I will be blunt, because there is no real way of talking about my speech without doing so. I have a speech impediment, where d’s and t’s don’t always come out right or at all. This is especially true when d’s and t’s are in the middle of a word and I haven’t said that word a lot or at all.
Growing up I hated that it was called an impediment. It wasn’t because any negative experience I’ve had with having a speech impediment. I hated it, because I blurred the syllables together. I couldn’t say what I had well.
After years of speech therapy, theater, and practice friends and most people have said they don’t notice it. I know how to hide it and speak to be understood now.
I still hear it. I may not consciously be aware of it with every word I say, but I know it is still there in the shadows. I especially hear it when I listen to a recording or when I’m speaking through a microphone.
I repeat the words my friends tell me, “It’s just how I sound. It’s just how I talk.” I remind myself it makes me unique and those who matter don’t fault me for it.
For a time I cringed my way through editing videos of where I am speaking, whether it was monologues, tips, or improv videos. I forced myself to get comfortable with my voice. It did help me become more comfortable with my voice and accept it.
Eventually the videos slowed to a stop. The improved self-esteem for my speech was only a bi-product and my goals that were the real focus of the videos were not in the foreground of my motivation.
I gave little thought to my voice or speech for a while. It was not interfering with my life and it didn’t seem like an issue. I could listen to my voice without cringing now and everyone could understand me. Part of my thought that the impediment was behind me. It was something I had not have. It felt as though the struggle with my impediment was over or a tiny pebble in the shadows of a far corner of my mind.
The funny thing with the mind is if you shine light on a pebble it can grow. Even the slightest connection to it can create a boulder under the right circumstances. The pebble become a hurdle, which open wounds that should have been healed.
Partly from stress and partly because a light was shined on my speech, I now had to face my speech impediment again. Even though the focus on my speech had nothing to do with the impediment, I saw my insecurities surrounding it.
I now have to figure out why the pain of not speaking exactly like everyone else still remains and threatens to come out at the slightest reference. Why does anything negative relating to speech or talking brings me to tears?
On the surface it appears that the reasons are easily sen. I want to be viewed as smart, but I must first sound intelligent. If I’m fumbling over words, stuttering and finding replacements that I can say my IQ appears to drop.
I do not want what I view as my weakness and flaw hold me back. When it does I feel all the times its held me back. I am reminded of going to speech classes, being taken out of regular classes to go to a special speech therapy class, and feeling the label of “different” on me when it was not my choice.
Even now when I gladly wear “unique” and “different” as a proud badge, being different in speech hurts. It transports me back to being a child who did not ask for the label or want it.
I always felt loved and do not remember anyone teasing me about my impediment. They would tease me and bully me for other reasons, but never for how I spoke.
I do not want to blame my short coming or not getting things in life on my speech impediment. Hardly anyone notices now and if they do they say it doesn’t change their view of me. However, when it’s noticed it changes my view of myself. I’m reminded of the shy little girl. I find my shell again and must fight the urge to get back in it. I do fight though and write instead of crawling into my safe shell.
When the time is right I will explore why my speech impediment still hurts so badly when it is in the light. It is part of me and should not hurt me, yet it still does.
For now I will again work on tongue twisters and vocal exercises to overcome my flaws. I will become comfortable with my voice once again. I will remind myself that I’m my own success person. I’m strong and I am loved.
The relationship with my speech is a journey that I may stumble along, but I’m at least making progress and discovering more sides of who I am.