Just Be You

It is so easy these days to use online social media and "be" a perfect person.  You can say whatever you want about yourself - truth or not.  You can become - really - anybody you want.  I don't believe in this practice, but it is done by many.  On the flip side - one thing I like about social media is you can be very truthful about yourself. So, I wanted you - my readers - to know one thing that many people don't know about me.

I stutter.

It's more of a block than a repeat stutter.  I have had this stutter my entire life.  My parents have told me that I was slow to speak as a toddler.  They put me into speech therapy, and as I learned more things to say, I began to stutter.  I have yet to find a definite cause of why people stutter.  Nor do I really care to.  It is just a part of who I am.  Some people who stutter try all kinds of therapy to "cure" them of this speech impediment.  I really don't care to do that.  It is part of who I am.  It has not affected me to a point in my life that I wish I didn't have it.  In a way - it probably helps me.  I am known to be quite stubborn at times and I tend to say things that should otherwise be left unsaid.  Stuttering - and the fear of it in some conversations - has most likely prevented me from saying some things - which now that I look back on, was probably a good thing.

My parents never let my stutter get in the way for me.  They never talked for me (unless I pleaded with them to), they never were impatient as they listened to me, they never let me use it as an excuse to not do something, or to not pursue something I really wanted to do.  They understood that I was real.  I was able to do whatever I wanted to do.  And they didn't let some silly speech impediment get in the way of that.  I was so lucky to find an amazing man who was just like my parents in regard to my speech. He didn't care; he knew it wasn't who I was.  I married him!  We have been happily married for more than 20 years.  He is my hero.  He, like my parents, never lets me get out of doing something because I may be a little nervous of my stutter.  I do still get nervous in some situations - I think this is pretty normal for everybody.  It's true that I am still "shy" (for lack of a better word) at times - like ordering at a drive up or talking on the phone, but he makes light of it.  He jokes that I need to order at a drive up and really stutter (more than I usually would) and when the clerk says he couldn't understand me - to say "what, did I stu, stu, stutter?"  That's just how we roll around here.

One thing that I really dislike doing - because of my stutter - is to read out loud.  For some reason, this is really bad for me.  I stutter so much when reading out loud in front of people.  When I give a talk at church, I memorize it, or just write down bullet points to remind me what to say and I just say what I need to say from memory.  When I was in school, I would always give the teacher a heads up on me - and ask him to never call on me to read aloud in class.  Most were accommodating.  One time I had a teacher forget, and call on me.  It took me 3x's as long to read one paragraph than anybody else.  He never called on me again.  In normal conversation I can hide my stutter pretty well.  It will only show a few times.  My husband has told me that he didn't even realize I stuttered until he had known me a few weeks.   Although - if I am saying something with another person or group I don't stutter.  Like the Pledge of Allegiance.  Weird huh?  But true.  Also, I don't stutter when I sing.  And I don't stutter when I read silently (I have had people ask me this), or when I think.  

I have had some very interesting interactions with people.  One that I remember vividly - I was in a store asking a clerk a question.  I don't remember the question in particular, but I stuttered while asking it.  The clerk them proceeded to talk VERY SLOWLY and LOUDLY with an answer.  I probably looked at him like he was a complete weirdo.  I remember thinking to myself "I'm not dumb, or deaf, you idiot!"  Yep, that is really the response I got from someone.  This is a normal response, actually.  Or, people just sort of look at me funny and find someone else to help me.  I'm used to this.  It doesn't bother me.  I actually feel sorry for the person who couldn't handle me.

I think people are afraid of others who aren't like them.  They just don't understand that differences in people is what makes this world great.  How boring would our world be if we were all the same?  Boring!!

I never refer to my stutter as a disability.  In the medical field - it is.  But I am not disabled.  I am not stupid.  I am not mean.  I am not unlike you.  We are the same.  I AM NOT MY VOICE.

Here are some pointers for meeting people who stutter:
1.  Never finish their sentences.  Let them do it.
2.  Be patient with them.  They are talking as fast as they can.
3.  Don't look down on them.  Most stutters are actually very smart, intellectual people.
4.  Don't laugh at them.  No one likes to be laughed at.
5.  Love them.  Everyone deserves to be loved.

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