Make Room For The Stuttering

Finishing For Us

Posted on: August 26, 2014

How many times has this happened to you? You’re in a conversation with someone, either someone you know well or someone unfamiliar. You’re going along fine with what you are saying and then it hits – a big block.

You get stuck and nothing comes out. You feel helpless and the moment feels like an hour. Your mouth is open and nothing is happening. Or sound is coming out but not the word.

And then your listener tries to help and finishes the word or sentence for you. Maybe they even got it right.

Or maybe they get it wrong, and say something not even remotely close to what you were actually going to say.

How does this make you feel? What do you do?

When this has happened to me, sometimes I feel angry. Angry that the block has happened in the first place and that someone has seen what I look like when I get stuck. I imagine it looks awful, but I’m sure in reality it doesn’t.

I also might feel angry if the listener has finished my word and they guessed wrong. I do one of two things: finish what I was going to say anyway and move on, or move on and pretend like nothing happened.

I don’t like to do that – pretend nothing happened, because something did. I got stuck in a block and someone reacted to it.

I wish I had the guts to acknowledge my feelings when this happens but I often don’t. I don’t like to draw more attention to my stuttering.

What about you?

4 Responses to "Finishing For Us"

This is a great post. It may be good to put this out as a Women who Stutter Facebook question, too. I like to comment on my “moment”… “wow, that was a great stutter, right there,” or something like that, but there are times, too, that I am in a hurry, or just don’t feel like it, and can leave it there… but I usually try to acknowledge the moment. Sometimes I will acknowledge and then go back and say what I intended to say (whether or not the person guessed right) or finish my sentence and then acknowledge…. I like your honesty about feeling angry. Why do you think your blocks make you angry? Or is that a whole blog post? Or a memoir? 😉

Hey Joe, thanks for the comment and feedback. I think my blocks make me angry (not all of the time) because I hate to lose control, and blocking for me is a loss of control. I feel angry with myself for losing control and letting others see that.
I generally like to be in control of things in my small corner of the world. It seems I have always been searching for that control ever since childhood, when I learned I couldn’t control my speech and also couldn’t control the chaos going on around me.
I think that’s why I grew up to be a perfectionist – always trying to be perfect with the things I can control.

I also dislike blocking because I feel like I have lost control. When people finish my words, even if they’re correct, I find it frustrating because it makes me feel like I can’t speak or they’re trying to rush me even though more often than not, they’re probably just trying to help.

This happens to me all the time. To be honest, when I’m struggling but failing to get out the words that I need to say, I’m often relieved when someone steps in and tries to help. If they get it right, it’s brilliant. Of course, when they’re not, it can greatly add to the confusion of the conversation!

I’m just conscious that, most of the time, when people try to help you communicate, they are doing so for the very best of reasons. Of course, a cynic might say that they’re partly motivated by discomfort at seeing your struggle and they intervene to alleviate their own ill ease. However, that’s OK too in my opinion because it’s a natural human response. Am I alone in having these views?

I have to admit that an exception to the above is when I’m talking to people close to me. I expect them to have patience and to wait, no matter how long it takes. However, being realistic, I suppose this isn’t always possible either. The biggest issue I have is when I’m trying to speak and this isn’t noticed. I get ‘talked over’ constantly which does annoy and frustrate me.

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