Posts Tagged ‘feelings about stuttering’
I got a wonderful birthday gift from one of my sisters last week. It was a complete, thoughtful surprise. She had come to my home and left a gift bag on my dining room table, so I saw it immediately when I got home. (She has a key to my place!)
I opened the gift bag and pulled out a mouse pad that was decorated with my initial P and then my full name (Pamela) and underneath the words “Stuttering Rockstar.”
This meant so much to me for several reasons. First, because she made the effort to get something and bring it over to my place so that it would be an after work surprise.
But more importantly, this was so meaningful because it had something to do with stuttering. My sister and I never talk about stuttering. In fact, I’ve always thought she found it uncomfortable and that’s why we never talk about it.
But she clearly sees how important it is to me and must have noticed that friends on Facebook often refer to me as StutterRockStar and she picked up on it. That meant the world to me, that she notices and pays attention and figured that this would be something that I’d really like. And she was right. I really like it and will proudly use it at work.
Maybe this will open the door to talk about stuttering with her once in a while. Or with other members of my family too.
Has anyone in your family ever done something cool and completely surprising like this that has to do with stuttering?
Episode 22 of the very occasional male series features Chaz Bonnar who hails from Glasgow, Scotland. Chaz is 24 years old and is a dancer and freelance creative artist. He works with young kids building their confidence and self-esteem through dance.
Chaz believes that dance has helped him to express himself without words. He has been dancing – specifically breakdancing – since he was 15. Now he works with kids with the hope of offering them the same opportunities for self expression.
Listen in as Chaz shares what has helped him overcome his stuttering. He is a strong believer in the laws of attraction and feels that we have more control over our lives than we have been led to believe.
Chaz also talks about the importance of being completely honest with ourselves with regards to our speech and other areas of our life. And finally, we hit on social anxiety, which has many parallels to stuttering.
Chaz encourages listeners to reach out to him on social media if they’d like to talk with him about his ideas. Instagram: @chazbonnar Snapchat: @chazbonnar Twitter: @ChazB
The music clip used in todays episode is credited to Dano Songs.
I have recently listened to podcasts (besides my own, who knew?) where people have suggested that we can have fun with our stuttering. Micheal Kidd-Gilchrist, a NBA basketball player with the Charlotte Hornets, was recently on a sports podcast where he talked about having fun with his stuttering.
I have thought of stuttering in terms of making it a positive rather than a negative – “I’m stuttering well today” – but have never really thought about how it can be fun or pleasurable. That takes re-framing from a negative to a positive to a whole new place. A place that many people may not be at in their journey with stuttering.
I brought this idea of having fun with stuttering up at a recent discussion on Stutter Social. It was met with mixed results. Some people were intrigued by the novelty of the concept, as it really is the opposite of what people think about stuttering. One person was willing to explore out loud what it’s like when he makes fun of his stuttering. He mentioned that when he reaches that point, that he can poke fun at his stuttering, then he might not really stutter anymore.
Several people indicated that they could not imagine at all having fun with stuttering. They mentioned the negativity they feel when they stutter and how they wind up feeling depressed during and after long periods of stuttering.
I have been more conscious lately of smiling when I am in a stuttered moment. Whether it be a string of repetitions or a block, I try to remember to smile while I am stuttering. That may not be the same as having fun with it, but it makes me feel better to smile during the moment and I’m pretty sure it helps the listener to remain comfortable and present until I finish.
I am going to challenge myself to play with my stuttering and see what happens when I think about how the repetitions feel as they roll off my tongue and what the sensation of the block feels like. I am far from feeling that getting stuck in a block can be pleasurable, but I get where Constantino is coming from. Anything that we produce – and we produce sounds and words – should be valued as ours, as creative, as something positive.
What do you think of this idea of having fun with your stuttering? What does it feel like when you block? Can you make that a pleasurable experience?
Seth Godin in his book “Tribes” writes:
“A tribe is any group of people, large or small, who are connected to one another, a leader, and an idea. For millions of years, humans have been seeking out tribes, be they religious, ethnic, economic, political, or even musical (think of the Deadheads). It’s our nature.”
People who stutter are connected. That is never more evident than at a stuttering conference.
I just returned from the National Stuttering Association‘s 33rd annual conference, which was held this year in Atlanta, Georgia. The conference was held jointly with the International Stuttering Association‘s World Congress For People Who Stutter, so there were people at the conference from all corners of the world. We came together 825 people strong to celebrate the connection that we have with each other – stuttering.
First timers to the conference and veterans alike all feel an instant connection when they meet someone else who stutters. We feel an incredible sense of community, empathy, freedom and vulnerability. Sharing these feelings and connections together makes us a tribe, at least as far as I’m concerned. And I like being a part of this tribe.
I feel full and whole when I am with other people who stutter. I feel gratitude when other people “get me” without me having to fully explain myself or how I feel about stuttering. A new friend I met at the conference, Dustin, put it quite simply and well: “I’ve never felt more human.”
This was my 11th consecutive conference and I felt the same emotions and sense of family that I did at my very first conference in 2006. I met a lot of first timers this year, who got to experience the life changing impact that being part of a tribe, or community, has on us. I heard first timers comment that they felt instantly loved and connected upon entering the mix.
