I call myself Steve. I make my living doing stand-up comedy. I’m a bit of gypsy, but you’ll find me mostly in the U.S.A.
My battle with stuttering and blocking has existed as long as I can remember. Stuttering was like a ninja that would suddenly appear out of nowhere and strike me at the most inopportune moments and disappear into the darkness, only to attack again. Each attack would leave me devastated. I developed a lot of anxiety. Speaking to authority figures, strangers, and even my peers filled me with terror.
Somehow I developed a wicked sense of humor that would become a huge asset as I went through middle school and high school (which probably saved me from the torment I would have faced from my peers had I been a less funny person.) After high school I took speech therapy during the summer right before college. Unfortunately, it proved ineffective.
I didn’t feel the worst effects of stuttering and blocking till I started college and entered the workforce. I was not able to ask my professors questions when I struggled to understand key concepts and theories. Suffice it to say I failed a few classes I could have easily passed had I been able to ask questions. Talking at work was equally terrible. I couldn’t ask my bosses for raises or even time off. I begrudgingly took what was given to me or should I say what wasn’t given to me. I worked every crummy job imaginable. You name it, I probably did it!
I felt powerless and my self-esteem was non-existent. Just the thought of stuttering/blocking was enough to make me tear up. I cursed the heavens almost daily. I took a lot of abuse from people over the years which caused me to grow very cynical and resentful of people. I learned to talk very little as I walked around with a scowl on my face like I was a debt collector for the mafia. My hope was that my menacing look would be enough to keep me protected from any type of ridicule. But deep down I was in “fight or flight mode” all the time. And if I did talk it was usually sarcastic, snarky, and overall negative. I became a poster boy for the word MISANTHROPE! My stuttering and my attitude prevented me from networking and advancing in my career as well as solidifying the type of social life I so desperately yearned for. This went on for years!
Then one night I heard “my friends” making fun of me and my stuttering/blocking on an episode of their podcast. It was one thing to talk trash about me behind my back but it was quite another thing to make fun of my stuttering and broadcast it over the internet. I was livid! At that moment I had the wrath of a 1000 Genghis Khans. My blood boiled at a temperature hot enough to melt molecules! I immediately severed my friendship with these jackals. I wanted revenge.
The next day I frantically searched the internet for a cure for my speech impediment. Thank heavens I found Lee’s book and website. I was skeptical and suspicious of anyone who promoted a cure because I was told by “experts” that stuttering was incurable. I was at my wits end and desperate enough to try it. I signed up for a free trial on the website that allowed me to watch one free video and read a chapter of Lee’s book. I could tell by the way Lee described his experience with stuttering that he wasn’t some snake oil salesmen trying to peddle a useless elixir.
After a few weeks I mustered up the courage to purchase the course and the book and I never looked back. I read the entire book out loud like Lee instructed us to do. I devoured the book the way a starving man would devour a juicy steak. After completing the book I started using all the tools available: the mind training, the affirmations, the crutches, and reading aloud. I started attending the Saturday morning meetings and used the tools daily. After a month I noticed some tangible results which made me work harder. After 6 months of continual improvements to my speech, I joined a crutches practice group and even ran my own practice session for a few months. It was an enriching experience to not only improve my speech but to help others with their speechl; even making a few friends along the way. Then one day I was cured.
I came into this program because I wanted vengeance against those who had humiliated me but I STAYED IN THIS PROGRAM BECAUSE OF LOVE. The love of Coach Lee. The love of the coaches during the Saturday morning meetings. The love of the people who stopped stuttering. The love of the people who still stuttered. And in the process I let go of my need for revenge against those former “friends” who had embarrassed me on their podcast. I let go of the anger I had at the world. I let go of the sadness in my heart. I just plain let go – of my words, too, and they flowed like Ruth Mead’s river. They still do.
Lee’s program not only helped me stop stuttering and blocking but it also helped me connect with people again. BOTTOM LINE: THE PROGRAM SAVED MY LIFE and gave me a second chance. I am truly blessed. Bless you, Lee, and all of your wonderful community of ex-stutterers.
STEVE, a stand-up comic, August 2021