The Miracle of the Crab Pot is a story I share when people have experienced or are going through a difficult time with their family or relationships. It is especially inspirational if you have come from a highly dysfunctional family or partnership or have ever encountered a narcissistic relationship.

I have no idea where it came from and I think perhaps someone may have sent it to me a long time ago, nonetheless it is very much worth reading as it gives a great insight into how you may have been treated or perhaps someone you know.

The Miracle of the Crab Pot – A beautiful story of survival.

When fishermen catch crabs out at sea they place them in a holding ‘pot’ on board their boat until the time comes to sort them out. In sheer fright and panic the crabs begin to fight and wrestle and try to kill each other in order to get to the top of the heap so they can escape.

However, it does no good to get to the top, because still the crabs can’t get out as they are too far from the sides of the pot to climb up to freedom. But due to the fact they are behaving from instinct they just keep climbing on top of each other in order to escape.

Then, what fishermen noticed was that a small number of smarter crabs, instead of fighting each other would instead attempt to scale the walls – because they had noticed that due to the wear and tear on the metal or wooden sides of the ‘pot’, dents, scratches and ridges had developed on the walls. These crabs would climb up the sides of the pot, clinging to precarious hold after hold, but always headed up towards freedom. 

The other crabs at the bottom of the crab pot would notice these freedom climbing crabs, and then grab a-hold of the climber and haul and pull until the freedom fiighting crab would fall back down to the bottom of the pot where all crabs are ‘supposed’ to be. 

Psychologists have called this type of behaviour in nuclear families ‘the crab pot mentality’.  When one member of a deeply dysfunctional family realises that they have emotional/psychological problems and earnestly seeks help, the dysfunctional family circle becomes threatened.  

And because the dysfunctional nuclear family lives and functions only within the complete denial of the true family dynamics.  The nuclear family then turns on the one seeking help, assuring themselves that ‘they’ are fine, that ‘you’ are the crazy one because it was you who had to finally admit that you were mentally ill and had to seek help. 

Which means, to the rest of the dysfunctional family, that they have no problems, ‘because they never had to get help’! 

They then try to discourage you in every way they can, with anger, verbal attacks, or replaying the family myths, with their completely re-written family history.  Their version of the past is so twisted and so far from the truth that you react sometimes with horror at the depth of their delusions. 

Their attacks become progressively more vicious. They either constantly belittle you verbally or ply you with obviously false, passive-aggressive compliments. Your accomplishments are ignored, or given a negative twist.   

If you persist in speaking the truth, they will even get to the point of taking your picture off their walls, thereby cutting you out of their lives until you ‘come to your senses’.  Although their walls are plastered with pictures of the entire nuclear and extended families, there will not be one single picture of you. This perverted attempt to ‘cut you out of the family circle’ both emotionally and psychologically is another desperate attempt to pressure you back into your ‘place’.   

The dysfunctional family functions exactly like the crabs in the above mentioned crab pot.  They see you trying to get out, and they do their best to pull you right back down there in the dysfunctional family dynamics, where you get to live your assigned role again. 

You keep trying, braving their displeasure, ignoring their comments, and they pull out all the stops.  They tell their children and even your friends and your children that ‘you’ have ‘mental health problems’, as if it is much too taboo to talk about, except, of course, as how it applies to only you.   

You try to share what you are learning with them, but, locked in a mental/psychological cage of denial, their brains refuse to accept in any way, how, form, shape or choice of words the self-knowledge you are gaining. They absolutely, passionately refuse to acknowledge how you are changing. To them, your ‘assigned’ role in the family dynamics is cast in stone.

Finally, the abuse becomes so toxic that you are forced to make a choice – re-enter the family dynamics and assume once again the crippled role they assigned you, go along with all the re-written family myths, and ‘know your place’ once again;

Or, you can finally get to the uppermost point in your life (the top of the crab pot) and decide to fall outside the pot. Even the fear of the unknown is finally preferable to the abusive family dynamics. 

You let go and fall outside the pot. You cut off contact with your toxic family because you realize that there is no way they will ever accept you as you are now. Worse, their rage at you builds to massive proportions because you have escaped their clutches. 

Ah, but here’s the nice part. 

When the rare crab finally does manage to climb up the sides of the crab pot, and fall out onto the deck below, what do you think happens?  Does the crab fisherman, realizing that every ounce of crab is worth money, toss that crab back down into the maelstrom of crab pot?

No. He picks up the crab, and tosses it over the side of the ship, back into the ocean, from whence it came.  He sets it free, because he knows that the desire for survival, instinct, intelligence, whatever you choose to call it, are very strong in that particular crab.  That crab, left to breed, will produce stronger crabs, better able to survive in our polluted and rapidly dying oceans.   

So, what happens to the human being who finally manages to get to the top of their personal ‘crab pot’ full of dysfunctional people? If they decide to let go and fall onto the deck, then the miracle really begins.   

The Hand of God picks them up, and gently sets them free in the Sea of Life.

If you have experienced anything related to the points raised above or would like to discuss any other aspect of your life and how therapy could help you then please call Zara direct on 07756 3366 06 or via her online booking form by clicking here.

Appointments are currently available Monday to Friday, 10am until 7pm and are priced according to your individual circumstances. (Sliding scale of £28.00 to £38.00 is the usual price most clients need to pay for a 1 hour appointment and between £48.00 and £68.00 for a 2 hour appointment.)