Unmasked: Showing Stuttering, Again

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With the end of most of the mask mandates, I am confronting an uncomfortable reality—showing my stuttering, again

I hadn’t anticipated the fear and anxiety of doing so after over two years of hiding

The gut-punch landed and left me scurrying to find my bearings.

It isn’t that I care what people think of how my stuttering looks or sounds like to them or how it makes them feel. 

But, I became too comfortable behind the mask. 

The pandemic allowed some of my old tricks to hang around, unacknowledged and unseen.  

So abruptly removing the literal mask exposed them without a chance to fade into the background where they belong. 

It made me vulnerable. 

With this exposure, my eye contact is darting rather than fixed, tongue flaps to make sound amid the anxiety, blocks are a bit longer under an overwhelmed thought-to-word processor, and tension exhausts my entire being.

Yet, I am not afraid because I am prepared, I know what to do, and I have been here before

I will acclimate, adjust, and rebuild my confidence to once again efficiently open stutter without a mask to hide behind. 

This new old reality is not relapse

It is but a coming out, another opportunity to prove to myself that it is okay to stutter. 

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