Make Room For The Stuttering

Adam’s Story: Locked In A Greenhouse

Posted on: October 14, 2009

Adam keeps in touch with me sometimes on this blog or through Face book. Adam identifies as a severe stutterer, and believes any one with a mild to moderate stutter is really fluent compared to him. We have debated this several times. There shouldn’t be a measure to see who stutters worse. It’s all about how we feel, whether we feel handcuffed by our stuttering. Adam does – he feels he cannot communicate with anyone because his stutter is so severe, and he does not want to subject anyone to the agony of listening to him.

Last night, Adam wrote to me. He needed to vent. He had experienced a very difficult time while out with his parents. His written account touched me: his heartfelt emotions, his pain, his frustration with stuttering. I asked him if I could print excerpts of his piece here on this blog. He consented – so here is Adam’s story.  If you want to leave a comment, please direct it to Adam. He will be following!

I love people, Pam. I love my parents and I always have. I have dealt blow by blow with extreme stuttering day by day with some will power- will power that I don’t know where it comes from.

Tonight eating out with my family was enjoyable, but my stuttering and the fact I could not control it made it another stuttering train wreck of an evening I’d like to forget.

It’s not just tonight though. It’s days, weeks, months and years of this ordeal I endure every waking hour. Honestly, I don’t feel the will to try to talk for myself is even there anymore. Speaking has never been successful and never will be for me.

Every day I fight to make it through extreme talking troubles, and tonight at dinner I just couldn’t do it. Everyday I barely make it stuttering wise. I come through, but as always I come through at the end as an emotional wreck because of the constant daily torture of not being able to communicate.

At one point while eating and extremely struggling and stuttering, I felt like crying during dinner. I didn’t want to embarrass my folks or myself or ruin the evening, so I held my head down due to the agony I felt. I even felt my throat getting choked up because of the torment and trouble I felt while trying to say the simplest things. Imagine wanting to have a simple conversation, and one just can’t. Every day is an emotional and verbal rollercoaster.

Picture being locked in a green-house if you will, one can see all the opportunities and flowers outside of that greenhouse, but the way out the door to the land of grass and trees is locked forever. And the lock is the inability to communicate. The lock can only be turned with a device or help from others. The person who can’t express themself is trapped in an empty greenhouse. Others can look in the greenhouse and see the person, but the afflicted person can’t see them or walk outside because they are locked in by anguish and frustration.

My mom had jokingly suggested years ago that I learn sign language, and use that  instead of talking. I just rubbed it off, but over these past 5 yrs. I didn’t know how serious that suggestion was. Maybe it would be better if I learned sign language. I honestly wish I was mute, or was a deaf-mute in these every day times of extreme stuttering.

Too add salt to the wound to make it hurt even more, I wanted my mom or dad to finish my words that I knew I was trying to say myself, but I just couldn’t. They refused to finish my words and sentences. When the question was obvious that I had to ask in my stuttering way–they knew what I was so desperately trying to ask. They just wouldn’t answer me. They insisted I stutter through myself. They insisted I endure trying to talk myself when I already know I am unable to in a way that is favorable to others.

My parents will never understand me verbally– and it’s all because they have done all the wrong things to try to help me. It’s because listeners have done all the wrong things to help me in my verbal frustrations.

I stutter so much, and my parents never understand what I am trying to say. Yet they never jump in to help me when I am always having extreme frustration. They assume I can say something on my own, but in fact I know I can’t.

I love my parents, but I also hate them too. When it comes to my own extreme stuttering and the fact I have no device to slow my mind down and to help me communicate, and they won’t help me in my daily ordeal to communicate– that’s when I do hate them.

I still have no anti-stuttering device- and it may take a few anti-stuttering devices to get my life and speaking under control, because if one device breaks or does not work, well that means we buy another one.

The thing is these devices are only what will help me in my daily extreme effort to try to talk….not having something to help one live a better life is like well living a life as a very small inferior person.

And there are ways out when the pain of something gets to great over the days , months, and years…….

“Stuttering shouldn’t stop a person from achieving their dreams” . I kindly and nicely disagree there.

Powerful stuff, huh? Have you ever felt so bad about your stuttering that you wished you were mute? Or should communicate using sign language? What would you like to say to Adam? Any thoughts? What might help? Thank you Adam for sharing this story with us!

