“Oh, Tomatoes!”

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One of my worst nightmares came to fruition this week. I couldn’t speak. It was if my brain turned to mush like a ripe tomato where the skin looks okay but add a little pressure and the once firm, chambered sweetness simply collapses into unrecognizable pulp. 

This may not sound too appalling. I’m sure many people experience times when their brain and tongue become inexplicably inexplicable. Surely, you ponder, this is not a condition to exaggerate into a nightmare?! 

Surely, yes!  Why? I communicate for a living. 

The scary part was the timing for this oral degradation. It occurred at a conference for people who communicate for a living. It happened amongst a grouping of professional communicators. It happened at workshop for people who purvey information—to many an audience—with clarity. Like them, I am expected to communicate effectively. And I can. I do.

The nightmare was that I couldn’t. Not only attending the workshop in an effort to improve my communications skills, I was there to speak about how to communicate effectively. 

An ugly shade of night, my fear bloomed in my darkest hour. Simply imagine that you could speak, but for whatever reason, you could not be heard. Yikes. 

Speaking is not the same as talking. This week I could talk. My tongue worked. I even exchanged pleasantries with others as necessary. However, for the life of me, I could not use the English language with any fluency. My mind churned. My eyes fogged. My ears buzzed. And my tongue lolled. I was tongue-tied, speechless, incoherent, and definitely inarticulate. In essence, I could not speak. 

Sure, I could blame the red-eye flight across the country and the extra Motrin PM taken for the resulting weariness and backache. That would be easy.  

No, this affect germinated years ago, generations back—a cultural heirloom, if you will. Now, while I cannot expose the roots of my tale, I can only reveal that I have struggled with this condition for years. A disabling condition since childhood, I have developed many coping skills to increase my survival among the more fit. This week, however, any testimony to these skills simply lacked evidence. 

For those in attendance, I can only offer these words—posted—for all to read. While I do listen, just remember that I scream “Oh, tomatoes!” daily.

-Steph 

Sent from my iPad

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