Make Room For The Stuttering


Posted on: September 8, 2010

A friend and I watched the tail-end of a show on the Game Show Channel called “Baggage”  recently. It is supposedly a modern dating game. Jerry Springer facilitates a match between a person looking for a date and three potential partners. The idea is that you know what you are getting before you start a relationship and can “opt out”.

This video clip depicts Jerry Springer discussing the premise of the show. He mentions that everyone “has issues”.

Each of the three potential partners has three suitcases, each case denoting a fact or tidbit that might make one think twice about getting involved. The larger the suitcase, the bigger the baggage.

It’s one of those shows that is entertaining to watch. You find yourself wondering, “how would I handle that?”  When you see a “normal” guy or woman being the one seeking a date this way, you just have to wonder what they are hiding too. Notice my use of  “normal”  – I am not sure there is such thing as normal!

It turns out the “seeker” does have his or her own suitcase of baggage. Once the seeker has settled on the person with the least amount of baggage, the “chosen one” then has the chance to discover what baggage the seeker has tucked away in their big bag. This reverse baggage might be a “deal-breaker” too.

My friend and I talked about it – he had really only seen the show twice, both times while hanging out with me. I asked him what kind of baggage he might have hidden in his suitcases. His immediate response was,  “Stuttering – absolutely, that’s my baggage. Stuttering is a friend that has to go away. I hate it – of course my baggage is the stuttering”.

Honestly, I was surprised to hear my friend refer to his stuttering like this, as something that if found out, it might be a deal-breaker in a potential relationship. He seemed so sure his stuttering was this “dirty little secret” that if someone found out about it, they might opt out of a relationship with him. Be it a friendship or beyond.

Why was I so surprised? Because I stutter too, and I don’t see someone else’s stuttering as baggage. When I look at my friend, I see confidence, personality, playfulness, just HIM. Stuttering is not even part of the equation. I don’t see it.

I don’t see my stuttering as baggage either. I see the sometimes negative FEELINGS I have about stuttering as excess baggage. The embarrassment and shame that can creep in can be baggage that I wouldn’t want anyone else to have to carry.

Mainly that’s because I project (at least I think I do) an image of confidence and being happy with self. I don’t usually let my vulnerability be easily seen. Maybe that’s one of my issues. And my friends’. Being vulnerable. Being exposed. Not the stuttering . . . . . but the vulnerability.

What do you think? Would stuttering be one of the “issues” in your suitcase that you call “baggage”?

11 Responses to "Baggage"

Yes, for very long I would hav put stuttering in my suitecase as one my issues. For me, it’s because my pattern was all blocks and therefore, very struggled. Now, after being in therapy for a year, and going to the NSA conference, I’ve met people who stutter and are happily married or in relationships. I know now that stuttering won’t get in the way of leading a happy, fulfililng life. Stuttering is only a small part of who you are.

I think my biggest baggage is that I don’t seem to be smart enough to understand the mechanism of the show.

Ha ha! Its quite easy Burt. People try to find a date amongst three potentials. But first each must admit their flaws basically, and then the person choosing can decide if they can accept the other’s baggage, or if the baggage is too much, or a “deal-breaker”.
So, I just posed this, because my friend who stutters (mostly long silent blocks) believes his stuttering would be an absolute reason why someone would not choose him if his”baggage” was revealed.

Pam, did you and him talk about why he thought that? Did you talk about if his stuttering pattern was different, say like yours, if he would feel differently?

Tried to – he is convinced that his stuttering is an absolute flaw. He is smart, attractive, wicked sense of humor, but convinced stuttering has got to go. He frequently comments that he thinks my stuttering is easy and relaxed, but he wouldn’t want my pattern either. He thinks stuttering period detracts from him as a person and it does not in any way, but that is what I see and believe, not him. He is someone who would take the”magic pill” in a heartbeat.

Interesting piece Pam. Sometimes my stammer is packed in the luggage other times it gets left in the closet. It’s usually down to what mood I’m in or what’s being thrown at me (not literally of course). lol.

This article (or one like it) was summarized on another podcast:

Landmark Survey Reports on the Prevalence of Personality Disorders in the United States

An estimated 30.8 million American adults (14.8 percent) meet standard diagnostic criteria for at least one personality disorder as defined in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-Fourth Edition (DSM-IV), according to the results of the 2001-2002 National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC) reported in the current issue of the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry [Volume 65:948-958].

Those are just those who fit a defined diagnosis, not those who would be close but not quite, or whose actual symptoms don’t quite match a defined disorder.

Wait, so are you saying thinking that stuttering is baggage is like a personality disorder? I don’t think I quite get that . . . . .

In hindsight, I over-generalized. Sorry about that. My point was that very few people are “normal”. What matters is whether we let our baggage rule our lives. Sometimes the bags we stuff it in is worse than the baggage itself. Often the baggage and bags get mixed up.

I had quite a bit of baggage about stuttering at one time; I unpacked it all on a guy’s face as he decided to laugh at my stuttering. It felt good to unpack the baggage…

thats intersting, the last few days i have been really digging deep ,and since going to the BSA open day i have reevaluated the cause of my problems and the majority is not my stuttering funnily enough its my low self esteem and confidence and the baggage that i carry from difficulties ive had in my life. Stuttering is a part of it, but i agree with you pam its the feelings that i have towards stuttering, because i find with concern to me that stuttering has been the obvious thing to blame because i can put my finger on it. Whereas i am often confused about how and why i feel the way i do and the issues i have, and once i started to peel that back and dig deep to why i feel a certain way when i block or why for so many years i chose to hide it, it came down to the fact that my baggage is not stuttering its my negative self image which has come from bad life experiences. I believe that confidence, self love and a great personality can shine through stuttering and thats what im trying to achieve and work on.

Stuttering is definitley not a hindrence but part of me in which i have to work with and discover who i am despite it.

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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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