Make Room For The Stuttering

I’m Nervous – Don’t Want To Stutter

Posted on: March 2, 2010

Someone said this to me in conversation last night over the phone. This person and I were talking for the first time, and it was a little awkward, as it can be when you don’t know someone and you are trying to make a good impression. (I think that is what was going on!)

He kept clearing his throat, and at one point I couldn’t resist chuckling and asking if he was OK. He laughed himself, and made the comment that he was a little nervous and didn’t want to start stuttering or anything.

For a fleeting moment, I winced. I felt maybe I should have said something like, “well, so what if you do. It’s no big deal – I stutter.” But I didn’t say that, or anything at all as a matter of fact. I just let it pass and continued on with our dialogue.

Because that early into talking with someone I was just meeting, I had not shared that I do stutter sometimes. It kind of goes back to a post I made last week, about not always wanting to “make an announcement” at the beginning of every conversation I have with anybody that I stutter.

I figured I would handle that with this person only if I needed to, if I stuttered noticeably enough that he commented on it or something. At that point in our conversation, I was very fluent. I had two or three minor little blips, which I am sure he either didn’t notice or chalked it up to me being a little nervous too. So why bring up stuttering at all? It hadn’t come up at all in my mind until he made that innocent remark.

It was an innocent remark. People say it, never thinking (I am sure) that the person they are talking to actually does stutter and may be really struggling with it. Of course, if you are or have been covert, like me, and can get away with not stuttering for periods of time, it makes it even harder.

So why I am even writing about this? Because it bothered me. Yep, it did. When this person said it, it seemed momentarily like something negative was attached to stuttering. And I work hard to have stuttering not be a negative anymore in my life.

Stuttering has opened doors for me and provided me with opportunities that I would never have had if I didn’t stutter. And I have met truly amazing, inspirational people because of stuttering. And I have recognized  strengths within that I didn’t realize I had. I guess a small part of me wishes that fluent people didn’t use the term stuttering to mean something bad.  As strong as I think I am in terms of acceptance, these little things remind me that I still have tiger (ooops, ti-ger) taming to do!

What do you think? If I felt this way, should I have said something? What have you felt if and when you have heard someone casually mention stuttering in this way?

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4 Responses to "I’m Nervous – Don’t Want To Stutter"

Pam,
If someone made that type of comment to me I would definitely be caught off guard. It would really bother me because I would feel like how could they like me since I stutter? Also, I think I would feel very akward while stuttering while talking to this particular person. I think it’s completely normal to feel the way you do about that type of comment. Most fluent people just don’t understand what it’s like to have to struggle to say a simple sentence.

That is so sad to hear of your pain during a meeting that sounds like it has potentials for a new found friend.

Reality says you will stutter at some point but that does not define you.

As painful as this was and caught you off guard I wonder what he will feel when the comment is brought back up to him while reminiscing about your first meeting over the phone.

I hope you both will find a chuckle in it all. Yes, it shook you and maybe Ti-Ger needs some attention but I can envision the two of you laughing about it years later.

I am fluent I guess that is how you identify me from one who lives with stuttering and difficulties with verbal communications but this is only part of who I am.

Maybe it is wrong of me to assume I understand your concerns and feelings from this event. I can only relate it to a challenge I experience in my life. Yes, I have been hurt by innocent comments but when the time is right and worth it I take advantage of the situation and educate as I know you will too.

Now to see what Ti-Ger is up to now before phone call #2… it’s a journey.

Love your blogs

It would definitely have bothered me, but then I would have said. Isn’t that funny? I do stutter. They would then be embarrassed. I then probably would have moved on. What would you have felt comfortable saying?
I also find people say silly things about most subjects. If you listen to people, they really don’t think before they speak. The curse of fluency-LOL

I think if I was first talking to someone and they said that I would definitely make me a bit uneasy, mainly because I would have the question you yourself had – do I tell the person I stutter?

As ever with telling people you stutter, it depends on what you think it will achieve. Will it calm you down? Will it makes things akward?

This questions is difficult to asnwer on the phone, as, I think, it brings to the fore stuttering in a way. So much of how we communicate is unspoken, that on the phone stuttering becomes more of an issue – as the unspoken is missing, and the spoken is more important.

This is something I’ll definitely keep an eye out for!

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