Getting My Life Back at STAR

Graduate Profiles

STAR Foundation Newsletter

“Getting My Life Back at STAR”
by Brenda M.

After several years of working in the high-tech virtual world, including a recent stint as a manager at Microsoft, I arrived at STAR totally disconnected and despairing. I’d stuffed my emotions for years, analyzing myself into the ether; compro­mising my light as well as my darkness in order to fit a corporate mold, and found myself completely drained and function­ing only in survival mode. Everything and everyone that I held dear seemed gone, and I had little hope of ever reconnecting. I didn’t trust people, I didn’t trust therapy, I didn’t trust Spirit, most of all I didn’t trust myself.

Barbara spoke with an integrity so clear that I could somehow hear and trust her. The STAR staff was incredible, modeling healthy support and self-care. My wonder­ful readers offered nurturance, compas­sion, and lively good humor. The abun­dance of nature —salamanders, early buds of spring, even the daily rains and overflowing streambeds, called me back to the natural world. There was such a richness of life, support, and grace available at STAR that it felt safe enough to open up. Soon I found myself grieving all that had been stuffed away for so long. I cried a lot—the jagged edges of my wounds tumbling smooth in the tears, like ocean stones.

I began to recognize patterns, and sense the profound inter-connection we share to earth, Spirit, and each other. Each moment seemed ripe with clarity; every interaction, a spiritual intimacy offering another piece of the puzzle. Our group began to witness the similarity of our shadows, and the purity of our emotions—honoring the courage it takes to fight despair; and the tremendous power of gentleness. Layer after layer of illusion was stripped away, until finally, breaking through the veils of shame we each held over our wounds, we began to catch glimmers of the raw beauty of our imperfections, and see ourselves and each other as pure, brilliant, essence.

More than just getting in touch with my personal pain, I came face to face with a karmic despair that has haunted my family’s heritage for four generations, manifesting itself in various flavors of rage, despair, and suicide. There was an intensity to the experience that shook me to the bone, as I raged at the blackness, declaring life and proclaiming my intention to never let it win again.

What have I learned from my experience at STAR? I’ve learned to stop compromis­ing my spirit in order to ‘fit’, and am beginning to recognize the sound of my own voice. I’ve learned that our wounds are also our gifts, and that true healing comes from our interconnectedness with each other, earth, and Spirit. It’s time to do everything we can and support real connection and community, in a society rapidly succumbing to the illusions of the virtual world. I’ve left Microsoft, and will soon rattle away from Seattle in my VW bus in search of the next step, choosing to walk away from a prestigious position, a decent salary, good benefits, and $250,000 worth of stock options (a small price to pay for getting my life back). I thank STAR for giving me the clarity and courage to come back to life.