On Wednesday, September 26, around 25 of us, people who stutter, met for our long awaited September meeting. During the meeting, we shared parts of ourselves and connected with one another. And after the meeting, we went over to a near-by bar and decompressed with casual conversations, catching up over a drink or two. For those of you who couldn’t make it and for those of you who were there, but just need a little reminder, below are some of the topics we discussed in groups.
In one of our groups, we discussed the different ways people view their stuttering. Is it a disability? Is it not? We noted the “perks” society gave to some who were officially disabled and the struggles they endured when in no man’s land, not identifying with a disability but still experiencing stuttering in a world that has a hard time making space for the grey. Within the same group, someone shared how he had a negative experience recently when he was judged at a party to be drunk and high (when he was neither) because of his stutter. This hit him hard and affected him negatively. It led to a great conversation around how we handle crushing moments. Identifying our locus of control and making choices from that point was the resounding way to get out of a negative spot and move forward.
In another group, the conversation started out a discussion on anxiety. Many shared their thoughts and conversation moved a bit faster than usual. The focus on the conversation was how we felt within the meeting – while speaking, while not speaking, and when we anticipated to speak. Several members felt different levels of anxiety, but for different reasons. One member talked about the adrenaline of being around so many other people who stuttered. Several members talked about where they physically felt the anxiety. One member talked about her though process while anticipation to speak in a group, as a person who stutters, something we can all relate to. It was powerful to talk about our feelings, collectively as a group, and explore these feelings with each other.
In our last group, we jumped around from a few topics – stuttering during a new job, speech therapy, and raising a family. One member began the conversation by sharing that she recently started a new job. With all that she’s been through in her previous jobs with her stutter, it was a sigh of relief to start something new, feeling supported by the resilience she’s gained and this newly found community. Although feeling anxious at unknown, she shared her new outlook on stuttering in the workplace and was determined to feel comfortable and allow stuttering in. Another member shared how she was interested in speech therapy and we went around the room and shared therapy that worked for us, and therapy that didn’t. We all agreed that speech therapy was a form of support, and we owe it to ourselves to seek it if needed.
We are grateful for everyone who showed up, was vulnerable, and shared, and we hope to see everyone again during our October meeting on Monday, October 15.