Transcript of episode 19 of Stuttering.Me where the host, Greg, introduces his Tiger Analogy for Stuttering Acceptance
[opening music in background fades]
Hey now. How YOU doing? [laughs]
It’s sad because maybe the most pivotal television show in my life was Seinfeld and my students now are too young to get it! I’m making these Seinfeld references in class and it’s not working. So I’m starting to use Friends but that’s already all gone too. I can’t say “How YOU doing” and have ANY sense that they know what I’m talking about.
In any event, enough about me let’s talk about you. Welcome to Stuttering.Me, an interactive micropodcast. I guess, let’s call it an interactive micro-community. Yay-a! That sounds good to me. I like that. You can hit us up at Twitter.com and there are tons of people that you can start adding. You can add, you can add Stutterdude, BalderKongen [laughs], uh, StutteringMe, I mean just all kinds of people so get on there, send me an @ message or a direct message and I will hook you up and can get in on it.
Today in class, we were having some fun… I need to buy a car because the one that I have is a sports car. It looks all flashy but it doesn’t run. And there’s a 1988 stretch limousine just one town over. FOR SIX THOUSAND BUCKS! I want that car so bad. So we were Twittering about that again for a bit today. It was a good time.
What are we going to talk about today? I was actually pondering about something… I talked with Russ Hicks recently… he talked to my class about the Iceberg Analogy for stuttering and… it was fantastic. So I’m thinking, let’s, let’s hang on to this analogy thing, you know? What are some similar analogies that I have came up with or have thought about? And then it hit me… When I was a kid, I actually viewed stuttering as some sort of evil animal, you know? And I remember thinking I gotta keep him in a closet, you know, to shove him in there, lock the door.
[laughing] Probably wasn’t the best thing to do though, was it? ‘Cause if that animal is more powerful than that closet, it opens the door whenever it wants to. I guess I was in a stage of denial, but this (analogy) works though! We can cross-pollinate the iceberg and this animal. Let’s call him a tiger, shall we? The stuttering tiger. (Or, the stuttering ti-ger.)
When I was in Orange Beach with my family— that’s what we do over Christmas break, (I’m a prof, and I get the entire month off; so we just pack up and go down to the beach for the entire month.) We would go to the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo, like–practically everyday, so we’re on a first name basis with the tigers. Did you know that tigers really… they roar–but they communicate with a more guttural sound? [imitates the sound?] … Anyway, sorry so let’s go back to the topic.
So the stuttering tiger thing. At first, before you really come to grips with this thing, this tiger is kicking your butt, tearing you up, you know. And you try to deal with this tiger by turning your back on the tiger. That doesn’t work. I’ve played with tigers. You have to pay fifty bucks to play with them but [laughing] when you turn your back on them, they jump on you. You can go to Youtube and see it. I posted my video of it. Turning your back on the tiger will not work. Denial of stuttering does not work, you know? You can try. I did. It didn’t work for me. That’s all I can say.
So what do you gotta do? You gotta beat that sucker into submission. And you get bloodied up at first, because you think the tiger’s your enemy, right? So you get a big stick or a whip, whatever offensive tool that you can choose and you beat the living mess— it’s a clean podcast— you beat the living mess out of that tiger, you know? You beat him into submission. And what I’ve recently come [to realize] is that, man, this is, it’s a process. You know, first you turn your back on the animal and it beats you up and it tears you up, then you face the animal.
And you might scuffle some but stutterdude posted, and he said, [paraphrasing] I went back to the bank, I was prepared to stutter but when I was prepared to, I didn’t. I didn’t avoid, or I didn’t have any overt moments of stuttering.
That’s just the way that it is. When you face the animal, the animal can back down. When you face stuttering, it is so much easier to manage than when you try to continue to deny it or turn your back on it.
And this is the next step. You know, you’re in denial, you confront it, you learn to beat it down a little more into submission. And what I mean by that is when you make your decisions for you, rather than letting stuttering making your decisions for you.
And there comes a point in this process where you get into volitional stuttering and you can actually stutter on purpose to the point of exacerbation for the other person. And I admit I’ve done this and I’ve known PLENTY of other people that stutter that has done this. It’s a reversal of power. Stuttering used to make me afraid of communication; it made me feel like I was a failure of communication. But I learned to use it as an offensive tool to the extent where the listener’s going to get so fed up with me that they’re just going to turn away.
And I’m not condoning this practice, but when you get to this point, you know that you’re in control of yourself and your speech and the whole communication process. That’s where I want people to be.
And the tiger analogy works. Because at first, you’re in denial. Tiger’s not there— OW! Tiger’s not there— OW! you know? Then you turn to the tiger. It’s a frightening process but you do it. You confront him. You beat him down. You don’t let that tiger make your decisions. YOU make your decisions. Then you get the tiger on a leash, you know? You walk around town, ok? Then at some point, maybe, you get to the point where you go up to people and say Hey! Do you wanna see my tiger? And you reach a point— or at least I did, a lot of my peeps have, too— where you’re actually proud of it.
And you start showing him off. And now you get the point where you take the tiger back off the leash and you’re petting him like in an Austin Powers film or a James bond film. That’s where I want you to be. Now I don’t know if this analogy works for you guys. It kind of works for me but I’m freaky that way.
Anyway… So what do we say here? No one can ever make you feel inferior without your consent. We’re going to actively packet filter all this societal incoming messages. We don’t have to believe it. You believe in yourself because you can do anything you that set your mind to, right?
Ok so today is your day. You go out there. You get them. You look at them in the eye. You stutter with pride. And you get out what you want to get out. Don’t be intimidated. You get it out, alright? Take care, guys. See you tomorrow.