You have been part of me for as long as I can remember, although my mum said you didn't come along until I started school and it was my fear of school that invited you in.
I hate you. I've always hated you. You make me feel inadequate, different and sometimes make me appear stupid. You see, you do this thing, you take away my words and replace them with yours, with words that are so difficult to say that they make me sweat and shake, they make me want to disappear.
You made my days in the classroom miserable. I feigned sickness when asked to read just to keep you away, although one day a teacher forced me to. You spoke instead and she ridiculed me. She should have known better.
You destroyed my childhood dreams of being an actress or a teacher because I knew that you would always be there, waiting, ready to mock. I just wasn't strong enough to fight you, I was too young then.
I tried to suppress you. I recited poetry at school concerts and Church soirees. I sang in a choir. You were powerless while I was reciting or singing.
I joined a drama club and had three lovely years when as a teenager I appeared in various plays and no one guessed you existed.
But you were still around. My college days were haunted by you. I always made an excuse when it was my turn to talk to the class, sometimes I even took the day off.
Despite you always being there I passed my college course and qualified to work with very young children and loved my job, you were never around when I read them stories or played games with them. You were never there when I was with friends who knew me well, but when I met people for the first time it was you who introduced yourself and not me.
In large groups, I was very quite and had to pretend I didn't know the answers to some questions because I knew it would be you and not me who would answer.
Travelling on buses was a problem as you wanted to tell the driver where I was going you didn't let me speak and he didn't understand you.
As the years went by I challenged you more and more. I gave a speech at a medical conference (as a patient) I went back to college, I took a job where I had to answer the telephone and speak to strangers all day.
I knew you were still around but I fought you so hard.
I went to visit a hypnotist, hoping she would banish you from my life forever. That didn't happen although she did give me the tools to keep you at bay.
Now I am much older and much wiser, my heart breaks for the little scared girl that I once was.
I now know that you that you are a part of many people's lives, some are never without you. Yes, I think you have ruined lives and prevented some people from reaching their full potential.
No one knows why you become part of their lives but you are certainly not welcome.
I have not conquered you yet but I can control you and most people apart from my very close friends do not know you exist. I think my family have forgotten about you.
What makes me win over you is that now I am not afraid to tell anyone about you. I used to keep you secret and wanted no one to find out about you and that made you stronger.
Now, if you do manage to get through to take my words away I tell people I have a bit of a stammer and to bear with me and do you know what? They are always very nice.
P.S This has been a difficult and personal story to tell but it's been floating around in my head for years.
My stammer does not bother me much now so please don't feel sorry for me, just always have patience when someone with a stammer speaks to you, it annoys the hell out of them too!