Love, Life Stories

Stuttering was the dark shadow that lingered over my brightest moments

I remember feigning sore throats so I would be excused from speaking.

I often wonder what it would be like to speak with euphony.

To have words that flow correctly, effortlessly, harmoniously. To have a rich, warm voice that never falters. To never have to rely on a fixed set of words because your tongue stumbles over the rest. To never worry about picking up phones, greeting your best friends, maintaining conversations, giving that poor tourist clear directions, or raising your hand when you knew the answer in class because nothing could ever possibly limit you and your beautiful voice.

Stuttering was the dark shadow that lingered over my brightest moments. It was harsh, it was weird, it was ugly. I felt ugly, even.

For many years, I tried to deny my speech impediment. I tried to gloss it over and pretend that everything was alright. That I was alright when that was the furthest thing from what I was feeling.  

I remember anxious feelings in my stomach whenever I knew I had to say my name. I remember feigning sore throats so I would be excused from speaking. I remember hesitating whenever someone called the house and I was forced to pick up the phone. I remember my mom having to utter the same excuse at gathering after gathering. “My daughter is a little tutla,” she would say in Bengali. “Just a small stutter.”

[bctt tweet=”I remember anxious feelings in my stomach whenever I knew I had to say my name. ” username=”wearethetempest”]

My friends have never mentioned it, and we’ve never talked about it, either. But there were many adults in my life that felt like they had to step in and comment about something that was beyond my control.

“Aw, honey,” my seventh-grade computer teacher called me over while everyone else was engrossed in Tabula Digita. “Can’t live your life like that…” and wrote a name and a phone number down on a Post-It note. The name she had written was a referral to my middle school’s speech therapist, a sugary-sweet lady who smelt like vanilla and always had a smile plastered on her face. After dismissal that afternoon, I threw the note in the first trash receptacle I saw.

Because I thought it would become better on its own. I thought that this would all pass as I would grow older, that all I needed to do was to hang on until then. Just keep calm and don’t think about it.

High school was a period of extreme highs and lows for both me and my stutter. There were light days – days where I didn’t have to speak, or actually went through conversing without losing my breath or stuttering over too many words. And then there were my hard days – days where I didn’t want to face anyone because facing them would mean interaction and talking would mean an undoubtable stuttering fest.

[bctt tweet=”All I needed to do was to hang on until it went away.” username=”wearethetempest”]

Through it all, I tried to convince myself that, perhaps, God gave me this for a reason. I told myself that, maybe, my speech was just meant to be. Or maybe it was meant not to be.

I think back to a day where I was confronted with one of the hardest decisions I ever had to make – to let my insecurities bog me down and prevent me from moving forward or to finally take a breath and let go. To finally edge out of my protective little bubble I created for myself.

I hit rock bottom. One afternoon, I kept blanking out in front of the crowd of people I was supposed to speak to, and my stuttering made it all the more embarrassing. It was all too much for me. I’d never cried with so much agony in public as I did that day. My intense shame and disappointment weren’t from the loss of the opportunity offered to me, but from yet another failure to overcome what I felt brought me down all my life, no matter how much I wanted to tug up.

[bctt tweet=” I’d never cried with so much agony in public as I did that day.” username=”wearethetempest”]

I was immensely tired, and a little lonely despite all the encouragement from my peers. But as time passed on, I felt slightly lighter. Things looked a little brighter. And I realized that I didn’t want to remain down anymore.

I guess, in retrospect, confrontation was what I needed to really help bring me to the path of self-acceptance. Maybe the reason why I struggled with being satisfied with myself. was because I always tried to bury this part of me – a part that I was so disgusted by and did not want to face at all if I could help it. But if I began to accept that I have it, maybe living with it could be a whole lot easier. Maybe I could even overcome it.

There is so much more to me than the way my words chose to leave my mouth. I am more than a speech impediment. It may have taken more than a decade of my life to figure that out, but I’ll take it.

[bctt tweet=”Maybe I could even overcome it.” username=”wearethetempest”]

Now and again, I’m still not sure what to think of my speech impediment anymore. But I always remind myself that despite everything, it will never define me as a person. As I moved further in college, I have promised myself that I will try and stay positive. That I will commit to a journey of only self-love and not cycles of self-hate as I’ve done in the past. I’ve always believed that everyone is capable of creating their own story on how they persevered through their personal trials; this will be mine.