“Stuttering is everything you do not to stutter”
Nice to meet you all! My name is Charlotte Roggeman. I am 22 years old and I live in Belgium. I call myself a “full time stutterer” which means I’ve had a stutter for basically my whole life, so you can say I’m pretty good at it.
Stuttering is indeed a speech disorder. I’m stuck in my words although I know exactly what to say. They just don’t come. Experiencing this from a young age has not been easy. School was very stressful, and I felt a lot of anger and sadness during puberty.
Joseph Sheehan, an American professor of psychology and speech pathology, made one of the most beautiful definitions of stuttering there is: stuttering is all you do to not stutter. And right he is. Therefore, he made the metaphor of the iceberg. The top of the iceberg is the part that is visible for everyone: the stuttering itself. Your mouth that is blocked while speaking. But a big part of the iceberg lays under water and is consequently not possible to be seen. These are all the emotions. Unnoticeable, but very present and impossible to ignore.
Stuttering is so much more than just a speech disorder. It is dealing with all these emotions on a daily basis. For a lot of stutterers, the fear of speaking and the shame is the biggest battle they have. A battle that may seem impossible to overcome in certain moments of their life.
But among all these uncertainties I wouldn’t miss stuttering for anything in this world. In the long run I believe it will guide me through a process of everlasting courage, happiness and growth. I am sure that without stuttering I would be a totally different person who perhaps was not so good at self-reflection and would live more in superficiality. That not the same beautiful people would be in my life. I see stuttering as something which enables me to work consistently on myself. To be a better person than the one I was yesterday and to challenge myself.
So if you are stutterer. Please trust the process you will make. Going through a process that has a positive ending will add so much value, will give you enormous amount of strength and hope. Trust your struggle. Or even better: Trust your Ssstruggle.