Charles Schulz’s comic strip Peanuts has been a pop-culture mainstay since 1950. One of the more well-known characters is Linus and his trusty blue blanket. Like Linus, I too have my own trusty blue blanket. It’s a patchwork blanket made up of words such as: “the”, “like”, and the phrases “you know” and “I mean”. I cling on to it the most when I’m in the middle of a serious block or a prolonged repetition (ex. L-l-l-l-l-l-l-l-lemon). I’ve always known I’ve clung to my blanket during these moments, but it wasn’t until recently that I realized just how often I cling to my blanket.
A couple of months ago, I was talking to my sister on the phone and asked her what she wanted from Popeyes. I stuttered on most of the words, which is a common occurrence when I talk on the phone. Since I was stuttering a good bit, I held my blanket a little tighter and asked, “Do you want the red beans and the rice?” as if they are two separate entities and not one unit. Once the call ended, I loosened my grip on my blanket and realized just how often I tightly hold my blanket. My stutter is worse when I need to make a phone call at work. It is in those conversations that I hold on to my blanket for dear life and use nearly every word that makes up my blanket. It may not be professional or cohesive conversation, but it gets the job done.
A few weeks ago, I noticed that whenever I talk to someone face to face I hold on to my blanket a decent amount. I use the words and phrases that make up my blanket more often than I care to admit. As if saying the words that make up my blanket enough times will cause fluency to appear like saying “Beetlejuice” three times causes Beetlejuice to appear. Alas, fluency rarely appears after I say the words on my blanket enough times, but I still use them and cling to it. Why? I have no idea. Maybe just a subconscious habit I somehow picked up. Maybe it’s because I don’t want my audience to see me in a moment of perceived weakness and the words on those patches are my get out of jail free cards. Maybe there is no reason to it and I’m overthinking it (as usual) in an attempt to find some sense of meaning and purpose to it.
During my second stint in speech therapy, I would always list my goals at the beginning of the semester. Never once did I think of nor mention getting rid of my blanket. Perhaps it’s because I wasn’t aware of my security blanket. Or maybe I was, but wasn’t ready to acknowledge it nor let go of it. Regardless of the reason, or lack of, I never placed getting rid of my security blanket on goal list. I accomplished all of my listed goals during that two-year stint, but I still walked across the stage with my blanket in hand.
Over the past three years, I’ve been involved with the National Stuttering Association (NSA) and have made an infinite amount of progress in terms of self-acceptance, self-advocacy, and self-confidence with my stutter; however, I still hold on to my blanket. And maybe that is OK. Maybe acceptance is being absolutely fine with being yourself, but still wanting that comfort item to help you through a rough time. Or maybe I’m not fully accepting of my stutter. Maybe I keep a firm grip on my security blanket because there are times when I don’t want people to see this side of me, although I talk about this side of me a lot. Maybe I’ll let go of my security blanket and not use the words on those patches when I’m fulling accepting.