About the presenter: Anita Scharis Blom was born and raised in the Netherlands, but is now married and living in Sweden. She works as a secretary and as the IT support/teacher assistant in school. Besides that, she is a member of the local disability committee, board member of the local stuttering chapter (SSF), chairperson of the Swedish stuttering association (SSR), vice chair of the European League of Stuttering Associations (ELSA) and a member of the advisory board for the International Stuttering Association (ISA). She states, "I have stuttered since I was 9 and had a troublesome youth, but this helped me to now work with and give advice to people who stutter of all ages and help them to break down their barriers and show them the world is at their feet."

You can post Questions/comments about the following paper to the author before October 22, 2008.

Gift: Marriage or Poison!

by Anita Blom
from Sweden

The word "gift" has two different meanings in the Swedish language: "marriage" and "poison". There have been many discussions whether stuttering is a gift or a curse. In many ways, stuttering has been like "poison" to me. It has given me mental and physical pain and in my younger years when I wished to be mute (or even dead) rather than stutter. Giving you examples of what stuttering has put in my way would take up the whole conference space. I would give a lot to get rid of my stuttering.

But -- not all.

I do have lots of blessings in my life, some as the direct result of my stutter, including friends and a bunch of happy moments combined with developing guts and stubbornness probably as the result of stuttering. I have no idea who I'd be if I didn't stutter. I might be a know-it-all, a pain in the butt never knowing when to shut up or just a nobody amongst millions of other fluent speaking people.

But there are several examples of how stuttering has turned into a profit for me:

But for me, the best "gift" attached to stuttering is the stuttering community. I love to travel, but was told not to bother learning other languages since I wouldn't go anywhere anyway. Today I travel all over the world, THANKS to my stutter, to attend and speak at stuttering conferences. I meet wonderful people and have true, amazing friends all over the world. I have people envying me for yet another meeting or conference, while showing pictures of people having so much fun. And even my daughter's friends try and pretend to stutter to be able to join a children camp after hearing her stories.

"Stamning är gift" could be translated with "stuttering is marriage" or "stuttering is poison." I guess both are true for me. Stuttering poisoned my life in many ways, especially my youth and social life and I still have moments I curse it out loud, wishing there were a magic pill. At times the struggle of stuttering stops me from doing and saying what I want to, stops me from being taken seriously and makes me have to prove myself in many situations. On the other hand, I met a guy at the NSA convention who, in tears, told me he was just about fluent and was so scared he would no longer be allowed to be a part of the stuttering community that has been such a major part of his life. Those words touched my heart and I hope I will meet and hug him at many stuttering conventions for years to come. I too am married to my stutter. Some days it's hard, some days it's OK. It's a part of my life and I would feel strange without it, as I too would miss all the things I do and the friends I have today. My stutter, as well as the difficulties I've had to face because of it, turned me into a strong, self confident, stubborn woman who won't allow anyone to stand in her way anymore, after years of blood, sweat and tears.

But please, if I ever lose my stutter and you find it, don't try to return it to me.

You can post Questions/comments about the above paper to the author before October 22, 2008.

SUBMITTED: August 31, 2008
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