Drop the Rock is a beautiful and dense book full of profound insights and directions regarding steps 6 & 7. As I have read, reread and reread the Step 6 section, I have begun to slowly understand the need for and the actions to work step 6. When we honestly work steps 6 & 7, Spirit frees us from ourselves to focus on the needs of others. We move our focus from self-centered emptiness to selfless giving to others. In part 1 of my response, I will look at the hole we feel inside ourselves, the willingness required to work step 6, my personal story about the hole and willingness. Finally, I will discuss how Spirit is guiding me to incorporate Drop the Rock into my life & program.
The hole we all feel in one form or another makes us feel ‘terminally unique’. We use addictive behaviors to cope with the pain and discomfort arising from the hole. A succinct and powerful description of the hole is on page 5: “The hole in me, the neediness, the hunger, the ache in my life that I tried to fill or stay distracted from by using addictive behavior is actually the perfectly logical result of not knowing and therefore not accepting myself as I am.”
Luckily for us, the instructions to know ourselves are in the steps. We name our pains in step 4, we share them in step 5 and now we let them go in step 6. We release the character defects that block us from the Sunlight of the Spirit and begin to fill the hole with spiritual usefulness. We acknowledge the hole, accept it is not all of us then fill it with the principles and Spirit inspired action.
The actions of acknowledgement and acceptance depend upon willingness, the principle of step 6. It is the necessary ingredient to work the step and let go of character defects. At first, I felt it was impossible to have willingness to work step 6. The hole in me screamed and resisted even reading step 6 or the workbook questions. Yet, I persisted and willingness eventually came to me.
Drop the Rock discusses the problem many of us have with willingness. The idea of being willing to pray for willingness is prevalent in the rooms. Asking Spirit to grant us willingness takes pressure off of ourselves, but it also engages us in the process of slowly opening our hearts to letting go. As willingness begins to emerge, we strengthen it when we ask ourselves if we are truly willing. Drop the Rock states, “Daily willingness to question my willingness to change increases my ability to be increasingly willing.”
At first glance, becoming increasingly willing by being willing to question willingness seems convoluted and circuitous. It is circuitous as the willingness reinforces itself through practice, but it is not convoluted. In fact, it is quite straight forward. Check out my little diagram:
The pursuit of willingness results in the gift of willingness, but it must be done daily. At no point in recovery may we be confident in willingness and take it for granted. If we do become complacent about our willingness, we may find it slipping from us. Spirit and the steps ask us to do our part which is questioning and praying for willingness in order to strengthen it.
The process of asking for and being granted willingness imparts what the AA 12&12 calls, “the best possible attitude one can take in order to make a beginning of this lifetime job.” Thus, we see that we are beginning on a daily basis with our attitude of willingness to ask for and or question our willingness. Each day, we are granted a reprieve from our illness dependent entirely upon our spiritual fitness. We keep spiritually fit by working the steps daily and practicing the principles in all our affairs. We maintain willingness when we understand it is our “most precious asset in recovery”. Willingness fuels all the principles and is a required ingredient to working all the steps. Without willingness, we wouldn’t be in the rooms or reading literature. We all have willingness in one form or another – it is a matter of recognizing it, strengthening it and using it to work the steps.
Thankfully, we have Spirit and our fellows to help guide us through this process of locating and building willingness to work step 6. As I mentioned earlier, I was initially unwilling to look at step 6. Innately, I felt threatened by the idea of giving up my defects. Luckily, Spirit showed me that I unequivocally needed program and the steps, so I had better follow the instructions of my sponsor and the literature. I had better work the program, so it would work for me and free me from my addiction.
I worked through the 12 Step Workbook with my sponsor and our discussions helped open my mind. She would make a spherical shape with her hands and say, “We are positive and negative, light and dark, defects and assets.” I began to slowly, very slowly, understand that I am indeed made up of more than the defects I found through step 4.
Like many, I believed that if I gave up my defects, I would be like the hole in the donut, empty and void. Reading literature, listening at meetings, talking with my sponsor, writing, prayer and meditation gradually opened me to the acknowledgement that I am not the hole inside of myself and I am not the hole in the donut. Instead, I am a globe, a wondrous amalgamation of positive and negative, light and darkness, defects and assets. Just like my sponsor said!
I remember clearly the moment I took the 6th step. I was sitting beside my 6 year old son as he fell asleep. I meditate while he fades into dreamland, and while I was meditating, Spirit set upon me the full realization that I will still be me when I let go of my defects. The gradual opening of my mind and heart allowed Spirit to gift me with willingness and I became entirely ready. Without doing the work required of step 6, I would never have been granted willingness because my heart and mind would still be slammed shut.
The opening of my mind and becoming entirely ready was a pivotal moment in my program. Drop the Rock underscores the fact that step 6 must be taken daily. It is not a ‘snoozer’ step. It is a step of continuous action and diligence. As I previously discussed, willingness does not come automatically to most of us. We must seek it, question it, build it, and most importantly, accept it when offered by Spirit.
My program centers on Spirit because we know it is a spiritual solution. Steps 1-3 ask us to turn our lives to Spirit and step 6 asks us to go deeper and specifically asks us to turn over the characteristics that lead to addictive behavior. I am practicing the steps, and I seek to be kind to myself when I fall short as will happen with all humans from time to time. Yet, practice I must or addiction will quickly overwhelm me. I work a program of daily pursuit of willingness and surrender. Sometimes, I fall on my face when I get stubborn and self-reliant. Sometimes, I easily hand myself over to Spirit.
Regardless of my success or failure, I keep coming back and I keep trying because 12 steps is the only solution I have found for my compulsive eating. In my 20 months in OA I have made profound and deep changes in my life. I have experienced emotional and spiritual recovery. I have released about 90 pounds and am closer to physical recovery. I will always be a work in progress, but I know if I work one day at a time, staying in the present, Spirit will always grant me what I need to stay abstinent.
In part two, I will discuss Drop by Rock by looking into universal human defects, how program turns defects into principles of right action, the process of letting go and the continuous action of step 6.