And I heard veterans reflect on how amazing it is to catch up with old friends and meet new ones as well. I seized that opportunity – I hung out with friends from previous conferences but also made it a point to meet and interact with as many new people as I could. It was so gratifying to meet people in person that I’d already “met” online in the many stuttering communities, which are also our tribes.
I am at my best when I am with my stuttering community. I feel the sense of belonging and wholeness that I don’t feel in other parts of my life.
The workshops, keynote speakers, and conversations in the hotel lobby and bar, and over dinner, were priceless. But more so was just the general sense of community and being with my tribe. That sense of community was palpable and hung in the air.
It was a great conference. I feel a little “let down” now that I’m home but writing and reflecting always helps me, as does carrying my tribe in my heart.
When I think of my identity, I think of things like brown hair, blue eyes and being short. I think of the tattoos I have and the fact that my initials spell my name.
I also think of my stuttering when I think of my identity. Stuttering makes me unique. It is very much a part of my identity. People know me for my stuttering. I’ve heard people at work (a school) refer to me as, “You know, the one that stutters.”
Dictionary.com defines identity as a noun:
So stuttering is one of my qualities, a distinctive characteristic that distinguishes me from other people.
There was a time when I thought stuttering was bad and shameful and I did everything I could to try and hide that part of me, that part of my identity. But I was never truly successful hiding it. It was there, not going anywhere, like my blue eyes are always going to be blue.
This reminds me of an exercise I do when I talk to kids who don’t stutter about stuttering. When explaining what it was like to try and hide my stuttering, I have the kids experience a physical and visual exercise. I ask for a volunteer from the audience and give the child a large grapefruit. I ask her to try and hide it somewhere on her body where it’s not going to show. The audience enjoys the child trying to hide it in her clothes – in her sock, in her pocket, in the hood of her sweatshirt. No matter where she puts the grapefruit, it’s lump can still be seen on the person. Trying to hide it is fruitless! 🙂
Like trying to hide stuttering was fruitless. It didn’t work. Over the years, I’ve grown to accept all parts of my identity, both the things I like and the things I don’t like so much.
Having identity makes us human. It makes us unique. It distinguishes us from the pack. Stuttering is part of my identity and I no longer try to fight that fact.
Episode 155 features Megan Aldrich, who hails from Keene, New Hampshire. Megan’s mission in life right now is sobriety and getting healthy.
Listen in as we talk about how Megan is starting to tell people she stutters, which is a huge step for her. We talk about covert stuttering, and also dealing with being made fun of for stuttering.
We also discuss Megan’s experience with the Speech Easy device, researching stuttering and the importance of having stuttering resources. Megan and I met through the Stutter Social app and have also been in a hangout together, which was her first time interacting with 8 or 9 other people who stutter.
Megan also shares parts of her story with addiction and recovery, and other health problems she has recently confronted. Megan proudly just celebrated her 4 year sobriety anniversary.
The music used in today’s episode is credited to ccMixter.
A very courageous poster today made a comment in a Facebook stuttering group about how hard it is to watch himself and other people who stutter on video.
He shares very honestly that he can’t stand to see himself stutter and can’t bring himself to watch other people who stutter either. For him, it’s not a way of desensitization, but rather a form of torment.
This made me think about how hard a time I had when I was asked to make a video of myself stuttering when I did speech therapy some years back. I remember quite vividly how much I resisted doing it. I just did not want to see myself stutter. I felt my stuttering was ugly and I was aware of how I tensed up when I blocked and I just did not want a video reminder of that.
My speech therapist at the time really wanted to deconstruct my stuttering with me and felt strongly that viewing my stuttering was the best way to do it. She also wanted to be able to “count” my stutters as part of required data collection for her class. I hated that too, as I felt it made me nothing more than a piece of data to be collected and not really a person who just happens to stutter.
It took me the whole semester to allow her to record me doing a very short monologue where I hardly stuttered at all. Even looking at that with her, with very little stuttering, made me feel self-conscious and embarrassed. I just didn’t like to see myself on video. I didn’t believe it could be helpful.
Fast forward, about 9 years later, and I find I am one of the people posting a video of me talking and stuttering in some of the Facebook groups. Something I never thought I could or would do, now I am doing with ease and posting publicly on the Internet. Wow!
What’s changed? Mostly, my attitude. I have reached a point in my life where I am OK with my stuttering and feel that I can help educate and raise awareness about stuttering. I am OK with looking at myself and hearing myself on video. I think most of this comes with maturity and experience and a good dose of “I don’t give a crap.” 🙂
I am in awe of all the members in the stuttering groups who have taken a risk to post videos of themselves talking about their story with stuttering. Some of them have acknowledged that they are new to the community and have never met another person “in real life” that stutters. Through posting video stories, people are seeing and hearing other people who stutter and I think that it’s great to lessen feelings of isolation, which are common for people who stutter.
I’m glad that the poster had the guts to share how he really feels about seeing stuttering. It certainly gave me pause to reflect on where I’ve been and where I am at now.
I’m curious what you think. Have you ever seen a video of yourself talking and stuttering? How did it make you feel? Would you be willing to post a video of yourself in a stuttering forum on the Internet?