Make Room For The Stuttering

Posts Tagged ‘family and stuttering

Episode 89 features Mandy Taylor, who hails from Belfast, Northern Ireland. Mandy returned to college about 5 years ago to study accounting.

Mandy felt unsupported by her family, especially her father. Her journey began when she left home at 18.

After seeing the movie “The Kings Speech” she felt empowered to research stammering for the first time and learned about the British Stammering Association. She attended her first BSA conference last year, meeting other women like herself.

We discuss raising stammering awareness, the support group that Mandy started herself, stuttering as a disability, employment discrimination and the need for advocacy. Mandy concludes by sharing her belief that persons who stammer have to be the ones to tell others about stammering, so people will understand and know what to expect.

I had so much fun chatting with Mandy and hearing her story. Feel free to leave comments below for either of us.

The podcast safe music used in this episode is credited to ccMixter.

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?

Episode 84 features Miranda Smith, who hails from Florence, Kentucky. Miranda is a full-time college student at Northern Kentucky University, studying computer information technology, with a minor in computer forensics. She also works as a waitress.

Miranda is actively involved in the National Stuttering Association, serving as a board member on the Teen Advisory Council.

Listen in as we talk about how she got involved in the stuttering community, her feelings about stuttering, confidence and self-consciousness, and how she balances a very full plate. Well, waitresses are exceptionally good at that, right?

Miranda also talks about fund raising she has done for the National Stuttering Association and advertising she has done about stuttering. She shares how the “Stutter Like A Rock Star” bracelets were a big hit.

Even though I am the original “stutterrockstar” (@StutterRockStar on twitter and the url for this blog) it’s cool that Miranda took “stutterlikearockstar”as her email address. We are both making room for our stuttering and there is certainly enough room!

Please be sure to listen in and leave comments or questions for Miranda. Or just let her know what a great job she did.

The music clip used in this episode is credited to ccMixter.

My friend Devayan from India made me smile when he asked if I would be able to meet up with him and his brother when they arrive to New York this weekend.

It seems Devayan’s older brother has not been around too much stuttering, other than his brother’s, so Devayan thought it would be a good idea if he met me. As he put it, then his brother would be exposed to some good, confident stuttering.

That made me laugh when we discussed it over Skype this past weekend. We were chatting about Devayan’s pending move from Mumbai, India, to New York, USA. He had lots of questions, including how cold is it here, where could he find some inexpensive pots and pans, and does the local grocery store sell good chicken and eggs?

During our conversation, Devayan had several very good stuttering moments! It seems excitement and stress increases his stuttering, just like it does for most of us. (I had been under the impression that Indians who stutter don’t get stressed! Only kidding!)

So when he asked if I could meet them on Sunday for coffee before his brother returns home, I smiled and laughed. Devayan considers my stuttering to be of the good and confident type.

It struck me how great it was that we were able to have this conversation about stuttering – him telling me mine is confident and me telling him that he had some “great stutters.”

It also made me ask myself: “what is confident stuttering?” And it made me think he is well en route to becoming a good future speech therapist!

Confident stuttering is natural and open, staying with the block or repetition, making eye contact and smiling during the stuttering moments. I will be the first to admit that I don’t always do this, but I strive to anyway!

Maybe your definition is different! What do you think? How do you define “good confident stuttering?”

P.S. Devayan arrives in New York this weekend, and I am confident that we will both be cold and stutter well when we finally meet in person!

Episode 73 features Jeni Cristal, who hails from Long Beach, California. Jeni is 22 years old and attends the University of Long Beach, majoring in Health Care Administration.

Jeni will graduate in spring 2012, and plans to go on for her Masters degree in Public Policy. Then she wants to apply to law school, with the long-term goal of becoming a prosecutor.

Jeni is from a very large family – she has 10 siblings! Two of her brothers stutter. Listen in as Jeni shares her poignant story of growing up not being allowed to talk to her mother – because her mother thought Jeni’s stuttering was contagious! She was only allowed to talk to her mom if she was fluent.

We talk about how tough it was for Jeni to not talk about any of this for years, and the changes in her relationship with her mom. We also discuss disability resources for college students, speech therapy, forgiveness, letting go and acceptance.

Jeni and I had a great conversation. We both got choked up at the end of our chat, as we realized we had made a real emotional connection. Sharing our personal stories does that!

Please feel free to leave comments for either of us, and especially let Jeni know what a great job she did. Feedback is such a gift.

The podcast safe music used in this episode is credited to ccMixter.

Episode 70 features Rachel Hoge, who hails from Springfield, TN. Rachel is 19 years old and presently attends Western Kentucky University and lives in Bowling Green. She is studying creative and professional writing.

Rachel shares that when she first started college she advertised in one of her classes that she stutters and had started a blog about stuttering. Sitting next to her in class was the editor of her college newspaper. The editor profiled Rachel and her blog, The Untamed Tongue, in the college paper. Rachel shares that other students emailed her, disclosing that they too stutter.

I saw the article about Rachel, which led me to her blog, and then to her, which led to this podcast conversation.

Rachel wrote an article on stuttering when she was in high school that was published in the Stuttering Foundation’s newsletter. We also mention the National Stuttering Association, FRIENDS and the Our Time Theater in our conversation.

Listen is as we discuss stuttering around close friends and family, parent and sibling support and acceptance. We also discuss what it was like for Rachel to have this conversation, as I was the first woman who also stutters that Rachel ever spoke with.

Music used in this episode is credited to ccMixter. Please feel free to leave comments or feedback for Rachel or Pam. Feedback is a gift.

** Producer/editor note: I was unable to clean up the audio properly in this episode. It sounds like I interrupted Rachel at every turn, but that is really not how it went. For some reason, the audio just did not come out cleanly and I couldn’t fix it. Remember – this is an amateur podcast production! **

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.


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© Pamela A Mertz and Make Room For The Stuttering, 2009 - 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Pamela A Mertz and Make Room For The Stuttering with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Same protection applies to the podcasts linked to this blog, "Women Who Stutter: Our Stories" and "He Stutters: She Asks Him." Please give credit to owner/author Pamela A Mertz 2020.
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