ISAD 2016: The Importance of Stutter Buddies
Soooo Oct. 22 (2016) was International Stuttering Awareness Day and there was joyous singing (and stuttering) all around the world! Okay, that didn't happen. But it was a very special day for me. I love raising awareness about stuttering and events like ISAD, National Stuttering Awareness Day and the like give me the perfect opportunity to do just that.
So I was super excited when the National Stuttering Association team planned an event in Central Park for the day. With just a few weeks of planning, we raised money and set up some tables in Central Park with goodies, music, informational pamphlets & packets and a beautiful, dope, crafty donation box (made by yours truly. you can see that below😊).
I loved seeing the gang. I'm usually not able to make it to the monthly group meetings in Brooklyn so I don't get to see my stutter buddies as often as I'd like to. So, when I saw my pals I was so happy, and I did not realize just how much I needed to see them until I got there on that brisk, fall day.
Outside of the NSA, I don't know many people who stutter and I rarely come in contact with any in my daily life. And that can be pretty alienating. After a while of coping and managing my stutter without the help of understanding, supportive people, in a way, I forget that I'm not the only person in the world with this disorder.
So, when I saw all of my stutter buddies I felt relieved. Within minutes of being there, I felt comfortable, understood and very accepted. I felt a weight leave my shoulders and I had not even realized it was there in the first place.
I'm always happy to see everyone, but one stutter buddy holds a special place in my heart: Roisin. I'm lowkey obsessed with her, you guys. She's this awesome, stuttering intersectional feminist who spends her days working in emergency rooms and finds time to teach students about rape culture and still be there for me when I need her. I could talk about Roisin all day, but I'll get back to the story.
I didn't plan on telling Roisin about my experience with the volunteer program (which you guys can read about here 😊), but I guess it just slipped out. I explained to her what happened and she was supportive, angry and sympathetic. She gave me a hug and encouraged me, telling me of a time she went through a similar situation.
After the situation with the program, I focused on being strong and not letting it get to me. But Roisin's response and encouragement let me know that it's okay to be sad about things like that and to say, "That's really messed up." She spoke those words to me and I'm sure she doesn't know this, but it meant a lot to hear her say that. It filled my heart to have someone acknowledge that the situation was unfortunate and that I had/have every right to be upset.
Of course, I will practice being strong. But Roisin's sympathy and words were just what I needed in order to do just that.
It's so important for a stutterer to know other people who stutter. Before I moved to New York and became involved with the NSA, I knew very few people who stutter (only about two) and I often felt very alone and misunderstood. But being here now and knowing so many wonderful people like me has really helped me in many ways; it's helped me to be strong, to be vulnerable, to cope and to overcome.
So, to all my stutter buddies, I encourage you all to get to know other people who stutter. I know, I know, maybe you live in the middle of nowhere and you're the only stutterer in sight. If that's the case, shoot me an email and we'll chat (firstname.lastname@example.org). Also, there are plenty of online groups where people who stutter communicate (many of those are on Facebook), so I encourage you to check them out.
Stutter buddies are so important and necessary, and as our NSA mantra goes:
"We who stutter, and those who support and help us, are not alone. Together we are strong."