|About the author: I’m Kaisu Lempinen, a 31-year-old Finnish woman from Helsinki, capital of Finland. The last year of my studies (bachelor degree of social services) has just started.|
I have stuttered as long as I can remember and it did cause me a lot of pain and shame when I was younger. As a teenager I didn’t know anyone else who stuttered and in the 90s there was no Google or Facebook to find other people who stutter. My biggest obstacle to find other people who stutter was the shame and the feeling I must be the only person in the world who stutters.
In 2005 I attended the ELSA Youth Meeting (European League of Stuttering Associations) in Netherlands at the age of 22, representing the Finnish stuttering association. For the first time in my life I met other young people who stutter. That week changed my life and it felt like a big shadow of shame disappeared and I started to see that I’m much more than just “a stutterer”. I found out that there is a Kaisu hiding somewhere behind the word “stutterer” and I started to become curious to find out who that person is behind all the shame and definitions given by others.
In the same time many things I thought I couldn’t do because of thinking “I’m not able to be 100% fluent”, suddenly changed to be the goals I wanted to achieve.
Now I’m doing the last year of my degree in social work.. Which means working with people. Working with people means communication. Me and communication means stuttering. My stuttering has never been a big issue when I have been in my practical training periods or at work. Some people haven’t even noticed that I stutter because I’m a very open and talkative person nowadays and don’t stutter as much as I did when I was younger.
During all these years I have been searching the girl named Kaisu inside me, I have stuttered less and less. I stutter more often when speaking English or Russian which are not my mother languages. Before the ELSA Youth Meeting in 2005 I thought I wouldn’t be able to study foreign languages because “I can’t even speak fluently in my own language”. After that week I realized that I can. It opened my world.
Traveling has been always my passion. I have mostly traveled alone and always been ready to leave home to visit a foreign country and get to know the local people. Thanks to my school who gave me a break to spend three months abroad. I chose Nepal and did my practical training period in Kathmandu from February 2014 – May 2014. To get a more intensive experience I stayed with a local family.
The experience was challenging in many ways. My non-fluency didn’t become a wall between me and the people I met, not bigger than in my home country. In fact the people I met were quite accepting. It was the most memorable experience I have had in my life and changed me in many levels. It gave me more self-confidence and gave me more answers to the question “who is the girl named Kaisu”.
Writing has always been my other passion. When I was a teenager and a silent, shy girl, writing was my only way to express myself. I have written a lot of poems mainly in my mother language, in Finnish. In Nepal I started suddenly to write more in English maybe because I used the language daily.
I want to share some of them with you so that you can see the process I have gone through with myself. My journey hasn’t been easy and I have faced a lot of difficulties in my life. My deepest wish is that people never identify themselves as “a stutterer” because we are much more than that. I took that role and it took years to change my mind-set and start to think myself as “person who stutters” instead “Kaisu, the stutterer”. The gap between these two is huge.
But who really is the girl named Kaisu? I don´t know. I am still figuring out myself as well. My journey is going to be continued.
Here are the poems with short descriptions
Poem number one
This one I wrote during the first week in Nepal. In a situation I realized that I can’t understand the language, I’m depending on what people translate (also how they translate or even IF they are translating anything.) That was my start to explore the word “communication” more…and the fact that, even when you don’t have a common language, you can still communicate a lot, even more clearly than using words.
This was my start to the journey towards myself as well.
Sometimes you need to be left to alone
with the people whose language you don’t understand
that you can find who you really are
sometimes the most important things are not
in the words…
Because with the words it’s too easy to lie
try to do the same with your eyes…
I don’t know why I’m standing here
forcing myself to go up
Why these stairs? Why this Place? Why this people?
And deep inside I know
and I smile…
Kaisu 24.2.2014 in Nepal
Poem number two
This one I wrote after having been back in Finland for two months, after the trip I made. I suddenly sat down and wrote this one straight from my heart when I realized that I got lost so many times, not only during this trip in Nepal. I realized that I always found something awesome after that. When I thought about all the shame people have given me because of my speech… because they couldn’t handle my stuttering. So was it my shame or someone else’s?
Sometimes you need to get lost
to find out who the hell you really are
I did it deeply, truly and madly …
and not only once 🙂
To catch all the shadows cast on me by others
to realize I don’t have to stand in the shadows anymore
I don’t have to carry the shame which is not
I don’t have to raise the fear
as my own child if it’s not even mine
I have been stubborn – and I still am 🙂
that’s why I needed to do it in the hard way
Stupid or not here I am now
feeling proud of every fucking step I have taken
in my journey from the cradle to this moment
every pain I felt
every fear I faced
every mistake I have made
I have needed to experience all of them
but it would have been easier
but you know… I’m like this
a girl who doesn’t believe
until I have the 100% feeling
been there done that
-Kaisu 15.8.2014 in Helsinki, Finland
Poem number three
This one I wrote in Helsinki, Finland. Sometimes people have said to me that I’m hurting myself for nothing, being too open to show my wounds to others, always searching for places I can challenge myself. When will I stop doing that? When I have found all the answers to my question “who is the girl named Kaisu”. I’m still enjoying makingthe journey itself.
Personally I think that we all carry invisible wounds inside us. I’m nothing more than a human being but surely nothing less. Like every one of us.
Some people may think
I’m hurting myself for nothing
wasting my time
making my life too difficult
with this skinless soul
with this heart which
is open for life like an ocean
with this way of living
always finding a place where
I can challenge myself
Why don’t you take an easier path
they always ask
I have tried that already
Staying behind the walls
built by others
having easy solutions
not even my own
not my way
almost killed me
slowly, safely but surely
Kaisu 27.8.2014 in Helsinki, Finland
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