Make Room For The Stuttering

“G” Is For Guilt

Posted on: October 4, 2010

There is a thought-provoking article on this year’s ISAD conference about chronic sorrow. It is a personal story written by Scott Palasik. He shares how he found out that his parents, especially his mother, blamed themselves for his stuttering and carried around an enormous amount of guilt for many years.

I commented on Scott’s paper and we wound up sharing back and forth about how we had similar parent stories. I highly recommend you read Scott’s story – it resonated with me and I am sure it will with a lot of you.

I have written about guilt on here before, but not in the way that Scott’s poignant story reminded me. I know my mother has carried around a lot of guilt for many, many years. She has told me she feels tremendous guilt for what we dealt with as children. She is an alcoholic, and proudly in recovery now. She helps many, many people who have been touched by alcoholism.

She didn’t achieve sobriety until I was in my late teens. Childhood was chaotic, because mom drank all the time. We tried to act like everything was ok, but it wasn’t. My siblings and I covered for her all the time. Covertly, much like my stuttering became. My mother and I have had some conversations about the impact alcoholism had on all our lives, but those have been strained, quick, clipped.

But we have NEVER talked about stuttering. NEVER. The few times I have tried, she has always quickly changed the subject. I learned from a sister, or maybe even in a hurried conversation with my mother (I don’t remember), that she always felt guilty that she didn’t stand up to my father and insist that I be allowed to participate in speech therapy.

I have often wondered what a heart-felt conversation about stuttering would be like with one of my parents. Because I have never talked with my father about it either. I have always wanted to know what they thought. Were they confused? Did they know it was stuttering? Were they embarrassed? Were they ashamed? (Like I have thought!)

Was it easier for them to pretend there was nothing wrong? Did anyone ever talk to them about it? What did the relatives think? Why was it kept so hush-hush? Was it that bad?

Have any of you ever thought about any of this?

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4 Responses to "“G” Is For Guilt"

Pam,
As always, thank you for sharing your personal story. The idea of guilt is such a humanistic feeling, which comes from thoughts that we have that are in direct “conflict” with our core (our values). Like you, my feelings of guilt about my stuttering took over my life and they were cuppled with thoughts that lead to the feeling of “Shame” which turns into the physical behavior of avoidance of words, conversations, people, and actions…Not unlike our parents, when I truly think of it. The lack of innisiating a conversation with us about stuttering could be seen as that “physical behavior” which stemmed from the feelings of “guilt” (which might have just thoughts of not knowing what they could do to help us, protect us, thoughts of fear)…

Like you, my father was an alcoholic and never kicked it, died in April, ultimately at the hand of his addictions which come from pain and suffering he never dealt with over the years. Fear, shame, and guilt CAN be powerful, if we give them power.

Life is tough, however knowing that, and accepting the challenges and the joys and being willing to be “groundless” (scary as it maybe) is what can bring us closer to ourselves, and we can learn to let go of the thoughts that lead to “guilt”.

Pam, thank you again for allowing me to share with you and more importantly thank you for helping us, who have listened, learn from you.

Have a wonderful day!
Scott

Pam,
I’ve talked about stuttering with both of my parents. It wasn’t until then I truly understood how they felt about it. I too commented on Scott’s paper,a nd that’s where you can read about my parents feelings on stuttering.

Great paper Scott and Pam, thanks for sharing. I should try this with my parents some day.

Pam, growing up, I thought my mother had quite enough to cope with having a daughter who was blind and who also stuttered. Since the blindness was something I couldn’t really hide, the stuttering got hidden as much as possible. Realising that stuttering wasn’t my fault was a big turning point for me. I haven’t wanted to tell her too much about the emotional side of stuttering because I don’t want to add to her guilt. We do now talk about stuttering a lot more and this feels so good. She just doesn’t know the extent of my feelings of shame about stuttering. I hope you will be able to have some more conversations with your mother in the future. Sounds like she is turning her life around and helping others just as you are doing.

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