The stutter in my life was always my first excuse, the first answer and also my main secret. It’s something that identifies me genetically.
In my biggest moments of despair, in those where my stutter actually chose what to say, how and when to speak, I remember when I went to sleep… I slept thinking about how my day was going to be.
I started to believe that if I woke up thinking that “I won’t stutter”, or if the first words I said in the morning went out smooth it meant that it was going to be a great day if I knew that I had to speak a lot the next day or face situations where I had oral presentations I tried to speak just the right amount the day before. I practised what words to say. I found myself saying words with different intonations so they could come out smooth, or playing changing my voice so they could emerge from the depths of my chest, without even knowing why that happened.
My name is Dalma Alvarez Burgos, I’m 27 years old and I’m a medic at the present time. I developed my life completely in most of the things I proposed myself, however; nothing was stronger, more important and urgent than my stutter. Nothing compared to the fact of stuttering, nobody understood nor saw what I thought or felt inside.
I could repeat exactly those words that were complicated per day, those strange faces, frowns, high amazed eyebrows, silly faces, faithful evidence of those who discovered my stutter appeared in my memory, and nothing was more exhausting than thinking in “How would it be if I didn’t have a stutter?”
Thinking it through, stutter wasn’t precisely a word that I felt identified with, I felt ashamed, it was classified in a list of limitations that I didn’t feel I had, Maybe 1… 2… 3… times (being generous) I’ve said to someone: That I got stuck, that I spoke like this since I was born, that some members of my family did it as well. Nevertheless, the word stutter made me embarrassed and it was hard to say it, it integrated the list of words that revealed my secret.
That is how I grew up not feeling joy for my achievements; nothing was an absolute joy, or total happiness, because there was the killjoy… the stutter. Day by day I faced situations where I had to expose myself in a challenging and very struggling way… STRESSFUL… A lot of times being very frustrating until my body was exhausted, my voice tired, my muscles contracted, my mind blank.
I decided to get into action; my life was fun on the outside and sad on the inside. I went to treatments with speech therapists improving my diction, my breathing but generating a lot of frustration by not being able to find that continuity between what I learned and my every day. I couldn’t put to practice what I learn. At my 27 years, I’ve found myself saying a sequence of words, musical inconsistencies and the laugh of a coworker made me sad, I cried like a little girl and between my tears, for the first time I was ready to read, search and find a hidden world up to that moment… Four months later, I found myself meeting stories like mine, laughing about that thing that had done me so much wrong.
People with a stutter are so particular and so stereotyped at the same time that we feel like we belong and knowing that we’re not alone is the first step.
I’m a person who stutters” I say today with great pride, with great self-respect being my greatest overcoming tool. I had to wait 27 years of my life to produce that awakening… I felt the greatest feeling of happiness and liberation, my mind opened and I found myself worrying about the little things in life, a lot of things were insignificant to me… I reinvented myself.
The stutter is my characteristic, my life totem… it lives in me, mischievously, sometimes, trying to manage this game, finding me looking askance at her, controlling her, feeling her.
The stutter, speaks about a society, speaks about a bunch of feelings, speaks of sad childhoods, of limited lives, of fears… a lot of fear… The stutter speaks so much that it doesn’t know how to listen.
I’m a person rediscovering a meaning to life, to the communication, I’m a member of the McGuire Programme committed to dignifying this characteristic in each corner that comes along.
LET’S BE WORTHY OF STUTTERING!