 

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20 Responses to "Adam’s Story: Locked In A Greenhouse"

Hi Adam-
Thank you for sharing your story. I don’t know how old you are, but I think you can improve your ability to communicate. I am a speech pathologist who stuttered very severely up until about twelve years ago. I used to feel like I wanted to crawl in the ground when I had to talk. Some speech therapy helped me and others did not, but I kept going back until I found what I needed to talk more fluently. It can be done. I know because I did it and work with many people who have improved their communication skills. Hang in there and keep looking for what works. You can read my story on my website-www.allislandspeech.com. Hope this helps you to feel like you are not alone!! Lori

Reading Adam’s story made me very emotional. I had these kinda experiences where I cringed and felt worst. I don’t know what to write for Adam. 😦

Hey Adam,

I had the pleasure of meeting your parents at the NSA conference in NJ, and I know they have nothing but your well being in mind.

I have had those periods in my life where I did not want to speak. I soon learned in order to be truly alive, I had to become independent and communicate with stuttered speech. It sucks, no question, but your parents are only trying to help when they want you to work through your stutter. It is your choice to stay with the block until you have spoken the word or to stop, take a breath, calm down, and try again. This is your journey and you already did open mic, so there is no reason for you to stop communicating now.

Advice from one severe stutterer to another.

Jamie

Adam,

I’ve been reading your posts on the StutteringForum for a long time although I’m not a member of that forum. I just want to say that I can strongly identify with much of what you write since I’m also a severe stutterer.

I also want to thank you for articulating so well the nature of the frustration that a severe stutterer experiences as well as the emotional and physical stress involved in speaking.

I can certainly empathise with your desire to be mute. I can also understand your hope that a device will alleviate your difficulties. However, as you’re aware, the evidence suggests that such devices are often ineffective. The point I’d like to make is that we can waste our lives wishing things were other than they are. In my opinion, this isn’t very constructive or helpful because it only leads to even greater frustration.

In the end, we have to make the best of what we have, even if that means having to compromise and struggle on a daily basis. Believe me, I know just how immensely painful it is not to be able to communicate on a basic level or to ever be able to properly express the thoughts in your head. However, I think that the only way to cope is to focus on the positive and not the negative – e.g. to congratulate oneself when you’ve communicated with someone successfully; to enjoy and appreciate the company of those who have the facility to deal with our speech etc.

I realise that the above is easier said than done. However, if we only look at the negatives, that’s all we’ll ever see. We can’t always discern the positives but, at least, we can try to look for them. The alternative is just to feel anguish and despair and there’s absolutely no merit in that.

Anyway, thank you for your thoughtful and well-written post.

Hey Adam,

Wow I got very shook up when I read this and I would like to congratulate you on sharing this story here with us.
I am not a severe stutter, but I can relate to wanting to be mute, I think about that every time I stutter. One time I held a knife to my throat in a pathetic attempt to cut out my voice box. Good thing I did not do it or I would not be here today.

There are good days and there are bad days, sometimes I wake up and I stutter all day long and some days I don’t have one. I have tried therapy and still on one now, I gave up hope on being a fluent speaker, and just now am becoming to accept the fact that I stutter. I still don’t accept it 100% but getting there.

Trust me, there will be no magic pill or magic device that will make you stop stuttering, I have tried. we need to become more confident on ourselves and people will accept us the way we are. But the more important lesson is for us to accept who WE ARE.

hang in there kid!

Hi, Adam, I am Kimberly, Stutterrockstars, sister. I read your story, and i just wanted to say that i think you are very brave! It takes alot to be you, i think. My sister says you have big challenge in front of you, but that you can do it!! you sound like a nice young man, i think you can make your way in this world, you need to just be you!Take your time and i think people will listen!I do not stutter, but one of my fav sisters does! And she is fabulous to me! Ever since she started to embrace her stutter, and let it all hang out, her whole world opened up! You can do the same, I havent met you, but i would love to! If you know my sister, then you must be fabulous, too!!! Take of your self, Bye, Bye

One more thing….u are a great writer, I felt your pain reading this, you should keep a journal with your experiences and maybe in the future publish your story! 🙂
Stuttering definitely could use more press

You described what it feels like to stutter to a t. I you described your feelings so vividly that it brought back tonnes of my own memories. I hope you will one day soon (real soon) see past the negative and celebrate/focus on your positive qualities.

