Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Support Network

A reader (one of the few who get lost and find themselves on here) left some good questions on a previous post:

I enjoyed reading your article, it was very inspiring! As a student working in the field of speech-language pathology I wanted to ask you if your family and friends were supportive during your therapy process as well as fighting your battles with stuttering as you grew older. Did you seem alone at times?

With the exception of my grandmother and my aunt, I never got much support in my life in regards to my stuttering or my therapy (or any other part of my life for that matter). In fact, whatever the opposite of supportive is, that is how I would describe my mother. A quick example - when I was growing up, my mother would often tell me that my stuttering was some sort of divine punishment for whatever perceived transgression that I had committed. Nice parenting!

Partly because you get to choose your friends, I have been fortunate to have had supportive people around me. I have a friend (whose identity I will protect and call "Murt") who works for a mapping company. In 1995, a few weeks before I headed off to the 3-week PFSP program, I received a package in the mail from Murt. Inside the package were maps for the Norfolk/Virginia Beach area that Murt had sent me. That was a simple gesture on his part - maybe taking 5 minutes of his time one day to throw some maps in a package and mail to - but it meant a great deal to me. In fact, I still throw that stupid 1995 Norfolk road map into my backpack before I head off to a Refresher.

Before I met and married my wife, the closest thing to a family I had at that time were my friends the "Fuglars" (another fake name). Once again, I am sure they did not think twice about it, but whenever I would go to Norfolk for the initial therapy or Refreshers in subsequent years, they were always very supportive of what I was doing. Simple things like calling me and checking on me while I was there and having me over to their house when I got back were simple actions that were huge to me, and made me feel like someone actually gave a f**k about me and my life.

My wife Staci (and her parents)have always been uber-supportive of me and my obsessive desire to attend a Refresher every year. The question is never "are you going to a Refresher this year", but "when is your Refresher". One year, I went to a Refresher 1 week after Staci had major surgery (her parents stayed with her while I was gone). Another year while I was gone, she redecorated my home office. One year we did not have the money for me to go, so her dad gave me the therapy fee as an early Christmas gift. I have seen too many people in the PFSP program whose spouses were not supportive, so I have always recognized how fortunate I am.

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