say something?” sorta stuffs. It breaks my heart! When I say “I stutter!”. They apologize to me, I say “It’s OK. Most people are not aware of Stuttering and have not met someone who stuttered. I understand”.

I cannot remember outrightly apologizing for my stuttering, but i remember, being the chairperson for a committee at my church I was giving my annual report in an annual meeting. I was particularly nervous and in an attempt to calm myself, I said, please excuse me while I stutter through my report. Maybe thats apologizing but I just did it to create some ease for myself so that i would stutter less.

Well, it did not work, I stuttered so much through that report.

We should never at all apologise for who we are. Our stuttering is not a result of our own doing. I stutter not because I picked up the habit along the way, it is hereditary, persons in my family stutter and so I could not escape it.

I will in no way apologise for that.

I would never apologise for my stuttering because I wound never admit publicly that my speech was a problem, I was so ashamed and my self esteem was so low. I joined the MCguire Programme 5 years ago and it has turned my life around. It offers support from a holistic point of view, not just technqiues and breathing , so much more.

I am confident as a speaker 95 percent of the time now and one fo the things that I no longer do is ACCEPT when other people say my words for me if I am having difficulty, I continue saying exactly what I wanted to say. Its being assertive with your stammer and your listeners and educating people at the same time, please do not finish off my words. 🙂

Wow, great discussion. I knew when my friend and I talked about this on the phone that I would write about it. I know that we are not obligated to apologize for our stuttering, but like I said, I have done it, almost instinctually. And I feel disappointed in myself when I do that.
Thanks for reading and sharing. We really do learn from each other.

I don’t think saying, “I’m sorry,” always means you feel at fault.

“I’m sorry about your loss,” is an example where it means, “I sympathize with you.” If you’re saying it as an acknowledgment that the listener may have to work a bit harder than with other speakers, it can be part of disclosure. It can also be away of thanking them. I thank people for holding the door for me, even though I’m perfectly capable of holding it for myself. I thank the kid who puts the heavy bags in my car, even though it’s his job.

On the other hand, if you’re saying it because you feel at fault or somehow broken,… I’m not sure how to phrase what it shows because it varies with person and where they are on their journey. It’s still a big step from saying nothing at all or using different words or ordering a meal you don’t want because you’re afraid of stuttering!

If saying it doesn’t bother you, and doesn’t feel like you’re letting yourself down, then don’t feel guilty. If it starts to bother you, then work on stopping. I suspect it will change over time, as your relationship with the stuttering changes.

Hi Pam, i loved this blog post by the way! You are so intuitive! Love that i spelled that right!! Just the fact that you can relate so very, very well is proof positive, to me, that you so belong where you are!! I mean that, to the last degree!! LUV YOU bye BYE

I admt I sometimes when I am in really hard silent blocks. If I am really honest with myself, I do it because I am sorry they have to listen /look at me while I am blocking in that manner. I am embarressed and ashamed that I phyically cannot get the word out.

As an extreme stutter, I always apologize. I hate putting people through the anger and impatience of having to wait for me to say what I want when I know I can’t.

For the more softer stutterers who don’t take long to say what they want but still can get their point across, there would be no need to apoligize because because I feel you wouldn’t feel like you were wasting their time with so much stuttering.

No need to aplogize for minor mishaps, but aplogize for big mishaps.

Hey great post. I hope it’s ok that I shared it on my Facebook, if not, no worries just let me know and
I’ll delete it. Either way keep up the good work.

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