My name is Don McLean. I’m staring at the back end of life now. For I’m 81 years of age. But my mother lived to be 100 years and 100 days, so who knows just when it is going to be. I suffered from stuttering, from the age of about 14 through the age 30. At about age 14, out of nowhere, it suddenly started. Some time during the year when I was 30, I got better. So much so that, for the last 50 years, stuttering has been pretty much in the rear view mirror. Recently a friend of mine died. He too suffered from stuttering for most of his life. That caused me to get in touch with the Canadian Stuttering Association who in turn asked me to write an article. I hesitated. Did I really want to go back and relive that awful pain which I had pretty much forgotten about? Well...it’s not forgotten, of course. It can never be forgotten. It’s still there... lurking... somewhere deep... ready to reveal its ugly head at the worst possible moment. Despite my reluctance, I found the request intriguing, because, something inside me is driving me to share my experience with you... with you who have had somewhat related problems. So here I am.
Your experience is almost certainly to have been quite different from mine. But it is also very likely that some of the pain and struggles that I went through are things you are quite familiar with. Now I can only guess here. But I suspect a few of the conclusions that I arrived at along the way are exactly the opposite of what you have already concluded for yourself. The role of religion and prayer come to mind. I am not here to preach, to try to argue my case, or to convince you otherwise. I am here simply to share with you what happened to me and some of the mistakes I made in trying to cope. Some of the conclusions I reached 50 plus years ago may be very wrong for you—and, as it turned out, some were indeed very wrong for me as well. But those conclusions are a big part of the story I am about to share. So if something I say makes absolutely no sense to you, feel free to say here’s an old guy who really doesn’t know what he’s talking about. I’m just fine with that.
I first went to school the year after World War 2 ended. I was the youngest boy in my class, at age 5. Right from the outset, I was acutely aware of that. My Protestant father had just arrived back from Canadian military service. He was very strict. My Catholic mother was my only emotional support. At my father’s insistence, I was sent to an English private school, where I was the only Roman Catholic boy. I remember being threatened with the strap if I didn’t use the King James Bible. Catholics were discriminated against in those days. In school sports, Baseball was forbidden. We played only Cricket. Football was played, but so was Soccer and English Rugby. The head master was a Colonel. You kept your mouth shut unless asked. I was brought up in the English tradition of keeping a stiff upper lip, so I was kind of used to that. You were told to study hard and follow the rules, or else. I was afraid. Actually deep down, I was terrified. So I kept to myself. I had a couple of boyhood friends. I often went walking with one of them in the woods. We were always on the lookout for Hitler, whose whereabouts at that time was unknown.
This was a boys school. Life at the school was hard. I especially hated it when the Colonel forced us all into the military program he started. Being a lowly cadet took what little confidence I had in myself down to almost zero. I hated cadets. More so than ever, I pretty much kept to myself as much as possible. But what really helped was that it turned out that I was an above average student. I wasn’t great by any means. l liked studies and so I finally was able to excel a bit in one area, after failing in so many others.
Now, I remember one of the boys whom I admired telling me he liked baseball. So, at age 8, I decided to follow baseball too, starting with the World Series of 1949—not realizing at the time that I wanted to cheer for the winner to make myself feel better. Because for many years, on a regular basis, I found myself feeling defeated. The winners were the Yankees who proceeded to win the pennant 13 of the next 15 years, during which time I was ages 8 to 23. My sense of well being rose and fell on how the Yankees did. To make myself fall asleep at night, I fantasized I was roaming centre field in place of Mickey Mantle, chasing fly balls at the old triple deck Yankee Stadium, where it was a massive 461 feet to dead centre field. But I was in a state of shock, despair and tears, which I have never completely recovered from, when Johnny Podres shut out the Yankees 2-0 in game 7 of the 1955 World Series, giving the Brooklyn Dodgers their only World Series title. It was my first experience with the Yankees losing a World Series. They had won the previous five.... If Sandy Amoros hadn’t caught that fly ball in the left field corner....
