Despite the New York City heat and end-of-summer vacationing, we had a nice turn out on Monday night. There were 22 people in attendance, nineteen old timers and two newcomers, including one SLP. We enjoyed meaningful conversation and lots of laughs. Here is some of what we discussed:
Riding and Derailing
We started the meeting by talking about the dangers of ‘riding the wave of fluency’ and what happens when we fall prey to this common phenomenon. One person came up with the analogy of a train moving too fast, with one small pebble on the track derailing the train. The analogy resonated with a lot of people who then spoke about the initial thrill of being fluent, followed by the moment of stuttering when their speech came to screeching halt, and the feelings of defeat that followed.
This led to a conversation about what we can do to avoid these experiences. It opened the topic of stuttering openly and comfortably. Those with experience in this area shared excellent ideas. They included action-oriented ideas such as voluntary stuttering, stuttering on purpose in a slow, relaxed manner on non-feared words, and advertising, letting the person you are speaking with know that you stutter. More holistic ideas were addressed too, such as meditating, practicing mindfulness, and working on an attitude of acceptance.
Breaking the Block
“How do you get out of a block?” was the question posed by a newcomer curious to hear what others did when faced with this common challenge. Answers varied from using the moment of blocking as an opportunity to advertise stuttering, to using easy repetitions to ‘bounce’ out of the block. We also spoke about how a block is the result of an intense desire to avoid stuttering, and how stuttering more openly and working on an attitude of acceptance can reduce blocking.
Stuttering Stigma in China
A very brave and outspoken member shared how stuttering is stigmatized in her home country, China. She shared about how coming to the states has been life -changing and how she is no longer a “closet stutterer.” Her new attitude of acceptance and taking ownership of her stutter was very powerful and inspiring.
Peace of Mind
The topic of having peace of mind came up several times during the night. It surfaced when someone shared that he has internal peace now that he is no longer chasing fluency, and when someone said she accepted that she would stutter for the rest of her life. Another person shared how caring less about what other people think and more about how he feels gives him peace. Ultimately, we agreed it comes down to focusing inward, caring for ourselves, and honoring the place where we are at. We ended the meeting by sharing small things we do in our day to find that peace, including celebrating small victories.
Till next time,
– Chaya | www.nycstutters.org