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Emails to my Therapist

The Stuttering King and I

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Anyone who stutters or loves a stutterer might initially hesitate at going to see The King's Speech.    I was certain that if I went I'd find the movie too excruciating and walk out.
As you likely know, The King's Speech is about the World War II king of England who had a speech defect and didn't want to be king, but had little choice once his brother had abdicated to marry a divorcee.  Bertie, as the initially unwilling king was called, had a stammer.  The story is about his becoming king anyway.  It is a triumph of courage.
I wasn't going to go because one of my brothers stutters (he also became a public official, a veteran of 9 political campaigns in North Carolina).  I didn't want  to sit and watch the suffering Duke of York struggle to get out a sentence.  I feared that I'd imagine my brother in his place. 
In a not-too-bold move, I held out against going until my mother saw it and loved it. 
I figured if she could do it, I could.   So I did.   The movie was without sentimentality: we were not spared the king's misery in his blocked moments.  And yet it was as joyful and inspiring a movie as I could imagine.  It made me want to make the best use of my own voice, in every sense.
There's one unforgettable moment and I'll tell you the lines, though dialogue alone does not do them justice.   The soon-to-be king shouts in anger, "…I have a voice."   And his speech therapist finally breaks the silence with a level, "Yes.  You do."
It was good to be reminded of this ordinary and tremendous gift, to remind myself not to waste it.

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Categories: courage, speaking out

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