Make Room For The Stuttering

It’s Personal

Posted on: June 4, 2013

I had one of those intimate stuttering moments today. You probably know what I mean.

I got caught in a block on the “k” in the word “keep” – came out something like “ki-ki-ki-ki-ki-ki-kiiiiii-eep.”

I say intimate in that I was looking at the person I was talking to as I blocked and we maintained eye contact through the block.

Neither of us averted our gaze. Our eyes just kind of locked, until I was able to finish the word and then move on.  I then glanced away for a second and then glanced back, which I think is normal eye contact. The other person did too.

So why is this a big deal?

Well, stuttering can be very intimate. In a Google+ hangout recently, David, a co-founder of Stutter Social, discussed his view of the “intimacy of stuttering.” It’s my view too.

Getting locked up in a block for a few seconds and sharing that with another person is very personal. I showed my “imperfection” in a vulnerable way.

And to have the other person share that with you, as in maintaining eye contact, until the block is over, is extremely personal.

I appreciated this person’s willingness to stay present with me, as she could have easily averted her eyes out of embarrassment or discomfort. Or even to give me a moment to “collect myself.”

Staying with me in the moment was also a deep sign of respect.

We shared that very personal moment that was important enough to me to write about this today.

What do you think? Can you relate?

4 Responses to "It’s Personal"

I really like this post – it’s extremely well-written. I also like the notion of the “intimacy of stuttering”. I’ve never heard this term before but it immediately resonates with me. It speaks of what lies at the very heart of the stuttering experience – the exposure of vulnerability.

All acts of intimacy require a revelation of self. When we stutter, we reveal our vulnerable selves which, of course, carries an inherent risk. Our forced intimacy can be rewarded by acceptance of who we truly are or it can be punished by judgement and rejection. On a daily basis, those of us who stutter severely are propelled into personal intimacy, often with strangers. This is contrary to the normal rules of engagement with people and is intrinsically unnatural.

Thank you for this interesting and thought-provoking post. It makes me wonder whether fear of intimacy and of personal self-revelation is a very strong factor in rendering stuttering extremely difficult for some of us. Most people assume that difficulty with stuttering is attributable to mere embarrassment but maybe it’s actually attributable to something more than that …

Well said Richard. I appreciate you taking the time to comment.
I like the way you describe the normal rules of engagement. Most of the time, there is personal space and boundaries, and very little risk when interacting with someone you’ll never see again.
But when stuttering and struggle is introduced, our deepest vulnerability is exposed, and you’re right – there’s 2 reactions, either acceptance or rejection.
Taking that risk over and over again is daunting. As is self-reflection.
Thanks again for taking the risk to reply!

have encounter this various times the plan of action I feel which relieves tension is to say something like ” Gee I mucked that up ” and smile when you say it this I found automatically puts the listener at ease

Hey Robert, good to hear from you. That’s good advice, humor almost always helps any situation. I know it helps to lighten things up for me. I just wish I could employ it more often, as I tend to be very intesne and there are moments when humor could indeed help me out.
Thanks for taking time to comment.

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