A Defining Moment: Stuttering Starts
One day out of nowhere when I was about 13 or 14 years of age, I experienced one of the most traumatic days of my life. The teacher told us we needed to learn how to speak in public. Instead of having us get up and say something, however, he gave us a short passage we had to come up to the front of the class to read. I had no idea beforehand that this was going to happen. And I sure knew nothing about stuttering. As I watched others read, I felt great trepidation. Then it was my turn. I was in an absolute state of panic. I was called to the front of the class. There were maybe 15 boys there at the time. When I looked out at the audience, I felt terrified at what I saw. When I started to read, out of nowhere I discovered, much to my horror, that nothing would come out of my mouth. Virtually speechless, I pushed on. Still nothing much would come out... I panicked... I tried to force myself to read something. For the next few minutes, I stumbled horribly over words, hesitating... hurting... hurtling out of control generally making a total mess of things. It was my first experience with stuttering. It would not be my last. Afterwards, I felt completely alone... like a leper... like a pariah. No one spoke to me about what had happened. None of the boys did; and not my teacher either. I was almost certainly in tears... 65 years on, the details are fuzzy...
From that day on, and for the rest of my life, I have never felt comfortable reading in public.
In my last year in high school, I was now an officer in the cadet corps. This wasn’t quite so bad. Nobody bossed me around this time. But I still hated cadets.
When I was 17, in Grade 13, I was asked by my dance teacher to call a square dance on the CBC. Only my voice was to be heard. The dancers in our class were the only ones seen on TV. The show was either Gordie Tapp’s Country Hoedown, or another very similar program. I had to fly to Montreal with our group on TCA, Trans-Canada Airlines, as Air Canada was known at the time. It was my first time ever on an airplane. I had never been to Montreal. We stayed at the just newly opened Queen Elizabeth hotel. I remember I had to join a union for one night to be on TV. I was somewhat worried about stuttering. But for me, calling a square dance was much like singing. In neither instance did I stutter. The show went on without a hitch
University & Law School
I was off to university at age 17. Again I never met anyone there younger than myself. I tried Engineering for a year and found this wasn’t for me. I couldn’t envision or draw the third side of a diagram when presented with the first two sides. So, in my second year, I switched to Mathematics, where I took 5 math courses and 5 other courses, one of which was German. Man, it was hard to speak those long deep German words; but at least in that class, I had this as an excuse, for stumbling all over my own feet, trying to pronounce German words. But in math, more ominously, I also found I couldn’t pronounce the word “Statistics” either. That was the name of one of my 5 math courses.
I was now 19. Out of the blue, I fell in love that summer. I realized I might well want to get married sooner than I had expected. But what was I going to do with a degree in mathematics? Teaching math really didn’t appeal to me.
So I was off to law school. After only 2 years of university. My parents were both lawyers.
Up until this time in my life, my stuttering had been pretty much restricted to that one horrible public reading incident I just described. But, as I say, thereafter, I found I was now also stumbling around in pronouncing single words. So it wasn’t just reading in public which was causing me problems
When I looked around at our freshman law class of 50 persons, I realized, at age 19, that not only was I again the youngest person in our class, but that I was way younger than some. Some were even married with families. Some were more than 5 years older than myself. I was horrified by this discovery.
Things were ok at law school up until Christmas. But I really didn’t like studying law. I did the absolute minimum. Then I found out that I had come 2nd in the class at the Christmas exams. For a day or two I was delighted. Thereafter, however, it was a horror show. Up until then, I had been able to stay off everyone’s radar. I was content to just be by myself. But now, as a result of finishing 2nd, I felt I was in the spotlight. This totally traumatized me. I was in a panic at the thought of answering questions from my professors.
After those Christmas exams, in my first year in law school, I saw a speech therapist named Miss Walker on a regular basis, for the better part of a year. My memory recalls that one of the first things she said to me was that I was extremely “selfish and proud”. Looking back now, I wonder if she told all her patients that, because I remember that she had so little to go on at the time she said it. Miss Walker, however, was of great assistance in two regards: She told me I had to stop running away; and that I had to stand in there and put myself in situations where I might stutter. And, she stressed, I must also stop substituting words. Those two pieces of advice were really helpful and I have tried to practice them ever since. She eventually told me that she thought I would probably have a stuttering problem for the rest of my life. I wasn’t surprised to hear that.
