Stuttering and frustration are a volatile mix. When I’m having a difficult day, one bad block can make me break down. It is the proverbial insult added to injury. Let’s take yesterday for example. I ride my bike for two hours to a training race (I race bicycles – more on that in a future post). I planned to do the race and ride home. My chain breaks when I get to the race, and I have to sit on the sidelines while I wait for my wife. I go to my local bike shop and ask for a chain. I stutter, and the sales guy laughs. I know he doesn’t mean anything by it, but it stings. I’ve been on my bike for three hours, so I’m tired and lacking patience. I want to go home and relax with my wife. Instead, I get home and find that I have made a mistake on a work project. Now instead of relaxing with my wife, I have to stay up late and fix it. I go to tell Sarah and find her on her computer with her back to me. I start to talk and launch headlong into the mother of all silent blocks. I dance a silent jig in the doorway while I try to force the words out, and she doesn’t even know that I’m behind her. When I finally get the words out, they sound angry. Now Sarah thinks I’m mad at her. Crap. I call my dad/business partner to discuss the work issue, and by now my stuttering is on ten. Thankfully everyone in my family is a certified stutter translator, so my dad magically understands every word I say. Even so, I get off the phone even more tired. I end the day feeling worthless. All I can think about is stuttering. The point of this story is that a broken chain and an error on a work project are easy things to deal with. Stuttering makes little annoyances seem monumental.
Now that I am done whining, let’s get positive. I’m probably going to have problems to deal with tomorrow, and I am probably going to stutter tomorrow, so I need to figure out how to handle these things.
I recently found a quote from Jon Kabat-Zinn that stopped me in my tracks:
Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; On purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.
Mindfulness? This might be the tool I have been looking for. I get so caught up in the effects of stuttering that I let myself be a passenger to it. If I could pay attention “on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally,” I might be able to take back the reins. I might be able to stop the snowball effect that stuttering has on my life. I might even overcome shame and fear. This is exciting stuff.
I wish I had more to share about this topic, but this is a brand new journey for me. I’ll keep you updated.