By Del Duduit
Over the next few weeks and blogs, I will switch gears and discuss overcoming obstacles.
We all have experienced them, some bigger than others.
They can range from a lost job, to a relationship gone south to health issues.
Challenges can be personal, or at least taken that way.
For example, I shared one with viewers on PJNET.tv a few weeks ago that I had to overcome.
I don’t remember how the conversation started, but I revealed that when I was a youngster, I suffered from chronic stuttering. It was obvious.
Some people refer to it as stammering, but it has an official phrase – Childhood-onset fluency disorder. Back then I would not have even been able to say that mouthful of words either.
I didn’t know it then, but it is a speech disorder that involves frequent and significant problems with normal fluency of speech and words. I knew what I wanted to say, but I had trouble getting the words out.
That added to my other imperfections. I was chunky, had acne and stuttered. A real winner.
That is why I excelled in sports. On the field of play, I did not have to talk much. I took out my frustrations on the football field, baseball diamond or in the weight room. I let my actions do the talking for me. No words were needed and if they were, they were short and sweet.
As a result, I did not date much because I was not able to flirt or ask a girl out. Although I had friends, I was a bit of a loner.
I recall vividly calling a girl I liked on the phone. Her name was Holley.
Her mom answered.
“Hello,” she said.
“Is um, um, is um, um,” I stammered.
“What? Who Is this?”
“I wa-wa-wa-wa-want to speak with um, um,”
“Hello, I can’t understand you.”
I hung up because I could not say “Holley.”
Because I was a good athlete, I was popular in school and most of my “friends” understood my obstacle. But that did not deter some ridicule. I was used to it. It was a way of life. It’s who I was and I did not like being me.
As I got older my stuttering improved over time and with confidence, but it was still obvious with certain sounds and words. It was an ignition of frustration.
It wasn’t until I was a young adult and married that it got better.
My father was dying of cancer and I was not able to get to the hospital as much as I would have liked. I was working at a newspaper about 45 minutes away.
Then a friend of mine who was the general manager of a radio station asked me if I wanted the job as news director. I would get off from work at noon and be able to pop over to the hospital about five minutes away.
I had to speak live on the air.
I was ashamed and told my friend it was impossible because I could not speak well enough.
She refused and told me she would help me overcome my obstacle.
Jan worked with me and gave me exercises to do and made me read lines with a mouthful of marbles, or bite down on pencils to help me focus on the words.
Slowly it worked. That was more than 25 years ago.
My stuttering is about 97 percent conquered. But I know what sounds and letters give me fits and I avoid them or find alternative words. I have learned to adapt and identify my weaknesses.
Today, I am a frequent guest on podcasts, radio and television programs. I teach at writing conferences and am even an adjunct instructor at a local university and a public speaker. And everyone I talk to tells me, “Del, you should be in radio or TV because you speak so well.”
If they would have only known me then.
My friend taught me to focus on breathing, speak with a rhythm and slow down.
- Anxiety is an emotional response that can hinder the ability to speak without stuttering. Taking a deep breath before a word in which you tend to stutter can be helpful.
- Whoever feels nervous when speaking should practice speaking with a rhythm. Visualizing your words before pronouncing them can help you feel more prepared and confident when communicating.
- Focusing on maintaining a slow rate of speech can help reduce stuttering. Continue to take deep breaths while talking and it will help reduce anxiety.
Jan is gone now, but she is one person who did not make fun or judge me because I stuttered. She saw an opportunity to do something good for me, my dad, and her business. It was a win-win-win.
Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
(Romans 8: 37 KJV)
What obstacles have you faced?
How can you overcome them?
Do you judge others because they are different?
Del Duduit is an award-winning writer and author who lives in Lucasville, Ohio with his wife, Angie. They attend Rubyville Community Church. Follow his blog at delduduit.com/blog and his Twitter @delduduit. He is represented by Cyle Young of Hartline Literary Agency.
8 thoughts on “The Words Would Not Come Out”
Del, I would have never guessed that you struggled with speech whatsoever! Your story is such a great example of pushing through our weaknesses. We can do all things through Christ who gives us strength.
Yes Beckie I had a tough childhood with stuttering. But God saw me through. Del
I loved your post! I would never have guessed that you EVER had a stuttering issue as you’re so clearly well spoken.
Never has anyone in this world not found themselves facing obstacles & overcoming challenges in their life.
The biggest obstacle I have faced was growing up with parents who never pushed me to be more & school counselors who told me I’d never be anything more than a housewife & mother. The result was that I felt stupid, less than others, and stopped dreaming about a future career. There is absolutely nothing wrong with choosing to be a housewife & mother, as it is the most challenging & unappreciated job out there! It’s just that deep down inside I always knew that I had more in me, and wanted to explore that.
It took me a while to build up my confidence but eventually I began realizing what some of my talents were and began utilizing them. I was a born advocate for others…now all I had to do was be one for myself. So, I did. I went back to college, obtaining both my BA & MA in the Criminal Justice System, at age 45-51, and then the Good Lord blessed me for doing so with a six-figure job as Director of Child Support Enforcement. When no one else believed in me, I believed in myself. I realized that I was smart, not less than others, & fully able to fulfill my dreams. I hope and pray for those facing similar issues as I did in life, that they never give up no matter what their situation or age!
Of course, my challenges & obstacles in life were not over, but then again are they ever? Within six months of beginning my work as Director Child Support Enforcemennt I began having heart issues & had to take a three-month medical leave. I came back after a month however and stayed for the next 5 1/2 years before having to retire due to health issues.
I am now an author/freelance writer/national patient advocate & commercial actress, where I am able to control the hours that I work, as well as when I work. I may be living more simply these days on a fixed income for the most part, but I’ve never been happier in my life!
I judge others by their character, integrity, work ethic & compassion for others, but never judge anyone else on their outward appearance, sour disposition, or lack of social skills, as I do not know their story and it is only God who can judge others, not me.
I hope the take away from my story is one where no individual ever allows another to determine who they are and/or where they are going in life. Only that individual has the ability & power to do that…along with God’s Plan!
Cynthia S. Brown Author/Freelance Writer/Public Speaker/National Patient Advocate (513) 254-2744 https://www.patientadvocacyforall.org
** DID YOU KNOW THAT HEART DISEASE IS THE NUMBER ONE KILLER OF WOMEN? FOR MORE INFORMATION GO TO http://WWW.WOMENHEART.ORG **
Thanks Cynthia — I appreciate your wonderful words and friendship. Del
Del, thank you for your honesty and sharing with us. Your message will help others. I continue to learn more about you and am always impressed. Have a blessed day!
Thank for taking time to read and for your comments. Del
LikeLiked by 1 person
That is quite the story, Del, of how you overcame the stuttering. Kudos to you and to those who helped and coached you along the way.
Thank you my friend. Del