Living With A Speech Impediment

I have an undiagnosed speech impediment. According to a speech and language professor at WWU, it’s some sort of tongue thrust or (orofacial myofunctional disorder). My tongue feels too big for my mouth and I can’t control it. Sometimes, I swear, it wants to fall out of my mouth when I talk. My impediment gets worst when I’m nervous. I’m lucky it is slight, and not everyone even notices it.

You would think my speech would have had a major impact on my life especially during childhood, but it didn’t. I wasn’t teased (too often). I grew up in a very small town and interacted with the same 50-or-so kids since age 5. We saw each other every single day until high school graduation. We knew each others faults, scars, bumps, and lumps as well as our own. The way I talked, was just the way I talked. My peers were aware that it was different, but thought, “That’s just Rachel.”

Have you ever noticed it’s the adults that tend to point out and notice the “differences” in children? I was sitting in my third-grade class one day when a man, (we will call him Mystery Man) stood awkwardly beside my desk and asked if I would come with him. I looked skeptically at my teacher and she told me that Mystery Man had a few questions to ask me and that I should go with him. After getting the “go ahead” from my teacher, I followed Mystery Man into a room I had never been in before. He introduced himself and said he helps children speak “correctly”. This was the first time someone had pointed out to me that I speak differently.

He asked me to read a few simple words off of some flash cards, “Dog. Cat. House.” I was a third-grader that read at the eighth-grade level, so I was offended that someone doubted my reading capability. I remember blatantly asking, “Why am I here? I read very well.”.

He responded, “You have a different way of talking and I’m here to help you. If you would like the help.”

I looked around the room, and then I looked Mystery Man in the eyes and said, “No I don’t want your help. I would like to go back to class now.”

Poor guy. Rejection from an eight-year-old, that’s rough. He accepted my answer and walked me back to class.

I went home and told my mother what had happened at school while she was sitting in the bath tub shaving her legs . I told her, “A strange man pulled me out of class today…” I think that’s as far as I got before my mother jumped out of the tub, threw a towel around herself, and stormed out of the bathroom. Her fingers of fury dialed the  telephone faster than anyone has ever dialed.

I could hear her ask, “Why did nobody contact me to tell me she was going to be tested and evaluated? The school was very out of line…if my daughter doesn’t want to work with him, I support her decision.” Slam! I was impressed the phone didn’t shatter. That’s my mom, always my defender.

She turned to me and asked, “Do you want to work on your speech? Does the way you talk bother you?”

I just looked at her and said, “I didn’t know I was different. I don’t want to change.”

She nodded her head, and that-was-that.

There was the occasional teasing, but it never bothered me, especially when I knew the other kid’s weaknesses toosmall town remember?

It wasn’t until I graduated from high school and went to college that people would comment on the way I talked. For some reason the guys I dated really wanted to discuss it. I was 19 when a guy told me, “I like the way you talk, I think it’s cute. I know some people probably find it annoying as fuck, but I like it.” Mmmm okay. Thanks. He was such a gem.

Other guys made similar comments, “Oh it’s cute.” Sometimes they would mimic me (that was pretty annoying). The only time my rebellious tongue ever bothered me was when I had to speak in front of a large audience.

My friends and family are accustom to my speech. I haven’t had to lead any meetings, or give any presentations in over a year. When my job did require me to present, I just battled my wayward tongue and said what I had to say. My husband doesn’t bring it up because according to him, he doesn’t notice it. I hadn’t thought about my speech impediment for a really long time.

Then I posted THIS video that I made to celebrate reaching 100 followers and to explain the progress on my YA novel. I watched and listened to myself trying to talk around my fat tongue and some insecurities arose. I asked my husband, “Do I really sound like that? Do I really LOOK like that when I talk?”

He conceded, “It’s a little more pronounced in the video, but it’s just because you are nervous.” (He is always honest, and I love him dearly for it.)

I dwelt on it for a day, and thought about not posting the video, but then I realized that what I needed to say was important. I wanted my viewers to hear me say, in my own unique voice, “Thank you.” for following my blog. I was scared of the trolls who could potentially find the video and make fun of the way I talk. Then I realized that there are trolls everywhere and if I let that fear control me then I wasn’t being true to myself or my dreams.

So far no troll comments, just lovely encouragement from you, my dear readers. I’m so glad I went ahead and posted the video.

Remember to embrace who you are, and don’t view your “differences” as your enemy. Think of them as a magnifying glass to spot the trolls in your life.

♥R♥

THANK YOU MILES MCKEE PHOTOGRAPHY FOR LETTING ME USE YOUR PHOTO.

Art Isn’t Anecdote

A good reminder for personal non-fictional writers to remember. Read the following post by Erica Varlese.

Taking inspiration from author Cheryl Strayed, let’s explore the deeper themes that drive our stories and writing.

Source: Art Isn’t Anecdote

Revisiting My First Two Loves: Short Non-Fiction & The Football Player

My extremely talented writer friend Danielle Campoamor posted on Facebook that she was looking for some short stories about the moment you found out that someone was cheating. She is compiling these stories into what I am anticipating to be a great read. I emailed her the following story and I told her whether is it used in the piece or not, it was a wonderful writing prompt.

Thanks Girl.

My First Lesson in Cheating

Even after all these years when I look back on this memory I want to wrap my arms around my 15 year old self and say “You are better than their ugly words.” Because gossip and cheating go hand-in-hand in high school.

My first love was a senior, a football player, popular, and everything the stereotypical first love should be. Unfortunately this plain Jane book worm couldn’t keep up with him and he lost interest after a few months when a beautiful cheerleader caught his eye.

The first time I heard about the new romance between my football player and the cheerleader was in the cafeteria. I walked past a table of boys to get to the soda machine, I like to think they didn’t know I was there so their malicious talk was a little less cruel. One boy said very loudly and clearly, “I would ditch Rachel for (said cheerleader) she is so much hotter! Rachel is alright, but pretty average and kinda boring. I would make the same move as (said football player) did.”

I swear to God my heart stopped beating. I left my money in the vending machine without my soda so I could sneak quietly away. Their words echoing in my ears. How dare they judge the value of everything we shared off of my looks! How could they cheer him on and justify his betrayal simply because She was more beautiful?

I crumpled in a quiet hallway and cried through my Science class.

Looking back now, I see the naivete in myself and the foolish importance of superficial beauty that the young find so meaningful.

Update: Danielle used my story in her article. Yay! Read the full article here.