Curiously, for the third time now, a record high 34 people attended our meeting. This month there were six SLP students and eleven newcomers. It was so nice to see everyone on Monday and to meet all the many people who joined us for the first time. We hope to see you all again soon.
We split up into three groups. Here is some of what we talked about.
Advertising, Authenticity, and Courage
We talked about “coming out” or “advertising” to people we know. Many of us have found that advertising eases our tension, increases our fluency, and generally works in our favor. One college student shared her experience advertising to people she didn’t know so well where the outcome was touchingly more complicated. With enormous bravery, she recently announced to her whole class that she stutters. How did it go? Well, now everyone wants to talk to her! But she doesn’t necessarily want to speak as much as people want to speak with her now, so advertising has somewhat complicated her social life. Even so, she says she is going to continue advertising because she doesn’t want to hide.
In a related conversation about authenticity, we talked about how letting out our true selves is scary, but that doing so opens the door to genuine connection with others, and to friendship, and to more.
We talked about being accepted by others and by ourselves. So many important people in our lives, including our spouses, have known that we stutter and have accepted us as we are right from the beginning or the first date. But we still had to, and have to, accept ourselves. And our own journey to acceptance is not along a straight path. We can have great moments where we feel accepting of ourselves and of our speech and speak openly with others about stuttering. Months later we might experience stuttering more negatively and not feel comfortable being so open with others about it.
One intrepid member became inspired to start practicing advertising in a structured way, perhaps as a daily challenge. We discussed the effect of a number of behaviors on our fluency and state of mind while speaking, including slowing our rate of speech, maintaining eye contact, and practicing fluency shaping techniques. One member shared his discovery of unexpected benefits from meditating. We discussed whether our friends do, or should, tell other people we stutter before bringing us around. We talked about how selfconscious we can become when we believe someone, perhaps a generally judgmental friend, is judging us or our speech. We talked about advertising to such a person and about the difference between trying to make that person feel comfortable and advocating for ourselves.
And a Poem!
Isamar Morales, a member of our group, wrote the moving poem “Speaking is like Drowning”, and shared it with us on Monday. It is reproduced here. Most if not all of us can relate to it so much. Thank you, Isamar!