by Allan Brown, Lambertville, NJ

Is there any other handicap quite so insidious as stuttering? With mostother handicaps I can think of, there's no need to try to hide them - you couldn't hide them if you tried. So you learn to live with them. And accept them for what they are. A stutterer, even a severe one as I, is tempted and fooled and lured by that occasional burst of fluency, that promise that says "if only you would work your voice parts just right and have that certain frame of mind, then you wouldn't stutter at all". It's just enough to make me pretend to myself that I'm not really a stutterer. If I play my cards just right, no one else will notice either. I pretend I'm shy. I speak in short phrases, only a few words at a time, when I'm not really thinking about how hard it is to say them. I pretend I don't know the answer to a question so I don't have to say more than a couple of words. Pretend, pretend, pretend. Anything but face up to the fact that I'm a stutterer and admit it fully and without shame or embarassment. Why, I'd rather take off all my clothes in a crowd and be stark naked than proclaim to the world: "I STUTTER!"

submitted August 18, 2000