The Price of Fear and Anxiety

I have always regarded myself as a fearful or anxious type of person. As a child I developed a stutter and I have let that inhibit my quality of life for as long as I can remember. I have never been able to face the fact that I stutter. Most of my friends and people I know don’t even have any idea that I have any “speech” issues. I am what they call in speech therapy a “covert stutterer”. I have a morbid fear of letting anyone know I have such a problem so I use many tricks developed over years to help me try cover up my impediment. I try to hide my stuttering by covering my mouth or using appropriate um’s and em’s or turning away from someone to hide my attempt at fluent speech.

My ultimate dream would be to wake up some morning and be “cured” of it and be able to converse fluently without even having to think about it, like most people do! The next best thing I suppose would be to be able to stutter openly, accepting my stutter as being a part of me and not really care what other people think. This type of stuttering is called “overt” stuttering and everyone will have come across an extrovert stutterer at some stage because he/she is the one that stutters openly, along with all that can entail like involuntary eye or facial expression or head movements. I admire greatly these fearless extroverts who just get on with it, they have great courage.

My stuttering has cost me so much over the years and for no reason except that I was afraid to speak up in many situations. I didn’t go to college after finishing school even though I was quite smart and able for the challenge of third level study. I wanted to be a surgeon but how could a young man who couldn’t even get the word “scalpel” out without either a very long pause or calling it a “s-s-calpel” be taken seriously! I settled on a career as a plumber (nothing wrong with that in itself) but I always felt that I sold myself short and never really felt fulfilled.

Dating girls was a lesson in self-loathing and fear. The only way I could go on a date would be to arrive intoxicated. When I drank I used to have this false courage and although I would manage to not stutter so much when I was half-tanked , it always ended in disaster when I would always make a balls of myself before the night was over.

I finally met a girl when I was 24 who was curious enough about me to stay around and put up with me on our dates together. She had experience of stuttering because her father was a chronic overt stutterer. She had a feeling I had issues even though she didn’t really know I stuttered for a very long time. I hid it from her as best I could (usually through drink). We got married after a couple of years and she has been my rock ever since. Her guidance is so inspiring, encouraging me to be ME!

So what! I stutter! But I’m also a great dad to our 2 boys. I have tried hard to be a supportive husband and I do the best I can. What else can you do? I am very grateful for what I have, my health, my beautiful family, my faith.

I try to live one day at a time and appreciate the good things. The kind words from a stranger at the checkout or the beautiful blue sky or a songbird’s trill. Life is too short to worry too much. Before we know it it will all be over and to not have given it your best shot is a shame.

I will always stutter. I will always get anxious and fearful in certain talking situations but I have promised myself that I will NOT let my stutter control me anymore! I’m done with that monkey on my shoulder. It’s up to me to keep that promise to myself for my own sake if nothing else.

My ultimate goal is to be able to get up in front of a large crowd and talk about my experiences as a stutterer. I am ready for that and I have a story to tell.

This is my first attempt at writing about myself and by doing this I hope to maybe help others who suffer with anxiety or stuttering issues. I would love some feedback from anyone who cares to respond or who can give me some advice.

Thank you for taking the time to read this little post.

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