Make Room For The Stuttering

Posts Tagged ‘stuttering and self-esteem

He-StuttersEpisode 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.

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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.

And Chris Constantino, a host with the StutterTalk podcast recently talked about having fun with our stuttering and seeing if we could make stuttering a pleasurable experience.

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?

We hear so much about acceptance in the stuttering community. It is important that we accept ourselves, perceived flaws and all, if we want others to accept us as we are.

Acceptance is one of humanity’s most basic needs. If you think back to psychology courses you took, you’ll likely remember Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Love and belonging (or acceptance) is right smack in the middle of the needs that all human beings need in order to lead a fulfilled life.

It takes courage to accept acceptance into our lives. We live in a society where we are constantly bombarded by media images of perfection and many of us hold ourselves up to those images, aspiring to achieve goals that may never be achieved.

To truly accept yourself, you must have the courage to present yourself to the world as is and be proud of who you are.

People who stutter often have tremendous difficulty with acceptance. We feel different, we sound different, we are different. There are very few role models for us who stutter openly in the media. What images we have of stuttering in the media are often infused with negativity or comedy.

So it’s no wonder we might struggle with accepting acceptance. It’s not something that comes easily and for some people who stutter, they may never fully accept acceptance. They may strive for fluency and constantly be on the lookout for the next greatest program, therapy or medication that promises to eliminate stuttering. They want to live up to those media images of perfection, where no one stutters.

Accepting acceptance doesn’t mean that we can’t still explore ways to manage or improve our speech. We may be interested in stuttering more comfortably and with less tension. That’s not a sell out to acceptance. It just means that we want to be the best that we can be with what we have.

It took me years to allow acceptance into my life. I was ashamed of stuttering for so long, because of all of the negative external messages that I internalized. For me, it was and still is a journey. Shame still creeps in occasionally and it’s in those moments that I actively remind myself that I am good, that I am whole, that my difference is OK and that I am enough. I think when I do that, I’m accepting acceptance.

What do you think of accepting acceptance? Have you?

 

 

 

 

Whenever I hear someone else stutter, that I wasn’t expecting, my stuttering radar kick in. What do I mean?

I was at a networking meeting on Thursday and a woman from a local agency was the main presenter. She stuttered. My ears picked it up right away and I felt my cheeks warm, as this surprised me. I am used to being the only one at these meetings who stutters.

And here was this woman talking and stuttering easily. She had no visible signs of tension or struggle. Her stuttering was in the form of hesitations and repetitions.

She was a very good speaker. She kept eye contact while talking and didn’t seem bothered at all by her stuttering. Neither did any of the listeners. There was no visible reaction by any listeners. I know this, as I glanced around to see how people were responding. Everyone was respectfully listening and making appropriate eye contact with the speaker.

I was the only one who appeared to be taken with the fact that this woman was also a stutterer. Thoughts went through my mind: “Hey, I stutter too!” “You go girl.” “Should I say something to her after?” Would that be appropriate? Would she be OK with that?

I decided not to react to her any differently than I would to any other speaker. After all, she was doing something I do all the time too. Speaking, presenting, sharing information that other people need and want.

As a stutterer, my radar kicks up a notch when I hear someone else stuttering. Perhaps it’s just the novelty of, for once, not being the only one in the room who experiences less than perfect speech.

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 82 features good friend Jamie Rocchio, who hails from Rhode Island. Jamie recently moved to New Jersey and is currently enjoying retired life. Or as she puts it, she is “puttering” around the house and loving every minute of it.

Jamie and I met through the National Stuttering Association (NSA) about 5 years ago and we have become good friends. We stay in phone contact a few times during the year and I went and visited her for a weekend in Rhode Island.

Jamie is an outspoken advocate for stuttering. She was a NSA Chapter leader while living in Rhode Island, and for several years she has helped with first-timer orientation at the annual NSA conferences. Jamie was also a regular guest for a while on another podcast Stuttertalk.

In this episode, Jamie and I have a “catch-up” conversation and talk about how stuttering has impacted Jamie’s life, past and present. We talk about fear, change, being stuck, and most importantly, how we as women take care of ourselves.

I don’t think women in general talk about this enough – we have to take care of self before we can attend to anyone or anything else. Men too, of course, but we women tend to beat ourselves up more, so being gentle and taking care is oh so important.

We also talk about how important it is to be open to change, to listen to the universe, and take those leaps.

Feel free to leave comments for either of us in the comment section. Feedback is a gift!

Episode 76 features Andrea Montes, who hails from Seattle, Washington. Andrea works in Redmond as a massage therapist. She always loved getting massages when she was younger, and became good at giving massages because she knew what she liked.

Andrea decided to become a massage therapist, both because of her love for it and because she thought she wouldn’t have to talk much. Not surprisingly, she learned otherwise!

Andrea only “came out” about her stuttering 7 or 8 months ago. She was covert, and worked hard at hiding stuttering at work, for fear of being judged or fired. She was terrified of being found out as a stutterer.

She talks about how it took so much energy to hide, that when she left work and returned to her safety zone, she was almost inaudible. Her blocks were severe after being near perfectly fluent at work.

Listen in as we also talk about quality of life, getting rid of the “fluency dream”, self esteem and anxiety. Andrea also talks about her experience with the McGuire Program, and how it helped her “come out of hiding.”

Andrea shares that she is still dealing with the shame of stuttering, which prompts a segment about how we manage shame and other people’s reactions. Andrea gets really honest about her fear of her “big blocks.”

I loved getting to know Andrea, and loved her gut honesty. Feel free to leave comments or ask questions, or just let Andrea know how great she did in sharing her story.

Credit for the music used in this episode goes to ccMixter.


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© Pamela A Mertz and Make Room For The Stuttering, 2009 - 2017. 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 2017.