During my 2nd and 3rd years of law school, my stuttering improved. However I did have one dreadful experience in 3rd year. I was required to participate in what is called a “moot court”. Another classmate and myself pretended to be lawyers, while one of the law professors pretended to be a judge. We were assigned a case to argue. There was no audience. Just the three of us When the time came for me to argue, I stumbled and stuttered the entire time. I could barely string 2 sentences together at a time. It was another of those horribly embarrassing experiences. And again, I felt totally alone. I didn’t know it at the time, however, but had I known, I wouldn’t have felt nearly as badly as I actually did afterwards, because I never had another experience like that again in my life. When I finally started practising law at age 30, I found myself in court on an almost daily basis, morning and afternoon, for 2 decades during the 1970s and 1980s. And while, during those decades, I hesitated in getting a word out here and there, that was pretty much it. I never remember seriously stuttering in a real court. You see for me the big problem was reading in public. From time to time, I would have problems with public speaking, but, even at the worst of times, my problems were relatively minimal. Unless it was having to say my own name. Now that was a major problem.
One of the more difficult things for me in public speaking was asking a question. I mean I found it difficult to stand up in public and ask someone a question. My father, who loved me in his own way as best he could, did not help in this regard, because most of the time when I asked him a question, he responded by making it clear that I had asked another stupid question. I then had to try and explain why it wasn’t a stupid question. But often my response to him fell on deaf ears.
I was now 22. After getting a 3 year university degree in law, I was off to work in a law office for a year. It was a big law office. Of much older men. I hated this even more than law school. Mind you there was one lawyer there, who became a life long friend with whom I used to go to university hockey games. During this year, I found myself becoming more contemplative. Basically, I opted out of law, mentally. I attended church more often. I found myself becoming interested in becoming a priest. But first I had to finish one final year at law school. It took 5 years, but I became a lawyer at age 24. Again much too young.
At age 24, I entered a Roman Catholic seminary to study to become a priest. Now when I got there, I found that I was older than all but one of the seminarians. I was elated. Finally, finally, I found a place where I felt I belonged. For the first time I made real friends in my life, friends even to this day I continue to see and be in contact with from time to time. At the beginning, we were cut off from the outside world. For almost a year and a half, I had very little contact with women. Our life as seminarians was one of studying, contemplation and prayer, and manual work on a farm. It was also a life of intellectual pursuits. I studied Latin and Greek. Then I took an M.A. degree in Philosophy. In my 4th year in the seminary, as part of that program, I even taught two courses in Logic at the university level. The logic I taught was the logic of the ancient Greek philosophers, Plato and Aristotle. More about that later.
These years were simply the best 5 years of my life to this point. And in retrospect from the perspective of an 81 year old, they were among the very best years of my life. The only problem was that, during the first 4 years, I suffered more than at any other time in my life from stuttering. Meals were served in silence. During dinner—which was at noon in those days—or during supper, one of us had to stand and read from an elevated pulpit, from the floor above the large dining room which itself had super high ceilings. It overlooked and was at the far end of the dining room, with its own separate entrance. We had to read, whatever was presented to us, to the other members of the community who numbered about 50 persons. I had to do this many times. At mass, I also had to read the Epistle many times over the next 4 years. So during those 4 years, I found myself called upon to read in public, over and over.
To combat stuttering, I used more than one strategy to help me better read in public. One strategy might work a couple of times, then I might stumble and hesitate the next time, then later it might not work at all. When it did work really well, I would conclude I was better or healed, when in fact I wasn’t. I found myself almost always back at square one. Overall I concluded—perhaps correctly in this case—that the stuttering problem I had was one of nervousness. If I could just get rid of the nervousness I felt, I would be fine. However that insight didn’t take me very far, because I still found myself going round in circles.
I tried practising what I was about to read at mass. Those readings were fixed, so I knew in advance what they were. I would practice for an hour to read something that took as little as a minute to read. Along the way I would find myself memorizing little parts of it, as I practised it so often. Practising would work for a while. I would become optimistic that all I had to do was practice... and then it wouldn’t work at all. I also tried relaxing. Like practising, relaxing would work for a while too, but then fail utterly. I would eventually have another off the wall bad experience and I would be back to the drawing board. I even tried relaxation exercises, this time without any real success at all. At the beginning, I tried getting aggressive and attack what I was reading. But I soon stopped this, as it inevitably and invariably ended in a pathetic failure. In speaking, I tried what I called “winding up”. When I knew I had to say a difficult word, I would first say a bunch of words that I knew I would have no problem with. But I found winding up only made the problem worse, as it just made me feel more tense, as the difficult word approached. I found it was better just to dive in there and accept whatever awaited me on the other side of the difficult word, and move on.
