Make Room For The Stuttering

Posts Tagged ‘liking yourself as a person who stutters

One of the papers on this year’s International Stuttering Awareness Day (ISAD) online conference resonated strongly with me. ISAD 2012 presentations can be found on The Stuttering Homepage.

The paper is titled Relapse Following Successful Stuttering Therapy: The Problem of Choice, by Ryan Pollard. In it, he discusses how difficult it is to change our identity, even after successful therapy for whatever the issue is-stuttering, overeating, or leaving an abusive relationship.

I commented on Pollard’s paper with a post that I titled “The Devil You Know.”  People often stay in bad situations because we believe what we know may be better than the unknown. Change is scary, as is uncertainty and second guessing whether we can survive whatever change it is that may (or may not) need to be made.

I went through all of that, 3 and 4 times over. I am an adult child of an alcoholic, and as with many ACOAs, it was hard to let go of invalid beliefs, self-criticism and the constant need to please others.

I also began my journey to accept myself as a person who stutters several years ago, after spending a lifetime trying to pretend I didn’t stutter and denying how much it bothered me that I wasn’t being true to myself. As I grew to like myself more, I grew more confident and began to shed the need to defer to others and pretend to be someone I was not.

And I stayed in an abusive relationship for many years, as I thought I couldn’t ever leave and be happy, or that I just couldn’t make it on my own. I preferred the devil I was living with to the devil I didn’t know yet.

All of this leads to this: just knowing the alternatives we have in our life is often not enough for a person to make a change. I knew there was help available to leave a bad relationship, but I stayed. I knew my parents’ alcoholism was not my fault, yet I believed that for many years. I knew I could learn tools in speech therapy which would greatly minimize my stuttering, yet I chose to allow myself to stutter openly.

I remember several years ago writing a piece about “my arrival.” How would I know when I had arrived at the place in life where I would truly be happy. I also wrote about changing, and asked myself 2 questions: “what if I didn’t like the person I might become if I changed? what if I didn’t even recognize her?”

Sometimes if easy to see why we might stay with the devil we know.

What do you think?

I had an interesting proposal last week. A colleague from a prior job emailed me out of the blue and asked if I would consider coming on with them (for hire) in a coaching or consulting capacity.

He said, “this is going to sound kind of funny, but we need a self-esteem coach, and the first person we thought of was you.”

He had my attention.

It seems my colleague is working with an amazing young man who has mild Aspergers syndrome and OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder.) The young man has several part-time jobs, friends, and is involved in an adult sports league. He is accepted by co-workers and friends.

But he doesn’t believe that! He is having a hard time reconciling his difference and being able to present himself as “normal” to the world. In his mind, being different and being perceived as normal by the world just doesn’t compute.

My friend thought I could maybe help him as a coach, since I have worked my way through similar experiences very successfully. I was like, “huh? what are you talking about?”

He told me he thought I must have worked through the feelings of  “being different'” that comes with stuttering, because I am so open and confident and have such a healthy perspective on who I am. (If he only knew how I sometimes feel and don’t let on!)

I was momentarily stunned. I don’t recall ever having a significant discussion with this colleague about stuttering. He knows I stutter obviously because I stuttered openly at that job. He was my supervisor.

Then I felt pleased. We haven’t talked much at all over four years. Yet, he thought of me as a good resource to be a “self-esteem coach” for this young person.

We talked over the phone and brainstormed. He is looking for someone in a non-clinical capacity who can just share with this young person how I came to terms with my own “difference”, some of the feelings and challenges I have dealt with, and how I did/do that. That’s all. Just sharing my experience, in a mentoring/coaching capacity.

The young man has clinical people in his life. He doesn’t need anyone else like that. The thought is maybe he might benefit from an ordinary person who has struggled with similar self esteem doubts.

I am very interested in this opportunity. Who would have thought? Never me, in a million years.

This journey we are on . . . . . .  when we share, it does make a difference!

Can you see how your experiences with stuttering might/could help others?

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© Pamela A Mertz and Make Room For The Stuttering, 2009 - 2022. 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 2022.
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