These are the stones that sit by my window. They were given to me by my parents as they downsized. Unbeknowst to me, or at least to my conscious mind, they ultimately became very helpful tools in my own healing.  Not in a crystal healing kind of way; more in an expressive arts therapy/sand play/creative play sort of way.  So, I humbly have a story to share.

Since I received these stones from my parents and brought them to their new home in Hamilton, they have sat in more or less the same positions on the same window sill in my bathroom. We had a cleaner for a time and she would move them into a rough pile in the corner of the sill and then I would dutifully reset to their “correct” spacing feeling mildly perturbed. My attachment was showing. Years passed.

The stones start to move

In 2022 my marriage ended abruptly and surprisingly; a difficult time. I would pause near the stones regularly in my daily comings and goings. Every so often I felt it important to shift them into specific relationships that felt right.

It was months into this before I realised something important was happening here, although I still didn’t know what exactly. The process came to have a life of its own. For the purposes of writing about this to share it with you I recreated the sequence to show more or less the process.

In the beginning I felt identified with the silver turtle. It seemed like the turtle wanted to be out in the world a little but also enjoyed the feeling of protection conveyed in the picture below. I didn’t really think much of what the green turtle on the outside represented. It didn’t seem that important, just other.

Safety at all costs

At another point a few weeks later, I felt it important to close the circle of stones. Something felt very unsafe about the outside world and it was important to keep the silver turtle safe. And so it stayed like this for weeks.

Everything seemed fine.  Then I wondered whether the silver turtle was actually happy like that. Maybe it’s lonely? Could the stones be protecting him not because he needs and wants it, but rather because the stone circle needed to?

I asked into the images and my inside experience to understand more. When I asked him if he was lonely or if he liked the stone circle so close, the turtle seemed oddly silent. He seemed okay in a not sure kind of way. Sheepish perhaps. Deferring. The stones on the other hand were very clear that they needed to be there. They felt defensive and a bit aggressive.

I asked myself that nice Internal Family Systems (IFS) question “how do you feel toward the turtle?“. I realised I was sort of ashamed of it. Like I thought it had done something wrong. Oh dear.  Turns out the turtle felt pretty bad too and that was why it was so quiet. Oh dear. Maybe this stone wall wasn’t as helpful and great as I thought originally.

I realised these were parts of me rather than me just being the turtle. The sense I make of it is that the stones (a “protector”) had been keeping my heart (a pained “exile”) safe by keeping it away from others.

An unexpected shift

What the turtle actually needed was kind company; effectively to be liked by me. An aha moment inside. I gave it the company of a few kindly stones.  The turtle felt better. I added my feather fan which felt good as it represented a spiritual, or outside-of-self dimension.


Once the turtle felt supported by the smaller stones, the wall was able to open up a bit. I felt more relief and ease inside.

Day to day now I notice I am more deeply able to relax and feel at ease inside. My turtle feels like it is dancing with delight as it is attended to and appreciated from inside.  It’s oddly easier to take in the kindnesses and sweetness of others too.  My relational world has more flow and ease and joy. Thanks little stones and lovely turtle!

Questions for you:

  • Can you recognise similar parts inside yourself?
  • What images would you use?
  • What is the dynamic of some of your parts?

In my counselling office I have a basket of figurines and I help guide clients to map their internal world in a similar way as I have done here. It’s a remarkably intuitive process. I have space for one or two more clients incase you are curious to explore for yourself. Get in touch!


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