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The Importance of Acceptance

New England Fluency Program Final Speech

Good Morning, my name is Anjali and I am a person who stutters. 4 weeks ago, I could not even imagine that it would be possible for me to make such a declaration and still feel good afterwards. But then the last 4 weeks have been full of personal revelations, connections, and transformations, all of which seemed inconceivable a month ago.

I'd like to share one such transformation with all of you. A sort of light bulb moment. Within the first few days of the clinic, Adriana explained the technique of freezing and easing out of a stutter. Simply put, this means that when I feel a stutter, instead of pushing through it, I should recognize the stutter, freeze, and then let go of the tension and ease into the sound. As Adriana put it, the second I engage in a struggle with my stutter, I have already lost. Something about this technique immediately struck a chord with me. I was reminded of advice my father used to give me. Whenever I approached him with a problem, he would say, Kabul, Kabul, Kabul, which means accept, accept, accept. Don't run away from the unpleasant feelings. Stay with them. Feel them, and then let go. Only then can there be forward movement. Some of this advice stems from Hindu philosophy. Growing up, I was immersed in this way of thinking. However, as much as I understood and respected it in theory I had never been able to fully internalize it in my heart.

I mulled these thoughts over in my mind for a few days and on the fifth day of the program, I called my father. As I discussed the program with him, it all began to come together. The fear and pain surrounding my speech which I had carried within for years was not caused by stuttering, but rather by my inability to accept my stuttering. It was caused by my insistence on viewing my stuttering as some foreign disease that I had to either hide or expel. Stuttering wasn't silencing me. I was.

Kabul. Kabul. Kabul. Recognize, accept, let go, and move forward. It finally made sense. I walk away from this program on a path of self acceptance. Self acceptance is not the final destination - rather it's the journey itself. I know it is not linear. I know there will be many ups, downs, and circles, but for the first time in a long time, I feel hope. And this is in large part due to the community I found here with Adriana and all my peers. I found a quotation by M. Scott Peck, author of "A Different Drum" which speaks to the community we created in these last four weeks.

"How strange that we should ordinarily feel compelled to hide our wounds when we are all wounded! Community requires the ability to expose our wounds and weaknesses to our fellow creatures. It also requires the ability to be affected by the wounds of others...But even more important is the love that arises among us when we share, both ways, our woundedness."

I thank all of you: my peers Joe, Jeff, Rondell, Vinnie, and Aaron, the student clinicians: Karen, Lauren, Katherine, and Delphine, our mediation guide: Nancy, my friends and family, and Adriana for being my community...for inspiring me and helping me to make connections, and build courage. You all have helped me understand that I can stutter and still be an effective communicator. Beyond everything, I thank all of you for being a part of my realization of self acceptance.

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