Make Room For The Stuttering

Giant in Chains

Posted on: September 30, 2010

In a recent chat with friend “A”, about stuttering of course, we found ourselves talking about self-esteem. We both have felt shame and embarrassment at different times due to our stuttering. And we agree that feelings of shame is a reason people who stutter try to keep it hidden.

“A” wanted to know what things were like for me earlier in my journey, when I wasn’t as comfortable with myself as I am now! In my twenties and thirties I had a hard time with general acceptance because I didn’t like a lot of things about myself. One of those things was stuttering and I always thought it was the main reason why I had such a low opinion of myself. I referred to myself as having low self-esteem at the time.

“A” challenged me to think about this another way. He likened stuttering to being a “giant in chains”. He described having felt unable to achieve his full potential because stuttering held him back.

So he wondered if stuttering resulted in low self-esteem or just an inability to realize our potential because we let the stuttering get in the way. “A” said he felt like a giant with so much potential inside him, that went untapped, because he wasn’t able to communicate the way he wanted.

I think a lot of my potential went unrealized. I let stuttering make decisions for me back then. I always wanted to be a teacher. But I let stuttering, or more correctly, my fear of stuttering,  make me steer clear of that. I settled for a career that I thought would involve less talking. (Which of course turned out completely wrong!)

I also settled for a relationship that was never truly right for me. I had such a fear that no one would ever love me. And my stuttering was such a part of that.

I wonder . . .  can you relate to this? Did you ever feel you had poor self-esteem when it was actually unrealized potential? And have you let stuttering make decisions for you that you would completely choose differently if given a second chance?

If given a second chance, I would definitely have pursued becoming a teacher and I would not have stayed so long with someone who was not right for me, in all the important ways!

10 Responses to "Giant in Chains"

Pam, for me deffinately unrealised potential. I still go through periods of low self esteem – this is how I felt yesterday. The low self esteem roller coasters though. The unrealised potential has always been there. It’s only very recently I’ve thought about this. The fear of my stammer has been the cork in a big bottle of fizzy potential. But I will now onlylook forwards. Living in the past doesn’t really help.

(I’ve posted this as a response on FB as well). Thanks for giving me the oppotunity to express myself. Writing thoughts down and sharing is very refreshing.

I know what you mean by having the opportunity to express self;writing has helped me so much with identifying my deeper feelings. Writing is very cathartic, and I am glad an interactive blog like this helps all of us express our thoughts. “Big cork in a bottle of fizzy potential” – what a great image. I can see it -when we can see something, its much clearer, huh?

I feel very low at the moment, with every slight comment about my speech making me feel more conscious…
Finding I”m slipping back to my old covert habits, especially when my speech therapist has suggested i maybe go to every 4 weeks instead of every 2 , I took that as she has given up . I know thats possibly not the case but can’t help thinking that …..Low self esteem !!!

I know that’s definitely not the case- she may be thinking that since “real” therapy is how we engage with our world, maybe she would like for you to have longer periods of time “out there” to practice whatever you are working on in the therapy room. Transfer of what we do in the safe confines on a speech room or clinic is very difficult – the only way we do it is by “doing it”. You have to be out in the world, experiencing those every day comments and “assaults” to our “self” and find a way to not let it bother you so. Practice a come-back with somebody you trust, or have a good friend “purposely” comment about your speech every time you stammer, so you get so used to it, it won’t bother you. Sounds crazy, buts thats what de-sensitization is – purposely experiencing what we don’t like until we don’t dislike it any more because we don’t care.
I am betting that what she is trying to get you to do – carry over what you and she do into Lisa’s world. And as hard as you may wish to not involve others in this process, it is your friends that can help you out the most here.
I have encouraged my friend to voluntary stutter and had him practice it with me. He then agreed to do it at least 5 times a day,and let me know how its been. he says its working, that he feels less panic when he actually stutters.
We are what we think we are!

In my case i felt “giant in chains” all my life.
I always was the “clever” guy,but i felt that it doesn’t help me at all.
How can i do anything,if all the day i just thinking about my stuttering?
How can i called a “human been” if i cant communicate with strangers?

Fluency is never going to sneak up on you and wrap itself around you to consequently be fluent.

However you can sneak up on fluency. Progress is a mixture of toughness and kindness upon yourself. It’s a journey involving many ups and downs and steps backwards or sideways. In other words it’s the ‘normal learning curve. Always striving to go forwards is very exhausting, so accept it as a period of rest when step backwards occurs and then after a while go for it again as the your journey goes even further. Be brave, step outside of comfort zones; it is self-discovery. Ok you may break a lot of eggs but to make omelletes that is what has to be done.

Learn various voice production methods and techniques and switch between techniques. Sticking to only one technique is very tiring.

It really is good enough to have a mixture of dysfluency and fluency. You know what they say “perfection is the enemy of the good”.

Yes, I like what you say about progress including being kind to our selves. I tend to forget that, and spend more time being hyper-critical of myself instead of just being gentle and loving towards me.
If we can’t do it for our-self, then it becomes hard to do it for another, huh?
Thanks for sharing!

Hi Pam,

If difficult to be kind to one-self then it also makes it difficult to accept kindness from others.

I’m pleased to be sharing

Right on, de!

Only thing I’d add is that fluency may not be the operative word here. I mean, what is fluency? Can it be defined? . . . . Not really. Because even speakers who don’t stutter are often quite disfluent. Being fluent–that is, having speech that is devoid of any sort of disfluency–to me, is an unrealistic goal, even for someone who doesn’t stutter. So should we, as people who stutter, be striving to achieve *fluency*? Or should we try to lessen our stuttering moments, stutter more easily, and, ultimately, stutter less?

Just some food for thought.


Hey Dan, What a great response. I have a hard time with the word “fluency”. It seems very unrealistic to me as well. I like your suggestions,especially stuttering more easily. I think that’s what we should towards – then neither our self-esteem or potential takes a hit.
Great feedback. Thanks!Hope to hear more from you!

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