Trauma and the Pearl

There’s a particular kind of trauma that lodges in us… that finds its way into the tender parts.

What does our body do with such trauma?

It protects itself.

Unable to expel (heal) certain traumas, our body needs to protect itself from what feels like a constant threat.

One choice it makes is to start layering.

Like the oyster.

Our body can start add a layer of fat, for example. Fat is an insulator. It helps insulate us from the irritant of the un-released trauma.

A personality change can insulate. The person withdraws… or becomes boisterous in ways they were not previously. Arrogance can kick in. A tendency towards “me me me” can be amplified so that no one and nothing else matters. Joy in work can become workaholism. Pleasures can become compulsions… or repulsions… or addictions. Pleasing people can devolve into chronic self-sacrifice.

Humans are not oysters. Our coping takes a myriad of forms.

Layer. After layer. After layer.

Layers of Coping

To the oyster, every layer added both protects and compounds the initial trauma. And while cultured pearls start with a human-inserted bit of mother of pearl, most naturally-occuring pearls are formed around a parasite… some sort of sea-worm or bug that invades the oyster and grabs on and can’t be expelled. (How’s that for a trauma metaphor!)

The oyster’s layering is a coping mechanism. In its simple intelligence it knows that if it encapsulates the traumatizing invader, it can survive. Not ideal, but better than the alternative.

Do you know anyone who has layers of coping?

I remember looking at myself in the mirror and seeing the effects of my layers of coping. It wasn’t pretty. So much of my life force was going into coping, there wasn’t much left for thriving… or even repair of my essential organs!

In my case the parasitic trauma was a secret… sexual trauma I’d experienced over three years as a teenage boy.

Isn’t it interesting that the oyster secretes layers to cover a trauma, and secrets play a core part in human layering…

Trauma Release often needs a helping hand

Reading up on oysters, it was a surprise for me to learn that in oyster farming, the oyster is not killed to harvest the pearl. Indeed, older oysters can produce even finer pearls!

Also interesting to me, from the vantage point of trauma healing, that a pearl doesn’t tend to form in polluted waters. Hmmmm…

My own healing from trauma… the taking out the “pearls inside” to a place I could see them (and even learn to treasure them)… took some skilled support and waters that felt safe and unpolluted by judgment. Thank you to the circle of beings who made that possible. Bless you always and all ways.

Pearls of Wisdom

It’s true that not all trauma is transformed into wisdom. Sometimes trauma crushes a person.

Yet, in my work as an Emotional Freedom Coach, I’ve been so blessed to witness so many beings identify secret shames and unhealde traumas and bring them “out” where they can, indeed, find a place to be held with respect… even awe.

How is this possible?

Because we humans can also create things of beauty from that which invaded us and sought to take from us against our consent.

Our desire to protect can even extend to others! Our clarity about what feels right inside us… and what does not… can lead to a devotion to mutual consent and commitment to profound safety for ourselves AND for others.

Trauma when it is stuck inside us, demanding that we cope and layer up… depletes us.

The pearls of wisdom that we can gather up (especially with the support of a circle) can inspire us, and remind us about what truly matters.

This community center here is several such pearls for me. Rising from the loss of dance community during the COVID 2020 period, the disconnect from deep conversations in person with loved ones outside my home… especially during the pregnancy with Adira… and honestly the sense that Facebook was more a parasite than safe space…

Well, I felt inspired to take action in a way that we could share connection and cultivate something (and someones) beautiful and even awe-inspiring over time.

Here we are… Here… Each of us with our Pearls.

And if you feel drawn to share, now or anytime, please know that your wisdom is welcome. We see you. We know what it’s like to have to cope. We love you for your Presence and Resilience. Thank you:heavy_heart_exclamation:


Dang it, I love me a good metaphor!! So, please allow me to go on a bit of a rambling ‘walkabout’ here with my thoughts…

It seems to me that one of the central aspects of our work here together is to learn that we can begin to dissolve the hard shell surrounding the ‘parasite of trauma’ and it’s toxic secrets (secretions) such as shame and fear with energies that aren’t hard and brittle and hypervigilant…using energies such as love and compassion and quiet listening… like Cleopatra did …dissolving the hard pearl with the wine (spirit) of compassion and love and we can then drink in a new way of being…something soothing and digestible…a new way of relating to ourselves and the world.

One of the aspects of this metaphor that occurs to me is that in order for a pearl to form (or a trauma to be secreted away inside us) we (and the pearl) must first identify the trauma/parasite as ‘other’. We become divided internally into ‘us vs them’ or ‘me vs not me’…unaccepting of the unwanted and uninvited intruder and building a hard wall around it (shame, guilt, anger etc) with the intention of keeping it under control, from doing further damage. And that makes perfect sense to our primitive brain. As humans our primitive brains treat the energetic intruder as if it were an actual ‘thing’…like a parasite in an oyster. I think that’s a beautiful demonstration of how our primitive brain works. In fact that’s how our body treats foreign objects, much like the oyester. That brain understands the world very simplistically. If I hurt or feel wounded the primitive brain thinks the cause must be an actual ‘thing’, an object that has done the wounding. That’s the world it evolved in.

It seems to me that in our work here together what we slowly begin to dissolve is the sense that we have a wounding object inside us (because it does feel like I do…something’s there!! I can feel it!!) and we begin to dissolve that primitive brain reaction/understanding into a softer reality of a malleable and changeable energy rather than a hard object. It’s not an arrowhead lodged in me…or an animal claw… it’s an energetic formation and unlike an actual object it can be dissolved and shifted using energies that soften and dissolve…compassion, love, acceptance. I don’t need sedation (in it’s various forms) and something akin to surgery to remove it. A sort of alchemy takes place instead. A transformation (trance-formation) happens and what we we find at the centre of the dissolved pearl is that the parasite has also dissolved and is now harmless…and maybe even helpful.


Yes… in this evolution of the metaphor, alchemy comes in. That’s the way it feels to me. @Jem (my partner’s) business is even called Nourishing Alchemy. It attunes me to transformation like this.

I am remind-ering myself that I started this with:

There are others that instead of being brought “out” that they integrate, transform inside, become woven into my essence in a way that enhances my love. Alchemy and Heartistry.


I don’t know if I consciously took note of that opening statement but it’s a perfect description of the metaphor that there is a ‘thing’, an object inside me. I’m willing to bet my unconscious noticed it however and that’s what led me on my ‘walkabout’. Thanks for that… :slight_smile:

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