Rehan Nasir from the Hello I stutter blog visited me in Luxembourg last year... sorry I am a bit with my posts! ;-) We had a good discussion, a summary of which you can read in this post, and here is his email and story.
I wanted to sincerely thank you for meeting up with me in Luxembourg last week. I really enjoyed the tour of your city as well.
I thought a lot about what you told me -- getting out of my comfort zone, breaking the associations that I've had for so long, and testing out theories with regards to speaking (as in, what's going to happen? I don't know -- but I won't die). So thank you very much for that insight. I will definitely write more about them on the blog, helloistutter.com
I wanted to finally send along a guest post (send some of your readers my way!) -- it actually does deal with a lot of what you said. Although it happened weeks ago (I've been slowly coming out for months now). I think you'd be proud of my determination.
I'm someone who stutters, and I'm someone who also likes to ride my road bicycle. But when I came to Saudi Arabia more than three years ago for work, I didn't know anybody who also rode. And since I was a covert stutterer, I didn't really ask around too much either. I would occasionally go on solo rides on the wide open roads we have in our small town, but I missed the camradarie of riding with even one other person.
One Friday morning just a few weeks ago I was coming back into the compound with my family. I saw something strange. Two guys. Road bikes. They were also heading back into the compound. Finally! Other people who rode! I was in our car, about 500 feet behind them as we went through the security checkpoints. My wife knew about my cycling angst and thought I should go up to them and find out who they were. Yes, I needed to find out.
Excuse time. Remember, I'm a covert stutterer. Pulling up to cyclists in a car would necessitate an immedate greeting and question. They probably wouldn't stop. I'd be stuttering. It'd be horribly awkward. What to do? I was trying to figure it out as they pulled away -- I had to stop for some checkpoints that they sailed through.
I was getting angry and frustrated with myself. Here it was, the perfect opportunity to go riding with some guys, and my stuttering was getting in the way. Unacceptable. We followed them into the compound, but they split up. After parking the car, I thought I saw one of them go into a nearby house, but wasn't sure. Great. Thanks stuttering. Thanks a lot.
As we got out of the car, my wife said she thought she heard a door nearby close. Oh? I was angry enough at my stuttering that I said to her, ok, you take the kids and go to our house, and I'll catch up. I went over to the door that she said was probably it.
I knocked. No response.
I knocked again. I had no plan on what to say. I just wanted to start doing something before my stutter protested.
No response. Oh, fine. Still angry at myself. I went back to my house and told my wife that nobody was there. She mentioned that she knew the security guards pretty well and that she could call them and find out. Really? Yes, can you please call them? I felt like a coward for not making the call myself, but I'd make up for it soon enough.
She got a house number. Let's say it was 540. Ok. I headed out the door. As I was walking over to 540, I saw a guy walking toward me. He had skinny legs. Could this be one of them?
I said hello to him and asked him if had been riding on his bike earlier. I said all of this, and I stuttered badly. But I wanted to just stop him and start talking before I could think twice about it.
I kept talking to this guy. I kept on stuttering. A lot. I was not happy with myself. But I eventually strung a few decent phrases together. He didn't laugh at me or look at me strangely. He did mention that his boss rode. Ah, so now we're getting warmer. He pointed in the direction of his house. That's where I was going. I was on the right track.
I said goodbye and headed over to house 542. That's right. I was off on the number. So I went to the wrong house (but didn't realize it at the time.) Again, before my stutter could protest (we just stuttered so much with that last guy!) I knocked on the door. No response. Another knock, still no response.
Well, I tried. Maybe I'll track them down eventually. But before going home, I went to the first house I knocked on. Might as well try again.
The door opened. Oh crap! What was I going to say?
I stuttered a lot. I asked if they had gone out riding -- well yeah, the bike is right there. The guy was nice and invited me in. I introduced myself and stuttered while doing so. He stood there patiently. He told me about the other guy and how long they'd been riding. He didn't acknowledge the stuttering either. Awesome! We sorted out how far and how fast and well, they're heading out tomorrow morning, so would I like to join? Yes!
The next morning I headed out with them for a ride. They talked, I talked, I stuttered, they didn't mind. And it was a beautiful morning. The miles ticked by quickly. And we've gone out a few more times since.
Being out there and stuttering is still a new concept for me. But as I get older, my patience for my stutter grows less and less. Sometimes I just want something, and I'm not going to use stuttering as an excuse.