Poem: Changing the words

A woman holding up a poster and smiling

Sharon Benson kindly sent us her poem about avoiding words she stammers on and how it made her feel.

Introduction from Sharon

I'm Sharon and I have had a stammer since I was a child. I often write about my stammering experience and journey through poetry and articles. I was inspired to write this poem because it's a minefield out there and if you want to get ahead, let your voice be heard! I want people to know there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Everybody's stammer is unique and so I guess I'm unique.

Changing the words

By Sharon Benson

I couldn't say muffin, I couldn't say butter 
If I ordered a burger I'd stumble and stutter
So instead of me saying the words that I could 
I'd swap them for others, I hoped that I could

But you can't always leave out the words that you dread
There are times when a certain thing has to be said
My friend’s called Joan, my best friend is Mary
And everything seems to get rather contrary

Whenever I spotted a difficult sound
I’d hastily juggle my sentence around
I spent so much energy word rearranging
Whenever I spoke I was chopping and changing

My efforts to search for an easier word
Resulted in sentences sometimes absurd
At times my selections just didn’t make sense
Which made me more anxious, frustrated and tense

Each time I avoided a troublesome sound
I felt rather guilty and very soon found
That my fear of speaking increased even more
The number of problem words started to soar

In time I discovered that word substitution
Was simply avoidance and not a solution
Although I was fluent, or so it appeared
The words I avoided became much more feared

One day I decided enough was enough
I made myself promise, although it was tough
To say what I wanted, whatever the letter
At times I still struggled, but I felt so much better

Today I will say any letter or sound
Confronting my fears is the best way, I’ve found
Should I ever be tempted to waver sometime
I'll remember the message contained in this rhyme.

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