gregory vs. GREG
- Category: Personal Stories
- Published: Sunday, 18 March 2018 12:20
- Written by Greg O'Grady
Greg over the years
My name is Greg O'Grady and I am a person who stutters. I can also introduce myself as a husband, step father, step grandfather, brother, uncle and a manager, etc..
In 2017 I retired after a 35-year career in management with the City of Toronto Long-Term Care Homes and Services. Retirement affords me with Time and Opportunity – Time to reflect, to travel, to rejuvenate, to resume neglected interests and hobbies and to move forward to the next Chapter of life: the Second Act.
As I take time to reflect on my early childhood, my adolescence, adult years, and my professional journey, I am in awe that I achieved retirement. So, no self pity on my end, only a sense of exhilaration, celebration and relief.
Writing my Life Story
Now that I have been given the privilege of time and opportunity that retirement affords, I feel able to share my story with the hope that I can provide my fellow stutterers with some insight and support that may benefit them on their individual life's journey.
I'm considering writing a book. A potential title for it is:
gregory vs. GREG
How stuttering shaped and influenced my life; A journey of self discovery, forgiveness and healing.
My potential book title – gregory vs. GREG – sums up how I felt earlier in my life as a person who stuttered, a stutterer named gregory, a person lacking confidence, lacking self-esteem and lacking a sense of self identity. This is my story, and I believe, that many people who stutter, may also identify.
Greg at the Walk for Stuttering Awareness
In my earlier years, I empowered my severe stutter to allow me to feel like a gregory, not as a GREG. Emotionally and psychologically, “stuttering” and “gregory” were synonymous, resonating within me as a helpless child needing to be taken care of and to survive at all costs. No matter how carefully I window-dressed the exterior with brand name clothing, suit and tie, shirt, shoes and briefcase, I felt inadequate emotionally and psychologically. No matter how carefully I sculptured this “window-dressing” I knew that my feelings of inadequacy – the “gregory” within – would surface as soon as I spoke, and it would all crumble. The dream of becoming an invincible and strong GREG was out of reach because I stuttered.
Clinging to false supports
When speaking with my brother Dennis recently about his earlier career as a Linesmen, an image of a damaged hydro pole surfaced in my mind; the damaged hydro pole representing me as a stutterer. I had felt in my earlier years that I was not a stand alone confident hydro pole; powering my confidence, self worth, self esteem, self respect, and self identity, but clinging onto life sustaining supports such as my unhealthy communication tricks, word substitutions, avoidances, people pleasing, etc.. I was always anxiously anticipating, planning and preparing my survival for my next embarrassing near-death speaking situation.
Living fully and embracing life
Greg and Bruce and family celebrating
their October 10, 2015 Wedding
As I mentioned, in my earlier years I allowed my severe stuttering to shape, define and influence me and my life's path; allowing it to stop me from fully embracing and living my life. I was fortunate in my late twenties to have been thrown a lifeline when I discovered and sough treatment for my severe stutter at The Speech and Stuttering Institute in Toronto. I am truly indebted to Dr. Robert Kroll and his staff for their continued support over the years. As a result of their intervention, I was able to reclaim power and control over my severe stuttering, to stop giving my stuttering power to define me as an individual and influence my life's path — to begin embracing and living my life.
This is why I have decided to “give back”. For seven years now, I have organized a fund raising event for the Speech and Stuttering Institute that has helped me and many others, change our lives for the better. This wonderful clinic does not turn anybody in need of stuttering treatment away, and a grant program is in place for those who cannot afford it. Please support this worthwhile cause!
Save the dates!
In Toronto, the date for this event will be September 23 and more information will be featured on the Toronto website. Volunteers are needed to help make this worthwhile event happen! A corresponding event in St. John’s, Newfoundland will also be taking place on September 30 that will support treatment options in Newfoundland. Check out our St. John's website!