Truth Tellers, by Susan Austin-Crumpton

I have been watching a special “comedy” routine by Hannah Gadsby. She is a wonderfully strong person who is intelligent, funny, well educated, and successful. She taught me lots about feeling connected in a way we all long for, beyond gender and power.
In this political climate with so much separation and hate, in this “me too” movement where men and women are confused relating to each other, in this homophobic, race hating social strata, how do we bridge the gaps and connect to each other?

In this routine she made the point I long for, I long to feel connected to you. And, the only way I can feel connected to each of you is to truly know our stories about our life and to stop making humiliating jokes and comments about each other and myself.

My daughter and niece are uploading hundreds of family pictures onto an electronic screen, rotating the pictures.  It’s fun and I am aware of the thousands of stories with each of those pictures. The sad part is my first thought is always a “joke”, a criticism or judgment about myself.

“My stomach sure looks big in that picture”

“That’s me as a little girl trying not to smile so that my mouth won’t look too big”

“I made those dresses for my two daughters, doesn’t look like I got the neckline quite right!”

“That’s my handsome smiling father in his navy uniform. I remember him hitting me over and over with a belt, drunk. We would all smile the next day as if nothing had happened.”

“That’s me in my 4thgrade classroom sitting there sleepy and dazed because my parents were up all night fighting and throwing things. I am smiling.”

Jokes, criticism, judgment, more jokes…

Hannah, the comedy/truth teller says that in order for you and I to feel connected to each other we need to truly know each other’s stories.

Here are some more of mine. Solid truth. No joking.

“There is a picture of the great uncle that sexually abused me summer after summer. There he is with his wife acting all sweet and unknowing.”

“There is a picture of me pregnant with my second child sitting next to my beloved childhood sweetheart I had married. How did alcohol get in the way of so much love and caring? It jars me to see there was love there that became so dark.”

“There is a picture of me as a teenager in Florida on our one ‘family’ vacation. We are in the ocean looking so happy and laughing as one big happy family. The true story I remember is the angry fights going on between my mother and my father about alcohol. The car broke down way too often. My father on the highway trying to repair it…I am scared, and threw up a lot.”

Those stories and more are the parts of my story that I am ashamed of and keep secret from you. There are lots more stories of happiness and love and loyalty. I am always happy to share those with you. To pretend those are my only stories. I have made a lot of lemonade from many scary lemons.

I am loved and love my family and they love me. But there is more to me… much, much more…

I have depth….”dont mess with Susan” my husband teases. I fought for that depth and empowerment. My true stories taught me that lesson.

As I tell you my stories I fell vulnerable and exposed. I know many of you have sat with me and told me your “true” stories. What if Hannah is right? The only way we can care about those we are judging and criticizing is to hear their real stories and to tell ours.

We welcome you here at The Estuary to find a safe place for your stories. Choosing carefully where to tell them is good advice.

We are safe here.  Are you safe enough to hear mine?

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.