I tried reading very slowly. And taking a deep breath between sentences. This did actually help. Even reading softly helped a bit. But it still wasn’t enough to stop the bleeding. But at least these methods did seem to offer some consolation. And some mild long term success.
Sometimes the bad stuff was simply stumbling over a single word. The listener would simply see me as “hesitating”. To this day I can never say the word “Philippians” without stumbling or hesitating. “Colossians” isn’t much better. I wish St. Paul had written letters to someone else. Worse, sometimes, almost out of breath, nothing much would come out of my mouth at all. Those were absolutely the worst moments.
I was always very tempted to substitute words. I did that a lot. But that didn’t work with reading. There was a defined text. In speaking, I found that it was better to just dive in and face the music. In fact I found that substituting words, in speaking, was playing with fire, because it made me so tense that very shortly nothing would come out when I came to the troublesome word. And then I really felt humiliated.
Above all, I kept my emotions in check over those years. I only got really angry twice during my 5 years in the seminary. And I almost never cried or shed tears. But there was one big exception. At age 27, now in my third year in the seminary, I experienced the most humiliating moment of my entire life. The CBC was in town to tape a mass. It was not, fortunately, a live performance. One of my friends, another seminarian, was in charge of organizing the production. He asked me to read the epistle. I refused. He asked me a second time, and I refused again. He went away for a while. Then, he was back asking me again. Now I am in a panic. I pleaded with him. He was very insistent. He kept asking. I pleaded with him twice more. He was intransigent, but he was still my friend. So, finally, I gave in....
When the time came and I got up there to read, I simply froze. I just couldn’t do it. Almost nothing would come out of my mouth. It was a complete disaster. I found myself completely humiliated. Older than almost all of the other seminarians, I mean here I was a 27 year old lawyer who couldn’t read in public. Afterwards, my friend came up to me repeatedly, one, two, three times. and profusely apologised for putting me through all of this. But the damage had been done. I was a wreck. I went back to my room. And this time, I couldn’t keep my emotions in check. I wept... and wept. I cried my eyes out non stop for quite some time. Again, I felt so completely alone. No one else ever said anything about what had happened. No one.
I spent an entire year trying to stop the stuttering by praying and putting my trust in God that he would help me so that I wouldn’t stutter. After that year, I concluded that putting my faith in God wasn’t working—despite the fact that I spent many hours praying, meditating and going on retreats. Again, your experience may have been quite different
In the end, I reached the conclusion that the only way to really have any chance to stop the bleeding was to accept the cross of stuttering. That was the best approach. But it too only took me so far. It reduced the number of incidents where my stuttering was so bad that I despaired that I would ever get better. Yet it didn’t really solve the problem.
In my 4th year, I was off to the university to teach a course in Logic—the course I referred to earlier. I taught the course twice, both in the same semester. In one class there were 50 students. In the other class there were 30. I found that speaking, where I got to choose the words I wanted to say, relaxed me to the point where any stuttering was minimal. Even when I had to read something from a text out loud to the class. As long as I faced the music and didn’t try substituting words, and allowed myself the possibility that I might stumble over a word, I was fine. Quite often, what happened was I didn’t stumble over the expected troublesome word; a word like “possession”, or “distributed” or “Milan”, Italy. And from that point on, the rest of the teaching hour was a breeze, I didn’t even think about stuttering. The number of people present didn’t affect the result. I could speak to 50 or 30 persons quite easily without feeling nervous. But I could just as easily stutter when I read at mass with only 4 persons in attendance.
Despite reading being much harder than public speaking, one of the problems that stuttering presented to me was that I stuttered when I had to say my own name. Especially on the telephone. It’s almost as if I said to myself, on an unconscious level, what’s the most embarrassing thing that could happen to me by stuttering? And then go out and embarrass myself, by doing exactly that, in identifying myself. Talk about setting it up to lose. Until I saw that show Stutter School from Australia on TVO earlier this year, I felt I was the only person who ever had the problem of saying his or her own name. I was amazed and yet comforted to hear that others also had the same problem of saying their own name. Over the decades, that fear still remains, even though I can’t remember the last time I seriously stumbled over saying my own name. Decades may have gone by between serious failures. Deep inside of me, however, is the realization that I could easily embarrass myself once again in the same way, under the worst possible circumstances. Such as being forced to self identify on television.
