Our holiday support group was another reminder of how special these support groups can be. During the holidays we sometimes tend to get a bit sentimental, we reflect on the people who are close to us. And for most of us, myself included, the support we get from these meetings can be a very powerful thing. For our December meeting, we had a total of 19 people, 17 PWS and two awesome speech pathologists, 6 first-timers – all of whom were NSA members of other chapters who joined us for the evening.
We introduced ourselves and familiarized each other by sharing with the group what our holiday plans were. We then nibbled on all sorts of goodies that people had brought, and split into two groups to start our discussion of the theme for the night, ‘change’ and its effect on our stuttering.
1) Change within our lives is inevitable – This comes in many forms; getting a new job, moving to a new place, being in/out of a relationship, or just the change of seasons. The consensus seemed to be that with change, many times our stuttering can change as well. Like the stuttering itself, for most of us change is a given, it will continue to happen. And it seems that the more we take steps to accept it, the easier it is to deal with. And we are all here because we want this change…and the amazing opportunities that life may bring with this acceptance.
2) Wanting change, despite family’s negative perception of stuttering – As we know, genetics and stuttering are linked up in some way, and several members of the group have a relative, or many, who stutters, even within their direct family. But not everyone wants to change or even talk about stuttering. For some family members, this can be a taboo issue, but it’s certainly not a taboo issue for people who want to change their lives for the better. Coming to these support groups, despite what someone’s family may think of stuttering, is a courageous move. This also seems to be the right step for those of us who are ready to face our fears and to better our lives – that would include all of us.
3) Talking on the phone, when mood changes and things get heated – The listener may think you are nervous and you may have trouble getting your point across, so what do you do? You could advertise. Telling the listener that you stutter in the beginning can be an appropriate time, but is there really a best time to advertise? Perhaps the right time is when it will help you the most, and it might not always be at the beginning of a conversation/meeting. The key thing is to do whatever you need to do to in order to be in control of the conversation. You can inform the listener that you are a person who stutters and that you are not nervous, but this is just how you speak. You are allowing yourself to stutter. Not only that, but you are okay with stuttering, and not just okay with it, but confident because what you say is important. It should be expressed and it should be heard – and it will be heard.
4) Changing by getting desensitized – One of our members did the ‘subway challenge’ on his way to the support group. He stood up in the train, told everyone that he wants to make an announcement because he is working on his speech and is a person who stutters. He thanked everyone for their time, and asked if anyone had any questions. All in all, a pretty badass thing to do. And we all have our subway challenges depending on our personal goals and where we are with our stuttering journey. For some of us, it’s being more open about our stuttering and talking about it with a friend. It can be advertising when you’re going to a job interview. It can be clarifying someone at a car rental place when they are confused as to why you aren’t talking like ‘the most interesting man in the world’ from the Dos Equis commercials during that particular minute. And so on.
It was so nice to have seen everyone.
Besides our monthly support groups, we’ll have more events coming up for the winter, for the entire NSA community throughout all the boroughs. If you have any suggestions about anything at all, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, if you haven’t already signed up for our newsletter, do so at www.nycStutters.org at the bottom of the page. We’ll be sending these recaps and upcoming event notifications by the newsletter. So signup now to stay in the loop!
Arrivederci and Happy Holidays to everyone!