One phrase a stutterer is sure to hear at least a million times in their life is, “well, you’re not stuttering right now.”
I’ve heard this many times, and have subsequently rolled my eyes. When I’ve been angry, anxious, excited, etc., and just happened to speak fluently, mis/uninformed people would inquire about how I, as a stutterer, could speak fluently in the face of such emotions.
(They are surprised that I, the “disabled” one, have managed to speak “normally.”)
For some reason, people think a stutterer’s ability to speak fluently correlates directly to how we’re feeling at any given moment.
Sometimes that is the case. There have been plenty instances in my life when I have had trouble speaking when I’ve been nervous, tired, happy etc. But ultimately, as a stutterer, I never know what my impediment has in store for me on any given day.
These last few weeks have been pretty, well, interesting — (I’m so sorry I’ve been MIA, guys!) I’ll be transparent with you guys, recent weeks have been very eventful and pretty stressful. From work to my personal life, I’ve needed a glass of wine (or three) at the end of most days.
I reveal all of that to say that during these last few weeks, these stressful, pressure-filled weeks, I’ve found myself waiting — and anticipating — for my stutter to rear its ugly head worse than ever before.
Subconsciously, I assumed that the severity of my stutter actually would increase due to the high-pressure circumstances — much like the mis/uninformed people mentioned above.
And some days I was right. Some days I’d have so much trouble speaking with friends, family and coworkers that I’d have to whip out all the speech therapy techniques I thought I’d grown out of needing (even the whole “talk like a robot” thing). It got so bad that I’d get overwhelmingly angry, frustrated and exhausted.
But other days were good days for my stutter. In the midst of the stress, pressure and near-meltdowns I was the most fluent I had ever been.
However, I’ve had many conversations with fellow stutterers who say they stutter most when they’re nervous, or when they’re tired, or even when they’re happy.
We’re all so different. And that’s great.
There is no formula for what causes stuttering, what increases stuttering and how one could dictate the severity of their stutter from day to day. I realized this early on in my string of stressful weeks.
And I made a decision. I resolved to do my best. I used all of my techniques, took deep breaths, gave myself pep talks (and treated myself to wine and Chinese takeout occasionally :)
Although I’ve been under a lot of pressure, this rough patch has given me two things: a lesson, and material for you guys :)
Going forward, I know now that whether I’m under pressure or breezing through life, I should and will do my best. I’ll do my best and I’ll let my stutter be — it’s gonna do what it wants to anyway.
My stutter isn’t dictated by my emotions, and I shouldn’t be either. I may not be sure of what my stutter has in store for me each day, but I can be sure of what I’ll do: my absolute best.
(And order Chinese takeout).