Speaking To My Stutter (We Meet At Long Last)

by Jim Abbott

What if your stutter had substance?
A form,
a shape,
a human face?
And what if someday, you and it were to meet
Face to face?
I wonder how it would be
If it were to happen to me?
I wonder what things I would say
To that which was for so many days
The bane of my existence?
Would these be the words I would choose?

"Oh how I once loathed you so
With every fiber in my body I despised you
Even now
I find myself pressed hard
to describe the contempt I once held for you
And I'm sure you know I exaggerate not
For I think you know me better than that
Many were the times I wished myself mute
So strongly profound were my feelings of resentment for you
Almost I would have rather been unable to talk
Then to be forced to speak in the way in which I did
You were to me, among the most vile and unholiest creatures
that God ever placed upon this earth
Because of you,
growing up I lived life filled with shame
Because of you
I retreated into a lonely world of solitude
Steadfastly refusing to let anyone else enter into that world
As if anyone would have wanted to
Such a pathetic, empty vessel was I
A body composed of nothingness
Of absolutely no importance
A thing of no value
A confused, frightened, angry, bitter young man
Whose own self he could not stand
You made everything about me
Seem so very, very ugly
All my faults,
all my flaws
Magnified 10 fold
Not a day passed that I didn't curse you
as well as curse my fate
Because of you
I learned neither to hope nor to dream
Because of you
I learned to never speak up, nor speak out
Because of you
I learned the fine art of giving up
As certainly, everything would always lie beyond my reach
Beyond my reach
All because of you
You also helped to teach me about this little thing called RAGE
And because of you
I learned to hate
Now, that was one thing I became quite good at
Oh yes, you taught me well
Most well indeed
Because of you
high school was h---
In fact, I despised it almost as much
as I despised you
But that's understandable
since you were the reason
for my hateful feelings in the first place.
Are you following me here?
For many, many years
When those school days had been long since past
Faded away into just a distant, miserable memory
I would have these dreams,
nightmares really
In which I was forced to go back
To face the ridicule and the torment once more
Now to be fair,
perhaps my anguish was mostly self inflicted
Perhaps most of the horrors I felt
were the product of my imagination
Perhaps my schoolmates did not see me
as I saw myself
Or as I perceived them as seeing me
Perhaps people did not think of me as a buffoon
A clown
As some kind of freak
Perhaps they just didn't think of me at all
And perhaps that was even worse
All I know is what I felt at the time
And what I felt was pain!
You did hurt me so
But I'm sure of that
You already know
So traumatic were those days of my youth
That never once did I,
never once could I
Have ever contemplated
continuing on to college,
advancing my education
The thought of subjecting myself to even more devastating humiliation
Was something I just could not fathom
The thought of even one more day
Sitting in a classroom
Terrified me
Petrified me
Mortified me
All I wanted was to be done
And then run
Run far and run fast
Away from everything, and everybody
Especially you
But you weren't gonna let that happen, now were you?
Had I met you then
Your blood would have been on my hands
Of that there is no doubt
For surely I would have killed you
D--- the consequences
And d--- you
Yes, I know that not everyone reacts to you the same way that I did
And I also know that I had other issues torturing my troubled mind
Troubling my tortured mind
But, I needed someone to blame
And while it might not have been right,
you were such an obvious target
I needed a scapegoat buddy,
and you were it
So I heaped everything on you
Blamed you for all of my problems
Every single one
I guess I should apologize
Yeah, right
Don't hold your breath
You know, always, in the back of my mind, there was the thought
That if only you had never been
My life, well, it would have been so much different
I would have grown up happy,
And therefore, no demons would I have had to face
Guess that's something that we'll never know
Do you remember that point in time
When life itself hung by a very thin line
I recall it as if it were yesterday
You just don't forget a thing like that
Now, would that have been your fault
Perhaps, perhaps
Well, many years have since passed
And as I reflect back
I must say they did fly by surprisingly fast
And somewhere along the line
And for the life of me
I can't pick out a specific date or time
Maybe it's simply proof that the age old adage
"With age comes wisdom"
Is indeed, a statement of truth
But eventually
I finally came to understand
That for better or worse
You are a part of me
You are a part of what has made me the person that I am
And though it took me some time
And though the road on which I had to travel was long and hard
I finally learned to like just who and what it is I am
As flawed and as imperfect as I may be
I've managed to grow kinda fond of myself
Not that I'm absolutely enthralled about everything there is about me
Most certainly I am not
And given the chance, there are a number of things that I would change
Including you
Though I no longer feel towards you as I once did
There are still some things I could do without
And you are one of them
And I'm sure you understand
And if you don't
Well, that's just too d--- bad
To cut to the chase
I guess the bottom line is this
No, I ain't ever gonna love you
In fact, I can state without fear of contradiction
That there's no way in h--- I'm ever even going to learn to like you
But I can say
With all sincerity
And in all honesty
That I no longer hate you
That I have come to accept you
And considering how I felt about you for my first 30 plus years
of living on this planet
That in itself is a frickin' miracle"

PerhapsYes, perhaps that is what I would say
If one day
I did so happen to meet my "stutter"
Then, in an act that at one time I would never have conceived of doing
I would extend to him my hand
Not as a sign of friendship, but as one of forgiveness
Forgiveness for all the pain that he had forced me to endure
For by shaking the hand of what had for so long been my tormentor
That chapter of my life would finally have closure
Then turning, and walking away
A smile would cross my lips
For content in the knowledge I would be
That his days of haunting me were no more
Yeah I know that he would always be there
Lurking, lurking, lurking
Never more than one
Maybe two steps behind
And I realize that at times
He still would make my life most difficult
But I can live with that
Yes, I can live with that
Because the two of us
My stuttered speech and I
After years of wagging war
After years of a seemingly endless struggle
Fought upon this dark and bloody ground
The two of us had finally made peace
We had finally learned to coexist
Turning one final time
Facing my former foe
Perhaps I would leave him with these final words

"While a friend to me
You never shall be
No more will
Nor no more can
I ever consider you again
To be my enemy"

Yeah, I guess that's exactly what I'd like to say to my "stutter"
If I were to finally meet him
At long last

added with permission
November 29, 2001