JOURNEY TO WHOLENESS
The Crystal Child
By Jude LaClaire, Ph.D
The story, The Crystal Child, by Barbara Wersba is about a young girl who tragically loses her parents in a house fire and, through trauma, turns into a stone statue. The crystal statue stood in the garden, among the roses. She had once been a human child, but now she sparkled in the early sun…her mouth was sad and perfect like a crystal rose…the statue did not seem dead, and she was not alive either. She had simply stopped somewhere, along the road of time.
Many years go by until a boy sees the statue and is mesmerized by her. He begins to come by every day to be with the girl, frozen in time by trauma. It is really an apt metaphor for the life journey of many people. When trauma, abuse, neglect, illness, or other stressors interfere with child and adult development, there are real consequences. The lasting effect for many people is that part of their being is frozen in time, like the crystal child.
This moving story of the crystal child and the boy, who loved her into life, could be your story. Loss through death, mental or physical illness, substance abuse, neglect or trauma, is the story of many people. When we experience some kind of loss or trauma in our developing years, we can stay frozen in a part of our being as we continue our life journey. As we go through life transitions these learned responses surface and give us an opportunity to heal.
The natural response of the body-mind when confronted with danger, threat or loss, is to send in the emergency bio-chemical troops. Chemicals are pumped into the system which assists the person in meeting the danger, surviving, and being safe. Sometimes, this is accompanied by a conscious response to the situation. It could be something like this, “I have to take care of things. No one else is going to do it” or “I will stop the feelings, the tears, or I will be hurt more.” Consciously or unconsciously, the infant, child, or adult makes the decision to shut down, to freeze certain emotional and psychophysical responses to the situation. Neuroscientists now tell us that the brains of children who experience trauma develop differently.
It is important to identify the moments of shifting away from the whole self. This is the key to change. This is often not in one’s conscious memory. If the events happened at a pre-verbal age (before age 2) or pre-cognitive age (before age 7), the memories will be stored in different parts of the brain-body. Paying attention to dreams, daydreams and utilizing guided imagery, trance, or hypnosis, the person comes face to face with his or her crystal child. Becoming aware of sensory processes, the body, and emotions can also be helpful. I assist the person in re-framing the event, calling on the resources of his/her adult self, other mentors, helpers, and powerful figures (past, present, and imaginary) to help the child to feel safe, loved and have a direction that is appropriate for that developmental stage of his or her life I also use the Neurobehavioral Program for the release of trauma. EMDR is another highly researched and utilized approach for trauma release. Since trauma is stored in the body, (The Body Keeps the Score, Bessel van der Kolk) it is very helpful to have bodywork, especially myofascial release approaches like Rolfing or other Structural Integration approaches. Massage, energy work, and other forms of energy/bodywork can be an important part of the healing process.
These steps can help you awaken and heal the crystal child within you. Remember that the ordinary everyday traumas of life, can, at any time, create the ‘crystallizing effect.’ Our job is to know when this has happened and work to reawaken the frozen part at a more appropriate time when help and safety is available.
The gardener in the story of The Crystal Child has the wisdom to know what we would do well to remember as we care for ourselves or others. The boy was young and did not know the mysteries that life held…the gardener… did know that one day the crystal girl would move or speak. That is why he talked to her every morning. That was why he took care of her.
As we go through life transitions, the frozen parts of ourselves can awaken and we can heal the wounds, moving forward as more whole beings. Be the gardener of your being who responds with care and love, asking for help when needed, traveling the journey of healing change.
Jude LaClaire, Ph.D. LCPC, is a counselor and educator. She is the author of “Life Weaving Education Curriculum” that teaches creative, effective holistic problem solving. For counseling appointments (confidential video or in person sessions) seminars, speaking engagements or information on Neurobehavioral Programs or Imago Couple Therapy call 816-509-9277 or firstname.lastname@example.org; .