The Great Garden Barrier. One side our garden, the other side a farm. One side of the barrier finds weeds and wild plants, the other side finds weeds and wild plants. Which is which? Hard to tell sometimes. It’s like being on the Great Wall in Game of Thrones – thinking which side are we supposed to be protecting.

“Dad are you going to weed that.”

No I most certainly am not. The farmer, his cows and sheep can sort that out. I’m just fighting a losing battle trying to keep the mayhem from breaking through the barrier.

It’s great for the wildlife.”

It is. I dread to think what lives in there. There’s enough vegetation to hide the Gruffalo.

Just about enough to even hide you Dad.”

Not sure about that. Probably need something like an Amazonian Jungle to provide enough cover for me.

That would scare the local wildlife.”

It would. Frightens the pants off me each time I look in the mirror. What’s the phrase – a face that has sunk a thousand battleships…..

Yes Dad I can see you in a Greek Poseidon Sea Battle. You could be the Kraken. Feared around the world. A bit like your dress sense these days.”

Yes there’s not enough pink and lime green in Greek Methodological Battles I find.

*************

Actually probably too much pink and lime green in my world currently. It must be a phase I’m going through. Started when I was 12. Might grow out of it one day. Actually probably explains the lack of hugs I get. Or maybe it’s the face perfect for the radio. Or could just be the fact that I basically grumpy.

Maybe the bright clothes colours are like my war paint. Getting me ready for the daily battles. Maybe we all have our own version of war paint. Or maybe it’s just me.

Actually there was a reason for donning the war paint back all those years ago. I suffered with a stammer. Nerves and panic attacks would induce terrible speech problems. It was making my life a misery. In my mind I needed to go to war with it. It became a daily battle. Don’t you need a bit of war paint for a good battle. See Braveheart….. Bright colours, I worked out would shift the attention from what I sounded like (maybe also what I looked like) to – what on earth is he wearing. Sounds daft but it did help me. The attention was shifted to something I could control. That allowed me to deal with the stuff I struggled to deal with in my own way and in my own time. It allowed me space to find ways to cope with the stammering. Not taking myself so seriously helped. Being careful with the words I used, avoiding those which might cause me to stumble. Always trying to work out exactly what first line I would say in any conversation, making sure I kept it simple – if I got that line right then things would be easier. If I do start stuttering then I make a conscious effort to slow my speech down. Smiling helps. Accepting that sometimes stammering would happen and it was just part of who I was. I didn’t mean I was any less than any other person. Unfortunately all those decades ago stammering was often seen as an indication of low attainment by society. A reason to be bullied by other kids. Sorry those views are just so wrong on all levels. Me and my bright clothes helped me find a way to plough on. And yes the stammer didn’t stop me going to University, the only one from the class. Didn’t stop me doing some living.

So just like the bright clothes, stammering is still with me. A daily battle. But one I can largely stay on top of. I was watching Joe Biden talk to a young kid about stammering. Joe definitely gets what it means. He said don’t let it DEFINE YOU. Couldn’t have said it better.

It certainly doesn’t define me.

49 thoughts on “Barrier

  1. What might seem like a barrier is not always a barrier. The Great Barrier Reef is a national treasure. Who we are is the treasure or gift to society. You have put yourself out there as a gift.

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  2. I agree – it doesn’t define you or anyone. I totally understand the bright colors – look at THIS part of me instead of the part I don’t want you to see. I shaved half my head, wore gauged earrings (I still do, but ones I got from Etsy that seemed to fit my age more). Hair colors, ripped up boy clothes. But that is what I wanted people to see instead of my fear. Now I seem to just stay away from people because of my social anxiety. That doesn’t define me, or you. We are fun people. You and your son can always bring a smile to my face. That is who you are to me 🙂

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  3. I get tongue tied now, I just make fun of myself.
    I was always “teacher’s pet” at school… not a suck up, but smart and I wanted approval from adults. I didn’t really have friends my age. One or two, but I was super insecure, felt worthless… blah blah blah…
    Lime green and pink is perfectly acceptable. Maybe add some carrot orange too😉
    Who we are as people, inside, THAT’S what matters! Not the camouflage we wear, or the idiosyncrasies of our bodies.
    You have amazing courage, Gary! Sharing all your soft parts with all of us, great courage and enormous heart!💌💌

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  4. I feel bad now after reading other comments (yup, that terrible comparison game), but I didn’t say nearly enough. Not a good day today, but you managed to stop my crying. So I will add that comment in there. You really do have superpowers and you are super loved and appreciated… clearly by more than just myself. So keep being awesome.

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  5. My Dad stutters courtesy his overbearing, never good enough father and teenage years spent at a harsh military boarding school. As such he’s always been a man of few words, but make no mistake, action, integrity and perseverance speak louder than words. Now 86, he spent his life helping others. Avid mountaineer, local Search & Rescue icon, he was awarded the Order of Canada medal for bravery. Thank you for sharing an often dismissed topic. Biggest of hugs.

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  6. Well first of all… those bright colors remind me of the 80’s… I believe that’s all coming back again 😄😄 like every 20 years or so it comes around again lol ❤️ I love the 80’s still. Fun decade. Was when I was growing up ❤️

    I should bring back Madonna’s black lace corsets and black lace gloves lol- that would still work at the funeral home lol… maybe with pants though lol ✌️ and I wouldn’t be rolling on the floor or anything lol 😄😄

    I was pretty lucky… in elementary I was shy and little … very polite and sweet… kids actually kinda would take me under their wings and protect me?

    Maybe in middle school, got teased once or twice for the amount of freckles. I was always the only one with all those freckles!! That made me little uncomfortable cause I wanted to be like everyone else

    They would make comments about me being skinny but only stuff like don’t turn to the side we won’t see you 🤨😄 or careful it’s gonna be windy don’t get blown away 🤨😄 those never bothered me.

    Middle school is brutal!!

    By high school I was pretty, and my family was rich, and I was always kind and helpful to everyone… so no one ever messed with me and would also listen when I said to leave someone alone.

    I was not shy in high school, I’m actually not shy now… not in the slightest… only when it comes to my OWN personal life – that’s the only time I am kinda shy. Not out of insecurities or lack of confidence, I am pretty confident for the most part … it’s mainly caution for my own self.

    I feel safe when is work related or has nothing to do with my own personal life. ✌️

    Does being bullied in marriage count? I had that!! Totally! The one I was supposed to trust – so that also explains the shyness with my own personal life. ✌️

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  7. My dad has had a stammer all his life. Although it’s much less noticeable now than it used to be. I also had a bit of a stammer as a kid. But that’s mostly gone. I guess I grew out of it. Sometimes I still stumble but only if I get really nervous or highly excited about something. Then I start speaking way too fast and then it happens. 🙂

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  8. The child you mention that Biden talked to, what a really brave lad and what a great job he did speaking at the Dem. Convention. So much better than Trumps minions and their clap trap. So you have been solving hard problems since you were a lad, Gary. No wonder you are so good at it!

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  9. What was that line in Batman Begins?
    “It’s not who we are underneath,
    but what we do that defines us.”
    Not even sure what that means but I do know this: you do so much that defines you as a kind, funny, sincere, thoughtful and lovely man and an amazing Dad to boot. Anxiety does not define me but it has changed me, for the better I hope. Dysfluency (that’s what us speech therapists call it in the trade) can have far reaching impacts on people’s lives and is incredibly difficult to manage. You have done a damn fine job (though word avoiding is not in my recommendations 😉) and you should be proud of yourself. No barrier to high or wide for you my friend. X

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