Imagine sitting there, silence fills your head like the biggest noise, and you wait for the endless block to break. You are begging the air to finally escape so the word can come out and you can catch a semi-break. Imagine having to walk out of the classroom and go cry in the bathroom stall because you couldn't face the stares and what people thought as that moment went on. That was when stuttering won, took over and made me into someone who tried as hard as she could to not say a word.
Back in sixth grade, I hit what we all call "rock bottom." I was depressed, afraid, and I hated each word I ever wanted to say. So I thought since my voice was this ugly pile of God knows what, I made a choice. For a year I was mute. I wrote down what I wanted to say. I would have a pencil and pen always with me and a notepad. In every conversation I had, I wrote my reply. Even if it was just a simple "hello" or "goodnight".
My stutter was the monster that stole every chance it got to keep me hiding...to make me afraid of being Allyson.
Stuttering has been the thing that always wanted to be in control. That no matter what I did it was never good enough for anyone. My words meant nothing, I was useless, and I was angry at God for giving me this thing that made no sense. Why was I here if I couldn't talk like everyone else?
The monster made me learn how to avoid scary situations as best as I could. Whether it was to fake a phone call, get up and leave the room before my turn to speak, not speak at all, or try to find someone to speak for me. (Which sometimes you pick your battles.)
It has been the monster that has made me hide and work like hell to not stutter. I always thought "oh no, what if they find out and then they don't want to be my friend?" It roamed my mind always. Stuttering made me surrender to it's never ending empty promises.
Time and time again it took me a long while to realize what my voice truly sounded like. One day it was the monster and the next it was a teddy bear. So I never knew who was who. Somedays I said "this is just who I am", but somedays it destroyed every bit of hope I had. All my life I said that my stuttering was "it."
Sometimes I still slip up and say that two letter word and not say it's true name cause it's hard to accept that I stutter. It's hard to accept I have a speech disfluency that feels like it'll never get better, or if it gets better I will lose who I am. (Wow, did I just say that? I did.)
Do you see the tricky part about it? The word "stutter" triggers that box of real feelings I repressed. The monster made me feel like every shot I ever took, I was going to drown in the unfulfilled expectation and make me feel as if I didn't do my best...that I could have done better and that was a wasted fail of a stutter.
The monster kept me from believing in my dreams that I have, and have had. If I didn't have this stutter I would be thriving at my life and heck I could totally be in France right now speaking fluent French and be able to have a full, nontime consuming, and easy flow conversation with people (also my French teachers.)
Maybe if I didn't stutter people would be more proud of me, maybe if I didn't stutter I wouldn't feel like a burden all the time. Maybe if I didn't stutter I could love myself. Maybe if I didn't stutter I would know what it would feel like to be like everyone else. Maybe if I didn't stutter people would like me more. Maybe if I didn't stutter I could be loved. Maybe if I didn't stutter I wouldn't have been rejected. Maybe if I didn't stutter I could have said what I really wanted to say and things would have changed. It's the monster that has made the mask, made my brain automatically think of the lies that I continue to tell myself sometimes (and that my friends are me introducing my inner critic.)
My stutter has been the teacher that taught me the lessons I hold to this day.
In the hard times and the disappointments that my stutter has caused me to feel, I have had the front row seat to finding that there was a light that shined as I grew older.
My stutter has helped me have a head start into really caring for others.
My stutter has helped me listen attentively to others and what they are going through or saying.
My stutter has taught me how to show empathy.
My stutter taught me how to be strong in the storm.
My stutter has taught me that I can take initiative and do what I want to.
My stutter taught me how I can take any situation and make it something good.
My stutter taught me that no matter what has happened I have made it this far, and I have the ability to keep going.
My stutter taught me to recognize beauty in a world where I looked from a different perspective.
My stutter has taught me that I get to offer this world a new way and a new message.
My stutter became my teacher, it taught me the things that made me see who I truly was in a different way.
The most important: My stutter has taught me how much I still have yet to overcome by every time I look back at the personal struggles and the personal risks I've overcome. To look at the lessons from my stutter and start expanding my newfound knowledge that I know it has taught me, and apply it to the new aspects of my life.
It has been the monster who has pushed me to the ground, forced me to stay hidden, but it's been the teacher that taught me all the life lessons I know now.
My stutter has taught me that the one thing you think defines you fully is the one thing that makes you fight harder for the change you want to see in yourself.