Good evening everyone,
It's good to be back among the land of the living tonight..now that I can finally breathe again, as my cold is gone. For tonight's blog, I wanted to draw on a recent movie trailer I saw as a few days ago, I went to see "Star Trek" in IMAX at the Cradle of Aviation in Garden City. And before the film started, I saw the trailer for "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen." And it is a perfect transition to a posting I featured for National Stuttering Awareness Week: "You don't need to be Optimus Prime or Starscream to TRANSFORM yourself, it starts with the right attitude."
For so many years after my college graduation, I too had felt fallen in every aspect of my life-missed opportunities for socialization. A true relationship with my family, instead the arguments and screaming matches taking place where I felt that because of my speech I was misunderstood. No matter how long I tried, I just felt the same result was inevitable. The spinning of wheels, going nowhere fast. Everyone else was moving up....and I was just plunging downward, into a spiral from perhaps there may have been no escape.
The world sometimes seems like a cruel place, and is that ever true. Sometimes I felt like going through the motions, and questioning my identity-am I really a person who stutters? Maybe there's something wrong with me. Or maybe yet God decided to give me this stutter so I can do something with my life. I just felt I had too many questions, and not enough answers. And the more I tried to examine it, the more angrier I got.
At each point in our lives, we have moments where our anger turns us into people we don't recognize. It's the same fury, that same outrage that can turn against us, and threaten everything we are, and what we want to do. For many years in my twenties, I was that person-and it showed everywhere I went, and through everything I did. I couldn't even bring myself to smile. All my life was raw pain, and I was determined to inflict it on everyone else possible-if I couldn't be fluent, then I wouldn't let anyone else be either. In some sick, perverse way, you actually feed off of it, and it's the worst feeling in the world-all it does is make you more isolated than you were to begin with.
It was because of this anger that I too lost something that couldn't be replaced-I had begun dating a woman who really accepted me for me, and I was too blind (or maybe naive) to realize it. Eventually, that relationship deteriorated, and among other factors, it was because she had stated I had refused to rise above blaming others for the fact I stutter. No one wants to be around someone who is constantly negative, especially about their speech.
In many ways, my "revenge", if you will, took place at the National Stuttering Association conference in Long Beach, Calif. I learned how to channel my hurt and anger, and give it a positive voice. I met teammates who live life to the fullest, embracing their speech and doing. Let me say that again: DOING. One word, and to some, it's a simple one. But never estimate the power it can give you. I was fallen...but not anymore.
I will always have my good days and bad days. Today I was talking to my brother and blocking on the word "Washington" (damn those W's LOL) and when he chimed in, I focused clearly on the word, and said what needed to be said-I don't care if he felt the need to finish my sentence. No one is going to do that for me, because I won't let them.
I hope for those who feel "fallen," your "revenge" comes soon: and the best way to do that is to get involved with the National Stuttering Association. Every day I am so thankful I did.
My name is Steven Kaufman, and I am a person who stutters. Until next time, stand up and be counted. Make your voice heard.