Make Room For The Stuttering

Eating Lightbulbs

Posted on: November 9, 2010

Have you ever dealt with painful stuff that you just hoped would go away if you just ignored it? I used to be an expert at it – trying to push pain away, hoping it would just disappear. But sadly, it doesn’t work like that. We have to feel it if we are ever to move past it.

Part of the reason I was so good at being a covert stutterer was that I had learned from a very early age how to pretend everything was OK when it really wasn’t. How it felt to stutter, to struggle, to feel different, to not be able to talk about things.

The same with the childhood stuff. Covering up my mother’s alcoholism, my father’s abuse, and his crazy religious ideas, and not being able to talk about any of that, ever. Everything was covert, not just the stuttering.

I had myself convinced for a long time that if I just pushed the painful stuff away and denied it, that it never really existed. But it never went away, it just stayed buried in a deep down place. Lately its been surprising me by exploding all over, much like a dormant volcano when ready to erupt.

Funny how these things happen. You begin to work on one thing and you find yourself dealing with everything else. Opening Pandora’s box about stuttering has allowed an opening for the other stuff to seep out. I can’t process how I felt about hiding my stuttering all those years without also talking about how it felt to hide the other stuff too.

I had myself convinced that not feeling, being numb, was safer, easier somehow. I did not want to feel yesterday’s pain anymore. But what I have learned is this: in order to heal and keep moving forward, I have to feel those painful moments and give voice to those painful memories. I have done well with facing my fears and shame about stuttering, by talking about it and being open, not hiding any more.

Now I have to do the same thing with the other stuff, in order to continue my healing and rid myself of guilt. Maybe I really am on the path to forgiveness. Then I won’t have to be so uncomfortable with feelings anymore. Because that’s what most of my journey has been about – being numb and not dealing with feelings.

J has been helping me with this. As we go deeper and deeper into that inner space of mine, the feelings are coming up. I have been really angry at my parents for a long time, and sad for that little girl that I still identify with, who was lonely and scared and confused.

When these feelings surface, and they have more and more lately, J pushes me to identify what I feel. I used to just swallow the feeling, push it down, but now I am letting myself feel, even when it causes real pain.

I talked with friend Jill recently and we shared some deep stuff. She used the phrase “eating light bulbs”. I knew exactly what she meant. Every time I feel the wave of sadness or anger or guilt come up, I feel like I am swallowing shards of a light bulb or a Christmas ornament that was dropped.

Tiny, jagged pieces of glass ripping at my throat and insides as I swallow. It hurts. But it hurt way back then too and I need to acknowledge it. Maybe that’s what I am learning here – how to eat light bulbs the right way.

8 Responses to "Eating Lightbulbs"

Hi Pam, You are so good at hitting home, I hope you realiaze that. 🙂 I think every one struggles with eating Light Bulbs. You want the hurt to go away, you want to accept yourself as all of you. You know the hurt will stop IF you could stop eating those light bulbs. But it doesn’t because everything that hurts is in the past and in order to move on that path you have to accept your past.
I remember going into a chat room and asking this question “When will I accept my stuttering” Of course I know now there is no answer for that. That path is miles long BUT as we travel it we do find the healing made easier on every step.
There is so much more that could be said but it won’t do any good unless we each find our own path.
I wish my mom would still be here, I could tell her it’s ok it was not your fault nor any one elses. I do tell her in spirit and I sure hope she hears it!

Hi Pam,
Great Post. It doesn’t seem fair that everything is so hard and often so painful, and it’s so much easier to try to run away from everything, just like you said. But dealing with things, like you are, is so healthy… you are staying on the right path. Keep sharing your journey!

Hi Pam

This is an excellent piece, very very thought provoking, I am going to do some self analysing now to check out my behaviours in everything not just speech related and I bet If I delve far enough, what I think is non speech related ………is !!! Stammerers are renowned for avoidance behaviours. I hope lots of people read this piece, absorb it and take something away… I have xx

The first thing that came to mind was something my speech therapist says, ” the more you feel it, the less you react to it.” I too tried for very long to not feel any emtions related to stuttering. Any time I had a presentation (blocked and struggled through it), I would concentrate on my homework to get my mind off it. I would tell myself I don’t have time to think about stuttering. Also, I was terrified if I did, I would cry and wouldn’t be able to stop.

good molly Make Room For The Stuttering , i review your blog , it’s a nice blog and greatly appreciated. Great for everyone. best review for Audio Links and covert stuttering content. I am going often to read and comment your site.

I am now where you were. Maybe there is hope. Good post.


I think it’s most peoples natural reaction to try and hide what hurts. If you don’t say it out loud, it’s not real (at least in our minds) which makes it not so bad. Saying it out loud forces us to admit its real. (whatever “it” may be. Stuttering, childhood memories, etc.)

I am glad you realized that only talking about it and admitting it, will help you move on in the long run.

All the best

“Pulling up those shards of glass sucks… the healing hurts less and less until finally you can look at those pieces of glass with a sense of empowerment, thinking “I survived this and I am now stronger for facing it!””

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