Authentic Participation, by Susan Beyler

Even as a young person, I had the desire to participate in a relationship with what-ever-it-was that I am part of, but is bigger than me.   I touched this experience in the church I was raised in, but I reached adulthood with few life skills to have it be useful. 

The best I could do to find it was by taking care of others.  This skill came easy to me – both sides of my family tree have deep roots in addiction and as children, we learned to take care of others.  

The strange thing is that I would feel full and empty at the same time.  The balance would shift as I went through my days and it was a rollercoaster ride of feeling needed, feeling alone. 

Just like anyone who has reached out for help, I finally did it when the pain of my life was worse than how afraid I was that something needed to change.

In 1994, one of the things that I did was join a processing group being led by two people I respected and trusted.  I’d never done anything like this before; but had a strong sense of nothing to lose.

The first night we ‘checked in’ – a process I had never observed or participated in. 

People took turns reporting how they were doing; how they were feeling.

It came around to me and the question was asked “how are you feeling?” 

First, I realized that I had never been asked that by someone who wasn’t invested in my answer. 

Second, I realized I had no idea how to answer.

I closed my eyes and went inward, looking for an answer.  Going inward was easy; it was how to ride the rollercoaster.  But the sensation was brand new – no sensation.  No answer.  No idea.  No words.  No me.

Very gently I was asked, “Mad, sad, glad or afraid?”

It was a lifeline and something I had to use over and over and over until I had some vocabulary for the experience of me.

Later, I found this journal entry from 1992:

Like my scarf drawer,
Pull a thread of my feelings
And it all comes
Gushing bubbling
Erupting tumbling
Shouting crying
Crunching spreading


Integrative Therapist, The Estuary



Susan Beyler

Susan graduated from the seven year program with The School of Self Healing Arts in 2001. She has been on staff at the school for 7 years and she has a private practice as a pastoral counselor with The Estuary. As a Montessori teacher for many years she has experience working with human inner growth and development. With her midwife training she is able to “birth” the spiritual growth so necessary to living a whole and meaningful life. She works with individuals accompanying them on their journey to a full relationship with themselves and their lives. Susan specializes in energy therapies with family of origin issues, addiction, depression, coupleship and trauma. She does hands on energy work with physical health issues and emotional balancing and strengthening. Drawing on her experience as a middle school teacher, she offers therapeutic workshops in subjects such as healthy boundaries, grief and loss, and relationship skills. She lived on The Farm (one of the oldest running intentional communities known for its midwifery, vegetarian cuisine, and alternative technology) for many years, and is a grandmother.