I was a dropout before I started. The National Center for Stuttering wouldn't
take me on as a patient because they felt my stress level was too high
to do the Air Flow Technique effectively. But having seen the technique
work (on me) during my interview, I knew I had to take the Workshop. So
NCS agreed to have a therapist monitor me for a few weeks to see if I could
handle it. I started the training a month later.
My life up till then was a constant inner battle of trying to hide the
fact I was a stutterer from everyone - somewhere along the way I got the
impression people looked upon us as mentally deficient. So at all costs
I had to hide my speech problem and became a "closet stutterer". How successful
I was didn't really matter; it was hardly worth the effort. In fact had
I come out in the open and admitted to myself and others I was in fact
a stutterer, life would have been a whole lot easier for me, and later
on it would have been easier to control. I didn't get involved in lengthy
conversations; I avoided every talking situation possible; I didn't order
what I wanted in restaurants; people always phoned for me; school was a
worse horror for me because I wasn't very apt at substituting one word
for another at that time. And worst of all, when I did stutter, which was
more often than I like to admit, it left terrible pains in my body and
mind, and left me feeling helpless.
Of course, I went to all the speech helpers and quacks available at
the time, from therapists to hypnotists. Nothing helped. To avoid talking
in certain situations, I would go as far as forcing a self-inflicted sore
throat so I could legitimately cancel any speaking assignments. I could
write and make a speech without stuttering if the vowel sound was hooked
on to a consonant making it one word - like: "Can I havea canof beer? I
can recall hundreds of stories in my youth and mature years where, as a
result of my stuttering I did not lead a normal life - and I was very bitter
about. It never fully left me.
I was all through with speech doctors and their cures so even the NCS
method held no interest for me - except one night while coming up from
the basement I called my wife's name, but I never got it out. Instead I
fell over backwards on the stairs going into a beautiful spasm and nearly
breaking my neck. I just grabbed the bannister in time. That convinced
me to give it one more shot. Her name? Ellen!
I can never forget when my therapist took me into a cafeteria and encouraged
me to use the Air Flow Technique speaking to total strangers. For the first
time in my life I spoke without faking it and without stuttering. I put
my arms around him and couldn't speak because of the excitement of being
able to speak. I will never forget that moment.
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