No fish, please!

17 Sep 2011

How many more fish do you think there are in the sea for you? 

Whether or not you feel ready for another relationship, or even want another relationship,  I’m guessing you’ve been ‘programmed’  to believe you’re washed up, and the potential partner pool has been completely over-fished.

But is it true?  

And, above all, is it helpful?…

My mother was not someone who set much store by love and romance. From the time I hit adolescence and discovered boys, one of her favorite sayings was: “there are plenty more fish in the sea.”  (Other favorite stock phrases included: “How dare you…?”,  “Who do you think you are?”, and “Your friends must love you.”)

Mother’s remarks were always intended to position her as the expert.  Sadly, her view of the world was a bleak one.

It’s only recently that I’ve pondered her oft repeated comment that there were “plenty more fish in the sea” for me.  (She usually shared that gem when I was breaking my heart over one gangly youth or another.)

What a pity I was too inexperienced, and too easily intimidated, to say to her:

“Mother, is this really true?  Are there really plenty more fish in the sea?  And are all fish born equal, mother?  Does it matter, at all, if I take up with a sprat(t) or a shark, a flounder, or a monkfish?  And why on earth should I be trawling the ocean looking at sprat(t)s, gro(u)per, and Dover sole – with that eye that curiously migrates from one side of its head to the other – when what I really want is a  partner to love me?  Do fish make the best partners?”

(Had I said that, she would probably have used one – or all three – of her other stock phrases in reply!)

I thought my upbringing was a tad unusual.  I’m constantly amazed by the number of women I work with whose parents visited on them similarly unhelpful gems of ‘wisdom’.

I’m no less amazed by the number of women whose lives are dominated by fear that fish are fast becoming extinct.  If that sounds like you,  help is at hand.  You really don’t have to live that way.

I’ve worked with so many women, from their 20s on, who live, as I’ve often described it, in The Last Chance Saloon.   The thing that makes their abusive (ex)partner precious in their eyes, is ultimately, their belief that he is the only man left in The Last Chance Saloon.

(Now, there’s a belief that focuses the mind, and sky rockets an abusive partner’s – perceived – value!!)

Still, The Last Chance Saloon is my image, not theirs.

When they talk about their situation, they talk almost as if they are cast adrift on the high sea, in a small boat, with nothing but a huge fisherman’s net for company.  And there they are destined to remain, until they catch a single fish in their net.

Any fish will do.

It doesn’t really matter if they catch a fish that drinks like a… well, a fish, or gropes like a... (let’s not even go there!)

It doesn’t matter if they land a swordfish.

It doesn’t matter if they catch a piranha.

It’s a fish, isn’t it?

Since there is an increasing shortage of fish in the sea, their brief is to catch whatever fish they can, and then to establish a relationship of sorts with it.

Regardless of the fish’s own habitat, nature, and behaviour.

What if they don’t even like fish?

What if they don’t like the smell, or the feel of fish?

What if they don’t find a fish’s lack of conversation, and even its concentration span, to their taste?

It’s still a fish, isn’t it?

It’s still the best they can hope to get from the sea.

Now, I’m very fond of having well cooked fish on my table.  I’m fussy about the fish I eat.  And I’m fussy about what I want in a partner.

I see no commonality between a fish and a partner.

What I do see, and hear endlessly from the women I work with is this: there are plenty of men – who are, indeed, cold fish – drifting around the place.  A lot of them are quite unappetizing.

That’s just the way it is.

Even in these days of over-fishing, there are still plenty of fish that fishermen throw back into the river, or sea, for one reason or another.

There are plenty of men who you would be advised to do exactly the same thing with.

It was ever thus.

Probably your mother didn’t tell you that, any more than mine did.

Besides, it never was about the fish in the sea.

Since it’s your life, the really important thing in it is you.

When will you start to really believe that, at the cellular level.  If that’s something you’re struggling with, then need to understand that your lack of belief in yourself is a by-product of your abusive relationship.  It’s also something quite damaging to you that can learn to change.

When you picture the Last Chance Saloon, or fishing in the sea, do you even see yourself? 

Do you really see yourself at the centre of that scene?  Or are you a shadowy figure, barely there?

Are you a shadow waiting for Mr Fish, or Mr Cowboy, or Mr I’m-Wonderful-And-I-Might-Even-Tell-You-You’re-Wonderful-for 5-Minutes, to turn you into a 3 dimensional figure?

If you are, you’re not the first.

And that doesn’t make it right.

If you’re ready to stop bobbing up and down on that ocean, feeling totally alone, and focusing desperately on landing that one fish that will make you whole, I can help you.

A fish will never do that for you.  Nor will a partner.

Wholeness, and happiness, begin with you.

You can sit in that fragile little boat, bobbing up and down on the sea, waiting to land your fish, on your own, doing battle with the elements…

Or you can become the woman whose presence and personality attract people – rather than fish – to her… in shoals.

When you’re finally good and tired of doing it the hard way, I’ll be delighted to help you raise the bar as regards the people and the experiences you attract you.


Annie Kaszina, international Emotional Abuse Recovery specialist and award-winning author of 3 books designed to help women recognise and heal from toxic relationships so that they can build healthy, lasting relationships with the perfect partner for them, blogs about all aspects of abuse, understanding Narcissists and how to avoid them and building strong self-worth. To receive Annie’s blog direct to your Inbox just leave your details here.

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