by Jim Abbott

Emotions of anger and pain
Of embarrassment and shame
Of frustration and fear
Of hate
Yes, even hate
Hatred of the spoken word
Hatred of our tangled tongues
Hatred of the fact that we were picked
To be the chosen ones
That one percent of the population
Who speak with stuttered speech
Three million people to whom which fluency
Lies always outside of our reach

Of course we get angry
We get angry because we can't express ourselves
Voice our thoughts and our feelings like everyone else
Angry at those who question our intelligence
Angry at those who mock us and mimic us
Angry at those who find our stuttering so amusing
The way that we talk was not of our choosing
So you'll excuse us if we don't laugh

Pain? Oh, we know all about pain
Pain is watching helplessly
While the person you're talking to turns and walks away
Leaving you desperately struggling to say
Your own name
The inability to even say your own name
That, my friends, is what you call pain
Excruciating, exasperating, emotional pain
But we carry on still the same
So please do not profess
Don't try to tell us
Anything at all about pain

Frustration is sitting in class
Knowing the answers to the questions being asked
But never once considering raising your hand
No longer wishing to play the role of the fool
Vowing that never, ever will you put yourself thru
That agonizing ordeal again
One too many times you've opened your mouth
And been able to utter not one single sound
To this very day you can still plainly hear
The snickering of your schoolmate's so load and so clear
Thus in self enforced silence you sit and you suffer
There are few things in life I reckon are rougher
Than being forced to feign stupidity
Yet, we do so willingly
Cause it's just easier that way

We're all very well versed in the feelings of fear
But I speak not of the fear of what goes bump in the night
Nor fear of the great unknown
No, we fear little things that most take for granted
Like talking on the telephone
Having your heart skip a beat
Everytime you hear it ring
Afraid to pick the damn thing up
Afraid of the horrors that it brings
Afraid to face the kind of humiliation
That only we can know
Like the humiliation of being hung up on
As you struggle to say hello
So to hell with it
Just don't answer it
Just pretend that there's no one home
Embarrassment and Shame?
We know too well of their names
The embarrassment of having to speak
In a manner that society has deemed bizarre
Many of us have grown into adulthood
Ashamed of being who we are
With an overwhelming dread
With our faces flushed red
We avoid our listener's eyes
Looking everywhere but there
Stare off into space, we don't care
Embarrassed and ashamed of what it is we might find
Will it be confusement
Ridicule or disdain
It doesn't matter anymore
We're so sick of this game
But alas, we have no choice
As always, it seems we are forced
To speak with this
This stuttered voice

Yes, they are possessed by all living souls
But feelings such as these
Brought on by the simplest of things
Are ours and ours alone

Those that are fluent would never have a clue
Nor could we reasonably expect for them to
Understand what it is that we must go thru
But I know at times we all have wished
Not for gold or jewels, but simply for this
That maybe, perhaps just once
They could walk
One mile
In our shoes

added with permission December 12, 2000