In my fifth and final year in the seminary, I was off to study theology. In a different city. There, I never had to read or speak publicly. I did things like take a tutorial from a professor in near eastern languages. I was the only student. I read the entire book of Genesis, all 50 chapters, in Hebrew. This was quite an exercise. The number of pages are so many that they evoke a comparison with the entire length of the New Testament. This was the ultimate burial of myself in studies. In intellectual exercises. It even gave me pains in my stomach, when I realized how much I didn’t know, and how much there was to learn.
A Disastrous Relationship
And then it happened. Out of the blue, at age 29, a woman came up to me on the street and tapped me on the shoulder. She had seen me previously. She was like an apparition from heaven. Within hours, I fell in love. It was like going over Niagara Falls with no boat and no life preserver. For the next 4 months, I felt deeply depressed. I experienced 4 months of depression, the likes of which I had never experienced in my life, before or since. All because I had to make a decision. I loved seminary life. But now there was this other force pulling my feelings out of me, exposing them, without my consent, to the point where I could no longer escape them. Intellect, logic, contemplation and prayer, study and reason were no match for this emotional force of nature. Her. My feelings for her. Finally I succumbed. I chose to leave the seminary.
We lived in different cities, so for the next several months we saw each other only a few days a month. This time I experienced 4 months of loneliness, the likes of which I had never experienced in my life either, before or since. We were engaged to be married. A date had been set, and a church reserved, when out of the blue, she dumped me. Now those previous 8 months, of suffering depression and loneliness, turned out to be a blip on my personal calendar. For thereafter I experienced countless months of feeling rejected. It was by far the worst emotional experience of my life. There were several moments when I didn’t want to live any longer. Fortunately, however, I never did have any suicidal fantasies.
Not long after being dumped by my fiancé, I sat down and tried to do as objective a review as was humanly possible under the circumstances. I concluded that it wasn’t all her fault. I was at least as much to blame, perhaps even more so, for what happened. She had made it clear to me that she needed space. More than once. Each time I ignored her needs however. I failed to listen to her. I failed to hear her.
And then I reached a remarkable conclusion: I realized the reason, I hadn’t been able to listen to her, was because I hadn’t been able to listen to myself; I hadn’t been able to hear myself. Because I had no idea what my deeper feelings were. Just the raw ones, the ones out in the open. Exposed, for everyone to see. So I set out upon, what has turned out to be, a lifelong journey, to figure out exactly how I was feeling, in way more detail, on a much deeper level, sensing that this was likely to be the best way to prevent myself from ever again falling into another such disastrous relationship. I said to myself:
“Don, stop thinking, stop reasoning... Just shut up and feel... Be prepared to find anything. You, Don, are not responsible for how you feel. Just for what you do. And given your history, be prepared to find that what you think you are feeling is likely to be almost the exact opposite of what in fact you really are feeling."
Virtually the very first thing I discovered, using these ground rules, was that I felt I hated myself. I guess years of multiple failures in reading and speaking in public played a role in discovering that. But so too did the realization that I rejected women who were attracted to me simply because—as it appeared to me— they loved me. That also made me realize I felt that I hated myself. I mean if they loved me, why was I turned off by that? The answer came back: Only because I hated myself. Strange as that may sound, this was a big factor in my arriving at the conclusion that I must feel I hate myself. Because hating myself was something that I would never have thought was possible. So here indeed is an example, of how what I felt turned out to be just the opposite of what I thought I felt. I thought I felt I loved myself, but in reality I felt I hated myself. Now all this stuff about hating myself is just one big theory and is not of much use unless I experience it in real life. That soon followed.
When I left the seminary, I regularly read the epistle at mass in our local church. For over a year. The very thing which I dreaded doing most. Miss Walker loomed. I did the very thing which was most likely to make me stutter. This time, however, I threw away virtually every strategy I had used as a seminarian. I decided to focus, not so much on what I was reading, as I had always done in the past, but more on whatever it was I was feeling, as I read. The first time I read at mass after this recent discovery, right away—almost before I even got started reading—lo and behold, feelings of hating myself bubbled up from within. Those feelings were as obvious as they were powerful. They were very similar to the feelings I felt when I stuttered: Shame and feeling ashamed of myself. But they were also just a little different.
