Make Room For The Stuttering

Emotionally Inarticulate

Posted on: September 21, 2011

Sometimes I wonder if I am the only one who experiences this, but I know this cannot be true. Everyone must, from time to time. Here’s what I mean. Sometimes, I feel emotionally paralyzed by a situation and find myself unable to say what I want to say.

And it has nothing to do with my stuttering. It’s all emotional. There are times when I know what I want to say, or should say, but something between my head, heart and gut freezes and nothing comes out. I find myself emotionally inarticulate.

A really good example of this happened recently, and is in fact, still ongoing.

My father is seriously ill and hospitalized. Last week, he had several large brain tumors removed. I chose not to go and see him, before or after the surgery, despite the risk that he might not survive.

This was not an easy decision for me, as I felt pressured by two of my siblings to join them and “sit vigil” during the surgery. I did not want to. To me, it felt fake.

I have been virtually estranged from my father for years, and we have not talked beyond the once or twice obligatory holiday greetings over the last several years.

I suppose both of us share the blame for this estrangement. I cannot get past feeling let down by my father time after time, and feeling (but not expressing) so angry. And since he re-built a family, he has taken no real initiative to take any interest in my life as an adult.

Maybe it’s time to leave the past in the past, but for some reason, I find myself unable to. And I cannot even articulate why.

I feel two of my siblings were being judgemental and criticizing me for not sitting vigil with them. I found it hard to even let them know how I felt. Both of them asked me the question, “How are you going to feel if he dies? Aren’t you going to regret that you didn’t see him one last time before that happens?’

There are things that I wish I could say to my sisters. Like, “don’t judge me. We all have different ways of dealing with things.”

And there are things I wish I could say to my father, but I know I can’t without feeling extremely vulnerable and getting too emotionally upset. I have always felt he was ashamed of me, stemming back from when I first began stuttering.

If I had the courage, I would want to ask him if he has ever been proud of me, and loved me for who I am, and not what he wished I was.

But I can’t seem to do that. Around these most vulnerable and painful matters, I remain emotionally inarticulate.

Why?

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4 Responses to "Emotionally Inarticulate"

Hugs and condolences. You’ve climbed many hills recently. You are the only one who can tell if you should climb this one now or wait and climb the one that this one will become later.

I assume your sisters want you to find peace. They know how they found peace, or what they want to try next to find it, or what the latest self-help book says. They cannot know accurately what you need.

Think about each choice What if he responds well? What if he responds badly? Think about yourself and your family. What will things be like in each future in 10 minutes, 10 months and 10 years. Then roll the dice and know you made the best choice you could at the time.

Yes, it’s normal to be unable to explain emotions to others. They’re emotions, not logic! We’re afraid of getting it wrong, or the other person not understanding, or causing them pain, or burning the wrong bridge, or not burning the right bridge, or any of a gazillion things going wrong. That’s why therapists often tell you to say what’s on your mind, whether it’s right or not. You have to start somewhere.

I know you will chose what’s best for you. I pray that your sisters will accept that.

Dear Cricket,
You always seem to know the best thing to say. This was tough to commit to the screen and then press “send.” I rarely tell people what I really feel, for fear of what they will think.
I have to stop doing that. You are right – I have climbed many hills recently and while my legs are getting stronger, it doesn’t necessarily mean my heart and gut is.
I know I deserve to feel the way I do, and to make choices that are right for me.
Family dynamics have such a way of making mountains out of hills, and then creating rifts where they don’t need to be.
Thanks for the hugs! Need them!
~Pam

Pam, when we express our feelings, we become vulnerable. We cannot express our feelings without lowering our guards. And many PWS (me included) got used to live with our armor on. Allowing yourself to get vulnerable, to get hurt, to experience all negative emotions – pain, shame, guilt, tears and anger – to me is the road to internal healing. I noticed that with many PWS it is really hard to tell what emotions they experience – they do not show it in their voice or face. Unless of course they lose control and blow the lid, which is something that many of us are afraid to do. Allowing ourselves to be vulnerable, imperfect, hurt, sad, mad etc can be a transforming experience. Just try it – try to get in touch with whatever you are feeling and allow these emotions to emerge and overwhelm you – express them (alone) with your body movements, with voice (not words), tears, cries and see waht changes. Writing everything down without censoring helps too. But I totally agree that whatever you decide with your father, it has to be YOUR decision, not something that you do to please someone or conform to the others’ opinion. It is your life. You matter.
Anna

Thank you Anna for this beautiful response. We all matter – and sometimes when we get so overwhelmed, we lose sight and forget that.
Writing honestly reminds us of that!

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