Living with a Stutter

What is stuttering?

Stuttering is a speech disorder in which the flow of speech is disrupted by involuntary repetitions and prolongations of sounds, syllables, words or phrases as well as involuntary silent pauses or blocks in which the person who stutters is unable to produce sounds. That‘s what wikipedia says about it.

I say it is a living nightmare eating you from the inside.

I’ve been stuttering for most of my life. What caused my stutter to appear was a simple scare and uncontrollable crying when I was six years old. And my guess is that during this crying I tried to talk and words came out like a stutter. Then there was a click in my brains that took this speech pattern for natural and so it held it in this loop. Another way you can look at it is, that my stutter is connected with that event which is now a distant memory. But that’s just a guess.

At first it wasn’t so noticeable. Even my mom doesn’t remember when I really began to stutter. But in the elementary school I stuttered for sure. Once there was an anecdote contest, where our teacher chose me to recite my anecdote on the stage in front of other kids and teachers. Which was actually smart to encourage me to speak despite my speech problem. Of course I thought “Why me?” But I still went up and did it. They laughed. For a really, really long time I strongly believed that everyone was laughing about my stuttering. This belief helped my stutter to become worse and discouraged me from speaking in later life. What strengthened this belief even more was bullying in middle school. Then I knew for sure that people will laugh only about me and my stuttering. That evolved into paranoia where I thought that every single person who suddenly laughed were laughing about me. Even simply on the street where a group of people laughed among themselves, I was convinced that a reason for their laughing was me.

Crazy school

In the middle school my stutter was quite bad. Partly because of bullying, partly because I couldn’t control it. And no one could understand why I was silent most of the time. Judging from the notes we had to write about each other, I was nice, polite, but too silent and too anti-social. Such a mystery why. During this time we visited some speech therapists also. None could help me. I remember at least one time where we visited a non-traditional healer too. Nothing here too. There was no one who could help me. I was doomed was the rest of my life. And actually I was, still am doomed? Bullying helped tremendously. To become silent was my best choice. When I think now, I should have stopped talking in general and use sign language. That could be fun, right? But I spoke normally with kids outside the school. They were fine with my stuttering and I had no problems explaining why I was stuttering in the first place.

Environment and people around you make a huge difference. Actually I see my biggest problem now. I experienced both positive and negative environment. Silly me decided to concentrate all energy on the negative experience. What I should have done was to put negative experience deep in toilet, and focus all energy on the positive experience, which happened outside the school. During those middle school years both environments were separated and contained. After middle school both experiences merged together where bad one was dominant and so it devoured all the nice parts. And with that I took my negative experience to the next school. Where I repeated what I did previously, which is, me being silent and anti-social. Once again bad black goo ate all the good stuff and showed me the reality I hated and couldn’t change.

Sorry. I think I went deeper then I meant.

New school

But in the new school I was constantly waiting for some kind of attack, because of my stutter. I didn’t let go that feeling. To be fair that environment was positive and so were people here. But I think, I refused to see it. Darkness clouded my mind. Sounds poetic? just say yes…

I suppose where my stutter wasn’t a problem, I made it as a problem. And by making it as a problem I made my life harder then it should have been.

Well then. Who will lend me his/hers time traveling device so that I can travel back in time to punch my younger self in the face and lecture him in the ways of life?

And when I talk about people around, I also mean people with whom I talked one to one. How do you imagine I can feel relaxed when I see how other person feels uncomfortable as I began to stutter. Seeing it creates negative environment for me, and all anxieties I have, start dancing around me. Which makes my stutter even worse. I’m talking about job interviews by the way. I am very confident that I haven’t got jobs because of my stuttering. Because some people can’t see beyond it. You could say that I’m wrong. And maybe I am, but please explain these subtle facial expressions and fake smiles, that clearly says, how uncomfortable they are. Seeing it constantly was a reason I stopped searching for a job for two years after the school. If I see a job interviewer uncomfortable, how do you think I will begin to feel?

Socializing, really?

Jobs aside, let’s talk about socializing. With girls. Being consciously aware and constantly reminded of my problem didn’t helped much in that front too. Before girls came other people. I refused to speak so that no one would hear me stutter. When I had to speak I wasn’t happy at all.

With internet growing I found chatroom’s. That was like a blessing. I could write there without stuttering. Problems arose when chatroom talk shifted to more personal direction. As in talking through phone or meeting in real life. I was fine with writing, but talking nop, big big nop. There was no fear from girls, the only fear I had was them listening to my stuttering. So despite opportunities I never met any of the girls I talked to in real life. Go Stuttering!!! What about girls on the outside? I talked to them but minimally, just like with every other person. And I never let anyone close to me, because I had a package full with doubts and anxieties about myself. My stutter was just a tiny aspect of it all. But of course I also thought, who in the right mind would date a guy with a speech problem like that. My own answer was, that not a single girl would date me. And such was my reality.

Self help

When I began to work with myself, I revisited possible cures for stutter also. Most of it seemed like a bullshit. These methods simply doesn’t work. I also watched a video where Tony Robbins cured a guy with a stutter in five minutes. Method is fine. Through it I found my memory where my stutter is rooted. But it didn’t cure me. I have a huge respect for him, but you can’t cure stuttering so easily. That video is very old and probably it’s not even the full video. So most likely it’s missing important pieces behind the scenes that lead to the core of the video. I tried it multiple times and I understood that guy in the video got off easy. His stutter was connected to one simple memory. And of course it was easy for him to overwrite it. That is why I believe that he was cured.

My memory first of all isn’t completed. I put pieces together of what I think could have happened. Second of all, my original memory wasn’t real memory. Just an interpretation of that evening. Even my mom had to think hard to remember what actually happened then, so that I could replace my false memory. She couldn’t remember all what happened anyway.

And the third thing is that my stutter is rooted in the web of memories. Even the ones I have forgotten. But forgotten ones probably doesn’t count, because how something forgotten can mess with my life if I can’t remember it. With this I dug up multiple memories associated with my stutter. I overwrote them but still I can’t get rid of it. Which means there are even more memories for me to find.

Perfect voice

How I perceived the world around me through sounds was also different. I heard my own voice and it was a mess. Other voices for me sounded smooth and clean. That’s why I wanted my voice to be just like that. Clean and uninterrupted sound coming out of my voice. I couldn’t achieve it, so hate for my voice was real. The only way how I could have a clean voice was through singing, then the words came out nice and orderly. But I didn’t liked singing and you can’t sing all the time anyway.

Sometimes when I heard other people even joking about stutter I took it personally. Especially when someone casually mentioned to the other that he was stuttering. I would scream in my head “The hell he is stuttering, not even close.” I’m pretty sure that a lot of people doesn’t even know how real stuttering sounds like.

What helped me to get out of this misconception about perfect voice was to be more aware how people are actually speaking. Just by observing their speech patterns made me realize that no one is speaking perfectly. Another big help I found in watching behind the scenes videos of movies and youtube videos. It’s amazing how much effort it can take to get just one line right. I also looked up famous people who has or had stutter. And for my surprise that list isn’t that small.

It did put my mind at ease but didn’t cure my stuttering. Often I thought that life was being unfair to me. How I was supposed to live if I can’t speak normally? Looking back I don’t even think I actually lived. I simply tried to survive through the mess my life was.

To end this angry post (because rereading it couple times I can feel anger in it) I have something for those who stutter. When someone is bothering you about your stutter, just say this, “ I don’t stutter, it’s your hearing that is stuttering”. I’m not sure who made this up…me or my friend…but this puts stuttering in different perspective.

A penny for your thoughts