“I can not” “They’re going to think I’m stupid” “Why can’t you talk like someone normal?!” These kinds of feelings have accompanied me since I was a teenager, especially when I had to speak in public. Now, thanks to the McGuire Programme, I see every situation of my stuttering as an opportunity to keep improving in my speech, which I enjoy a lot.
My stuttering is present for as long as I can remember. However, there was a time of my life (9-13 years), when my stuttering had disappeared, or at least I believed that. I remember that in those times I enjoyed a lot of public speaking. At the beginning of my school years, I always considered that I was better at public than the rest of my classmates, as well as being a good reader. In my weekly meetings as a Jehovah’s Witness, I also had the opportunity to speak in public, in addition to preaching from house to house and it was something that I enjoyed very much.
Little by little my stuttering started to make itself present again. At first, it was easy to master thanks to some tricks that I developed automatically and spontaneously, but as my stuttering got worse, the tricks stopped working, and I had to find some new ones.
Speaking in public was no longer pleasant. It was very difficult for me to do it, and it was very frustrating because I had mastered the topics and had my ideas very clear, but my stuttering made it seem that I had not prepared well or that I was very nervous.
In these moments of my life, thoughts like those of the beginning began to emerge. Thoughts of frustration and pain discouraged me a lot, which caused me to start avoiding situations I once enjoyed. Already in my higher studies, this was increasing even more, to the point of avoiding any situation that could expose my stuttering. It was my big secret … or so I thought.
In my weekly meetings with my congregation, I had the opportunity to raise my hand and contribute with my comments. And, how I longed to do it! but … I was not capable of doing it. For worse, I felt guilt and shame for not doing it. This is one of the most painful thoughts I have regarding my stuttering, in fact, I must admit that, now that I write this, some tears have come out.
I tried a couple of speech therapists, but the lack of tangible results discouraged me and ended up giving up. I needed something real and tangible, that would really help me get out of where I was.
One day on the internet I came to a web page where there was something about an informative talk about a programme, so I decided to attend. There was a graduate of the programme, who had attended the course a couple of months ago. I heard his presentation really impressed. I never thought that someone could feel the same as me. I felt identified with each slide that passed and it was then that I decided to attend the course.
That’s how I joined the programme. My first course was at the Gen Hotel in Santiago, Chile. Four new students began the course with the hope of being able to overcome our stuttering, without knowing the hard work that awaited us, and it was a really intensive course! A lot of work, practice and perseverance along with the help of our instructor and graduates were giving results, I could not believe what I was achieving. If before the course they had asked me if I thought I would be able to do everything I was achieving, I would have flatly said no. After finishing the course I felt very happy, I was not going to hide my voice anymore, I could finally say what I wanted. But there was still something else…
After a year I went back to a course. This time it was different since I attended as a graduate of the programme. I could see the whole process and be a guide for the new students, and the truth is that there are few things in life that give me so much happiness. It is a wonderful feeling to know that you are helping someone who has gone through the same thing as you and even to get excited about their progress… and I think that is the key to the success of this programme. Who can help you better than someone who has gone through the same thing, wants to help you, knows how you feel and how to overcome it? This motivates me to improve and continue attending programme courses and contribute to the progress of new students.
Today I feel like a strong speaker, who can face any situation. I’m not healed, I’m still a person who stutters, but I’ve managed to turn it into something positive. Will you wonder how you can convert something that made me suffer so much into something positive? Thanks to the McGuire programme, I have the opportunity to let more people know about this condition and be able to help new students on this path, which fills me with happiness.