A “STAR” Autobiography

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By Katharine Weber

I went to STAR for the first time because my daughter wouldn't speak to me after her STAR until I agreed to sign up. It's not ideal, being sentenced to STAR, but people do sometimes agree to go to their own STAR sessions in order to keep up or otherwise honor the strong desires of a partner, a parent or a child who has returned from STAR. Sometimes people agree to go to STAR reluctantly, to satisfy a family member. Or they go to STAR angrily, to stake a claim of their own. Everybody gets to have his or her own STAR experience, and the context that may have brought someone to STAR can turn out to be far less important than a lot of other issues that are under the surface, waiting for the safety of STAR to come into full awareness.

 I was apprehensive when I arrived at STAR that first time, concerned that the staff had heard unfair or untrue things about me. I was also concerned, I realized, that they had probably heard completely true things about me, too. I soon discovered that I had entered a safe place, a place where nothing anybody "knew" about me changed how I was seen and heard.

 In those days at STAR, I felt truly seen and heard in rare and tender ways, and it allowed me to take risks and explore issues and events from my earliest childhood, knowing my fears and anguish would be held safely. Nobody would make me feel that I was asking for too much. Nobody would tell me that my feelings didn't matter. Nobody would scold me or judge me or tell me to get over things that happened a long time ago that don't matter any more. The past remains present with us in so many ways that are not acknowledged in our families and in our daily lives.

 I returned to STAR for a second time nearly three years later, feeling I had more to do, and though this time I arrived believing that I knew what the ten days would be like, it turned out that I didn't have a clue what those ten days would be like. It was a completely different experience. STAR hadn't changed very much (though STAR is always evolving), but I had changed. I was receptive to certain processes that had meant less to me the first time, and some of them were now profoundly important. Once again it was an opportunity to go deep and really feel my feelings in a safe place where everything is heart-based, where love and respect from the staff for the participants and for each other are the governing energies that bind the group in a powerful way. It was a profound, life-enhancing experience. Before I ever went to STAR I had gone through a long, traditional psychoanalysis, and I had grown a lot and learned a lot in those years on the couch. In fact, I had bucket loads of insight and information about myself. But it was STAR that made what I knew in my head flow into deep feelings in my heart, and only then could I feel truly congruent with myself.

 I have been on the STAR staff for several years, and I feel privileged and blessed each time I am part of the loving, seeing, understanding, feeling group of dedicated STAR facilitators who create and hold the safe environment for the important work of STAR. Each STAR is unique, but at each session I love the feeling of being fully in the present moment, working with participants to do what I can, which is often simply to be present, to witness and guide participants as they have moving, thrilling, painful, joyful, and profound experiences, often all in the same day, and every day, at STAR.