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Journey to Wholeness

The Crystal Child


By Jude LaClaire, Ph.D.


The story, The Crystal Child by Barbara Wersba, tells about a young girl who lived with her parents, experiencing few difficulties and much happiness. One day, when a fire broke out, burning everything, the little girl escaped and her parents did not. In her grief and shock, she turned into a crystal statue. Eighty years go by and a young boy, himself like a stone person keeps his pain and other feelings hidden. As time passes, the young boy, intrigued by the statue, asks the gardener the story. As he visited the statue he began to love the child. He began sharing the hidden feelings he hadn’t shared with anyone. He was crying for himself and her. This brought the statue to life. Surprisingly, as the girl reawakened, she was immediately at the time of her loss.

This moving story of the crystal child and the boy, who loved her into life, could be your story. Early losses through death, mental or physical illness, substance abuse, neglect or trauma cause us to shut down emotionally, to freeze in time. This pain can stay buried until it is triggered by a challenging experience, or we feel safe enough for it to surface.

One pattern I observed was women, feeling safe and comfortable in a relationship, usually with a supportive environment, coming to therapy for earlier sexual abuse. At the time, I thought that having safety and love signaled that Crystal Child was okay to come out and tell her truth. When we have a safe environment, we are more likely to let memories surface. One of my goals as a therapist is to provide a safe, secure environment with the perspective of ‘unconditional positive regard.’  This gives people an opportunity and grounding to share trauma.

Another trigger can be a challenge or trauma in our present experience. One young man taught me this. He had just lost his job and was reporting depression and a deep sense of hopelessness. As he shared his story, I learned that his parents divorced when he was about eight years old. His father committed suicide when he was ten years old. His mother remarried to a man who was verbally and emotionally abusive. He described her as a more immature person who was unable to protect himself or herself. He said to me, “I thought I could outrun it.” He was able to work through the earlier trauma, face the job loss, and find his way forward more positively.

Other triggers can be a dream, a daydream, or a sensory experience like something you see, hear, touch, or smell. It can be something small like how one is treated, a gesture, or a touch.

One very crucial and difficult step is to find empathy for the child, the younger part of us that was traumatized. This is hard because often we blame ourselves for what others have done to us. Often perpetrators or others blame those victimized as well. I have heard horrific comments people have shared like, “Look what you have done to us.” The attitude often makes the abused person feel responsible for their abuse. This is often part of the abuse. Owning the truth and finding empathy for oneself is a hard but necessary step to healing.


Ntozake Shange in her choreopoem, For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf, says,

            “Somebody, anybody sing a black girl’s song

            to bring her out, to know herself…

            she’s been dead so long, closed in silence so long

            she doesn’t know the sound of her own voice…

            sing the song of her possibilities

            sing a righteous gospel

            let her be born

            let her be born

            & handled warmly.”


As we find the Crystal Child, frozen in time, we have the opportunity to reclaim these parts of ourselves, accept and nurture them, and integrate them into our present selves. The process, often challenging and painful, is deeply rewarding for those who will embark on the healing journey.


Since the brain, including the conscious and unconscious experiences, has no time, we can always find these parts of ourselves, aided by the older, more mature parts of ourselves. Hopefully, we can be assisted by healing practitioners and a loving support system.


This is a lifetime process, that may be repeated at different times of our maturational development. Growing, evolving, and loving the Crystal Child back into life is the journey.


Jude LaClaire, Ph. D., LCPC is a counselor and educator at the Heartland Holistic Health Center. She is the author of the “Life Weaving Education Curriculum” that teaches creative, effective, holistic problem solving. For counseling appointments, seminars, in-service training or speaker’s bureau, call 816-509-9277 or;

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