We all have our insecurities. For some it's their crooked smile, for others it's their weight, for me it's my speech. Sure, there are a lot of things about myself and my body that I would love to change but none bothers me more than my inability to speak.
I know. You're sitting, staring at your computer thinking I'm over exaggerating. I am a creative type, we are prone to the dramatics. But the truth of the matter is I have a speech impediment which gives me a slight stammer and a language disorder called cluttering, both manifest themselves when I'm nervous or extremely excited. I don't like to say that I have a stutter because most of the time my stutter comes from the cluttering. Stick with me, here.
Everyone has their moments where their minds work faster than their mouths, unfortunately for those like me, it happens way too often. I'm left grabbing for any word to use causing me to start and stop several words before one finally makes it way out.
Thankfully, as I got older I've learned to control them but every now and then one of them, usually the cluttering, pop up at the most annoying, and often, embarrassing of times.
Yesterday I was on the phone with a dear friend and it happened. He has been a close friend of mine for a year now and is well aware of all my little quirks. Due to life, our friendship has had it's ups and downs and we're still trying to find that ease of friendship we used to enjoy. We check in with each other nearly everyday and once and awhile by phone. Yesterday I was pleasantly surprised when my phone rang and it was his name on the display.
Maybe it was the stress of the day (the kids were being kids) or maybe I was just having an off day but I got nervous. I didn't know what to say, nothing new was going on and one of my biggest fears is sitting on the phone just listening to the other person breath.
Conversation started and we found our rhythm and it happened. I had a good joke, or at least something funny to contribute, and was about to share it when I opened my mouth and all the words rushed out as one; cluttering. I stopped myself and tried again and recovered as best as I could. I felt like the biggest dork.
Since he is a good friend he didn't miss a beat and went with the joke as it was intended and conversation moved on. I wanted to bang my head against the wall. However, I was lying on the sofa and didn't feel like moving, so instead, I took a deep breath and continued on with my friend.
Then it happened again. I started stuttering to find the right word. When it finally appeared in my head and I was about to use it another, BETTER word appeared and rushed to push the first one out of the way. Ugh.
After hanging up with him I vowed never to speak to another human being for the rest of my life.
Stop laughing. I could do it. I could learn how to send smoke signals. What? Ok, so becoming mute is not on my agenda today or ever really, but I have learned to deal with my disorders.
I love talking to and meeting new people so I learned at an early age how to handle my speech. The first lesson was to know how my body reacts. When I'm in a new situation, meeting new people or even just having a good time, my heart starts racing, conversation dialogues yet to be spoken come to my mind and I get this surge of energy that makes me want to hug everybody.
Chances are if you've talked to me via Twitter I have already planned out what our first conversation would be if we were to meet in person.
That's one of my tricks, actually. It ties in with why I adore acting. It prepares me. Just like a script tells me the words so I don't have to find them on my own, making up little skits in my head about meeting people helps me loosen up and calm me.
Another trick is to taaaaaaaaaaalk slooooooooooow.
My life is boring, friends. It has been for some time now. I used to be around people every day and while I love and cherish my children, they took me out of adult life and helped me become a hermit. When I would be around people since having kids I would get so excited over adult interaction that I would just spew my unorganized thoughts out and pray someone understood me.
Many times someone would, however, their acknowledgement of my impediments crushed me. It doesn't matter how hard you try, friends, when my speech fails me, you notice. Whether it's something small like a twitch of your eyebrow or a slight cock of your head it's like you're holding a giant neon sign that's blinking, YOU SCREWED UP!
I started to shut down.
Then writing happened. Writing helped me organize my thoughts; it slows down my mind and lets me exercise my language skills. I'm learning more words, which you would think would worsen the problem, but instead it has helped. The better I understand words the more confident I am using them.
So when you meet me in person and my body is shaking with enthusiasm yet I'm talking slowly and surely, I'm not an idiot, I'm just trying not to sound like one. 🙂
8 responses to “One Thought at a Time”
Oh my gosh! I know exactly how you feel. I don't know if what I have is the same thing, but when I talk really fast, which is when I'm nervous or excited, I sometimes swap the first bits of two words. (example: caint pan for paint can). I don't know what it is. And my brain moves way too fast for my mouth.
I hate talking on phones, I hate participating in debates, I hate having conversations with strangers, and I sometimes hate talking with close friends.
I think you and I should create our own language that is purposely messed up so that at least we know what we're saying. 🙂
I am all in for creating a new language. However, if you think about it, we could just try talking normally, screw up and BOOM a new language, there ya go. 😉 It's a very common problem a lot of people have but for some reason when it happens I feel like the only one in the world who can't speak properly.
I stutter when I get flustered and … a few other times in my life.
I am all for creating other languages, too. Like an amalgamation of Gaelic and Greek. That should do it.
You've got me curious as to those “other” times, Sir Alex. 🙂 It's a very common trait but it's nice to hear others have trouble with it as well.
I love you. That's first of all.
Second, I never even noticed it until we discussed this the other night and you told me. So, whatever you've done to learn how to temper the cluttering, it works.
Everyone has occasional lapses with something like this. Of course you're oversensitive to it, you hate it.
But I hope writing blog posts like this helps. You're exactly like me in this respect: we throw it out in the open when something bothers us, or think something's unattractive, as a defense mechanism. “If I beat myself up for this first, call myself out on this first, then you can't!” However, it's also helpful. And things like the voice lessons may even help too, never know.
In any case, you're brave to put yourself out there like this over something that's bothered you for your whole life, and I applaud you for it.
And you're not allowed to stop talking. I'd miss your voice too much. It's literally gotten me through some of the darkest days of my life.
Jen thank you so much for your kind words! And you're right, it is a defense mechanism, one I do rather well. 😉 But it's more than that. This is a part of me and although it bothers me to no end, I'm not ashamed of me. Sure, it sneaks up on me and I just want to run screaming from the building when it does, but that's life. I think I'm a pretty awesome chick and this is just one of my quirks. Take me or leave me, baby.
I'll take you, you quirky fantastic thang. Every. Single. Time. 🙂
Vowing to never speak to another human being ever again isn't necessarily a bad goal, most humans don't deserve that interaction anyway.