Moral Superiority vs Receiving, by Susan Austin-Crumpton

One would think after years and years of study and therapy that I would have a handle on my shame.

I was in a grocery store the other day and had gone through checkout and began the payment process. “Oh, we don’t accept that credit card!,” the clerk said. I dug in my purse and came up with $100. “This is all I have”, I said. So we began removing items from my basket to get the total below one hundred dollars. 

Then I heard an elderly lady behind me tell the clerk, “I’ll pay for her extra groceries”. I felt small and humiliated!  “OH NO! I exclaimed. I’m fine!”  “No, no,” she said. “Just pay it forward.”

I was trembling and felt a shame and humiliation so old that I knew it was not mine. My father spent many years in an orphanage as a child and did not finish high school. He was ashamed that he worked as a laborer and would hide his grease-covered hands (daily grease that would not come out) in his pockets when he went around others. From him, I learned that accepting help from others meant you were less. There was a pride to this feeling that was ancient and handed down generation to generation.

I am a lot like my Dad. He would do anything for anyone else. His generosity with his time and, what money he had, seemed endless. However, I suspect he was constantly proving to himself some kind of self worth, he was trying not to feel less than. My Dad never seemed like he was trying to feel more than anyone else. I suspect he was doing what he could with all that shame handed down to him by circumstance.

I didn’t know I felt that shame. Everyone I have told this story to has replied, “What a lovely person that lady was!” Or “How nice of her.” 

I am feeling fond of this stranger today and very grateful for her kindness in this tense and anxious world. I have no idea of her politics or religious beliefs. I don’t know if she could afford to do that kindness or not. I have no idea of her status in life or anything about her.

Yet, she was my teacher that day and still is. I learned about another part of myself and a deeper self-respect. I am grateful for her lesson to me in receiving kindnesses from others. I gotta practice that.
So, this is one of my versions of paying it forward by sharing this story with you. Letting you see my hidden shame and my joy in learning to receive.

Tag you are it!  Now you pay it forward too!

Susan Austin-Crumpton
   Executive Director & Founder
   The Estuary, Inc.


Susan Austin-Crumpton

Susan Austin-Crumpton, Executive Director and Founder of The Estuary and The School of Healing Arts. Susan’s intention to be fully present and alive with passion and joy requires an authenticity that is her hallmark. Dedication to study and commitment to her clients and students provides The Estuary and the community involved with purpose and meaning not often found in traditional leadership. Susan Austin-Crumpton speaks of The Estuary as being like a wheel, with the staff being each of the spokes, the programs and services as the rim and she is the hub of energy and identity at the center. As the founder of The Estuary and The School of Healing Arts, she has developed the healing techniques and skills taught by the school and integrated into the individual practices of the staff. Susan’s leadership, innovative practice methods and classes have created the foundation of The Estuary and The School. Her varied career history as business owner, a teacher, and a psychotherapist, make her uniquely qualified to bring grounding to healing practices that originate outside the medical and psychological mainstream. Her techniques are truly complimentary to allopathic medicine and traditional psychotherapy, not in conflict with them, as is evidenced by the community support and acceptance over the past twenty years. As the primary teacher at The School of Healing Arts she combines the techniques of energy healing and psychology with Kabbalistic principles into her psychotherapy techniques that bring lasting change into the lives of those who work with her. She works with individuals and groups specializing in depression, anxiety, couples, health issues, addiction, and spiritual connection to life’s meaning and purpose. Susan has completed four years of study in healing science with The Barbara Brennan School of Healing Science and three years of study in Integrative Kabbalistic Healing with Jason Shulman's A Society of Souls. She also holds a degree in counseling psychology from the University of Louisville. She is a pastoral counselor ordained by The Estuary. Susan specializes in integrating transpersonal psychology with energy therapies effectively embodying the mind, body and spirit connection. She has been in private practice for 18 years serving individual processes, coupleship work, group experiences, and health related issues. She is the primary teacher at The School of Self Healing Arts and teaches transpersonal psychology, energy anatomy and therapies, world religion, and experiential therapy techniques. Susan is married and has two daughters and two grandchildren. She loves to study, to learn and grow personally and professionally, and is committed to the well being of her family, students and clients.