I have a stutter.
Ever since I was a little kid, I have been tripping over my words, losing them somewhere in my mouth while my tongue tries to keep up with my brain.
I have a stutter, so sitting in class in grade school during popcorn reading was the single worst feeling in my young life. I was terrified that someone was going to call on me to read one of the paragraphs that I didn’t get to rehearse in my head.
I have had boyfriends make fun of me because, to them, it’s cute or funny or whatever but I have to laugh to swallow back tears. Inside I want to curl up and die. It’s not funny to me and drawing attention to it only makes it all the worse.
I have a stutter, so class presentations and staff meetings at work still make me break out into a cold sweat. I’ve learned to compensate and be overly conversational and confident, there’s no way I could mess up but sometimes I still do.
I did speech therapy for a while, and I practice what I’m going to say over and over again in my head before I open my mouth but still sometimes things get twisted.
My stutter pops up and waves to me, reminding me that it can make me look like an idiot at any moment, which as you can imagine, only makes me all the more nervous.
I have a stutter, and I remember when I was 16 that I started referring to my mother by her first name when she wasn’t around. Most people thought it was because I thought it was cool, some other parents even accused me of being disrespectful but really I just have a hard time with the letter “M.” Saying “my mom” was a living hell.
If you hear me trip and see a look of sheer panic on my face while I try and think of a synonym, just be patient and smile. Don’t look at me like I’m growing a third arm out of my chest.
If you know someone with a speech impediment, be patient and positive. Don’t joke or be overly sympathetic. Odds are they deal with this on a daily basis—just give them a second.
I have a stutter and I probably always will. And that’s okay.
Click here for the previous Chat with the Chief focused on saving money for the holiday season.