Facing the struggle

What do you do when you’re struggling?

I’m having a rough week. Well, actually a rough couple weeks.

‘Rough’ is probably the wrong word to use. I should probably find a better word, a less judgmental term, but rough feels accurate. I’m having one of those weeks when my breathing feels rough, when my language tumbles out roughly and when I feel as if I’m hacking at the air with my speech.


I have no reason why, I’m just stuttering more right now. I am running up against this wall at the start of words and in the middle of words. I am stuttering on the phone, at dinner parties, on bike rides and while I sweat my way around long runs.

I feel a little more tired at the end of the day, a little more fragile. And yet I know what will happen. I know that this particular moment will pass, and that it will come back at some future time. I know that everything is cyclical, that it changes with the seasons.

I can’t say that stuttering up a storm is a breeze, but it has proven a couple things to me:

  1. Nobody else seems to care, particularly the people I love.
  2. In fact, the people I love seem to be around more, they seem to stand closer to me, they seem to call me up more often.

There are so many myths that we tell ourselves, so much negativity that can be piled on top of our fraught speech. But there is one clear truth – our stutter, our weakness, does not diminish us. Quite the opposite. Vulnerability draws people to us. We are attracted to people who don’t have a façade up, people who are raw and human.

So whatever struggle you are facing it is better to keep moving forward, keep making yourself heard, because hiding from the rest of the world is far worse than the struggle to spit out your words.

8 thoughts on “Facing the struggle

  1. Katherine this is a beautiful post! I wish I could hug you 🙂 Typing through the tears in my eyes – tears of emotion, of gratitude – I want you to know that you are SO right about the struggle not diminishing you. To my eyes and heart, this challenge met with visible courage and dignity proclaims to the world how absolutely AMAZING you are. Yes indeed, we are all so very aware of our humanity, our vulnerability – most of us are able to get away with hiding it (or so we think, I often reflect that it is not as well hidden as we like to fool ourselves!). Your words about the facade are so true! And yes, as you say, stuttering – like any challenge – does put your authenticity and your humanity ‘out there’. But in doing so, I’m so glad you know it invites the world in a way we cannot fail to respond, to meet you on the same level of genuine-ness, of no masks, of not ‘smooth’, of REAL. The ‘realness’ you show us as you rise above this physical challenge with effort, with grace, humour, honesty, visible emotion. The compelling invitation to love you, see you, admire you, feel with you, be as real as you dare to be. To meet your humanity with our own, too often hidden. Hidden for all the wrong reasons, I might add.

    Watching you refuse to hide your light under a bushel is a continuing inspiration. I am sure we would all love you without the stutter. But since it’s helped to make you who you are, I embrace it with all my heart. I’m so grateful for all I’ve learned from you. And all the times you’ve touched me – like this one.

    I could wish away your present level of stress. But I’d never wish away the stutter that shows it. How visionary, how wise, that you see this non-optional vulnerability for the gift it is, even as you feel tired and fragile. Come to think of it, we might all be a lot better off with a ‘non-optional’ setting on our humanity display! How much kinder and more genuine the world would be, if that was the case? Uncomfortable maybe, but more connected… Thank you for gifting us with your truth yet again. You are beautiful inside and out. Never more than right now.

  2. Alison – Thank you! This means the world to me. I love so much of what you wrote. This line was fantastic: “we might all be a lot better off with a ‘non-optional’ setting on our humanity display”.

  3. Really loved this, Katherine. Honesty at it’s best. And I so admire the above commentator, what she wrote is equally as honest.
    I think we both know many people who are still so hung up in the shame of stuttering, who go to great, even extreme lengths, to hide it, to deny it, to pass themselves off as something they are not.

    I was one of those people for a long time myself. I felt the weight of being shunned, of feeling inadequate, and the shame – and felt it was better to stay quiet.

    Thank goodness I finally realized that it is not better at all, as all of us with our unique challenge, whatever it is, teaches the world something about dealing with imperfections.

    I can relate to your honesty, and appreciate your sharing. You are a wonderful writer, and so generous to share your experiences with us.

  4. Love your reply Pam! Couldn’t agree more with everything you said. Thank you so much for sharing.

  5. Katherine,

    I practice, practice, practice, but there are days in which I have extreme trouble. Even when I’m in it I can’t figure it out. It’s like stuttering wants to remind you of the hold it has on you.

    But, although I think people will think less of me, I always learn they are dealing with their own issues and don’t want to pile mine on top of them.

    It doesn’t matter.

    • Kelvin – Thanks for the message and for your amazing honesty. I totally agree that everyone has their own challenges and their own vulnerabilities. Interested to hear more about what you mean by practice, practice, practice?

  6. When I was growing up (and primarily in my teen years) my dad used to say to me “this too shall pass”. I always hated that. A lot. Only recently- like the last year- have I come to love this phrase. Because now after so many days of “facing the struggle” followed by beautiful days I really know it is true. Thank you for how you share the cyclical-ness (not a word, I think) of life. You are beautiful and I venture to guess that without the struggle you wouldn’t have even written this post that touched my heart. I have actually come to love the struggle in a very odd way, and I am learning to be so grateful when it does enter my sphere because I know something great is on the other side of it when I keep moving forward.

    • Lisa – Thank you so much for your thoughts. It means the world to me that this post spoke to you! I love the idea that something great is on the other side of the struggle, that we just have to keep moving forward.

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