After the first time that happened, I sat down and thought about what I had just discovered. Feeling I hate myself can’t really be the whole story, I said to myself. Surely it can’t be that bad. I mean if some women love me, maybe I do too. Maybe I am indeed a loveable person after all.
So the next time I read at mass, after first being overpowered by those feelings of self-hatred, I then tried to connect with the exact opposite feeling that I sensed... deep down... must also be there—if I could only reach it—namely, the feeling that l Loved Myself. The result was like instantaneous. I started to sense that deep down inside of me, I was feeling that I indeed loved myself. Faint though it was. I tried to continue to maintain contact with that elusive new feeling as I read. I refused to let it go. But then the first of many miracles occurred. The words flowed smoothly and naturally out of my mouth. I read almost perfectly.
The next time I read, I tried this again. Again, the words flowed smoothly and naturally out of my mouth. Again, I read almost perfectly. Almost. Boy, I knew I was onto something important. So I did the same thing, again and again, when I read at mass. And the same thing happened as before. To say I had some success would be an understatement. For every time I tried this new exercise, while reading at mass, I was first overpowered by feelings of self hatred. But then I was able to come in contact with and to feel—maybe just a little bit—that I did indeed love myself. ...like... every... single... time! Man... yeah... every single time I felt that faint distant feeling, I read almost perfectly... Omigod. Omigod... Finally, a strategy that I had used to try to solve my stuttering problem had worked. At last... Halleluiah... halleluiah.
From then on, as I was about to turn 31, I never had another experience where I completely froze up. That part of my life was over. And my hesitation in pronouncing difficult words, although never reduced to zero, fell to a few percent of what it had been before. Stuttering, both in reading and in speaking publicly, became an inconsequential factor for the rest of my life. Maybe a little hesitation, here and there, in getting a word out. But that was about it... But...yet... the fear still remains. Even to this day.
Anne 50 Years
Then the biggest miracle of all happened. I met Anne. 1971 had been a totally miserable year. Our first date was January 3 1972. Anne was unlike any other woman I had been attracted to in my life. Sweetness was her middle name. She shed tears at the drop of a hat. She was outgoing and bubbly. She was caring. She was honest to a fault. She was most definitely not the private person all the others were. She was beautiful. She was a very beautiful person too. From the very beginning she was my friend. That was the moment I knew everything was going to be ok. We’re now together 50 years and counting, having just celebrated the 50th anniversary of our first date. Soon we will have been married 50 years. She never remembers me having any kind of a stuttering problem. At worst, she saw me hesitate over saying the odd word from time to time. But nothing more. She has been my life. She is the reason why, when I look back 81 years, I can say I have experienced a wonderfully fulfilling life. Despite all the problems much earlier, before I met her.
Now the greatest thing Anne taught me is found in the words of the 1948 song Nature Boy: “The greatest thing you will ever learn... is to love... and be loved in return”. Yes, Anne taught me that. Up until Anne, I couldn’t understand why the girls and women I was attracted to didn’t feel the same way; and conversely, the girls and women who found me attractive, I found I had no interest in. Maybe some of you have had that same experience. Anne changed all that for me. When I spoke of this type of thing earlier in describing what led me to discover that I felt I hated myself, perhaps this will help you understand what I was trying to say. Because I am aware that I was unable to express myself very clearly there.
Miss Walker was right in saying that I would have this problem all of my life. But Barely. As I got older, I realized that getting completely cured of a lot of things was simply no longer in the cards. Managing my health is all I am capable of now. Yet that has been usually more than enough. For 50 years now, I have managed my stuttering. I have eliminated more than 99% of the problem. But there is still that tiny nagging fraction of the missing 1%. Being retired for 14 years now has allowed me to pick and choose. I don’t read in public any more. I don’t have to. Included in the 1% is that I am not going on TV if I have to say my name, even though I am pretty sure now, speaking on TV would not be a problem for me.
For you. For each of you, this has been my story, as best as I can tell it, of my experience with stuttering. You have each had your own experiences. For me, what really worked, was to stop “thinking logically” and simply to “feel whatever I am feeling” while I read, in the way I just described. Some of what I went through may match some of your experiences too. If so, hopefully, what I have written will help you feel just a little bit better. For you are not alone. For me, it felt good to learn from those people in Stutter School that some of what they went through matched some of the things I went through. I wish you nothing but the best in your continuing struggles... on your life’s journey. Each of you.