Before I say hello,
what will happen.
I will stutter.
the string of words
that will flow
out of my mouth,
there will be a bump.
This is okay.
won’t kill my flow.
A big bump
that causes me
to use a trick
won’t stop me
is that I share
I speak for
speak for me.
I continue to learn
how to navigate
the strong waters
when there’s an uptick
in my stutter.
How I approach
conversations has shifted.
I have gained
I never could
I still say
what I want
but I may not
ramble on the way
I once did
when I was comfortable
with the stutter I knew.
For things have shifted
and that’s okay,
It’s apart of stuttering,
nothing is certain.
Spring has arrived along with the remnants of winter.
Snow one day, seventy degrees the next.
You never know what you're going to get.
The grass is greener as bees fly
and house cats beg to come back inside.
Days are longer, thoughts are shorter.
Everything looks different upon reflection.
Awareness changes thoughts and perspective,
for once I can look at my interactions without judgment.
The keys on a new keyboard are the best present I could ask for.
Smooth and shiny while working together
without pause or hesitation of a key falling off.
My dry eyes make things coming closer appear
like the wizards from Harry Potter, out of focus
and then all of a sudden clear as crystal.
I am a person who stutters. I’ve stuttered my entire life. I’ve been in speech therapy. I’ve taken medication to help reduce my stutter. I’ve lied to myself, saying that I don’t have a stutter.
My stutter hasn’t gone away. I’m now 25 and I still stutter. Some people grow out of their stutter. I’m not one of those people. Stuttering isn’t curable. I don’t stutter because I’m anticipating a word. I’m focused on what I’m saying, not how I say it. Repeating words in my mind three times before I say it out loud is unrealistic. There are too many conversations in a day to repeat everything I say in my head three times before speaking. I avoided eye contact for years because I was scared of seeing how people may react to my stutter. That fear is real but taking back the power allows me to determine how I feel about myself and not anyone else.
For those of you who don’t know, I’m referring to the advice Steve Harvey gave a woman who stutters on his show a couple of weeks ago. I find this video from an article posted by the American Institute for Stuttering that highlights the dangers of Mr. Harvey’s advice. While a lot of the speech therapy I had as a kid wasn’t helpful, this was partly because I wasn’t willing to acknowledge my stutter. As an adult, I have begun to accept my stutter and with the help of AIS, I see my stutter in a new light.
Everyone who stutters has a different relationship to their stutter because no two people stutter the same. Many of the people who stutter as a kid grows out of it by the time they reach adulthood. It’s not uncommon for a person to stutter as a kid and not as an adult. I know that for me, my stutter can shift within a moment. Heightened emotions and situations certainly play a part in how I stutter. I know that my story is a little bit different because I took medication as a teenager to have my stutter “go away.” I spent the majority of my high school and early college years not worrying about my speech. At one point, I even thought I had grown out of it. But when I went off the medication, my stutter came back within a couple of months.
There’s no cure for stuttering. Techniques such as repeating the word in your head before you say it can easily fail. Talking to yourself in a mirror is like talking to yourself any time of the day, you don’t stutter because there’s no stress. It’s not all in your head because stuttering can be caused by much more than just anticipation and sometimes anticipation causes the stutter to go away. It’s not about how much confidence you do or don’t have. It’s not about what you do or don’t tell yourself to get through the day.
Again, this is only from my perspective. There’s no one size fits all for stuttering because everyone who stutters, stutters differently than the person next to them who stutters. Applying a one size fits all method, especially from someone who’s stutter went away, is dangerous because many people stutter their entire lives. And that’s okay.
Dear 15-year-old Kelly,
Ten years from now, you’ll be finishing up your bachelor’s degree in English after years of trying to figure out what you want to do. You will be a published writer. You don’t realize this now but writing will become one of the most important parts of your life. Writing will help you grapple with your stutter. Writing will help you stop running away from the parts of yourself that you don’t like and refuse to accept now. Writing will help you figure out feelings you’re currently pushing down.
You’re about to embark on a journey that will last until you’re 20. Its already begun but you don’t know how it will skyrocket when you choose not to encounter your authentic self, your stutter, your sexuality, and other things. You unknowingly decide to run away from yourself because your scared of being more different than you already feel you are. You’re already feeling anxiety linger beneath the surface of your skin. When you begin running away from yourself, your anxiety will increase to an overwhelming level. You will wake up every morning, terrified to face the day. Your heightened anxiety will stay with you for the remainder for your teenage years. You know you’re different but you choose to see yourself as normal in aspects that you’re now experiencing because of medication. You still stutter even though you’re fluent. Just because you decide to look the other way doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. But it’s how you’re coping with all that has happened to you.
The stories you choose to tell yourself now will shift as you get older. It’s only when you begin to tell yourself stories with truth in them five years from now will you stop running away yourself. You will realize how tired you are jumping from one thing to another and running around in circles for so many years. You will also realize how much of your teenage years you were mentally absent because of fear and anxiety. Fear to embrace all the parts of yourself that aren’t considered normal by societal standards. But your normal always has been and always will be a little different from everyone else’s normal.
You will be okay. I promise.
I won’t be posting a review today. Instead, I have some very exciting news. One of my essays is published!! I wrote this essay for a class in the spring of 2017. It’s about my journey to beginning to acknowledge my stutter and how that coincided with finding my passion for writing.
For almost a year, I had submitted this piece to different publications and received one rejection after another. I had gotten a DM from Z Publishing on Twitter in late April, asking if I was interested in submitting a piece for their upcoming emerging writers from Colorado anthology. I decided that this was going to be the last piece I would submit this piece to before completely rewriting it. I had submitted my essay in early May and forgot about it for about a month.
In the middle of June, I thought I didn’t get it because I hadn’t heard from them. But, by the end of the month, I got an email congratulating me on having my essay being accepted for publication. I’m still on cloud nine and can’t believe this is happening. This is only the beginning!
This week at the American Institute for Stuttering has been amazing. I went in with a few ideas of what I wanted to work on and I’m leaving having learned a lot about myself and my stutter with the tools to navigate this lifelong journey of stuttering. I learned little things I have known about myself but never acknowledged. How I need to work on my eye contact when I speak with people. How I use filler words to make it easier for me to communicate. How my past dictates my present. How I have options to choose how I want to communicate. How the anticipation leading up to something is always worse than the actual event. How being vulnerable isn’t as scary as I thought. How I can have control over my voice instead of it controlling me. How I have more to work through and willing to take on working on myself to become to best human I can be. This week, I met some incredible people who have been so supportive along the way. I’m so lucky to have experienced this program with all of them and I’m sure we will keep in contact as we apply what we have learned here in our daily lives. When you interact with fluent people on a daily basis, you can often feel like you’re the only one. It’s inspiring to be reminded that I’m not alone, that there other people out there who stutter too.