The Hardest Thing to Say: What’s His Name?

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What’s his name?

It has stopped me dead in my tracks. W hen I hear the question, I lose all ability to say anything. I can’t even open stutter. My voice goes silent and the first sound of his name gets trapped for what seems like ages in the depths of all the times I’ve struggled to say my own name. 

For many who stutter, names—particularly our own—are often the hardest things to say. However, I never knew that all the years of pent up struggle to say mine could smoothly transition to the name we chose for our son. 

When my wife and I did choose it, there was a brief conversation about names I could say without stuttering. “I can say names that begin with ‘A,’ why don’t we start from there?” However, that thought evaporated faster than an iceberg after its introduction to cognitive-behavior therapy. 

There was only ever one name anyways.

The opportunities have been there since he was born, and I knew when we chose his name that it would be this hard. When the nurses held him up in the delivery room was the first time someone asked his name. I stuttered long and hard through my tears of joy. 

The only time I say it is when I am alone with him. He hears my voice say it, stutter and all. In every other situation, I must live through the awkwardness of me not saying it, which has turned back into the elephant in the room. I know everyone around me notices. 

What am I waiting for? 

Nobody will laugh or make rude comments, at least more often than not. Yet, those few times when I have been stuck in endless blocks in public trying to answer the innocent question has led to self-doubt that I thought I had left behind when I accepted my stutter. 

How will I confront and end this gnawing fear?

To quote my favorite Stoic philosopher and writer, the obstacle becomes the wayBy saying his name when I am:

  • Alone with him
  • Together with my wife
  • Talking to my family
  • At work
  • In public when asked or need to provide it
  • In public through spontaneous introductions

Showing up to each of these situations, saying it, and feeling what happens. This is where change will occur, and the struggle I’m facing will dissipate, much like what I experience with saying my own name now.

There is no other antidote to fear than standing face to face with it. I will go forward into it—gradually at my own pace and as the questions arise. Besides, he needs to hear it and be proud of what it represents to his parents. 

Bringer of the light is what his name means, or simply, the light

For many years, all I knew was darkness because of stuttering. I am reminded of both realities when others ask this inevitable question. But, the answer—if I’m being honest—is why I could stay the course on my journey to the light and why I will never lose sight of how far I have come, and still desire to go. 

He lights up my life, every second of every day. And I will fight with all I have to confront this avoidance until his name becomes the one I say most often. It will happen. 

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