We all have had our share of bad luck, but for some of us, we need to really take a look at whether or not this is bad luck at all or if our drinking and using is getting in the way.
Let’s break it down:
1. You seem to have a lot of bad luck involving the law.
You are chronically pulled over for traffic infractions or for looking suspicious; your parking tickets are piling up in your glove box, or every time you walk into a store, you are shadowed by security. Police officers always have it out for you, right? No. Typically speaking, our questionable actions draw negative attention. As we come into recovery and start looking at these actions of ours, we will often find that the “bad luck” around the law dissipates. When we start doing the recovery work set out for us by our sponsors, mentors, counselors, and therapists, our outlook changes and so does our luck!
2. Relationships never work out.
You fight with your parents, your teachers, your friends and it starts to feel like no one likes you. Sound familiar? Everyone around you is annoying, or maybe they “just don’t understand.” When we are in our disease, we are prone to pushing those who are close to us away. Resistance to change or hearing the truth prevents us from having solid relationships. I have worked with women whose go-to is to do everything in their power to push me away: yelling, defiance, and insults. As a sponsor/mentor, I have learned to maintain strong boundaries while remaining unwavering in my support. Often times, the desire is to push people away because letting them get too close is terrifying. Fear of abandonment or of commitment is a powerful tool of resistance. There is a fear of vulnerability, but vulnerability is what allows us to work through that fear. This is a good place to take contrary action.
3. There is always something that causes you to be late or not show up at all.
There was traffic or you woke up late or “something came up.” There is ALWAYS something that prevents you from being on time, or you change plans at the last minute, or you simply don’t show up at all. A lot of the times, this self-sabotaging behavior is precluded by a fear of commitment or a desire to go where you think the “party” will be (again, fear of commitment). Have you ever accumulated a series of “maybes” so you could see which invite was the most fun? Making a commitment and being responsible sometimes means missing out on something that is interesting to you. In recovery, we learn to do what we say we will do, even when something better comes along. Taking a commitment at a meeting teaches this really well!
4. You have a hard time keeping a job, or maintaining commitments at school.
You got fired again? Glee club has had it and finally kicked you out? Coach has benched you for the rest of the season this time? Time to look at your actions to see where you are falling short. The truth is people aren’t out to get you; self-sabotage is the culprit here. We have to begin the process of looking within in order to figure out what drives our negative actions. Addiction and untreated mental health is often times fodder for the persistent sense of ill-will and inconsistency.
5. Your teachers seem to be out to get you, conversely, so do your parents.
No one is really out to get you. Addiction likes to pin us in victim mode, telling us time and time again, “the world is out to get us,” “if only people understood me,” et cetera, et cetera. Take your power back and get to work so you can take responsibility for your actions! The 12 steps, a meditation practice, yoga, therapy, being of service: all of these things teach you to identify the truth within, no matter how uncomfortable that may be. Your parents and teachers have your best interests in mind, eventually you will too.
6. Car trouble is your middle name.
Does this sound familiar: It’s always breaking down, or you never have gas, or the tire is flat, or there’s a boot on it because you forgot to pay all of your parking tickets (see #1). When we stop taking responsibility for our actions, and rely on fate or magical thinking to make things better, things inevitably get worse. We can’t think our way out of difficulties; we have to take the appropriate actions to climb out on our own. So, start paying the parking tickets when you get them (I still have trouble doing this!), fill up your tank when it’s half full, check your tires and service your car.
I’ve learned that the most difficult part of putting on your big-girl panties is…putting on your big-girl panties. The rest is pretty easy. You know what? Taking responsibility and doing the work actually feels good. So does dropping the weight of chronic having bad luck.
Something to ponder: When we do esteemable acts, we garner self-esteem; when we take responsibility for our actions, we lower our stress and garner respect from those around us; when we ask for help, we find solace in community. No one said recovery and change would be easy, but fear and resistance generate the difficulties you most often have. You can do this, one breath, one step, one positive act at a time.