After all this feedback you’re getting here on Pam’s site, we all can’t be wrong 🙂

Stuttering sucks. It can get awkward, embarrassing and I also went through a phase of wishing I was mute or thinking of pretending to be deaf. But those tactics only stifle you. Let your talents and skills shine!

Hey Adam,

See, people respond to your story and your raw emotion. We all feel it, maybe we are not as severe as you, but we all feel the pain of stuttering. You really should feel proud of putting your story out there. Granted, my site is not CNN, but a lot of people read and follow here. We’re all behind you. You are not alone!

Pam

Thanks you all so much for responding as it does help me deal with my nasty situation.

BTW Pam, that’s not the whole story of mine you posted! There’s far more of what I wrote in that story should be read by others. I also sent you that 2nd story with wanting to call my teacher which is equaly poignant!

Hey Adam,

You are right, but I had to set some limits on length. As it was, this post approached 1000 words, and thats about the longest I will post on here. From experience, readers seem to do best with pieces about 500-750 words. Maybe we can have your other part run another time, or maybe you could consider starting your own blog. It will provide you a good place to get all these feelings out and share them with others. As noted, you are a good writer.

Exactly. Writing is my only voice I can express my self freely. What I can’t speak verbally, I say it in writing!

People always ask me how does it feel to stutter and I always tell them I don’t know, but you described the feeling perfect. I’ve tried the whole staying calm thing and relax and deep breaths but honestly I think you just have your good days, your bad days and the worst day ever!!! Thank you so much for sharing your story. I couldn’t even read the whole thing because I felt tears in my eyes because every thing you said, I can relate to. One thing I must say is that you should never be ashamed of the fact you stutter. I believe that because I stutter, I am who I am and if people don’t like it or can’t get used to it then I can tell them not to talk to me *smile*

Keep in mind that you’re not by yourself, we are a rare but special breed so embrace it. I know I did.

Thoughtfull responses generate more questions to ask!!

What is a good day and a bad day??

What is the difference between a good day and a bad day???

How can we tell the difference between a good day and a bad day??

How can a stutterer have a good stutter day when every day feels like a horrible bad day???

I’ll take my guess but I want to hear others views too!!

I am guessing a good speech day is ZERO stuttering oor very minimal stuttering.

I am guessing a BAD stuttering day is stutter hell, wanting to not talk.

Well those bad day descriptives are me EVERY day- I’m not lying or exxagerating.

How do I know which is a good day for me stutter wise, when every day is intense struggle…..

I may have answered my own questions here, but neither of us have a direct perfect answer. All we have are viewpoints!

————————————————

A few thoughts aside from the above:

If I could speak like I write on this blog…I would be one of the most eloquent speakers in the world. We all would be.
Writing is MY VOICE, where speaking is NOT. I only wish I could speak the way I write.

I am not meant to be heard talking because words are harsh and misconscrewed, but those words I wish to speak are meant to be heard in writing!

Wow , feeling like everyone else, such strong writing just brings back memories of life with stuttering whatever our intensity is.
At 40,i’m facing more emotions now regarding my speech than i have ever dealt with in my life ,having good positive days and then days when i would love to just hide again.
Even the thought of sign language feels familiar ,i did actually do 3 years signing in hope of getting a job that didnt invlove to much speaking….
so my thoughts are with you facing your everyday struggle .please keep positive
lisa

How can a stutterer have a good stutter day when every day feels like a horrible bad day? This isn’t easy but we all have our destinies in our hands. Stuttering or not, everyone has their overwhelming challenges and we can either sit back and do nothing or try fighting.

I don’t beleive that not having a stutter will make anyone an eloquent speaker. I know a lot of wealthy, successful and powerful bank executives who are absolutely terrible at public speaking. They excel at their jobs while public speaking is their weak point. That’s why I encourage fellow stutterers to focus on their strengths.

So far I’ve seen you excelling at writing. It would be awesome to see more writing from you be it about your stuttering, fictional stories or a topic you are passionate about.

