Make Room For The Stuttering

No Regrets

Posted on: May 5, 2011

I was looking through some old papers amidst some clutter that I keep saying I will get to and organize. I hate to throw anything away. I always think I will need it for something else. And I like to save things and reflect back occasionally on things I’ve done and people I’ve met.

I came across the outline and notes for the first workshop that I did at an NSA conference back in 2008. My friend Mary and I co-facilitated a presentation called “Being Real: Letting It All Hang Out”. It was based on the story of the Velveteen Rabbit and how he “became real” through the processes we all go through in life when we find ourselves.

In this workshop, we spoke about how we had both moved to places in our lives where we were ready to be real with our stuttering. We drew parallels from other areas of life where we felt it was OK to be genuine.

We discussed things like generosity, emotions and courage. It was a very moving presentation. Mary and I shared honestly from our hearts about our struggles, our covert  journeys and the price we paid along the way for when we had hidden our true selves.

One of the other themes we discussed was also that “Real Is No Regrets”. We need to do the things we want and live our lives to the fullest. That includes even taking huge risks. It means never not doing the things we love so that we will never have to look back and say, “Damn, I wish I had done that”.

We know where “should haves” leave us. Feeling unfulfilled, feeling we missed out on opportunities, feeling like we don’t matter.

For a long time, I didn’t do things I really wanted to, because I didn’t feel I was worthy. Now, I seem to be making up for lost time. I don’t want to look back and regret that I didn’t do this or try that.

We shouldn’t let our past, our circumstances, or our stuttering keep us from getting wet when it rains.

Recently, I had two moments that really illustrate this. One involved me directly, the other involved a friend who told me about a challenge she confronted.

I had a hard time as a kid. One of the most influential people in my life was a high school teacher who really took an interest in me, and knew that things were hard at home. After high school, without fail, she sent me birthday and Christmas cards every year. I usually reciprocated.

Then life got in the way, and I stopped sending them to her. But her cards came faithfully, until a few years ago. My address changed and the forwarding ended before her annual card. I actually didn’t even notice.

Then last year, she crossed my mind several times, fondly. I remembered things she had said that encouraged me. And then I realized I had not received her annual card. I felt guilty, wishing I had stayed in touch.

I felt like I had somehow betrayed her for not reconnecting. I sent her a Christmas card and included my phone number and a note apologizing for drifting away. A card from her came a few weeks later, with her phone number and a note to call whenever I wanted so we could connect.

It took me four months to call her. I was afraid what she would think of me. I finally got up the nerve and we met for coffee this week. It was so wonderful. We both caught up, talked and shared. It made me wonder, “what was I so afraid of?”  I’m guessing it was me!

I am so glad I called Eleanor. We promised to do it again soon. I will make sure it happens.

Last week, a friend emailed me to let me know she finally found the courage to have a tough conversation with her husband. Ann and I had been talking about her attending her first stuttering conference. She shared that she was afraid to ask her husband. I asked her why did she have to ask. Ann felt she didn’t deserve to spend money on something that would only benefit her.

She intimated that her fear of honestly letting her husband know how important something was to her brought her back to the days of when she was a child and felt intimidated by her parents. Ann had stifled her own needs for a long time, just like I had!

I was elated when Ann emailed me and told me she talked to her husband. It didn’t quite go as she hoped, but she had opened a door. A week later, she emailed me that she spoke with him again and that they had reached a compromise and they were going to go together. She only needed to register!

Ann emailed me again, saying her registration was accepted and she had reserved a room. I was so happy and proud of her. We will meet in person for the first time at the conference this summer. I am confident that Ann will not regret her decision. And that we will have a long and joyful hug!

1 Response to "No Regrets"

Oh, this post is so honest! I understand that feeling of getting caught up in our own “little” mindset, assuming that what we are thinking is the only reality (i.e. you feeling Eleanor was going to feel any negative feelings about loosing touch with you)… thankfully, I have learned too that other people don’t think the same way that I do. I only need to think for myself. Thank you for this post, Pam!

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