AK: I’m experiencing great anxiety and I have a sense of what it’s related to. I think it’s related to my readiness to take a plunge, to turn from the conditioning of a lifetime toward more openness. My whole life has been atheistic or agnostic. I have not had a sense for most of my life that I am more than my body. I would like some help in crossing the bridge to experiencing that I’m the silence. And I think the way that conflict manifests the most is in my speech. As you said, in the symptom of my stuttering is the freedom all locked up. I can also tell it’s a terrifying thing to give up: the worrying about my stutter.
Stephen: I really do understand why the issue of the stuttering is uncomfortable to you. At the same time, there is something about it that is enormously expressive of you and what you are dealing with. I wouldn’t want to put a heavy load on your stuttering. It’s expressive of the lack of capacity to fit into normal containers. Those containers, for you, to some extent, are words. What I hear sometimes is something so big, something so creative, beyond your capacity to get it there into that container, attempting to get into that container, and there’s this boggling with it for awhile. To me there’s something about it that speaks of a creative intensity unable to meet the normal channel of communication.
To see it as: “This is a part of my nervousness or this is some weakness or disability” is to demean yourself. I’m not saying that you want to always have it but I would also say that if you always have it, it only means that there is an increasing largeness that is having trouble fitting into the normal chain of communication and not that there’s some short-coming here. What eventually, it seems to me, allows that stuttering to moderate itself is an integrating connection between the heart forces which have been suppressed and the intellectual, abstract forces which have been fully addressed.
AK: That’s so beautiful. It’s never been said to me that way.
Stephen: The question is expression and not the stutter. The stutter is a signal of your creative capacity and not of your neurotic, psychological blah, blah blah. It just isn’t. What we do is, we go through our whole lives addressing the wrong thing. Here’s a metaphor: A boy has been bitten by a spider and the father runs for the medicine. The boy is crying in pain. The father comes running back and asks where the spider bit him. The boy points to the corner of the room where he was standing when bitten. And the father runs over there and puts the medicine there. It’s the wrong question.
Here’s the choosing again. I’m at this cross-roads now and I’m aware of this stuttering. I want to do something about it for the wrong reasons so I stop that. When I begin to stutter, when I’m speaking in a group like this and it starts, the question that comes to you in a very soft way is, “God, there’s something so big that I want to say. There’s a possibility here and I don’t quite have the resource to get it out here so I bobble with it for awhile.” It’s great. It’s the human struggle. This is the way your metaphor comes. But I also think your metaphor comes this way partly because some of your giftedness is as a communicator and there’s a frustration there. There’s a frustration because so often your desire to communicate comes in that way and then seems to be arrested from the full expression. But this primary realization that speaks of your intensity of feeling and is a result of a need of a deepening integration between the feeling tones and the capacity to verbalize, then you have a beautiful life understanding of who you are on this earth.
AK: That puts it right back where it feels very good.
Stephen: It brings it home, right? Instead of making it a foreign, ugly thing. We need to think about this together. I carry around these things about myself that I don’t like and I treat them like foreign bodies with a lack of respect. But it’s me I’m talking about. It’s not some foreign thing. I have continually demeaned myself by using explanations that are foreign to the home country. I’m using a foreign language to describe myself and I can’t understand what I’m talking about. The problem is never solved. Then I discover when I bring it into the home country, that it’s not really a problem like I thought it was. It’s me. It’s mine. It’s part of the way in which the world is attempting to make the container larger for something great. It’s you.
AK: I know it has to do with heart energy not being related to.
Stephen: Now, when you get to this fear, you deal with it in exactly the same way you treat the tension, with the same level of respect. This fear is not foreign to you. There’s an anxiety. We’re into territory that has the potential of a threat and it’s alright. Let it be a threat.That’s a positive thing. Let yourself feel the fear. Isn’t so much of the suffering of the stuttering not so much from the stuttering itself but from the little ghost field of shame that rolls around it as it’s there? On looking at you, in feeling you in this deeper place, I know that you are a man of potential and manifest passion in a positive way. A big capacity and that is the gift that you are. It is in that place that you also hold back, as we all do.
When someone says “Love your weakness,” you can’t until you discover it’s not a weakness. Then you can really respect it. I have greatly distorted vision in one of my eyes, I am mostly blind there. Sometimes my eye drifts off and people can’t tell who I’m looking at. That blindness in my right eye I’ve discovered, is responsible for a capacity to use an energy for something much subtler. It’s a beautiful blessing I have. I’m so honored to have it. I feel it sometimes like an energy and I’m so glad about it. I don’t see it as a physical disability. I see it as part of the way in which I’ve changed my relationship to light and to literalness.
Copyright 1993: Estate of Stephen Robbins Schwartz