When we share what we enjoy, we get so much positive feedback in return. Especially when we share on the Internet where we can meet other people around the world who share the same interest.

Online connections are made, relationships develop and friendhips are formed. And friends look past our stuttering no matter how severe.

And it’s those positive stuttering moments (ex: someone doesn’t laugh when we stutter in front of them) that bit by bit lead us towards acceptance.

All this doesn’t solve stuttering nor get rid of our torment but it helps us fight that challenge. There are lots of people in the world who look past our stuttering and love our personalities. We have no control over the jerks who don’t. No one does. We don’t need them.

In order for us to find those positive people, we have to take risks. It comes with stuttering.

Let us know if you start up a blog. I’d love to read it 🙂

Hi Adam

Firstly very well done for sharing so honestly how you feel presently about your stuttering and judging by the replies, I hope you realise that you are not on your own. The stuttering community by far is largely very very supportive and respectful to fellow stutterers. I would encourage you to keep writing because you write very well and it is so so theraputic to let those very emotional feelings go and not bottle them up inside to eat you up.

Regarding your parents I sense a range of emotions towards them and this is so understandable because they play such a huge part in our lives and parents believe or not ALWAYS want the best for their children. Sometimes they may not go about it the way we want them to or it may not be the best way but remember this – they will always be there for you. For a large part of my life, I hated my Mum too, I blamed her for my stuttering, calling me something which I could never say etc.. lots of resentment there. Her way of helping me was to tell me to go to see my local doctor, how mad is that ? !!

You mention speech devices too that seem to irritate you, I recommend you explore all the options available to help us stutterers. A speech device is a physical aid, it will never help with the pyschological aspect of stuttering and will never help you to deal with the really difficult emotional side of stuttering.

Keep writing Adam 🙂

To Adam,

Adam, the more you are not speaking, and the more you are beating yourself up over it, the worse and worse it gets. The more you try, yes it will be hard, the easier it becomes. You can’t STOP talking. You know that. You need to keep trying. Have you tried any of the cancellation or pull-out techniques? Have you seen a speech pathologist? Have you been to a stuttering workshop or convention? Consider FRIENDS. They are really very good. I went to one of their workshops and I loved it! Go to their website and see where their next convention/workshop is. It might be close to your hometown.
Just hang in there, Adam. You WILL have better days, even weeks, I guarantee it.
Never, ever, ever give up! Never give up! –> the famous words of Winston Churchill. Please don’t give up. Someone once gave me this advice, and I never gave up, and now I am speaking with about 90% fluency. It’s great! Please don’t give up. You are worth so much and people really do like you for you. Why else do you have friends? And why else do people keep talking to you and waiting for your reply. Find some way to place more value in yourself. Read a self-help book, go to a workshop, try meditation. Also go to the masteringstuttering.com website. There’s some really good stuff on there.

Best wishes!
Christine

I do hope Adam will consider a follow up to this piece of his, maybe share how it felt to get so much good feedback. Wrting allows such freedom of expression, but it never can replace real one-on-one face interaction. Communicating by writing or over the internet offers the disadvantage of not seeing facial expressions and body language.
I do think Adam’s story hit a great chord with many readers. He certainly gave me some insights that I couldn’t have had, with my moderate stuttering.
Thanks again Adam – your courage opened many eyes!

Pam

“I come through, but as always I come through at the end as an emotional wreck because of the constant daily torture of not being able to communicate.”

Adam, it sounds to me like you need a short holiday and a safe place. You need time away from the challenge of talking. It might be for a week, it might be for a few hours every day, or a few hours when you ask.

It’s also much easier for parents to accept a holiday rather than “forever”. Experiments also go over well.

Once you’ve rested, you can take another look at your options and talk more calmly with your parents. The three of you might decide that an hour or two a day of easy communication lowers everyone’s stress enough that the rest of the times are easier.

Important, emotional discussions are also a time to ask for a holiday. Those discussions are hard enough without fighting to be understood. Discuss it with your parents before you need it, so they can focus on the discussion, not your request for a holiday.

I suspect your parents are so used to dealing with your stuttering in one way, it will be hard for them to change, even for the holiday. Go easy on them, and on yourself.

Cricket

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