Gratitude Attacks

by Karen D.

I am a newcomer with less than 40 days of sobriety. After relapsing, I got a new sponsor, who is very hands-on and who provides the kind of structure I need and appreciate. It would be fair to say that I am grateful for her. 

For the first 30 days, I checked in with her every morning. At her request, I provided a schedule of local AA Zoom meetings in the area where I live that I planned on attending for the week (2 per day). On April 10, 2021, I decided I wanted to join a women’s meeting and randomly selected a Zoom meeting at Lush Lounge in San Francisco. I was born in San Francisco and had my first drink here when I was seven years old. I still have many relatives, friends, and of course, memories of The City.

I was born in San Francisco and had my first drink here when I was seven years old

Once the meeting began, I felt welcome and comfortable. Like most AA meetings, newcomers are made to feel welcome. I appreciated the organization and structure of this meeting and was relieved that, unlike my first San Francisco Zoom meeting last year, it was secure and without any interruption by zoom bombers.

During her lead, the speaker coined the term “Gratitude Attacks.” She felt overwhelmed with being alive, because she was so grateful and happy to be sober. Her energy and enthusiasm stuck with me, and seemed to affect most members of the group. 

The speaker had recently moved to L.A. and had hoped to find in-person meetings, but she was a bit apprehensive about attending one. She spoke about her progression from when she was drinking to the present, which is part of the reason she brought up the Gratitude Attacks. 

she was struggling with her sobriety and with getting settled in her new apartment

When the meeting was open for sharing, another woman who had just moved to San Francisco from L.A. said she was struggling with her sobriety and with getting settled in her new apartment. She was also, however, grateful she had help moving, that the movers were in AA, and they didn’t charge her. I got the impression that her sobriety was wavering but that gesture of kindness gave her a reason to be grateful. Although she seemed a bit down, I was glad she shared and hoped that the meeting overall lifted her spirits. 

It was encouraging to hear gratitude described this way. Since attacks are usually thought of as negative, having a Gratitude Attack is a reason to celebrate and encourages optimism. This is really helpful if staying sober is a struggle. This very different way at looking at gratitude occurs when something good happens. Being sober each day is a reason to celebrate and to be grateful. 

Upon waking up in the morning, we list five things for which we are grateful

When I shared I mentioned that, coincidentally, the night before I had watched a video about gratitude. The narrator suggested that, upon waking up in the morning, we list five things for which we are grateful. This is a good way to start the day in a positive direction. I can see how making an extensive gratitude list could lead to a Gratitude Attack—like compiling happiness.

I was glad to be in a meeting with women. I appreciated how nice everyone was, and even more so, how honest they were. Like any meeting there were people who were struggling to stay sober and others who seemed to be doing well, had worked the steps, had a sponsor and attended meetings regularly. Many, it seemed, had never thought about reasons to be grateful but I got the impression that they would consider making their lists. I myself was very grateful to have attended this meeting and I will definitely be back. Thank you!

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