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Celebrating Stuttering

Ellen

Can we celebrate stuttering? Until recently I would have said only if you are mad or on drugs. Occasionally I still think this. The remnants of stuttering can still leave me strangely silent at the end of a phone conversation, which happened yesterday with a client. It even happens with family.

Given that this is the time of year for celebration, can we celebrate any part of stuttering? This can seem a tall order when it comes to something that affects so much of who we are and how we communicate. Communicate – that's the key word isn't it? And it feels like stuttering disrupts communication. One one level it does. But on another level I have come to see that it can open us – even me – to other people and a way of living more fully.

Vulnerability

Knowing that we are valuable and unique is the foundation for accepting stutteringFirst, let's go back a step or two. Believing, and knowing, that we are valuable and unique, is the foundation for accepting stuttering as a part of who we are – however small we wish that part to be. Getting to know your vulnerabilities and what your needs are, can help acceptance grow into understanding. I can't say how important that is. Accepting stuttering, in whatever way we define it, can then open the way to realising that other people may have vulnerabilities or problems that may not be evident at first. 'As we begin to understand ourselves we begin to understand others,' says Jean Vanier.

Even when writing this I can hear myself thinking "isn't this too deep, too heavy for Christmas, or any other time of year for that matter?" Well, it's me – it's a way I think and engage with the world. Acceptance and understanding are not only intellectual processes – we feel stuttering in our bodies, and our bodies – as we stutter – 'have a crucial part in helping us to listen to reality through own our experiences,' to quote Jean Vanier. Celebration is what that we do after other things have happened, after we've achieved or been given something, or after we've struggled with something and then made some progress.

Acceptance

So, what can we celebrate? That accepting our weaknesses makes us more human, and that we are unique? Gaining acceptance and understanding is a process with milestones along the way. We can make choices, we can take responsibility for our actions in the here and now, and make small gains towards larger goals.

I'll be happy to celebrate that.

(Quotes are from: 'Becoming Human' Jean Vanier,  pp 22-28)

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