Make Room For The Stuttering

Wounded Inner Child

Posted on: May 14, 2012

Sometimes I think about that sad, frightened little girl who stuttered and wish I could just give her a great big hug and tell her everything would be OK. If someone had told her that, things certainly would have been different.

She wouldn’t have grown up feeling so insecure, afraid and ashamed. Insecurity, fear and shame stays with those who don’t get early positive messages. How can we change that?

One of the earliest memories I have of stuttering is my father yelling at me to, “Stop that,”  “no one talks like that,” or “Jesus Christ, shut up.” I don’t necessarily remember the stuttering, but I vividly remember how that criticism felt, stung!

I didn’t know how to cope. I was afraid of my father and his deep disapproval. He was ashamed of me. He never said that. He didn’t have to.

I wanted my father to love me and be proud of me.  I never, ever felt I measured up in his eyes, not as that little girl and not as an adult.

Those feelings of hurt, of being a disappointment, and being disappointed, of not feeling loved, stayed with me a long time. Those early moments drove me to try and hide my stuttering.

I always tried to find that love and approval, which I didn’t think I could as a stutterer.

As an adult, I often still feel the pain and loneliness of that wounded little girl. The shame that still creeps in sometimes when I stutter leads right back to my 5 year old’s shame. I tell myself I am over it, but it comes back to remind me, haunt me, actually.

What can be done to ease the pain that is still there of the wounded inner child? Do you have a wounded inner child that you do not acknowledge, or tend to?

I try to be kind and gentle when she pops in unannounced! I wish I could give her that warm hug and tell her everything will be OK. I wish I could dry her tears and take the pain away.

The closest I can come is to try and embrace myself and remind myself that I am good and special and loved, just the way I am. Stuttering and all!

Can you do that?

7 Responses to "Wounded Inner Child"

Pam, that’s beautifully said. My story was different, but I still had a lot of those same feelings. What may be helpful is to realize, and to tell the “little Pam” that she does not have to feel that way any more. She has grown into an amazing woman who does not have to be ashamed of anything, and who can take care of herself, and does so very well. Tell her that you are sorry that she had to deal with all that crap, and that it wasn’t fair, and wasn’t her fault, but that it turned out okay… and you can take care of her now.

Thanks Joe – that means a lot, coming from you, who knows me pretty well.

Interesting post.

For me it wasn’t so much in early childhood as around the age of nine to twelve. I come from a huge, loving family and nobody ever really commented on my speech – I was talked over as much as the next person! My siblings did tend to speak for me when out in public, but I didn’t mind, I saw it as a kindness (they still do!).

When I was about nine I changed schools and realised that there was something really wrong with my speech. I went from being shy but friendly to totally shut off – nobody waited for me to get my words out, children asked if there was something wrong with me and I was teased and bullied. I still remember them imitating my stammering and the blinking and twitching that I did and it still hurts to think about.

The problem is that I spent too many years standing in queues with people tapping their feet and sighing, unable to say a word to believe that not everybody is like that, too many people have laughed at me or thought that I’m stupid and in the end you believe them.

Thank you for telling me that everything is going to be okay. It means something. I know you can’t talk to little Pam, but you’ve spoken to me and that means a lot.

Pam, this post reminds me of my own experiences and struggles as young adult struggling with my past and what others expecially my father did to me. BTW I am still 27, so mind you I have very little experience :-). First of all, I am sure that your continuous contributions through these wonderful blog posts and even wonderful podcasts must have helped you come a long way forward in your journey. For me personally as I look back, all the struggle was because I wanted to undertsand my past and resolve it 100%. Another thing was to TRYING to look at my life in ONLY postive ways due to reading of many self help books on postive thinking. But the problem with this approach was that I had to conitously repeat these “positive” thoughts to feel good, which was very tyring and it took away all my attention from living to just mental busyness. What helped me eventually was to able to allow my past as it is – unresolved and sometimes painfull and ALLOW myself to feel all the emotions. Afterall there is no child who doesn’t suffer in this mad and unconsious world. As once a lady asked Buddha as to why does her child needs to suffer. The child was keeping ill. Budhha seems to have replied – Because he was BORN. Just felt like I should share all this with you as friend

JP – thanks for sharing this with me. I also reference you in a response I made to JF as well.
You are very wise for your 27 years, my friend. It makes sense that I/we should try to leave our past unresolved, as that’s how it might just have to be, and allow myself to feel the painful emotions.
I have a very hard time with feeling painful emotions, as I learned to cover up all of my emotions just as I did my stuttering.
But I am working on it – talking with a trusted person who helps me release some of the feelings and is OK with my tears. And by having the courage to write about this periodically, it also helps,
Thanks again. I hope we meet some day!

Hello Pam,

I took a while before commenting on this deeply moving blogpost. You show a lot of guts by publicly disclosing these feelings. This is obviously not a simple issue, and I feel hesitant to write down what I really think, because I am afraid I might be hurtful. Believe me, I do not intend to.

I can understand that these hurtful feelings resurface every once in a while, and that you wished the little Pam would have been encouraged rather than treated the way you were, and that your life might have been different. May I do a little rationalizing here? Not all people are competent at parenting. That being said, the pain is still there. In this respect, I like JP Sunda’s comment about Buddha. Dr. House expressed this as: “Life sucks”!

A few days ago, I watched for the Nth time one of my favorite movies, “Pay It Forward”. There is one scene that I find particularly powerful: the main actress (marvelously played by Helen Hunt) goes to see her alcoholic mother to tell her that she forgives her for not being a caring mother. Forgiveness. Even harder than accepting stuttering. I should speak to myself. I also have some work to do forgivenesswise. But that made me think. Is it the only way to be able to move forward and get on with our lives? Much more easily said than done, though.

You life might have been different had your father encouraged you. Really? Admittedly, you might have been a more “open”, outgoing, communicating person, and you would not have the feeling of having “wasted” so many years in a stuttering-shame-etc. closet. Your path was not easy. However, this path led you to where you are today. Was it worth it? I can’t answer that. It seems to me that you managed to channel the negative into a positive, for yourself, and for many faithful readers and listeners.

A French proverb says: “À vaincre sans peine, on triomphe sans gloire”. I think I found the English translation: “To overcome without penalty, we triumph without glory”. I believe this perfectly applies to you, Pam. Some of your readers have expressed this in their own words. This is my way of telling you.

Avec amitié,

Jean-Francois, alias JF, alias Sansbonsang

Thank you Jean-Francois,
Your response was not hurtful, in fact I needed to process it for a days or so myself before I responded.
Intellectually, I know I am the person I am today because of the road I have traveled and the choices I have made.
I choose to not have anything to do with my father – so that I don’t get sucked back into all the drama that still persists. He was mentally ill back when I was a kid, but I didn’t know it at the time. All I knew was that he was not the father I wanted and needed. And my mother was absent due to illness as well.
I like your reference to the movie, where the daughter forgives her alcoholic mother for not being a caring mom. My father’s abuse and my mother’s alcoholism still affects me, especially when the painful emotions surface out of the blue or someone asks me about my childhood.
Forgiveness is my biggest challenge. I am hopeful that I am moving toward that place where I can do just that, so that the older Pam can just comfort the younger Pam, and move on.
I also like the Buddha references that both you and JP made, and I thank you.
“To overcome without penalty, we triumph without glory.” I will remember that . . . . .

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