I like to think that words hold each other’s hands like best friends, it seems like a reasonable explanation for the spasms that sometimes visit when I open my mouth to speak; the uncontrollable repetition of words joined side-by-side not unlike Siamese twins.
There are days when save for its reluctant shadow, I am convinced that my stutter has left me. Days when I am smug that I don’t miss it as much as it must miss me. Days when I am pleasantly surprised that our destinies weren’t as intertwined as they seemed after all.
When I was younger, the repetitions made me self-conscious, the thought of addressing unfamiliar people made my blood freeze even before my vocal cords froze. I was anxious because I stuttered and I stuttered because I was anxious. If a snake swallows its own tail…
With age comes a confidence built atop a foundation of “I-accept-myself-as-I-am-so-take-it-or-leave-it”. Now, though my vocal cords may sometimes freeze, my blood stays warm. I thrive, regardless.
When I was younger, there were words dancing in my head, all of them eager to deliver my message. Carefully, I’d string them together neatly but like children without home training, I couldn’t control their unruly behaviour when let out to play in the open.
And with age comes control. Now, I have learned to calm the whirlwind of words that get caught in my throat when I am excited, stressed, even at-ease or simply tired. I have learned to suppress my stutter by speaking quickly; the smooth rush of words that board a rocket ship and shoot past my lips.
Well, with my space travel comes the often-amusing realisation that I haven’t fully mastered the fine art of listening. Whilst stirring my pot of alphabets rapidly, I place the hat of presumption atop my head, positioning it at a jaunty angle, certain that I know what the speaker is going to say even before it comes out of their own mouth.
Quite frankly, it is on account of a sense of urgency to release the words just as I have mentally arranged them, before they snatch their tiny hands out my firm grasp and run off wildly.
Still, there are times when I lose control and feel somewhat obliged to apologise to the ones listening. I am mostly sorry that I’ve placed in their palms the task of plucking out the message swimming in the stormy sea of words.
Perhaps I should not be as sorry, for I am as I am, and unequivocally so. I suppose we all have the various facets that interlock perfectly to produce who we are; that person that no one else can be.
So, yes! I do know that I’ve said that “The” twice before, but I just might say it again and the heavens will not fall, the earth will keep spinning, the stars will continue to shine ever so brightly, and so will I.
PS: October 22 is International Stuttering Awareness Day (ISAD)