Make Room For The Stuttering

A Reason Its Called Work

Posted on: March 16, 2010

When we work on ourselves, it’s never easy. No matter what it is that we are working on. We may be trying to be more healthy, to be more open, to be more honest, or move outside our comfort zone in ways we have not done before. We may be working on letting people in or finding the courage to let somebody go. We may be finally admitting something about ourselves that has always been uncomfortable or has scared us.

Whatever it is that we are working on, there is a reason its called work. It’s usually not easy. It requires effort. And in some instances it may hurt. Making changes often requires an “out with the old, in with the new” mentality.

Why am I writing about this today? I have been working on my “self” for a long time now. Within that big category of self is my stuttering, my attitudes  and feelings about different things, and how I feel about myself  overall as a person. Generally, I like me. Not everyday, but most of the time. We all need to like ourselves first in order to like and care for others.

As I peel away my layers, I have learned that I am extremely complex. For a long time, I have kept my guard up, created walls and not always really invited people in . I have learned to do that as a defense mechanism, to protect myself, to keep myself from getting hurt. Sometimes, I use sarcasm and resistance to keep myself at a distance, to avoid even the slightest risk of getting hurt. I know that about myself, and try not to do that, but sometimes it happens anyway.

I have allowed myself to open up and be much more vulnerable over the last year. I ended a long-term relationship, and felt hurt and pain and guilt and relief all at the same time. I have discovered that I trust people way too easily. I get hurt easily. Maybe it’s being naive, but I am finding out that I expect people to be innately good, and am genuinely surprised when they are not, when I wind up getting hurt.

Sometimes when I am trying to protect myself, my barriers actually wind up hurting other people. Someone at work asked me recently if I was aware that I was being very critical of her. I wasn’t aware. I recently made an unintended remark to someone in my self-help group. Someone was hurt. I wasn’t aware of that either, until it was pointed out to me.

What’s going on? Why is this such hard work? Why don’t we learn the first time around? I think it is part of the human condition. Right? We do things that hurt other people when we honestly think we are only protecting ourselves. So how do we deal with this? I think talking about it is a good first step.

2 Responses to "A Reason Its Called Work"

Learning curves stink, and if we don’t climb them they wait for us. I went through my first “grade eight group” at 38, after proudly going decades thinking I successfully bypassed that stage. Now I’m watching my eight-year-old go through it, only she can’t leave the school-yard to find a better group and she’s too stubborn to hang out by herself and just observe the dynamics for a few months. She’s like her mother.)

It feels terrible when we realize we hurt someone, even worse when others noticed but we didn’t. It’s easy to get defensive and try too hard. It’s normal.

Here’s some virtual toffee. It’s comforting, and chewing on it sometimes displaces the approaching foot. (Other times, it makes the foot try something new and daring, and usually worse.)

I think this is all part of human nature. I made a mistake at work a few weeks ago and offended someone, unintentionally of course. I found out a week later. I felt terrible about it. I beat myself up for a day and then decided to learn from it. It is difficult to perceive how others will react sometimes. Life and relationships are complex, no doubt. I hear you.

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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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