Good evening everyone. As I write this blog, I am looking through some of my old clippings from my academic journalism studies, and I came across an old review of "V for Vendetta," which was a movie from 2005 about a modern vigilante who embraces the idea of rebellion against a totalitarianistic society. The one theme above all else in the movie is that only when you accept something, can you be set free. How very relevant that is true, especially when it comes to stuttering.
This past week I had the pleasure of being a panelist for a forum of teammates who stutter at a class held at Long Island University-Brooklyn. Of course, there were topics discussed that included remembering the first time we stuttered, our experiences with different techniques, and how far we have come in the journey of self-acceptance. It is by doing this that we give ourselves power. We see our self-esteem grow with every day, we say what we want and do what we want. What is gratifying to me is that when we speak to future speech-language pathologists, they are listening intently and glowing with pride as they see the barriers shattered and our personalities becoming more enthusiastic, and dominant when it comes to our speech.
There may be some out there who feel very angry and bitter about their speech. They may feel that complaining to anyone who will listen will make them feel better. I suppose in theory, that works temporarily, but I can promise you no one is going to give you sympathy. For so long, I used to expect that, and finally realized that the only place you find sympathy is in the local bar. But then again, the bartender(s) give sympathy to everyone. My speech therapist and I were discussing this tonight at our weekly session, and when I first met him, I was fearful about returning to speech therapy. After so long of not being involved, I felt like I was so out of it, almost to the point where I wondered if this was even worth it. It's now been almost two years later...and on a good day, I can be 80 percent fluent when I speak. I can look in the mirror and say my own name, and know that I will be stronger every time I can do so.
I thought I'd close this posting with a twist on another supporting theme in the movie. In "V for Vendetta," there's an emphasis on how fear becomes so powerful that it is all people know. For a person who stutters, they may know a world of hatred, isolation, and alienation. They may actually fear their stuttering. One of the lines in the movie says "People shouldn't fear their governments. Governments should fear their people." Well, in terms of stuttering........
"You shouldn't fear your stuttering. But your stuttering should fear YOU!"
I hope my teammates around the world remember that, and put that to good practice. My name is Steven Kaufman, and I am a person who stutters. Until next time, stand up and be counted. Make your voice heard.