Depositing peace: How a special pebble helps me build relationship resilience

Updated Oct 12 2015
Guest post by Kathryn
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This is more than a stone, it's a symbol of restful times together.

I have always used physical reminders of places or people that I love to ground me emotionally.

This began subconsciously. When facing school examinations, 15-year-old Kathryn reached not into her own wardrobe but into her Father's — surreptitiously stealing oversized jumpers, t-shirts, tracksuit bottoms — borrowed armour to shield her against little mathematics dragons.

As I grew older these traits became more apparent…

When a boy with green eyes broke my 21-year-old heart, my sister travelled for eight hours to hold me, make me dinner, and restore my perspective. As she left, I gave her one of two identical necklaces. The other necklace was my secret — I wore it religiously; drawing strength from this small link to her during those first few months, when leaving the house felt just as impossible as staying in did.

As a young adult, I developed a habit of carrying a shell with me on difficult days. The shell had been collected by my boyfriend and myself in our earliest days together. When my workday was becoming stressful I simply slipped a hand into my pocket and held it — tracing its outline and breathing in imaginary salt air.

A few months ago (whilst on holiday in the Isle of Wight), I absent-mindedly mentioned this habit to my boyfriend. In response he brought me a pebble, decorated with a leaf painting by a local artist — something new for my collection of things to hold.

The two of us passed this pebble back and forth. We tucked it into pockets and rested it in the center of our palms as we walked hand-in-hand. It became a little symbol of restful times together. It also (accidentally) became a powerful reminder of the best, most nourishing aspects of our relationship. The next time we lost patience with one another I automatically brought it out of my pocket and held it out to him. It instantly calmed us.

I am now much more deliberate with our little stone. I involve it in the happiest and most peaceful moments of our life together, allowing it to act as a kind of "positivity repository." A place we can go to borrow strength when we need it.

  1. I do something very similar to this. Having something real to hold on to, see, or listen to is so helpful when I am stressed out. In addition to physical things I can hold or wear, when I was living 6 hours away from girlfriend for a summer, I would listen to "our" song whenever I was missing her.

    • Ha, I just came in here to say that it reminded me of when couples have an "our song".

      I love this bit: "The next time we lost patience with one another I automatically brought it out of my pocket and held it out to him. It instantly calmed us."

  2. I love this! I totally agree with you that objects can have energy and can calm you. I love the idea of the necklaces you and your sister shared.

    I don't really have any object like this, but as someone who worships at the altar of music, I will wear one of my favorite concert shirts on a day when I need a little boost. I also have a song that I sing in my head that's kind of like my "stone" when I need it. My husband and I share this love for music and going to shows, so this stuff connects me to him as well. (My go-to song is Rise Today by Alter Bridge)

  3. when I first started reading this I wasn't too sure what you meant or if it was spiritual in a way I don't connect with.
    As I continued reading I realized that I do a similar thing to this.

    I touch my engagement ring and wiggle it on my finger. I even slip it off and back on. I do this when I need strength or feel that things are getting too much with work or the general stresses of adult life. Each time it reminds me of the wonderful home life which I have, and the support that is there for me if I need it. It reminds me that I am not alone in this and that is not the most important thing in my life – my family and home are.

    Funny my engagement ring doesn't just serve as a link to my partner, but also to my parents, his family, our pets and our lives – these are the most important things to me and thinking about them always brings a sense of perspective to my worries, even if my worries are related to them.

    • I was going to say the exact same thing. It's not just an engagement ring; it's a representation of all that love, joy, and optimism that gets me through stressful times.

  4. My boyfriend and I have a similar thing to the stone passed back and forth but we make it way silly. Once while camping he picked up this perfect white rock and announced "Hey look! It's an egg-shaped rock!" For the rest of the camping trip every time one of us noticed it we'd be all excited "Hey!! An egg-shaped rock!!" I put it in his glovebox when we left and when he found it I got a text, "It's an egg-shaped rock!". Now we've taken to surprising eachother with it. Like randomly one day "Holy shit! Holy shit you have to look at this, what the heck is it??!!" and hold out your hand when the person turns around so they have to say "It's an egg-shaped rock!". Most recently I stuck it in his pillowcase, so of course when he went to bed "OMG! An egg-shaped rock!". It's on his nightstand right now and I keep checking to see if it's there so I'll know whether he's plotting something with it or not.

  5. I have two necklaces that do something similar for me. One is a charm necklace. It contains the moonstone and tiger's eye my mother in law gifted me before she passed as well as a humming bird charm for my grandmother. I also have a locket that contains the picture of my grandparents who have passed on. I alternate wearing them. They help when I miss them and when I need just a little bit of extra strength to face the day. They help to battle my anxiety and remind me of better times.

  6. Have you ever seen the movie Princess Ka'iulani? It's on Netflix and is about the Hawai'ian princess. The movie character had a similar habit–she had a bag of "life shells", which were shells she attached happy memories to and brought out whenever she needed comforting.

    I do something similar with my fiance's dog tags–I wear them around my neck, and whenever I feel stressed I pull them out of my shirt and play with them. They're a nice reminder of him–I'm such a dork that just seeing his name printed on them makes me feel better.

  7. I used to do this… Most notably with a polished stone with the word "Serenity" on it (an homage to my favorite TV show, Firefly). Thank you for this post and the reminder of how helpful this habit can be. Gosh I used to have so many trinkets in high school. I'll have to go find them again.

  8. My partner and I are long-distance and I bought his engagement ring with me for several months ago with plans on proposing in the next month. I got it out of the box and put it in my jewelry box, but within a few hours, I just had to hold it again. I put it on a chain and wore it around my neck and never took it off. I sleep in it, I shower in it, and whenever I get overwhelmed I just have to reach for it to remember why I am going through all this and to think about what an exciting future that ring represents. I am a firm believer in objects having energy, so by the time I hand over the ring to him I will have put a whole lot of love into the ring, like my own private ring warming.

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