To My Stutter, the Friend I Don't Want but Can't See My Life Without


Dear Stutter,

For most of my life, you’ve been the friend I don’t want, but couldn’t see my life without. The majority of our friendship has been filled with anxiety, nervousness, hate, self-doubt, and insecurity; however, those negatives have since turned into beauty, acceptance, and ultimately self-confidence.

When we first became friends I was 5. You filled me with a sense of doubt and made me wonder if I was the only person you were friends with. I went to speech therapy for seven years, and as the years progressed, our friendship weakened. When I went to high school, I thought you were a childhood friend that I would never see again, but wouldn’t forgot. Boy, was I wrong.

We became friends again when I was a senior in high school and we’ve been friends ever since. Our renewed friendship was difficult for me to accept. My senior year of high school and most of my college career was filled with a mix of self-doubt, nerves, anxiousness, and insecurities. During those years, you were winning.  I didn’t participate in class because I was afraid you would make an untimely visit. I had to write a script every time I wanted to talk on the phone in case it was a three way conversation between you, me, and the person on the other end. I wouldn’t order through a drive thru in case you ordered something I didn’t want.

My last two years of college were a time of transition for us. We went back to therapy and worked on our
issues. I still didn’t want you present in my life, but I began accepting our friendship. I learned ways to avoid you, but more importantly I learned how to not allow you to dictate what I could and couldn’t
do. I talked on the phone without a script, I started to participate in class, I volunteered for public speaking opportunities. I was allowing myself to say we are friends and not be embarrassed by our friendship.

After I graduated college and moved to a new city, you were one of the few friends I had in my new city. I still didn’t want anything to do with you, but I was becoming more accepting of our friendship. Shortly after moving to my new city, we went to our first NSA meeting and it was there where I met some of your other friends. That was the best thing I’ve ever done because it showed me I am not the only person you are friends with, a great thing for my younger self to know. Those meetings have allowed us to be better friends and be more open about our friendship. I now openly talk about our friendship with anyone who will listen.

I write about our friendship regularly and share it with whoever wants to read our story. That’s something I would not have expected when we renewed our friendship. Two years have passed since we went to our first NSA meeting and our friendship has only strengthened because of it.  I’ve accepted that we will be friends for the rest of my life and I’m OK with that. Yes, I still struggle to keep eye contact with people because I want them to look at me and not you. Your visits still cause me to wonder what the
other person I am talking to is thinking about your visit. At times, I need to assure them you’re no big deal and they should ignore you.

However, our stronger friendship has also made me see the good in you. Because of you I am a better person and more confident.  I see people for who they are, not what they sound or look like. I am mentally stronger and I know who I am and what I want because of you. Although at times I wish we weren’t friends, I’m glad we are. I don’t know where I would be without you. I guess that means I won, because I see your beauty and not your ugliness.

Better luck next time,

James

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo by Isaxar.

 

 

JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Related to Stuttering

Audience applauding during meeting

The First Time I Met Other People Who Stutter

Last month, I went to my very first NSA (National Stuttering Association) chapter meeting. I had been dreaming about going to one for years, so when the day finally came, I was absolutely thrilled. I had never met anyone else who stuttered. I always knew there were thousands of people out there walking this same [...]
Back view of man walking down street wearing suit

Acceptance, Peace and Stuttering

Acceptance is a term used a good bit when I talk about my journey with stuttering with both those who stutter and those who do not stutter. It usually comes up in the context of, “I’ve accepted the fact that I stutter and probably will for the rest of my life,” “How did you accept [...]
Illustration of heart-shaped tree with leaves represented by splashes of paint and hearts

What My Stuttering Teaches Me About Love

Stuttering may affect how I speak sometimes, but I am slowly learning it never has to affect how I love. My struggles with speech have forced me to learn how to love with my actions more, especially when words completely fail. This personal side of stuttering that affects my relationships and interactions with others is by [...]
Four female coworkers sitting at a desk, having a meeting

There Is Room for Us Stutterers in the Workplace

After I graduated college, my biggest fear was not getting a job due to my stutter. I went on countless job interviews, hoping someone would see me past my stutter. Although a majority of the companies I interviewed for never followed up with me, there was one company that saw me, not my stutter. Because [...]