Tuesday, 29 October 2013

1. Somebody I know - The problems of stammering

The Problem - How can I possibly pull two mountains together?

My mind is a fluent, non-stammering mind. My voice is a stammering voice. When I think I do not stammer. It is only when I attempt to verbalise my thoughts does the stammer intrude.

In the past I saw myself as separated from myself; one part of me, my mind, was standing on top of a mountain surrounded by a thick covering of cloud, invisible to all but myself. The other part of me, my voice, bathed in horrible sunshine, was standing on top of another mountain miles away from the first mountain.

My mind in fluent despair saw the ideas I carefully constructed and sent to the other mountain become shredded and degraded by my stammer; each idea my mind sent across lost its essence and fell away. As a result I did not recognise my external voice as a valid representation of my mind, the distance between the mountains was too great. Therefore, I was split in two. I was fluent and I stammered at the same time. I was confused. Terribly, destructively confused. How can I have two separate voices at the same time?

I lost myself in the gap between the mountains. This led to a very painful circular argument; my fluent internal voice undermined my external stammering voice and my external stammering voice undermined my internal fluent voice. So, whenever I tried to locate my identity either internally or externally it was undermined by the other contradictory voice. I ended up being nowhere. I couldn’t form a stable identity as I oscillated between my separate voices. It was very disorientating and very painful.

Because the emotional response I had to my stammer was so much more intense than my reaction to my internal voice I kept reacting to my stammer and eventually all I heard was the explosions of stammering blocks. I pushed myself towards the inside edge of my face and I existed very near the surface of my speech. I lost my inner identity and literally became my speech problem. All I heard of myself was my stammer.

My stammer had other consequences too. I felt that it was seemingly beyond the control of my mind (I never knew when I would step on a stammering landmine or how to bandage the wound when I did) and therefore every time I stammered it dismantled the value of my intelligence and my mind. I also felt alone in my head because I perceived that nothing of me (e.g. my thoughts, my consciousness) was getting through my stammer. I felt cut off and isolated; only my stammer was being seen and heard. Even when I was talking (no, stammering) with someone I felt isolated. Therefore, my “natural” state was to be alone with my thoughts.

Allied to thoughts of isolation was the fact I blamed myself for my stammer; it seemed logical to me that whatever came out of my mouth belonged to me. If I insult you then I would have to take responsibility for engaging and moving my mouth to form the insulting words. It was also my mouth that formed the stammer. Therefore, I was responsible for my stammer. If I was to blame I must truly hate myself to inflict such pain on myself. I concluded I deserved the punishment of loneliness for being unable to conquer my stammer. Why would anybody want somebody like me who was incapable of saying mere words (any infant spoke better than me)? I perceived myself as simply not being good enough to overcome my stammer. I couldn’t be me; instead I was something (my stammer) that I hated. Why would anybody want me if I didn’t want me?

Please read part 2 and 3...

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