Make Room For The Stuttering

To Fear Or Not To Fear

Posted on: May 9, 2013

Stuttering requires a degree of fearlessness. In order to stutter openly, at some point, we have to lose the fear we have of being made fun of, or laughed at, or getting “the look.”

For most of us, letting go of that fear is hard to do. The fear of stuttering may indeed be more debilitating than the actual stuttering is.

I can well remember how worried I would always be of other people’s reactions if I stuttered. It goes back to childhood – of my father yelling at me when I stuttered, of the teacher who reprimanded me for stuttering, as if I was doing it purposely.

Those early experiences made the fear intensify. I feared the negative reactions more than the stuttering. The stuttering came and went. My perception that people thought there was something wrong with me stayed.

Fear drove me to hide my stuttering for a very long time. Even after “coming out” a few years ago, I still have moments where I try to hide it, or realize that I unintentionally hid it.

In one of the stuttering groups on Facebook, fear has been a recent topic. It never ceases to amaze me how many people are dealing with their “firsts” with stuttering. First time talking about stuttering openly, first time confronting emotions, namely fear.

These days, myself and other “stuttering veterans” are in a position to share our past experiences and hopefully help others with their first attempts at owning their feelings and fears.

It’s never easy. In fact, fear never really goes away, does it?

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6 Responses to "To Fear Or Not To Fear"

no..its always there with me

I find this post so interesting. There was definitely a time when I was fearful of my stuttering being “exposed” or the faces others would make or the open giggles. I don’t know when that stopped and when it stopped being an issue for me. But I really don’t care today and that’s incredibly freeing. You get to just be you and not The You Who Stutters.

Fear of stuttering, fear of talking, fear of interacting with others…..hmmmm…The only long term effective answer that I have found that always —– and I mean ALWAYS —– works is IDGAS. IDGAS can be acquired if you can find a gifted SLP… IDGAS is a most difficult aspect of effective therapy to acquire if you are a pws.

It’s taken me a long time to realize it has been this fear that has been holding me back from a number of things in my life. Thank you for articulating this feeling. I’m trying to muster the courage and going through a number of firsts right now, with advertising and having discussions with friends, relatives, and co-workers. They all know, of course, but – as my therapist says – it might help to acknowledge the “elephant in the room”. Great blog and podcast. 🙂

Honestly, this is the reason I’m very, very glad I’ve grown up with a moderate-to-severe stutter. When I was younger, I *could not* hide my stuttering because I stuttered on far too many words far too badly. Even when I grew somewhat more fluent as an adult I could never get through introductions without a major block. And somehow I never developed that fear; stuttering was something unavoidable, stuttering was something that people would always know I did within two minutes of me opening my mouth, so it was just the way the world was. (It probably also helped that my environment was supportive enough I didn’t get the more blatant negative reactions and I didn’t pick up on the more subtle ones – hooray for autism – which left me pretty confident in my speech.)

Five years ago, I did a speech therapy and was pretty much fluent afterwards. And suddenly, I started worrying about what people would think if I slipped up, how they would react if I started stuttering *now* after they’d known me as fluent. I was miserable! My anxiety and fear about stuttering went through the roof, I developed avoidance behaviours I hadn’t had before, I started being ashamed of how I talked… I hated it! I started telling people I stuttered (something I’d never done before because I’d never *had* to), and their reaction would make clear that they thought I was exaggerating and making a mountain of a molehill, which really didn’t help (and, to boot, made me feel as if not just my verbal life up to that point but also the sheer amount of effort the speech therapy demanded was being dismissed). In the end, I decided I’d rather openly stutter than live in this constant fear of doing so. I quit practicing the speech therapy technique and am not planning on ever going to speech therapy again – my mental health and happiness are simply too important to me!

…I actually know the fear far more in connection with being autistic; I put a *horrendous* amount of effort into appearing neurotypical, enough effort that it seriously damages my ability to function in everyday life because so many of my mental resources are dedicated to things like suppressing stims, and some part of me lives in terror of people finding out. 😦

Kaz,
Thanks for sharing such honest, insightful comments, on both fronts – stuttering and autism. I agree wholeheartedly with your sentiment that mental health and happiness are far more important than speech therapy and any attempts to be something we are not.
Myself – having been covert for meany years (or thinking I was!) I let fear get the best of me for far too long.
I am in a much better place these days – being myself and not caring as much about other’s opinions of me does a lot for lessening fear.
Glad you checked in and shared.
Pam

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